Doing things alone can be immensely therapeutic: A solo meal can help you really appreciate food; a solitary walk can be a rare opportunity to think; and traveling by yourself can be an incredible opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth.
Solo trips are all the rage right now: A 2014 survey by Booking.com found that 72% of American women have traveled alone, for business or pleasure. Of these women, 65% say that these experiences have improved their confidence. We've already told you why you should consider taking a solo trip; now we're helping you choose your destination.
Read through for our picks of the 18 best destinations for women to explore unaccompanied, based on a range of factors like safety, quality of solo activities, and the likelihood of meeting fellow wayfarers. Get your selfie sticks ready -- adventure waits for no one.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
While Amsterdam is largely known for its vices (legalized prostitution and drugs among them), the city is actually very safe for solo travelers. TripAdvisor lists it as one of the 25 safest cities in the world, and its vibrant nightlife actually means you'll rarely find yourself alone on a street at night.
The city's many museums and cafes are also ideal for those traveling alone. You can explore easily by foot or bike -- or even boat -- and get lost in the maze-like, picturesque streets. Pop into one of the city's street markets, including the world's only floating flower market. Buy an I amsterdam City Card to get free or discounted admission to many of the city's best-known sites, like the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum.
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Where To Stay: There's no shortage of options for travelers, but the Lloyd Hotel stands out from the pack as the first hotel where you can choose just how many "stars" you want. So, those on a tight budget can opt for a one-star experience (twin bed, shared bathroom), while travelers with more resources can book five-star accommodations, which feature separate seating areas and well-appointed bathrooms.
The hotel is located in an historic building that has been updated with modern Dutch design elements, and one-of-a-kind decor in each room. It's a 10-minute tram ride from the main train station, and just across the street from one of the city's picturesque canals.
Scandinavian countries are generally safe, and their citizens tend to be exceedingly friendly -- which is why they are a great option for solo travelers. And while Iceland has become a popular destination in recent years, don't overlook Norway, its neighbor to the east. Bergen, the nation's second-largest city, is the perfect spot to do some urban exploring before going further afield to experience the fjords. And you may even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
While in town, you'll definitely want to visit the Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage site of picturesque buildings by the city's wharf. Don't miss the nearby fish market, where you can grab a bite from one of the street carts (including whale steak, should you feel brave enough). Once you've had your fill of wandering, hop on a funicular to experience sweeping views of the city.
Bergen, Norway (Continued)
Where To Stay: Just steps from the Bryggen, First Hotel Marin provides the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the city. The brick building used to be a print shop, and the rooms still retain some of their original old-school sensibilities, with oak furniture and hardwood floors. If you spring for the penthouse, you'll get views of the harbor and city, but all guests can take advantage of the free breakfast and modern bathrooms (including heated floors and towels!).
The most populous city in Chile (around 40% of the country lives there), Santiago is wonderful for solo travelers. It's regularly ranked as one of the safest large cities in South America, and is famous for its vibrant street life and walkability.
From the city center, you'll be able to explore Santiago's many concert halls, churches, and museums, like the stunning Museo Nacional Bellas Artes. A short subway ride away, Cerro San Cristóbal is the city's largest park, and it requires at least a full day of exploration. A funicular transports visitors to the zoo, botanical gardens, and the not-to-be-missed Terraza Bellavista, which offers stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains.
Santiago, Chile (Continued)
Where To Stay: Luciano K Hotel is located in Barrio Lastarria, a neighbourhood known for its Bohemian charms and artsy coffee shops. There's no shortage of things to do, with loads of bars and cafes, plus a movie theatre, all nearby. If you're looking for a bit more solitude, try the Turkish baths, or simply enjoy a meal on the rooftop of the hotel. Fun fact: It was the tallest building in Chile when it was built in the 1920s.
Hong Kong, China
Those who've only ever traveled to Hong Kong for business will tell you that it's no different than other busy financial hubs like Shanghai or NYC. Well, these people have yet to see the real side of the city.
