The Best Solo Travel Destinations for Women
Barcelona has it all: history (there are some amazing free historical tours), art (there's a Picasso museum, not to mention that the street art is among the world's best), gastronomy (tapas are tiny, perfect if you're dining alone), fashion (you'll love the Design Museum of Barcelona), a serious party scene, nice weather, and gorgeous beaches.
It's also a walkable city where hotel prices are reasonable, an important consideration if you're not splitting a room. Stay at OD Barcelona, a new boutique hotel that's well situated for sightseeing and that's also environmentally friendly (they won the Top Sustainable Hotel Development Project in Spain Award last year). Although Barcelona is one of the safest cities in Europe, OD Barcelona goes one step farther for las viajeras solas (that's "women traveling alone," if you're brushing up on your Spanish): You'll get to use one of the hotel's SmartCars to jet around the city.
I know: Under The Tuscan Sun turned Tuscany into a cliché of a solo women's travel spot. But you don't need to be a recent divorcée looking to get her groove back to enjoy this gorgeous region of Italy. You'll see some of the best art ever created—Michelangelo's David is there, as are the works of Botticelli—and it's one of the world's richest wine destinations. Who doesn't want to sip Chianti while in Chianti? (Related: How to Pack Light Without Sacrificing Any Essentials)
Once you've had your fill of the touristy stuff in Florence and Pisa (yep, that's where you'll find the infamous Leaning Tower), hop on the train to the Serchio Valley, one of Tuscany's hidden gems and home to some of the most staggeringly gorgeous natural views you'll ever see, juxtaposed with ancient castles and villages. The Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa caters to solo travelers with offerings such as a one-on-one experience with a local chef, who will take you on a morning walk through shops and farmers' markets to buy fresh cheeses and produce for your private cooking lesson. You'll learn how to make pasta, Bolognese sauce, and Tuscan soups.
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most underappreciated foodie destinations in Latin America. If you enjoy eating, you can't go wrong in this beautiful little country, whether you choose their simple offerings (locally sourced coffee, tortillas, beans, and plantains) or the great restaurants that have been popping up in recent years as chefs flock from abroad, fusing their traditional cuisines with the flavors of Costa Rica.
Guanacaste in the northwest part of the country is great not just for gastronomy, but for adventure travel and wildlife, including 774 species of birds. Solo travelers will love staying at El Mangroove, the beach resort closest to Liberia Airport (a 20-minute ride; no small thing in a country where many resorts are situated three hours from the nearest airport). You'll love their "Me, Myself, and El Mangroove" package for solo women travelers. The package offers a nice balance of relaxing time to yourself (stand-up paddleboarding, daily breakfast, a spa treatment), as well as opportunities to meet other travelers, such as a rainforest excursion and a tour of a local farm where you'll milk cows, sample fresh local cheeses, and snuggle baby goats. (Still wondering why everyone is doing yoga with animals? We dug into it.)
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Travel magazines keep insisting that this little village in central Mexico is the best place in the world, and speaking as a local, I can't disagree. I've been living alone in San Miguel de Allende for a couple of years and I feel 100 percent safe, entertained, and inspired. Most of what you'll want to do in San Miguel is wander the cobblestone streets, photographing the gorgeous baroque Spanish architecture, the doors (that may sound strange, but you'll see; the doors are the world's best), the dogs that live on the rooftops, and the mariachi bands.
Stay at Casa Carmen, a hot spot for visiting celebs. It's a 400-year-old property where some say a count used to live. It opened 60 years ago as the first bed and breakfast in town. (Related: Healthy Things to Do In Mexico City—Plus Why You Should Visit ASAP)
Edinburgh is as appealing for its gorgeous medieval splendor and cool standup comedy scene as it is for its accessibility to other parts of Scotland. As a solo traveler, you can take easy day trips by train to Loch Ness (you might spot the monster, but even if you don't, the nature is stunning), and by bus to Glasgow, the country's second city, known for its nightlife and its friendly people. (While you're there, check out this boozy spa treatment.) Got an itch to head to London? It's only a five-hour train ride away.
In Edinburgh, the museums are free, so be sure to pop into the National Galleries to see an amazing Rembrandt self-portrait. And check out the gin distilleries before hitting a local pub for a proper pint or, obviously, a scotch. And since you're in Scotland, you really should stay in an ancient castle. Check out Dalhousie Castle—it's a quick cab ride out of the city and looks like something straight out of a fairy tale.
Québec City, Québec
If Europe isn't in the budget for this trip, you can at least get a taste of it by traveling to Québec City, the most European-esque destination in North America. Here's how to pretend you're in France: Start your day with coffee and croissants at Le Petit Coin Latin, and then stroll the cobblestone streets, admiring the beautifully preserved old European architecture. Go see the Monet et Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, or take a bike tour into the gorgeous countryside (nothing more Parisian than biking!). When the gas lamps go on at night, chow down on some steak frites (they're on menus all over Quebec City) and French wine.
Stay at the famous Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, named after a French governor from the late 1600s, or at least snap a few photos; some people say it's the most photographed hotel in the world.
Slovenia is one of the cleanest, most beautiful countries on earth. Its capital, Ljubljana, is consistently ranked among the safest European destinations, making it perfect for solo travel. Early summer is a great time to go to Ljubljana because it has some of the least expensive Airbnbs in all of Europe, so you can forget pricy hotels. (Related: This Campsite Service Is Basically Airbnb for the Wilderness)
Check out the free events that happen on Ljubljana's charming streets all year—street food festivals, fairs, and performances—and take a stroll through the picturesque Tivoli Park. Or get out of the city for a real dose of nature by checking out the Julian Alps, the famously beautiful Lake Bled, or one of the country's 11,500 caves.
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Travelers have long been flocking to Lake Atitlán to take in the beautiful views of the volcanos and the hills, to hike, to visit the butterfly garden, to drink some of the world's best coffee, to experience the thriving Mayan culture, and to shop in the textile market. (Related: Active Things to Do In Honolulu All Year Round)
Stay at Casa Palopó, a private home turned boutique hotel, where artists are collaborating on an amazing effort to make life better for local Guatemalans, and where ladies flying solo can book the "Travel Solo-la" package. It includes a personal ceremony with a native shaman, daily breakfast, airport transfers, and a private guided boat tour to two of the 12 Mayan towns that surround the lake, each of which offers something unique, including coffee plantations, weaving, art cooperatives, and ceramics factories.