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Still unsure about embarking on solo female travel for the first time? This post is for you.
In the following travel destination recommendations for first-time solo travel for a woman, you’ll find more than local tips and advice on lodging, restaurants and transportation. You’ll also find inspiration from women over 40 who did it, who started travelling alone and found that the world is theirs to be discovered solo or not.
Many of the proposed destinations might already be on your travel radar for reasons such as familiarity and safety factors while other ones might surprise you and entice you to get out of your comfort zone.
Women who travel solo are fascinating.
To travel alone as a woman is for many of us mid-lifers an option we hadn’t before considered.
Here are the top solo female travel destinations detailed on this post
Table of contents
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London is recommended by Jill Bowdery from Reading The Book Travel
London, United Kingdom is the perfect city destination for solo woman travellers over 40.
A major transport hub with direct flights all across the globe, London is easily accessible and, with English (naturally) as the native language, communication is relatively straightforward. The young scene in London is lively and exuberant, but the best of the city really only becomes accessible with a few more years of experience and income under your belt.
London has it all: splendid green parks which are a joy to wander; more historic buildings than you could possibly imagine, and a cultural and foodie scene which equals or surpasses any city the world over. London is made for exploring at your leisure, and as a solo traveller, you can lose yourself in world-class museums such as the National Gallery, Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum and many more. Admire the outside of Buckingham Palace or Kensington Palace before enjoying a leisurely afternoon tea at the Ritz or Savoy hotel; don’t be shy to enjoy the finer things in life solo, confident women go far in London!
Check out the shopping in stores such as Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.
Even if you can’t afford to buy, half the fun is in looking! More affordable shops are everywhere too, with every conceivable brand represented; or check out markets such as Borough Market or Kensington Market for bargain deals.
Then spend an evening at the theatre enjoying the best the West End has to offer.
Check out the ticket office in Leicester Square, where you can often snap up a last-minute bargain, especially on those single seats! I’ve attended the theatre alone in London many times and it is the perfect night out for a solo traveller. If your tastes are more Tchaikovsky than Sondheim, why not pay a visit to the Royal Opera House for world-class opera and ballet? Again, you can get great seats by travelling solo. Or visit the Globe on London’s South Bank for Shakespeare in the most authentic possible setting. Whatever your tastes, London has the theatre for you.
The city centre has hundreds of hotels to suit most budgets.
The Guoman Royal Horseguards Hotel (5*) has an enviable position on the Thames Embankment and close to Trafalgar Square and Theatreland. If you are on a tighter budget, I recommend looking further out of the city but close to a Tube (subway) station. Trains run into the small hours, are safe for solo travellers (although it is wise never to be alone in a carriage), and a short commute can dramatically reduce the nightly cost.
Like all big cities, London has its risks for women travelling alone, but during daylight hours you have nothing to fear. At night, stick to busy areas and employ the same common sense you would use in any big city. London really is the perfect destination for the 40+ woman travelling solo. Why not give it a try?
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Scotland is recommended by Nicole Labarge
Scotland is the perfect place to visit for first-time solo female travellers.
I studied abroad in Edinburgh and Scotland still holds a special place in my heart even after visiting 115 countries. Scottish people are known for being friendly, polite and helpful if you need directions or assistance. It is a progressive country that fights for women’s rights and the current first minister Nicola Sturgeon, a woman, runs the Scottish Parliament. Scotland is known for its gorgeous lakes, lush green hills, idyllic Outlander locations and hair coos (cows).
If you don’t want to drive, it is fairly easy to get around with local and tour buses in Scotland and visit the stunning landscapes of the Highlands including Glen Coe, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle or Eilean Donan Castle – the most famous castle in the world.
There is so much to do in Scotland whether you are into gorgeous beaches, beautiful architecture or road tripping to see the breathtaking landscapes. Scotland has something for everyone, especially women travelling solo.
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Dublin is recommended by Linda Malys Yore from Linda On The Run
Dublin Ireland is an ideal city for first-time solo female travellers.
I speak from experience because I *was* a 66-year-old solo female traveller during my Dublin visit! This was my first solo trip and I was overwhelmed and frightened at the prospect. I had nothing to worry about though because Dublin is safe, friendly, has great restaurants and pubs and an abundance of attractions to visit.