"Hong Kong is my top destination for an urban adventure alone," says Stephanie Yoder of Twenty-Something Travel. "You'll absorb more sights, sounds and smells than you can ever imagine from just walking around."
A unique intersection of China's rich history and modern influences from the West, Hong Kong is chock full of dishes that will tickle your tastebuds -- think stir fried crab at Aberdeen's floating restaurants and rice casserole pots at Temple Street Night Market. You'll run into fellow travelers at the cluster of swanky nightclubs along Lan Kwai Fong, the renowned "party street." The former British colony is also easier to navigate compared to many other destinations in Asia, due to abundant English signage and courteous, mostly bilingual locals.
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Where To Stay: Hotel Indigo is a boutique hotel that captures the East-meets-West essence of the the city with a sleek design that incorporates the best of both worlds. Incoming guests are greeted by a waterfall of giant red lanterns at the entrance, while the rooms are infused with a touch of European minimalism. With a convenient location in Wanchai, a commercialized yet highly residential neighborhood, you'll be a short walk away from local foodie institutions like Capital Café and the effortlessly cool indie boutiques of Star Street. Hit up the Wanchai Heritage Trail if you're interested in a peek into this historic neighborhood that has survived two world wars.
Just a 45-minute ride from Shanghai by high-speed train, Hangzhou has been praised as "heaven on Earth" by Chinese authors throughout history. It's not hard to see why the ancient capital was the setting for countless folklore and poems: West Lake, a landmark named after a legendary beauty in ancient China, boasts arresting sunset views that will make you feel utterly at peace.
You'll need to get on a wooden cruise boat to truly appreciate these out-of-this-world sights: Weeping willows that gently ripple on the water's surface, the spectrum of blossoms that change along with the seasons, and the glimmering Leifeng Pagoda tower. Exploring the picturesque town has also never been easier, thanks to free outdoor Wi-Fi, an easy-to-use metro system, and the popularity of Uber in China. Those who seek even more tranquility can sign up for a tea-picking tour at Longjing Imperial Tea Garden, a plantation that produces green tea leaves, and which counts Emperor Qianlong among its loyal fans.
Hangzhou, China (Continued)
Where To Stay: A day of sight-seeing and tea-picking calls for some serious pampering. With an award-winning spa and 62 upscale suites and villas, there's no better place for R&R than Banyan Tree. The hotel is situated in the picturesque Xixi National Wetland Park, an exclusive ecological site that only admits 3,000 people per day. A night here will provide much-needed relaxation to urbanites: You'll be resting your head on precious mahogany beds and waking up to the gentle bird calls of little egrets, a common species at the park.
Boracay is the Southeast Asian island for affordable holiday fun in the sun. White sands, crystal clear waves, and marvelous sunsets are the obvious perks that come with your visit, but the most unforgettable one by far will be the friendly smiles you'll encounter here: Filipinos are consistently ranked as some of the happiest people in the world.
Named the "Best Island on Earth" by Travel + Leisure in 2012, the tropical paradise is also known for its wild party scene, providing plenty of opportunities to join locals and fellow travelers on epic seaside bar crawls. Hit up Cocomangas, the longest-running bar on the island, to sip on under-$10 cocktail jars and shakers and start mingling. Bali and Phuket are so last year.
Where To Stay: After a night of partying, you'll need a luxe sanctuary to rest and recharge: The boutique Villa Caemilla hotel is located at Station 3, a private and peaceful strip of the island. A free motorized tricycle is also available for shuttling guests to and from the busier districts. The building is right on the water, so each spacious suite offers unbeatable views of the ocean. You'll be able to tuck your toes into the sand the moment you step outside.
Verona is a province in between Milan and Venice, making it the perfect pit stop on a cross-country trip. Many remember it as the birthplace of one of the most celebrated romances in history, but there's a lot more to do here besides checking in at Juliet's Balcony on Facebook.
