9 best destinations for your first international solo trip

Apr 5, 2023

Traveling solo is a life-changing experience, especially for women stepping out of their comfort zone in a huge way for the first time! That’s why I want to help you out with a list of the best destinations for your first international solo trip!

As a female solo traveler, safety, ease of travel, affordability, language, cultural norms, and overall enjoyment are just some of the factors to consider when you zero in on a destination for your first solo international adventure.

I get it — it can be intimidating, but choosing the right destination can make all the difference! In this blog, I’m going to hit you with a rapid fire list of some of the best destinations for first-time female solo travelers.

Whether you want to explore bustling cities, relax on a beach, or immerse yourself in nature, it’s time to pack your bags— this list has something for everyone!

Here are the 9 best destinations for first-time female solo travelers. Let’s go!

Best places for female solo travel in 2023

Don’t forget— after you check out the destinations on this list, take a look at the 8 BEST travel safety products for women (most under $20 on Amazon!) in 2023. After choosing a destination, I think that feeling prepared is the most important thing that you can do to feel safe and comfortable— keep the confidence flowing with some of these creative travel safety gadgets!

1. Iceland

how to pick a destination for a solo trip

Iceland is a top destination for solo female travelers because of its stunning natural beauty, low crime rate, and advanced gender equality.

From unbelievable glaciers to black sand beaches, waterfalls, hot springs, puffins, and volcanoes, Iceland has something for everyone, including the famous Blue Lagoon!

It’s easy to get around, everyone speaks English (in addition to Icelandic, one of the most beautiful and interesting languages that you can totally understand if you know what you’re listening for!), and the locals are friendly and welcoming.

Reykjavik, the capital city, is a vibrant and safe city with activities for solo travelers that go beyond just visiting museums or exploring nightlife. This is an amazing city to roam the streets, grab a beer, and watch the sunset over Rainbow Street (pictured!). Then, head off into the greenest, most scenic countryside you’ve ever seen! Iceland is pure magic.

Visiting Iceland? I learned a lot and made some bonehead mistakes. Check out these 6 tips that first time visitors to Iceland need to know!

2. Maui, Hawaii

best places for solo travel for women

I probably don’t have to tell you that Maui is paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and solo travelers.

It’s world famous for its landscapes: cascading waterfalls, beaches (some with black or red volcanic sand), oceanlife, tropical gardens, beautiful fresh fruit, and seafood. Maui is also exceptionally safe, laid back, and a real “choose your own adventure” kind of destination.

It’s a special place for humpback whale watching, snorkeling with sea turtles (they are literally swimming 10 feet off of the beaches), scuba diving, getting the world’s best mai tai, and driving one of the world’s most famous road trips, the Road to Hana.

Also for caramel banana macadamia nut pancakes. Do not sleep on the food in Hawai!!

The locals are friendly, the island is easy to navigate, and Lahaina is great destination for solo travelers looking for adventure sports. Fun thing— I consider Maui my first big solo trip! It changed my life, so it has a special place in my heart. If you’re considering Maui (and you totally should!) learn the best time to visit Maui and check out these 8 practical tips for driving Maui’s famous Road to Hana.

Ready to book a flight? This is my BEST tried and true travel hack for finding the cheapest flights.

3. Canada

I think the biggest draw to Canada is its natural beauty, with unbeatable national parks, lakes, and mountains. Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal are cosmopolitan cities overflowing with some of the world’s best museums and a unique food scene, while Whistler and Banff offer unbelievable natural beauty and wilderness. It’s a perfect place for skiing, hiking, sledding, camping, and getting the breath of fresh air you need!

After you navigate this list, be sure to check out my top 10 tips for first-time solo travelers.

4. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a popular destination for solo female travelers looking for adventure, relaxation, and nature— pura vida, friends! This is the mantra of “simple life” that permeates every aspect of Costa Rican life, and that includes a feeling of peace and safety.