I chose to stay in an AirBnB within Dublin’s city walls. That was definitely a good decision for me as everything I wanted to do was within walking distance! There were plenty of locals and tourists out and about all hours of the day and evening, and even when there weren’t so many, I always felt very safe. When I needed directions there was always a welcoming face to assist me.
There are loads of hotels, and hostels to choose from if you are not into an AirBnB.
And if walking a lot like I did doesn’t interest you, Dublin has great transportation options, like the Hop On, Hop Off Dublin Pass which provides bus transportation around Dublin, DART, the electric rail system, and Luas, the light rail tram. Getting around Dublin is super easy.
The attractions around Dublin are diverse.
You can learn Irish history by visiting Kilmainham Gaol, or the General Post Office. I had a blast the day I toured the Guinness Storehouse, spent time in the uber-popular trendy Temple Temple Bar district and found the Molly Malone statue. My favourite was touring Trinity College, its Long Room Library, and seeing the historic Book of Kells.
Restaurants and pubs are everywhere.
All are clean, some are cheap. Grocery stores and markets dot the urban landscape. I’m vegan and between eating out and making meals in my Air B&B there’s no worry about quality options.
Dublin has a myriad of shopping options for you. A stroll down O’Connell or Grafton Streets will provide you will more options than you can imagine! And if you long for green space, St. Stephen’s Green or Merrion Square are places to look into. I cannot wait to return to Dublin. It is such a wonderful city with so much to offer to the solo female traveller.
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Paris is recommended by Suzanne Wolko from Phila Travel Girl
For women who travel solo for the first time, it’s important to set expectations for Paris – it is a city. Yes, I know you want it to be that romantic city of the movies, television and books but it’s a vibrant city that continues to evolve around its storied history and iconic attractions. It’s very easy to navigate by foot, metro (download CityMapper app), local boat on the Seine or Uber (note taxis are notoriously expensive).
For safety, wear a cross-body bag.
Don’t carry your passport (take a photo and keep in your email drafts folder) and watch out for those asking “do you speak English” or try to put bracelets on you at Sacre Coeur. Food can be tricky for a first timer – look at the posted menus first before being seated. Many restaurants will have English menus if you ask.
Local cafes favourites are “Buvette”, “Miznon” and “Holy Belly”. ”Breakfast in America” serves U.S. foods. Takeaway shop “Paul” has sandwiches and quiche. My favourite secret lunch spot is the cafeteria in the Galleries Lafayette department store before ascending to their rooftop for the views of the Opera and the Eiffel Tower.
Skip the line tickets for attractions are worth it to save time.
The Opera tour is understated elegance, the Eiffel Tower tour ticket is to the 2nd level (buy the ticket to the top inside), the VIP Evening tour of the Louvre showcases highlights and Musee D’Orsay is an architectural gem housing the Impressionists. The Street Art tour of Paris gives you a glimpse into the pulse of the city from emerging and established artists.
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Nice is recommended by Maureen of Life On The Mediterranean
Nice, France is perfect for first-time solo female travellers because it’s extremely easy to navigate.
The airport bus will whisk you to the center of town in 20 minutes for a mere $7. Old Town is a great, safe area to discover Nice’s historical roots and you can climb up to the Chateau for a magnificent view of the city, the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a very friendly city where you can easily manoeuver in English. Everyone speaks some degree of English.
Shop the unique vendors on the Cours Saleya for local specialities.
Then take the Hop on/Hop off bus to get your bearings of Nice and the neighbouring town of Villefrance-sur-mer. There are tons of cafes and bars where you can sit and make conversation with locals and other tourists, and on Sunday morning there’s an open Coffee Meetup where usually 50 people show up just to chat and catch up – expats and locals alike.
There are a variety of venues you can go to listen to live music and share a table with others. Or pop over to the Quiz Nights at the Blue Whale or Ma Nolan’s where surely a team needs an extra member.
There is no shortage of private and public beaches to linger at.
Rent a lounge chair and umbrella at one of the private beaches and be catered to all day long by the attentive staff. Sometimes, it’s just nice to be alone, but know you are not alone.
Nice is an extremely safe place nowadays and you’ll frequently see police moving about. The best places to stay are either in or near Old Town or in a yummy hotel right on the Promenade des Anglais fronting the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a fantastic city to discover.
I’ve been quite intrigued by all the interest surrounding solo female travel as of lately. It’s a hot topic and we are part of it.