To say that Verona can be the set of a romance epic would not be an understatement. "Each corner you turn, you'll come face to face with flowers that wouldn't look out of place at a high-end wedding," says Damon Dominique, travel vlogger at Shut Up and Go. "But these unbelievable blossoms are just your average gardening here. Be sure to make time for Piazza delle Erbe, the city's open-air market, and sign up for a wine tour at Allegrini, the area's premier vineyard. With so much amore in the air, you might not be leaving Verona alone.
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Where To Stay: A monumental city like Verona deserves a hotel with the stateliness to match. The palatial Palazzo Victoria features 74 rooms decked out in lush materials -- like fine Italian marble -- and antique furniture. The rooms offer spectacular views of Corso di Porta Borsari, a landmark pedestrian street. Guests are made to feel like Veronese noble(wo)men, receiving free welcome drinks upon arrival and the finest virgin olive oil as a commemoration of their stay.
Sometimes, one of the best ways to unwind is to get out on your own and commune with nature. Few places are as relaxing as Sedona, with its enchanting red rock landscape, outdoor activities, and burgeoning wine scene. There's plenty you can do to get a newfound appreciation for the Earth: Hike at your own pace, take a canoe tour of the nearby Verde Valley Wine Trail, or just meditate on a mountaintop. There's no better place to have an epiphany about life than at the summit of a gorgeous canyon.
Sedona, Arizona (Continued)
Where To Stay: "Sedona is an area known for its spas, and you really can't go wrong with the beautiful setting of Amara Resort and Spa," says Laura Michonski, a seasoned solo traveler and the site director of NewYork.com. Nestled along the Oak Creek Canyons, this resort has all the markings of a sanctuary: jetted soaking tubs, a courtyard overlooking cliffs, and an infinity pool. You'll leave fully-charged.
The Scottish capital, also nicknamed Auld Reekie, resembles a painting come to life -- even during one of its 191 rainy days per year. Make sure to put on your rain boots for an outing to Royal Mile and Princes Street -- the main thoroughfares for the city's Old Town and New Town respectively. Beyond these two major hot spots, the city is also a haven for the arts: It's the well-known locale for the The Fringe Festival, a month-long fête of music, dance, and theater.
According to Kate McCulley, travel blogger at Adventurous Kate, timing your visit around August to catch one of Edinburgh's festivals will be the best decision on your solo trip. The sheer inspiration you'll gain from watching performances and torchlight processions will be well worth the extra planning. The weather might still be a bit chilly, but the meeting of fellow culture-loving minds will be enough to warm you up.
Edinburgh, Scotland (Continued)
Where To Stay: Given the time you'll spend at the charming pubs, boutiques and flea markets on Royal Mile, it makes sense to set up camp nearby at the G&V Hotel. It's just off the popular walkway and right across the street from Angels With Bagpipes, an acclaimed Scottish eatery. Following a total redesign, the luxury hotel features exquisite decor in collaboration with Scotland's finest creatives, such as artist Hatti Pattisson and womenswear designer Judy R Clark. Now this is what it means to be submerged in art.
Be prepared for a total visual feast: This design capital doesn't hold back on postcard-ready moments. Shopping enthusiasts will be in their element at Östermalm, a posh neighborhood with high-end local designer boutiques. Though prices are still hefty, you'll be able to score brands like Acne Studio at a much better deal. Visitors looking for some good old Scandinavian charm should consider a trip to the old town of Gamla Stan, a historic zone with cobblestone streets and candy-colored buildings.
Women traveling alone are rightfully concerned with safety, and Stockholm has consistently earned the title of the safest city in Europe. If anything, you'll be more concerned about stretching your budget, since costs run considerably higher than many other cities. Don't bother taking cabs here -- they cost as much as a five-star dinner -- and just rent a bike instead." advises Jinna Yang, photographer and founder of Grease and Glamour. With cycling lanes everywhere, the town is probably best explored on two wheels.
Stockholm, Sweden (Continued)
Where To Stay: You can't really say that you've been to the world's top design capital without staying at a hotel with top-notch interiors. Under the guidance of renowned architectural trio Claesson Koivisto Rune, the Nobis Hotel hotel has forgone all the impersonal and flashy elements like opulent furniture, red carpets, and velvet drapes. Instead, you'll feel like you're crashing at the intimate quarters of a tastemaker, with tastefully muted palettes and inspired wooden furniture.
