Welcome, fellow solo traveler. This is where your adventure begins. Solo traveling is a beautiful gift. You’re going to learn so much about yourself, make so many fabulous new friends, meet so many beautiful strangers, and see so many vibrant landscapes and skyscrapers, too. The world is your oyster, but the question is, where do you start?
When I see lists like these I often just see suggestions for places women should travel to solo based on only one thing: safety. While crime stats are worth noting, they’re not the defining factor for a great place for women to travel alone. The best destinations aren’t just the popular and well-trodden ones, either. Some of the best places to travel to by yourself might be in the places you least expected, or didn’t even know existed yet.
The best places will be where locals are particularly friendly and welcoming, or it’s social due to a shared interest like surfing or diving, and even though it might be off the beaten path a bit, it’s not so remote that you’ll be the only one there. It still has that special charm that makes it feel authentic and inviting.
Sounds amazing, right? So where can you find these places? I’ve searched high and low, and these are some of my favorite destinations for solo female travel – they might surprise you:
1. Lombok, Indonesia
Because it has everything Bali had once upon a time.
Many people, myself included, are put off by Bali’s overtourism, where there’s constantly bad traffic, beaches littered with trash, and long waits for photos at popular Instagram spots. So where can one go in Indonesia where there are stunning waterfalls, nice beaches and a social yet laidback atmosphere, like Bali once upon a time had? The answer is Lombok. Not only is Lombok overall a wonderful alternative to Bali, but also cheaper. As a solo traveler, I find it easier to socialize and connect with other solo travelers in Lombok, as people tend to hang out at the same spot, like Kuta, or go to the same beaches.
2. Siargao, The Philippines
Because there’s nothing like a little solo motorbike adventure.
Siargao Island is a water-lover and general adventurer’s dream. You can go on a little solo motorbike adventure, as the roads are mostly flat and easy. It is also a surfer’s paradise with a playful soul to it, so if you are a surfing enthusiast, or have been thinking of picking it up, Siargao is perfect. The island’s popularity is growing rapidly, but the atmosphere remains laidback and relaxing. This means that it’s just as easy to meet others as to be by yourself. I was able to hang out with surfers on the beach, talk to other people in restaurants and cafes, and retreat to my little corner in an adorable guesthouse every night. It’s perfect!
Because the animals will keep you entertained.
Few places in the world offer its visitors the opportunity to share such close proximity to unique birds, reptiles, and sea critters without them turning fearful, and since most people come to the Galápagos for the animals, meeting people of the same interest becomes super easy. Whether on an island cruise or a dive trip, you are bound to meet like-minded people and have an amazing time together! Prior to my visit, I always thought the Galápagos was effectively off limits to budget backpackers, but I couldn’t be more wrong, as you can absolutely do the Galápagos on a budget!
4. Almost anywhere in French Polynesia
Because its friendliness and hospitality is out of this world.
Remember travel before the Internet was so ubiquitous, before Instagram was even a thing, and before the birth of “influencer”? Allow me to introduce you to French Polynesia, where the locals immediately treat you as though they know you, the environment is preserved and treasured by the locals, and you can truly come back to yourself. While Bora Bora may make solo travelers feel a little bit out of place, French Polynesia has way more than that to offer, and I can almost guarantee you that you will have a wonderful time as a solo girl. This is a country I know I will be returning to again and again.
5. Coffee Bay, South Africa
Because Africa isn’t ‘scary’ after all.
Africa gets a bad rap as being a scary place to travel through, and while it’s important to take precautions (here’s a list of them), that doesn’t mean solo female travelers should write it off. I love how laidback Coffee Bay (and that whole coastline) is and how many other cool backpackers are always passing through. It’s easy to meet other people, go on long walks along the bluffs on the ocean, and take in gorgeous nature. While South Africa does have a pretty high crime rate, the bulk of it is in the cities. I loved the little towns like Coffee Bay where there weren’t many people or worries around at all.
6. Tofo, Mozambique
I maintain, Africa’s not that ‘scary’.
I love Tofo, Mozambique because of the type of adventurous and interesting people it attracts. It seems like most travelers in Mozambique have a cool story, and have arrived by word-of-mouth. There are only a couple of backpackers accommodations there (I stayed at Fatima’s), and scuba dive shops, but both are excellent places to meet other solo travelers.
7. Sunset Beach, Zanzibar
Beach Bums, Unite.
The white-sand beaches and baby blue waters of Zanzibar are legendary, and there’s so much to do there from diving to swimming, boating, and perusing the markets in Stone Town. It’s attractive for a lot of reasons. I remember laughing and dancing at the reggae bar there with Masai warriors dressed in regalia, local beach boys, and tourists from all over, loving how communal and inviting it was. Even if you go there solo, you can find your people. Just lock up your stuff in the safes, as there’s some petty crime.
8. Tokyo, Japan
The capital of dining alone.
The language barrier may make you feel a little bit intimidated at first, but virtually everything from public transportation to ordering food from a local restaurant is so organized and systematic, it makes traveling in Japan such an easy and enjoyable experience. In cities like Osaka and Tokyo, there are all kinds of interesting things to do, including all kinds of themed cafes, unique museums where one can easily spend hours in, and beautiful parks perfect for people watching. Visiting Japan is also perhaps the best place to master the art of dining alone. Many solo travelers are afraid of eating alone, but in Japan, eating alone is completely normal. There are even restaurants that sell on “low interaction dining”!
