Girls, Let’s travel the world!?✈? Solo female travel is on the rise, and women around the globe are discovering how liberating, empowering and exciting it can be to venture into the unknown alone.
But if you (wander)lust over the Instagram feeds of other solo female travellers, and then quickly think of excuses why that can’t be you, then we need to talk. It CAN be you, and I want to show you just how easy, safe and cheap solo travel can be. If it’s your first trip alone, Europe is the perfect continent to find your feet. Read on for everything you need to know about solo female travel in Europe, and be sure to share your experiences and any questions in the comments below ?
5 Reasons To Travel Europe Alone In 2017
1. Getting Around Is Easy Peasy
Once you’re in Europe it’s a doddle to move between countries, and everything feels SO close together if you’re from somewhere like America or Australia. There are around 50 countries in Europe, each with its own unique identity, and the incredible variety of culture, food, landscapes and history in what is geographically quite a small area means you can experience a lot in a short space of time.
European cities are pretty safe and easy for solo female travellers to explore, even at night, with excellent public transport, cycle routes and pedestrianised zones. Many hostels offer bike rental, and will tell you the best and cheapest way to explore their city. For solo travellers, I highly recommend joining a free walking / cycling tour, which many hostels also offer. It will help you get your bearings, learn a bit of history and meet loads of other travellers.
2. It’s Cheaper Than You Think
Europe is low-cost airline heaven which means, with careful research, you can snap up some epic deals. There’s also a reliable and cheap bus network, and although trains can be a bit expensive in Western Europe (especially if you buy your tickets on the day!) a sleeper train will save you money on a night’s accommodation while getting you from A to B. Buying local foods, staying in hostel dorms, travelling in the low season and planning in advance will all help you make your savings go further.
And the best thing about Europe is that there’s loads of cool stuff you can do for free, for example the incredible free museums in London. If you’re on a REALLY tight budget then Eastern Europe is full of cheap food, beer and stunning nature.
3. You’ll Meet So Many Other Inspiring Solo Travellers
One of the best things about solo travel is that it takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to talk to strangers. Many people worry that they’ll be lonely if they travel alone, but you’ll be amazed at just how easy it is to meet other people. Europe is the most established backpacking destination in the world, so you’ll be surrounded by other open-minded solo travellers. You’ll end up with friends all over the world and a new-found confidence in yourself.
3. Europe’s Hostels Are A Dream For Solo Travellers
Europe is bursting with unique hostels of all shapes and sizes. If you’re nervous about sharing a room for the first time, don’t be! Hostels are welcoming and friendly spaces. If you’re still unsure, look for female-only dorm rooms, or book a private room for a mix of socialising and privacy. The hostel bar and common areas are a great place to meet other travellers, so don’t be afraid to strike up conversation with other’s in your hostel or invite them on an adventure. Most hostels offer events such as bar crawls, walking tours, surf lessons, day trips, cooking classes or yoga lessons and these are also a great place to get chatting to others.
With over 5000 hostels in Europe to choose from, you’re bound to find a hostel that’s right for you, whether you want to party all night, or take advantage of free yoga lessons on the hostel roof terrace. Be sure to read the the reviews from other travellers to get a feel for the hostel before you book.
5. You’ll Pick Up The Lingo As You Go
With almost as many languages as countries, Europe can be intimidating to a first-time solo traveller. What if you get lost, or starve to death because you can’t understand anything on the menu?! Don’t fret! A little bit of local lingo goes a long way and European languages are easier for native English speakers to have a stab at compared to Chinese or Swahili. It’s a good idea to learn some basic phrases in advance, and there are plenty of apps out there such as Google translate that can help. In the big cities you can almost always survive with simple English, and you’ll be surprised how far charades and some napkin doodles will get you in more remote areas.
Is Solo Female Travel in Europe Safe?
A major hesitation for women travelling alone is concerns around personal safety. This is why Europe is such a great place for a first time solo female traveller: it’s the safest continent in the world, and you’ll likely meet lots of other women travelling alone.
Like anywhere, there are things you can do to prevent problems and minimise risk to yourself and your belongings. But with a bit of common sense and forward planning, you have nothing to fear. Top safety tips include: booking your airport transfer or taxi in advance rather than jumping into one when you’re tired from a long journey; only ever carry a small amount of cash and keeping an emergency credit card in your sock; getting into the habit of updating one or two people from home on your whereabouts and giving them the number of your hostel in case of emergencies; and trust your instinct about strangers.
Some people don’t know this, but there’s actually an EU-wide emergency services number you can call, rather than trying to memorise a new number for every country. The number is 112 and will connect you to police, ambulance or fire brigade in any given country.
Top Destinations For Solo Female Travellers In Europe
Now that you’re prepared to take on Europe solo, the only question remaining is Where First? While every corner of Europe is uniquely individual and worthy of a visit, here’s my top pick of the best countries for solo female travellers based on my own adventures.
Breathtaking landscapes, rich in history and welcoming. Scotland is a friendly and rewarding destination for first-time solo female travellers. The capital city, Edinburgh, is easily explored on foot, and there’s a grand castle right in the centre. Head north and it’s easy to see why the picturesque Highlands have been the inspiration for Disney’s Brave and Harry Potter.
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Brimming with ancient architecture, gorgeous beaches and heavenly cuisine, Italy is a dream for anybody looking for a relaxing and indulgent solo adventure. Navigate swiftly between cities on their reliable rail network and relish in the fact that as a solo traveller nobody ever needs to know that you had gelato three times in one day! You’ll need to learn how to deal with the amorous locals, but provided you take the basic safety precautions mentioned above there’s no need to worry.
Solo female travellers will feel welcome and safe in Dublin, city of flowing Guinness, live music and Irish craic. Rent a car and venture to the west for rugged cliffs, colourful villages and spectacular coastal views. Ireland is an affordable and accessible destination for Brits in particular, and great for an action-packed weekend break alone.
4. The Netherlands
Known for having more bicycles than inhabitants, the Netherlands is an incredible country and hugely popular amongst solo female travellers. With a train station built into Amsterdam airport, getting to, from and around the country is a breeze. Winding canals, cobbled streets and cathedrals are waiting for you in picture perfect cities throughout the country.
Colourful streets, great beer and budget friendly; Poland is the perfect country to begin your Eastern European solo adventures. A walking tour through the cities of Krakow and Warsaw are a chance to learn more about the country’s past and the impact of WW2. Travelling alone by train through the country is easy and safe, and the hostels are friendly and so cheap.
Separate from mainland Europe but worth the journey, Iceland is was THE destination of 2016. Low crime rates and a culture of equality mean this is the perfect destination for solo female travellers. Beyond the fairy-tale city of Reykjavik, the other-worldly landscapes make you question if you possibly left earth all together. Club together with your new friends at your hostel and rent a car to explore the country’s many hidden delights. As you’re singing at the top of your lungs while driving past majestic waterfalls and volcanic craters you’ll begin to wonder if life before solo travel ever existed at all?
Still worried about travelling alone? Find out the different ways our app can help you meet new people in the video below:
About the Author
Jen originally hails from Scotland, but she’s made it her mission to explore the world solo. Follow her adventures on Instagram @TheJennaWay.
Share your solo female travel tips, questions and stories with our community of travellers in the comments below.