In Oahu, happiness is almost a given: It's sunny almost every day, there are beaches to lay on, mountains to climb, and tiki drinks at every turn -- what more could you want? The locals are laid back and friendly, and although you'll pay a pretty penny for your flight, you don't have to spend a fortune to stay. Hotel rates in Waikiki are often below the $200 mark, due to high competition in the hospitality business.
According to Michonski, cabs are the best way to get around the island, as navigating the poorly marked roads is ill-advised for tourists. The public transport system also leaves something to be desired, with its confusing bus schedules. But none of that changes the fact that, once you get here, you'll never want to leave.
Where To Stay: If you're looking for a fuss-free accommodation with decent rates, the cozy Vive Hotel Waikiki should be your top choice. For roughly $159 per night, you can stay at one of its impeccably clean rooms with unlimited access to beach gear. There's no pool, but it won't matter, since you'll be able get to the beach faster than you can say "aloha."
It's hard not to fall in love with Lisbon's bright tiled buildings, yellow trams, and winding stone-paved streets. Then, you try a pastel de nata -- Belém's glorious, crème brûlée-like custard pastry -- and you're ready to commit for life.
"Getting anywhere in Lisbon requires going up about two or three massive hills, so your buns and thighs are bound to be looking on point," says Joanna Franco, co-host at Shut Up and Go. Weekends are best spent road tripping to Sintra, a town full of majestic monuments such as the pictured Pena National Palace. The Portuguese capital is great for women visiting alone, since the nightlife in neighborhoods like Bairro Alto is not as overwhelming as other European cities. Just don't forget to pregame with shots of ginjinha -- Portugal's legendary cherry liqueur.
Where To Stay:History buffs will love the hipster-chic Memmo Alfama: The terrace pool gives a breathtaking panorama of Alfama, the oldest area in Lisbon. Its proximity to notable landmarks like São Jorge Castle and the Lisbon Cathedral (known simply as the "Sé" among locals) are another huge plus. Alfama is also known for Feira da Ladra, a bustling weekend flea market, located just 15 minutes from the hotel by foot.
Anyone who appreciates unreal scenery should have Lake Atitlán on her bucket list. There's a big backpacker social scene at Sololá, the region hugging the lake. Whether you're interested in finding a kayaking buddy or just making new friends, you mustn't miss the ever-so-busy Sololá Market, an all-week marketplace favored by locals and travelers alike. For a taste of Mayan culture, get a local tour guide to bring you to a Mayan fire healing ceremony or a tree-planting ceremony.
Where To Stay: Rustic cottage inn Posada de Santiago offers the quintessential village experience: The walls are created with volcanic stones, the furniture is draped with Guatemalan textiles, and it's right on Lake Atitlán. You can't miss the homegrown coffee, hand-churned ice cream and wood-smoked meats at the restaurant located on site.
While the walled city makes a memorable appearance as the setting for King's Landing in Game of Thrones, it has a lot more to offer than Instagram backdrops for fans of the show. The seaport is home to some of the best-preserved city walls in Europe, dating back to the Middle Ages. And what's behind them is equally enthralling.
History buffs will love the medieval Franciscan Monastery and Museum, as well as the architecturally diverse Rector's Palace. The construction of the latter monument spanned centuries and incorporated Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque influences. "I love walking along the walls of Dubrovnik just before sunset and taking in the cleat waters of the shimmering Adriatic sea." says McCulley. You can also hop on the cable car to see the White City in all its glory.
Dubrovnik, Croatia (Continued)
Where To Stay: The Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel -- scheduled to open in September -- promises to be a great option. The stylish resort on the Riviera is a stone's throw from the heritage museums and palaces of Old Town Dubrovnik, offering guests a taste of history and novelty. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls at the restaurant bring you unparalleled views of the coast as you sample traditional Croatian cuisine. You'll feel like a queen whether you're sipping on cocktails by the outdoor pool or resting on a chevron cushion in one of the 239 guests rooms.