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Brussels is recommended by Bernadette Jackson from A Packed Life
Brussels is an understandably cosmopolitan city as a home of the European Parliament. As such, it’s an easy city in which to be a visitor and a fine option for first time solo female travellers.
First up, there is absolutely loads to see and do; it’s an engrossing city to wander, with a compact centre. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grand Place has buildings to investigate on each side of the square. Wander a little further from Grand Place, and there’s plenty of opportunity to people watch over lunch, dinner or a drink. The bar Au Bon Vieux Temps has stained glass setting out the ancient guilds of the city.
A La Bécasse across the street has a truly friendly wait staff team, ensuring you’ll never feel lonely.
There are communal tables at Le Pain Quotidien, or you can sit in the arcade and enjoy the buzz of visitors as you dine. I’ll quickly mention the options for waffles, lots of Belgian chocolate, frites and the beautiful array of Belgian beers. If you want a focus to a city walk, take the Comic Strip self-guided tour to spot TinTin and his fellow illustrated Belgians depicted on walls across the city. Like me, you may find yourself joining an unofficial group along the way.
You can take a chocolate tasting tour or even a chocolate making workshop: a fine way to laugh with new friends.
Spend some time exploring the neighbourhoods of the city too. I loved beautiful Saint Gilles, said to be the place where the world meets in Brussels. The is the Art Nouveau centre of the city, with Horta’s museum and a whole lot of fine architecture to enjoy. Have lunch in one of the bars near the marketplace, and you’ll see Brussels life all around: lost gloves returned, news discussed and joys celebrated. It made me feel welcomed, rather than alone.
Also in Saint Gilles, check out the Porte de Hal, Brussels’ last remaining city gate.
It’s now a museum of the armoury and the city guilds, with a brilliant battlement walk to see the city from on high. Back in the centre of Brussels, I enjoyed staying in an apartment with kitchen facilities. It gave me the chance to recharge on nights that I ran out of energy by dinner time. Like most large cities, there are plenty of small supermarkets to stock your fridge, and seeing how people eat at home is one of the joys of travel.
For practicalities, you should note that the Brussels metro is fast, easy to navigate, and I always felt completely safe. I was entirely happy eating alone or popping into a bar for a coffee and walking back to the apartment in the late evening.
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Florence & Pisa
Florence and Pisa are recommended by Suzanne Jones of The Travel Bunny
Pisa and Florence are popular Italian destinations for tourists and travellers and were the perfect cities for my first foray into solo travel.
My first solo trip happened in my forties and, yes, I’ll admit to being a little nervous. But I needn’t have been, that first Italy trip started a love of solo travel which is a fabulous way to see a destination. I flew into Pisa and took the one-hour train journey to Florence to start my trip.
There’s so much going on in Florence with its art, history and food that I didn’t feel bored, lonely or unsafe at any point during my stay and it was good to explore at my own pace. I didn’t book in at a hotel but stayed at a small B&B, Joanna I B&B, about half an hour’s walk from the city centre. It was more personal than a hotel and easier to chat with other guests at breakfast where I got some great tips on what to see in the city.
The guy at reception was incredibly helpful and advised what to see and do in the time I had available with some good local information. Without him, I’d never have seen the sunset over the city from Piazzale Michelangelo which is magical. Lots of people gather for the sunset with musicians, ice creams stalls and there was a friendly air about the place as we all waited together for the sun to set.
Florence is an easy place to navigate on foot which I feel is one of the best ways to explore a city. The main sights are all in fairly close proximity and are surrounded by a good choice of restaurants and bars, some with street tables where a spot of people watching will keep you entertained whilst you eat.
After my time exploring Florence I took the train back to Pisa.
I spent a day marvelling at the field of Miracles and the Leaning Tower of Pisa which is just half an hour’s walk from Centrale train station. Like Florence, Pisa is easy to get around on foot and the city is geared up for all kinds of visitors from families and couples to solo travellers.
I don’t speak Italian but had no problems because English was widely spoken. If you’re thinking of taking your first solo trip then a few days exploring Florence and Pisa are perfect cities to test the water.
Check out Suzanne’s travel photos on Instagram
Porto & Lisbon
Lisbon- Porto are recommended by Brianne Miers from A Traveling Life
Even though I’ve only been to Portugal twice, both trips include some of my fondest travel memories. I think the country is the perfect destination for solo female travellers of all ages, and I frequently recommend it to women who might be new to solo travel.
