Whether you’re looking for hiking trails, UNESCO sites, or the best meal you’ll ever eat, Japan ticks all the boxes (and then some), and so it’s not surprise it secured the top spot for solo female travelers. Sure, the language barrier might feel a little daunting when you first step off that plane, but the country’s expansive (and extremely efficient) public transportation system is easy to navigate, and the low crime rate leaves you at feeling at ease to explore as much as you want. “I love Japan for solo travel, if only because there’s so much to see, taste, and do,” says LaGrave. “Who needs another person when you’ve got miles of manga to get through, and ramen counters that practically beg you to eat alone?”
France owes its second place on the list to its high score for women’s rights: As of writing, the country has successfully closed 80 percent of its gender gap according to Ampersand, and last August the country outlawed catcalling and street harassment (perpetrators will now be met with on-the-spot fines of up to €750 ($870)). Plus, who hasn’t daydreamed about living in France for a few months? “When you’re traveling solo, the French sensibility—specifically, the tendency to observe others without reproach—makes you feel much less self-conscious,” says associate editor Betsy Blumenthal, who spent six months living in Paris. “After all, even the cafes are set up like bleacher seating on the streets, so it’s a generally accepted practice to people watch as much as you want.”
Given that Madrid was the first city to officially ban manspreading on public transport, it’s no surprise that solo female travelers rate Spain highly for its women’s rights. Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to visit the country: a thousand miles of Mediterranean coastline, endless servings of paella, fabulous architecture, and, well, the entire city of Barcelona. Just don’t show up for dinner before 9 p.m.—even if it is just you.
4. United States of America
Whether it’s the intoxicating buzz of New York City, the quiet trails around the Rocky Mountains, or the thrill of the open road, the U.S. pretty much has a way for every type of solo traveler to feel free. But what it really does well is adventure travel (c’mon, we’ve all seen Wild). After all, there are 59 national parks to explore and some 193,500 miles of trail to walk. Have zero desire to pull on a pair of hiking boots? For associate editor Meredith Carey, there’s no better place to go it alone than New Orleans. “NOLA residents love their city so deeply that they would never steer a visitor wrong, so spend your day playing travel telephone—going from place to place, asking the shopkeep, the waiter, and even the random passersby on the street where you should hit up next,” she says. “Even if you’re just sidling up to one of the city’s chaotic bars, odds are you’ll eventually have plans laid out with the bartender or your neighbors for the rest of the night.”
One of the best ways to travel solo may be counterintuitive, but you should join a touror volunteer group: It gives you the independence of a solo traveler, but with the safety of numbers, too. And according to Ampersand, Indonesia has no shortage of volunteer opportunities to sign up for (plus some seriously ‘Grammable beaches, mountains, rice paddies…). Not only that, but the people are friendly and top destinations like Bali are perfectly safe to explore on your own—after all, the country has long been a must for intrepid travelers in search of self-discovery and some great surf.