9. Reykjavik, Iceland
Because it is literally the safest country in the world.
Iceland is ranked the #1 safest country in the world by Vision of Humanity, and I can attest, people left their cars running while they went grocery shopping! That’s how sure they are that nobody will steal their car. Iceland’s landscape is so unique and stunning, plus it’s great for a road trip. Reykjavik has social hostels as well, where you can find adventure partners. This guide has everything you need to know about Iceland.
10. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Perfect for times when you don’t want to hike solo, but you’re solo.
Even if you start out alone in the 5-day W or the 8-day O Circuit trek in Torres del Paine National Park, you’ll come out of it with a bunch of new friends. For the same reasons that I loved the Annapurna Circuit, I love the social atmosphere amongst campers and hikers on this trek, particularly on the back, ‘O’, part of the trail where fewer hikers go and the crowds are more intimate. Refugio Dickson, in particular, was tons of fun thanks to the social rangers who played music and organized soccer games.
11. Maui, Hawaii
Because it’s for more than just honeymooners.
It’s crazy to think that Hawaii would be a good place to travel to solo, but I was delighted to find that there were tons of things for me to do even though I wasn’t on my honeymoon. I made friends easily while snorkeling, found a lot of active adventures, like hiking to waterfalls on the Road to Hana, and found a surf school especially for women as well!
12. New Orleans, The USA
New Orleans turned out to be one of the most enjoyable solo trips I’ve had. I spent a week in the Big Easy, and was kept entertained by the huge variety of things to do. Even when I dined alone in restaurants, the wait staff and the others were totally open to talk, and almost everyone I met had a suggestion for me on where to go next. I never felt like the odd woman out either as I sometimes do in beachy or couples’ destinations.
Click here for a complete solo guide to the Big Easy!
13. Montana, The USA
Because it is so meditative and relaxing!
Montana is the type of place where the locals deeply value nature they’re blessed with, and where visitors can find abundant yoga classes, opportunities to walk among ancient trees, and ample opportunity to relax and reflect. Country roads make way for organic grocery stores, crystal shops, and artist galleries. I was lucky to be able to experience Montana through the locals’ eyes, and found many meditative things to do and places to go, including Crystal Sound Bowl Meditation and standup paddleboarding.
14. Québec, Canada
Because it’s one of the safest and friendliest places you will visit.
Quite possibly the safest and most scenic place to drive through, Québec is a special place with endless beauty to offer to its visitors. If you are looking for a comfortable solo road trip experience with great accommodation choices, delicious food, and friendly locals, Québec is perfect for just that. Come for the beautiful fall foliage, but stay for the food, hospitality, and uncrowded adventures in a beautiful part of Canada.
15. Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Because waterfalls are best when shared.
Iguazu Falls is one of Argentina’s most-visited attractions and for good reason, I mean just look at that beauty. There are plenty of social places to stay, from mid-range hotels to hostels. A friend of mine told me he enjoyed his guesthouse so much that it took him three days to actually leave the hostel and go see the waterfall!
16. Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka
Because places that attract surfers are social by nature.
This little surfing town on Sri Lanka’s east coast, which doesn’t get nearly as much tourism as the booming south, is so tranquil and chill, it’s hard to leave. Places that have a sport as their main draw always attract more solo travelers, and this little surfing town in paradise is one of them. Extra points if you take the train there, one of the best parts about traveling through Sri Lanka.
17. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Because hikers are friendly people.
I geared up for the Annapurna Circuit, a 2-week hiking loop in Nepal, solo. I remained solo up until departure, and didn’t have a hiking buddy until I met one on my bus ride in, picked up two more in the coming days near the top, and expanded the group even further. By the time we finished, we were a group of six. A communal endeavor like hiking tends to bring people together.
18. Along the Wild Atlantic Way’s West Coast, Ireland
Because this is one friendly road trip.
It’s the small towns on Ireland’s least populated coast that can be the most social. In a country that’s already pretty friendly, I found that people were especially friendly along the Wild Atlantic Way on the Connemara Coast. Just walk into any pub and within a few seconds someone will be talking to and joking around with you.
19. Berlin, Germany
Where you can truly be yourself.
Berlin is hands down, one of the coolest cities in the world. It’s like Brooklyn meets San Francisco with an LA vibe. Whatever you identify yourself as, you can easily find your tribe here. The city is filled with creative people, alternative things to do, and delicious food to devour. I never felt like the odd one out being a solo girl in the city, because people couldn’t care less (in a good way). You can dress like a unicorn diarrhea and barely anyone would bat an eyelash. What’s not to love about that?
20. El Chaltén, Argentina
The most social place in Patagonia.
Much of Patagonia, particularly along the Carretera Austral, is remote and quiet, but if you’re solo, El Chaltén is the best mix of nature and social opportunities. The hostels are warm and friendly places, many of the hikes and campsites are well-loved, and it’s easy to meet others on the more trodden hikes. Far from the cat calls of Buenos Aires, I found El Chaltén to be a breath of fresh air.
After traveling for over seven years, mostly by myself, I’ve found some really special gems around this world that seemed to have that special something that was missing from many others, and all of these places have that.
I was delighted to find, sometimes in places I least expected, that such friendly people and amazing social atmosphere could exist, and that’s the beauty of traveling on your own.
Need help with the planning, financing, figuring out how to travel for cheap or even free, and what to bring?