With beaches, rainforests, hot springs, volcanoes, wildlife, and friendly locals, Costa Rica is also easy to get around, which is huge! San Jose, the capital city, is a great place to start and has a ton of activities for solo travelers. Enjoy fresh produce, a surfing lesson, or hanging out at the beach! Then jump out to more remote places to enjoy hot springs, glam in the rainforest, or go white water rafting.

Costa Rica is also a fantastic hotspot for digital nomads, especially because of their digital nomad visa, which lets you stay in the country for 1 year and is extendable!

5. Portugal

Portugal is one of the most affordable European countries for solo female travelers to visit without breaking the bank! It’s a real sleeper in Europe because newer travelers typically go straight for London, Paris, or Rome. These are all amazing destinations, but Portugal has ALL the old world charm, cobbled streets, and amazing food at a cheaper price point. It also has gorgeous, rugged coastline, charming coastal towns, a world famous wine region, and plenty of activities for solo travelers. On the coast, don’t miss Porto, the Azores, or Algarve! And be sure to add the Benagil sea caves (gorgeous emerald water) to your list!

6. Australia

Especially if you’re visiting from America, Australia is a great place for a first solo trip! Though Australians obviously have a unique and special culture, it’s one of the most similar places to travel in the world to the USA. As an English speaking developed nation with dynamic cities and nature, Australia is known for beautiful beaches, national parks, and wildlife in particular! Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane are cosmopolitan cities with plenty of activities for solo travelers, such as visiting museums and exploring the food scene. Australia is a haven for adventure travelers, scuba divers, surfers, camper van enthusiasts, and wildlife lovers!

7. Ireland

Ireland is a great destination for solo female travelers who want to experience European culture and stunning natural beauty. The locals are friendly, and the country is known for its historic cities and breathtaking landscapes. Dublin, the capital city, is a vibrant and welcoming city with plenty of activities for solo travelers, like visiting museums and exploring the food scene. Head out to the countryside for day trips and to discover cute little pubs, vast green fields, and visit the famous Cliffs of Moher. Plus, Ireland is a country with many workaway opportunities to make your travels cheap and affordable hostels!

8. Bali, Indonesia

Bali is a popular destination if you’re looking for a tropical paradise! The island is known for stunning beaches, lush forests, and unique culture. Plus, because of Bali’s immense popularity, it’s got a great community atmosphere for female solo travelers to make friends and connect. It’s also quite touristy and developed, so it’s a good starting point in an exotic place with no language barrier for a first international trip. Plus, there’s no shortage of nature, wellness retreats, yoga, and cute coworking cafes perfect for women travelers!

9. Japan

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, making it a fantastic destination for solo female travelers. Some of the trains even have women-only cars! The country has a rich cultural heritage, and the locals are so welcoming and friendly. Though the language barrier is a factor, with google translate and a willingness to learn a few phrases, you’ll be more than fine! I recommend skipping the bustling disaster of Tokyo and visiting more fun, interesting, and edgy cities in Japan- Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima- or the places with stunning natural beauty, like Okinawa, Beppu (hot springs), or the 5 lakes of Fuju (Hakone).

Looking for more? Don’t miss out on the best-of-the-best travel hacks, travel products, and itineraries!

Best solo female travel blog

Sarah is the passionate solo female travel blogger behind Wait, Where is She? She’s a full time traveler, scuba diver, foodie, and adventure seeker with a deep love for sharing the special places and bucket list destinations that she’s found herself in.

She LIVES for tasty street food market grills, quiet ocean sunrises, pour over coffee, long train rides with a Taylor Swift album, that feeling when you shower after a salty beach day, and living with an insatiable curiosity for the wonders of the natural world and all of its vibrant cultures. 

Wait, Where is She? serves people with the information and inspiration to confidently seek out their own adventures and make the joys of travel easier, more accessible, and budget-friendly. Come along for the laughs while she makes all the mistakes (so you don’t have to). Let’s go!

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