Quepos, Costa Rica
Costa Ricans are some of the nicest people around, since most locals live by the "pura vida" mentality -- which means to live a rich life (and no, that doesn't necessarily mean financially rich). There are endless coffee farms, volcanos, and hot springs that are perfect for exploring solo.
If you want know what it's like on the set of Lost, sign up for a tour of Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the last-remaining "natural zoos" in the world. You'll get up close and personal with all kinds of wildlife, from sleeping bats to capuchin monkeys. Those who prefer a more serene side of nature can sunbathe at one of the reserve's four natural beaches.
Quepos, Costa Rica (Continued)
Where To Stay: You'll have plenty of things to do at the five-star La Mansion Inn, located right outside of the national park: A dizzying array of recreational activities are available nearby, including snorkeling, horseback riding, and rafting. But, we won't blame you if you just want to chill on a sun chair -- it's impossible not to linger on a rooftop that overlooks both a rainforest and the ocean.
A calming urban vacation seemed like an oxymoron in our book -- until we checked out Vancity. Though a metropolis in its own right, the Canadian city boasts greenery and pleasant locals who will make any guest feel warmly welcomed. Foodies will be delighted by Granville Island Public Market, a wonderland of local seasonal food. Try out the delicious microbrews at Granville Island Brewing around the corner if you need something to wash down the smoked salmon and lobsters. Don't miss out on the summer night markets at Richmond if you're a fan of Asian cuisine.
Vancouver, Canada (Continued)
Where To Stay:A popular destination for business trips and conventions, Vancouver's accommodations can feel boring. But at The Burrard, a trendy motel-revival, you'll be mesmerized by the rainbow-colored exterior and the retro stylings of the rooms.
Berlin is like the cooler older sibling you've always wanted to be. She rocks out to the latest trance music, drinks Club Mate, and works out of her studio apartment as a freelancer in the arts. Lucky for you, Berlin's free-spirited vibe makes it easy for any solo traveler to instantly feel like they belong. "There's nothing more empowering than strutting solo out of the U-bahn (German metro) with a beer in your hand, only to feel like you're already part of the crowd, because you've just ran into a street rave," says Franco.
When you're done sightseeing at the Mitte -- the central district and home to many historical points of interest -- hop on the metro to hit up the best watering holes and clubs Berlin has to offer, like the super hidden Green Door and Stattbad, a happening venue inside a swimming pool. After partying well into daylight, head over to Mustafa's for a döner kebab, a Turkish dish that's become the unofficial hangover food of the city.
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Where To Stay: In a youngster-friendly city like Berlin, there are plenty of affordable and hip lodging options you can choose from. Michelberger Hotel stands out with its affordable rates -- around $92 per night -- and unmistakably cool decor. Be sure to book early as the whimsical periodical-walled suites are in high-demand.
Melbourne is known as the 'Second City' among Aussies, but it's the number one place to wander around alone, since everywhere is within a walkable distance. Though the central business area is considerably smaller than Sydney's, it's packed a lot more art, shopping, and intrigue into a neat rectangular route -- all accessible on the free City Circle tram line. The graffiti-covered Hosier and Union lanes are prime backgrounds for art selfies, and you'll love window-shopping at the 146-year-old Royal Arcade while basking in its Victorian architectural splendor.
When you need a break from walking, grab a deck chair at Federation Square, a favorite hangout spot among locals. It's a great place for people-watching and studying the iconic landmarks in close distance -- among them, the abstract Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the ornate Flinders Street Railway Station.
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Where To Stay: With a location on Bourke Street, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Melbourne, Hotel Alto is at the heart of it all. The boutique establishment is just a 10-minute walk from Bourke Street Mall, the city's premier pedestrian shopping area. While the grand exterior of the hotel dates back to the 19th-century, the interiors are cozy and contemporary.
By: Venus Wong