It wasn’t until my first solo trip to China in 2015 that I realised how addictive solo travel can be.
My first solo trip wasn’t actually meant to be solo; I broke up with my boyfriend two weeks before we were meant to go to China together. I went anyway, and had the time of my life.
Fast forward one year, I embarked on three years of solo travel.
Solo travel has helped me massively with my anxiety and depression. You’d think having to figure out my life in another country would contribute to my anxiety levels, but I’ve gained SO much confidence from figuring problems out myself and realising that I am entirely capable of handling anything that goes wrong.
These are my favourite places in the world that I have travelled to solo. If you’re planning your first solo overseas trip, you might just find it on this list.
I can personally vouch that I have felt super safe in all of these destinations, but for your peace of mind the majority of these travel destinations sit well in the Global Peace Index.
Here are 8 first-time solo female travel destinations I recommend.
My Favourite First Time Solo Female Travel Destinations
Get a blend of hiking and city life in Canterbury, New Zealand
I have to begin this list of first-time solo female travel destinations with my beautiful home country, New Zealand.
While New Zealand on the whole is an amazing country to travel solo, Canterbury is the region that has it all.
Beaches, vineyards, city life, the Southern Alps- you’ll never get bored in Canterbury!
It’s largest city, Christchurch, is where I lived for four years and it’s the place I’d return to if I ever moved back to New Zealand.
I love the variety of things to do in Christchurch- and it’s a great base for outdoor lovers.
There are many fantastic hikes to do in Christchurch, such as Godley Head and the Rapaki Track. I recommend hiring a car or camper van and going for a road trip around Canterbury to explore the abundant hiking opportunities in the area.
Visiting in winter? Canterbury is home to 15 of 25 ski resorts in New Zealand.
There’s lots to do in the city too. Go for a walk to see the quirky street art and go shopping at the mall built out of shipping containers. Christchurch also has some great cocktail bars [I’ve tried and tested many!]
Vancouver, Canada, the city that has a little bit of everything
Canada is well and truly one of the most friendly countries in the world.
I’ve visited Vancouver solo twice when I first moved to Canada. Vancouver is known for its rainy weather, however when the sun makes an appearance hire a bike and cycle through the lush Stanley Park.
Go zip lining at Grouse Mountain in the summer, or skiing in the winter. Cypress Mountain and Mt Seymour are two other ski mountains in close proximity to Vancouver.
The Granville Island Public Market is a great place to spend a sunny day; pick up some fresh produce for lunch or dinner, and eat at one of the many quirky and delicious food stalls at the market.
>> Read more: The best solo female travel quotes to feel inspired
Try traditional Polish cuisine in Gdańsk, Poland
If you’re a foodie and want to travel somewhere with delicious yet affordable foreign food, I recommend a visit to Gdańsk.
I spent three days exploring the streets of Gdańsk, trying as many traditional Polish dishes as possible.
Eating out in Gdańsk is super cheap, which means you can be adventurous when ordering new things off the menu. If you’re not a fan of what you’ve ordered, go ahead and try something else.
Traditional Polish dishes in Gdańsk I recommend trying pierogi [fried dumplings], Żurek [soup], and pączki [filled doughnuts]. Alcoholic beverages include grzane wino [mulled wine] and piwo [beer]. They also have great vodka!
You can read about the restaurants I loved when I visited Gdańsk
Explore castles and drink whisky in Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is such a busy, thriving city with a great vibe, so it is easy to feel at home here. I felt so at home that I ended up moving to Edinburgh in 2018.
There are so many things to do in Edinburgh– check out Edinburgh Castle, wander along The Royal Mile, and pop into the pub for a pint.
I recommend spending two days in Edinburgh to soak up all the sights and sounds.
Arthurs Seat is a great hike which offers spectacular views of the city. The Pentland Hills Regional Park is located a short bus ride away, so you can spend the day exploring the hills.
If you want to explore outside the city Waverley train station is located directly in the centre, so it’s easy to explore the rest of Scotland.
Exploring the streets in Edinburgh
Relax on the beach and party till sunrise in Surfers Paradise, Australia
I feel like it says it in the name, but Surfers Paradise really is paradise for beach lovers.
I once lived in Surfers Paradise, and it’s a great place if you want to party, go surfing, swimming, shopping or just hang out at the beach.
It is an expensive destination however, so I recommend staying in a hostel, which is a great way to make friends you can party with until the sun comes up, and laze on the beach with the following day!
Find yourself in Hawaii, USA
Hawaii has such a unique culture it is easy to forget it’s part of the United States.
With spectacular weather all year round, there are plenty of gorgeous hikes to do on the main island, endless beaches to relax on and epic yoga studios.
Hire a car and drive a circuit of the main island to North Beach to catch some killer waves [or watch from a safe distance like I did]. Go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and then watch the sunset on Waikiki Beach.
Head to Hawaii if you want to rejuvenate and re-connect. My week-long trip to Hawaii is one of my favourite destinations I have visited solo.
You will need an ESTA visa to visit Hawaii, so make sure you get your ESTA visa application in order before you book your flights. It’s really easy- you can get your ESTA online so you won’t even have to leave your home!
Learning to surf in Hawaii
Get lost in the streets Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Getting lost in the streets of Amsterdam is one of my fondest travel memories. It’s one of those places you don’t need a rigid itinerary- just walk and admire the pretty buildings with their gabled roof tops.
One of the best ways to see Amsterdam is by boat, so book a river cruise, sit back with a beer and slab of pizza and take in the views.
You can also hire a bike and visit The Nine Straatjes (Nine Streets) and check out the Van Gogh museum.
I felt so at ease in Amsterdam I could easily live there.
Hire a car and explore County Kerry, Ireland
I actually visited Killarney to meet friends, but for the first half of my trip I traveled around County Kerry solo.
I hired a car and cruised through Killarney National Park, stopping now and again to take in the scenery.
Other stops on my mini road-trip included Muckross House and Muckross Abbey, Torc Waterfall and Ross Castle.
You can also drive The Ring of Kerry, a spectacular coastal drive. It takes 3.5 hours to circuit, but you’ll want to stop and have a look around so allow at least one day to complete it.
The ruins of Muckross Abbey