International Women’s Day: 5 Best Cities in the World for Women Travellers

Leyla Giray, owner of Women on the Road, shares her five favourite cities with other backpacking girls who love to travel solo…

On your own? New to travel? Want to see the world but concerned about going solo? Well don’t be – the world is full of cities in which you can walk the streets and take public transport after dusk, eat alone comfortably, and just be yourself without having to explain anything away.

As for woman-friendly, this can mean many things. Safety, yes, but also a sense of acceptance, respect and genuine friendliness – the kind that doesn’t ask for anything in return. The hardest challenge? Choosing just five!

For more ideas, see The Art of Travelling Solo and our Top Female Hostels

1. Amsterdam

It’s not only woman-friendly, it’s everyone-friendly – gay, straight, old, young, black, white, Asian… In Amsterdam, you are who you are and no one cares if you’re different. In fact, it’s encouraged! Not to mention that language is no barrier and most Dutch speak English.

2. Singapore

Safe city for women = Singapore

This is perhaps the safest city in Asia – even spitting on the street will not go unpunished.  Although safe is sensible, it is however, not always exciting. This sums up Singapore which is perhaps more suited to a short flight stopover than a week’s holiday. Girls will love the shopping with a good mix of flea markets and contemporary stores and the waterfront is a good refuelling station with a number of bustling street food vendors.

3. Vancouver

Canada as a whole is woman-friendly, and Canadians tend to mind their own business – and therefore not yours. In Vancouver you’ll be able to come and go as you please, as long as you act as sensibly as you would at home: avoid certain parts of town at night, and don’t flash your jewellery at two in the morning. Just go out and enjoy one of the world’s greatest cities. In fact, most cities in Canada would fit this bill.

4. Lisbon

An odd choice? Not at all. Of all the Mediterranean cities, Lisbon is possibly the most woman-friendly. The Portuguese are more serious than other southern Europeans, but laid back enough to be comfortable companions. If you want southern Europe without the catcalls and whistles, head for this westernmost part of the continent.

Travelling in Lisbon

5. Copenhagen

Or Helsinki. Or Oslo. Or any Scandinavian city. Being a woman here in Copenhagen is almost irrelevant – everyone is treated alike. Identically, in fact. Crime is low, the natives are extremely friendly, and even in the deepest of winter their respect for you shines through.

Most cities, though, are as safe as you make them! Remember that pickpockets live everywhere, as do overly affectionate men. Take basic precautions, such as avoiding walking alone at night, and always keep your valuables in a safe place.

For more advice on safe backpacking for girls, check out this guide for women travel which has tips for every continent.

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Thanks to mike_bmxsheriffmitchellbm.iphone for the images from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.

28 Responses to “International Women’s Day: 5 Best Cities in the World for Women Travellers”

  1. Vegas & LA (& most likely Atlantic city!) …men asking if you “need a ride” grrrrr! That didn’t happen in NY…at least

  2. Vienna is missing! According to the global Mercer “quality of living” survey it was ranked #1 in sequence! One of the areas covered at the survey is security. Beside that proven fact, Vienna is just a beautiful city and great to explore alone. I love to stroll around the city and feel the culture and vibe of the city.

  3. I will vouch for Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Milan and Barcelona in Europe. I found many cities in South East Asia also safe.

  4. I don’t agree on Milan or Barcelona being safe. I do agree on Abu Dhabi, Dubai both in the UAE and Doha in Qatar. NEVER ever felt more safe there as an Indian woman.

  5. Since I live very close to Amsterdam and don’t have money to go to Asia or Northern America, I would love to travel to Scandinavia on my own!

  6. I would also like to tell people Taiwan has very friendly people as well. They are very concerned about both foreigners and women, so you will be treated extremely well! Only problem is that in a lot of places English has no use.

  7. Thailand was very friendly to me as a solo, female traveller. Being bigger and taller than most men there might have helped, but I never felt unsafe there. The Thai are very friendly people and always willing to help (of course, you should always be aware of getting ripped of since you are a tourist, but except for a couple of overpaid taxis, I didn’t have real issues with that).

  8. I was appalled when I say someone mention Paris as being safe for women. I’ve never received more sexual harassment in any other city I’ve been too…and I’ve been to over twenty countries. In Paris men will actually touch you, and then get pissed off and yell at you when you push them away.

  9. I think you should remove Lisbon from this list!! I’m tall blond girl with Slavic appearance.I was travelling solo in Portugal, locals was stareing at me,and I was about to robbed in Alfama district(perfect place for criminal) by Brazilian immigrant,it was about 6pm!! Girls,don’t go there alone!!

  10. I was actually sexually assaulted on the street in Japan so I wouldn’t put that on the list as another commenter suggested.

  11. DUBLIN ! and Galway too !
    Ireland is very friendly, not only with women but with everyone.
    We’re young girls travelling in Ireland, we met a lot of person travelling alone, and we were agree to say that Ireland (I mean Eire) is absolutly safe, friendly, the natives are really warm, nice and helpful ! A great place !

  12. I travelled solo in Lisbon and had awful experiences. Constant drug pushers on the street and men following me. A fellow female solo traveller and I went to dinner one night and had a guy follow us there and keep knocking on the window we were sitting at. The waiters had to escort him away. Fun city but I didn’t feel as safe as I have in about 30 other cities I’ve visited alone.

  13. Uhm, interesting. I think someone mentioned Paris and truly, it is NOT a safe city for women. Now I live in Hong Kong by myself, and never ever had any problem.
    I travel in SE Asia often, I’d say it’s rather safe overall, although I have found some men in Thailand to be too forthcoming, probably because they are used to foreigners(male and female) to come and visit for sex. But they were not aggressive.
    Japan is safe but on occasion you may encounter some weird behaviour, generally, if you go to any Asian countries, dress modestly (they are very prudish about cleavage and seldom see large boobs in the street)and you wil not get hassled.

  14. I think Dubai is a very safe city as well 😉
    I am a aen, but I never felt safer then in Dubai – compared with other big cities!

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