The Best Cities for Women to Solo Travel
Post-Pandemic Women Solo Travel Index
Women’s solo travel is one of the biggest trends to have emerged over the last decade, with more and more women taking the plunge and deciding to explore the world alone.
And why would they not? Travelling alone can be amazingly liberating: you’ll be empowered by the freedom that solo travel offers, every fellow traveller you meet will become a friend, you’ll experience culture intensely, and you can explore where you want to explore without having to consider the wanderlust of anybody but your own.
But where is it best to visit as a solo female traveller? That’s the question.
73% of women travelling alone worry about their safety, according to a study by Solo Female Travellers. And this is a concern that spans across traveller age, geography and culture, so choosing the right destination is incredibly important.
At Holidu, we have found out which cities are the safest for solo female travel, ranking destinations around the world on several factors important to women travelling on their own.
Our ‘Post-Pandemic Women Solo Travel Index’ analyses street safety and crime levels, as well as the attitudes, culture and cost of being a solo traveller in each destination.
Being that the world is a different place from how it was pre-pandemic, the index also explores the handling of Covid-19 in the country each respective city is located, and how much the levels of crime have increased over the last three years.
Read on below to find out the results.
The Safest Cities In The World For Solo Female Travel
*The columns in blue are those where a higher number is more favourable and those in purple are where a lower number is more favourable.
Sitting in the top spot is the second-most populous city in Canada, Montreal. Although it’s not the cheapest place to visit by any means – a one-bedroom apartment will set you back around £24.71 per night, the city has taken the crown as the safest city to visit as a solo female traveller.
Why you might ask? Well, Montreal scored highly across the board, especially for how bright it is at night and how safe women feel when walking alone after dark. The city ranked 12th out of all cities for radiance levels, meaning that many of its streets are likely to be illuminated at night and therefore safer for women to walk around when on their own. Also, despite being one of Canada’s largest cities, Montreal has one of the country’s lowest increased crime rates – a win-win situation for female travellers!
Colombo, Sri Lanka
In second place overall, but first place for anyone considering heading to Asia, is Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo. Much more economical on the pocket for solo female travellers, taxis in the city cost around 18p per kilometre, which is the fifth cheapest in the study, and a one-bedroom apartment costs as little as £11.38 per night.
Out of the top five, Colombo ranked the highest for how its country handled the Covid-19 pandemic, with Sri Lanka ranking 14th overall. Although extremely vulnerable to the spread of the virus because of its thriving tourism industry, the Government implemented strict measures including island-wide travel restrictions and isolation areas to curb it.
The one element that Colombo’s fell down on though was its radiance levels, meaning that the city is not particularly lit up at night. However, the Sri Lankan capital did rank in sixth place overall for the percentage of women that felt safe walking around alone at night, with over three in four women (77%) interviewed revealing that they do.
It is Ljubljana in Slovenia that takes bronze medal position overall, but the first place in Europe. One of the factors that the Slovenian capital city scored highly on was the prevalence of violence in women’s lifetime, scoring highly in that the percentage of women experiencing this was a lot lower than the majority of other countries. Its score of 13% was more than 10% below the average of 23.5%.
Again, Ljubljana is by no means the brightest city at night, but similarly to Sri Lanka, Slovenia is considered a very safe place for females to walk around alone at night, with 76% of women saying that they feel safe when doing so. Of course, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t still take some precautions of sticking to decent lit roads and avoiding deserted areas.
Taking fourth position overall is Canada’s capital city, Ottawa – which also ranks second out of the country’s three cities in the top five! Impressive. Being the capital city clearly comes at a price though, with Ottawa being the most expensive in the top five ranking for one-bedroom apartments at £31.48 per night on average.
One factor that Ottawa, and its Canadian counterparts, stood out for was the prevalence of violence in a women’s lifetime. Only 1.9% of women reported experiencing some form of violence in their lifetime, which indicates an incredibly low tolerance of gender-based abuse amongst society and is definitely reassuring for solo female travellers.