To start, Portugal is very easy to get to from major cities in North America and Europe, English is widely spoken, and it is relatively affordable compared to other Western European countries. It’s also compact and easy to navigate by public transportation or car, so you can cover a lot of in a short amount of time. And, of course, it’s hard not to have a good time in a country that makes such good wine and pastries.
Lisbon is a wonderful city to explore on foot – you can walk to most of the main attractions, and if you get tired, just find a spot at a sidewalk cafe and people watch, or hop on one of the yellow trams. For dinner, Time Out Market is a fun spot, where you can sample food and drink from 40 vendors, and it’s entertaining to take a late-night stroll through Bairro Alto, which is always packed with partiers in the streets.
There are lots of day trips you can take from Lisbon too – you can head along the coast to Belem, where you’ll find the Tower of Belem and Jeronimos Monastery, and if you want to do some sunbathing, just head further out to the resort town of Cascais. Sintra is another great day trip and one of my favourite places in Portugal – it’s only 45 minutes away by train, and you can spend the day wandering through massive castles and estates perched high in the hills.
On my second trip to Portugal, I took the train about two hours north of Lisbon to Porto, which makes for a lovely weekend trip. It’s a small city, so you can take your time sightseeing, enjoying the local cuisine, checking out the street art, and of course, and drinking lots of port!
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Germany is recommended by Cate Brubaker from International Desserts Blog
Germany is ideal for the first-time female solo traveller because the public transportation system is easy to navigate, many Germans speak English, and there’s just so much to do, see, and eat!
If you’re looking for a hip big-city experience, try Berlin in the east, Hamburg in the north and Munich in the south. If you lean more towards the outdoors, I recommend the Bavarian Alps, the Black Forest, the Harz Mountains or the beautiful Baltic Sea beaches in the north. Into historic castles or cute little cobblestoned towns? There are too many options to mention here but a few of my favourites are Burg Eltz (castle), Schloss Wernigerode (castle and town), Freiburg (college town) or Lübeck (the Hanseatic city in the north).
The best way to get around Germany is to use public transportation.
You can fly into a wide range of cities from other locations in Europe, as well as the rest of the world. You can fly between cities in Germany but I prefer taking the train or bus. If you want to save money, book your tickets online several weeks in advance (websites should have information in English).
To get around town, buy an inexpensive transit day pass and take the metro, bus or street car. Or rent a bike — or walk! German cities are extremely bike-able and walkable. As far as where you stay, there are many options for hostels to luxury hotels. I typically opt for Airbnb or smaller family-run Pensionen and make reservations online.
Germany also has a wide range of dining options for all kinds of tastes, from meat-lovers to vegans.
A few things to try – Bratwurst with mustard, the local beer, afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake), Schnitzel with Bratkartofeln (fried potatoes), and anything in any local bakery. A woman travelling alone won’t run out of new experiences in Germany!
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Switzerland is recommended by Arzo Nayel from Arzo Travels
Once a year, pack your bag and travel to Switzerland.
Okay, you don’t have to travel to Switzerland each year, but the country is great for your (first) female solo travel. I love travelling the small country by myself and I strongly suggest to try it out as well – especially if you are concerned about safety reasons when travelling solo.
The country is super safe – after months of travelling through Switzerland, I can say I never felt unsafe. The crime rate is quite low, I walked the streets in the evening by myself and never felt threatened. It is even safe to leave your items in the car without having to worry non-stop about being robbed (but of course, common sense and taking some precautions is always important).
Public transportation is pretty great – you never have to worry how to get from one place to the other. Especially as a woman solo traveller (regardless the age) this can be tricky in some countries, but no need to worry in Switzerland.
Staying in hotels, hostels, or Airbnb is normally also very safe – while the Swiss aren’t known for being experts of small-talks, they are friendly if you ask them for directions or help. For full disclosure, I should add that hotels can be very pricey if travelling alone (and when you can’t split costs) but it is still so worth it.
Because there is also a lot to do and see – the country has some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world that will make your first solo trip even more amazing. There are towns and villages that are beyond cute, stroll cities like Zurich or just hike the mountains (there are some less challenging hikes like the Ebenalp Mountain) – there is no shortage of fun activities.