Rounding up the top five is another Canadian city but this time on the western side – safety clearly spans right across the country! Although ranking highly for how safe women feel walking around alone at night and clearly a low tolerance of gender-based violence, it is worth noting that Edmonton, as well as other Canadian cities, has seen a significant increase in general crime over the last three years.
So, although this crime isn’t targeted at women, in particular, it is important as a solo traveller to keep your wits about you. Be sure to take the normal travel safety precautions such as keeping an eye on your surroundings, being polite and respectful of others, and knowing who to contact in case of an emergency. But overall, Edmonton is still a safe option for females travelling on their own.
Results That Particularly Interested Us
The country women perceive to be safest at night?
Singapore. The country achieved the highest percentage of women feeling safe when walking alone after dark, with a staggering 88% saying that they do.
The city that is the most lit-up at night?
Chicago. The windy city is also incredibly bright, scoring a radiance level of over 90,000 and shining well above the average level of 23,920.
The city with the lowest crime increase over the last three years?
Vilnius. The Lithuanian capital has the lowest increase of crime over the last three years, with a score of 31.41 compared to the average of 59.7.
The city with the cheapest one-bedroom apartment?
Agra. Home to the Taj Mahal, Agra is also home to the cheapest one-bedroom apartments and offers solo travellers prices as low as £2.34 a night.
To compile the global ‘Post-Pandemic Women Solo Travel Index’, we first collated a list of all of the main cities in each country in the world and then analysed each on the below factors:
Women’s perceived safety at night looks at the percentage of females that felt safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they lived. This has a ranking weighting of four, being deemed the most important factor in this study.
Brightness at night analyses radiance data in the respective city and uses this as an indication of how light it is at night (street lights/artificial lighting) for women when walking alone. This has a ranking weighting of two.
Crime increase over the last 3 years looks at how much crime has increased in the respective city over the last three years, with reports highlighting that levels have increased since the pandemic. This has a ranking weighting of three, being deemed the second-most important factor in this study.
To measure the safety of cities for lone female travellers, we need to look further than just street safety and crime levels. Safety also depends on the attitudes and culture of a destination.
Women’s Mobility Rights relates to constraints on women’s agency and freedom of movement, analysing the following questions: Can a woman choose where to live in the same way as a man? Can a woman travel outside her home in the same way as a man? Can a woman apply for a passport in the same way as a man? Can a woman travel outside the country in the same way as a man? This has a ranking weighting of two.
Prevalence of violence in the lifetime looks at the percentage of women in a country who have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner at some time in their life. Whilst this directly relates to domestic violence, it is a good indication of the attitudes of violence towards women in that culture. This has a ranking weighting of two.
And finally, the handling of Covid-19. Data highlights that 49% of solo female travellers deem ‘the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic’ as an ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’ factor when it comes to choosing a travel location. To analyse this, we looked at data that explores how countries have managed the pandemic in the 43 weeks following their hundredth confirmed case of COVID-19. This has a ranking weighting of one.
It is also important to look at how much it costs women travelling alone to take safety measures in each city.
Price of a taxi is based on the average price of a taxi ride per 1km, something that many women rely on to get home safely at night time.
Price of a one-bedroom apartment is based on the average price of a one-bedroom apartment in the respective city for one night.
We used a variety of credible sources to find data for each of the above categories and then ranked the cities from first to last based on this data. Cities that a full dataset was not available for were omitted from the index.
We then added the scores together to get a total score, before ranking the destinations based on this overall, final score.
Sources include Gallup, World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The starting list included all of the cities on Resonance’s ‘World’s Best Cities’ and Euro Monitor’s ‘Top 100 City Destinations’ lists, as well as some additional cities that were drawn from credible sources including Culture Trip and Business Insider about popular city destinations.
The full dataset and source list are available upon request.