And while it might not be very easy to make friends with Swiss, there are so many visitors from all around the world that it is easy to meet people and share your experiences!
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Eastern Europe Destinations
Budapest is recommended by Becky from Becky The Traveler
Budapest is one of those destinations I had heard great things about but it wasn’t until a cheap deal came up on Skyscanner that I booked the trip.
As a female solo traveller, I’m always on the lookout for last minute deals to explore new places.
Budapest is the perfect destination for a first-time solo traveller. It’s easy to get from the airport to the city via bus (or taxi if you prefer), always the biggest hurdle when you arrive in a new city! But once you’ve arrived in Budapest everything is within walking distance, some places a little further than others so you can jump on a tram.
When travelling solo I love wandering the streets and finding new places, cafes and restaurants.
Even at night, I felt perfectly safe, my highlight was finding a local bar with Hungarian’s enjoying an evening drink and I sat with them chatting (and smiling since my Hungarian is limited)
There are plenty of things to do on your Budapest trip, take in the historic sites, eat Hungarian food and wine, go caving, try the famous ruins bars or you can take some time to relax and enjoy the thermal baths. Budapest is well-known for its baths, although it can be a difficult decision to decide which are the best baths in Budapest. I opted for the Rudas Baths, slightly smaller than others but perfect as a solo-traveller. I even met up with 3 other solo ladies and spent nearly 2 hours in the baths!
The hostel I stayed at called Friends Hostel & Apartments was again great for solo travel.
I opted for the dorm room which allows the opportunity to meet and mingle with like-minded travellers. Overall, Budapest is a wonderful place to visit whether you are travelling solo or in a group. Once you’ve visited you’ll see why everyone recommends it as a great place to go.
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Plovdiv is recommended by Lindsay from The Neverending Wanderlust
Plovdiv, Bulgaria is an excellent choice for first-time solo female travellers over 40.
This small yet welcoming city has plenty to offer visitors and is a very safe place to go on a weekend getaway. With a population of only about 300k, Plovdiv is big enough to keep visitors entertained for a few days, while not feeling overwhelming. This city is so cool that it is being featured as the European Capital of Culture in 2019. The next 18mos should be a very exciting time to visit Plovdiv.
Tourists mostly congregate in the downtown, Old Town, and Kapana districts and there are plenty of shops, museums, old homes, bars, and restaurants to keep you busy. Definitely take the Free Walking Tour that is offered so you can get a feel for the city and the history.
A bit later, check out the Kapana district for dinner and drinks and you will be spoiled for choice – with Pavaj being one of the city’s most popular hotspots. Locals are quite accustomed to having foreign visitors and you will find most shops, restaurants, and bar owners have a decent (if not excellent) level of English.
The best time to visit Plovdiv is either during the Spring or Autumn as there are regular festivals taking place.
The city is only a 2.5hr (by bus or train) from Sofia and there are a few Ryanair flights that fly directly to Plovdiv from other European cities. *If you fly directly into Plovdiv, you will need to take a taxi into the city as there is no public transport at this time. A good, reliable company to check out is TrueDrivers and they are quite accustomed to working with native-English speakers.
Definitely consider putting Plovdiv, Bulgaria on your must-see list when visiting the Balkans – you won’t be disappointed!
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Lithuania is recommended by Anita Sane from The Sane Travel
Why is Lithuania a perfect destination for a first female solo travel trip?
In a decision about a first solo trip, safety and the easiness of getting around are the first things that come to my mind. In this sense, Lithuania is a perfect solo travel destination for women. It’s safe and has a well developed public transport system. Its capital Vilnius is easily accessible by direct flights from many European countries. On top of that, it’s comparably cheap and some 80% of young people speak English there.
Talking about sights, one should know that the Old Town of Vilnius was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, so you could enjoy its beauty wandering around cobbled streets and admiring the Cathedral Square with its iconic tower. Do not forget the gorgeous Christmas tree placed there in winter. It’s been listed among the most beautiful ones in the world for a few times.
The awesome Trakai castle on the lake is easily accessible by a bit more than half an hour train or bus ride from the capital. If you have more time, visit Kaunas, the future culture capital of Europe 2022, at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers – the Neman and the Neris. If you want to continue your trip to the other Baltic States, Lux Express buses will bring you to your next destination.
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