“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it’s lethal.”—Paulo Coelho
The benefits of travelling have far outweighed its risks, and the benefits of travelling alone are beyond quantifiable. But as a solo female traveller, there’s still a lot to be desired. Journalists, and fellow women travellers, Asher and Lyric Fergusson have compiled a list of the 50 most popular travel destinations and ranked them according to how safe or dangerous they are for solo female travellers.
The comprehensive list scores each country on the basis of eight parameters—is it safe to walk alone at night, intentional homicide of women, non-partner sexual violence, intimate partner violence, legal discrimination, global gender gap, gender inequality index and violence against women attitudes. Street safety and intentional homicide carry double the number of points than the other six factors.
So, if you’re a woman considering solo travel, here are the safest countries for women in 2019, according to Asher and Lyric’s index. We’ve also included a bucket list item that is a must for everyone travelling in these countries.
Spain is the safest country on the list scoring a B+. It is the second most visited destination on the list, after France, and a haven for art lovers everywhere. Barcelona is a must for those in search of Gaudí and looking to soak in the architectural remnants of the Art Nouveau movement in Cataluña.
Gaudí’s Casa Vicens is a reflection of Neo-Mudéjar architecture, the Casa Milá, Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, La Pedrera and Parc Güell are also a must-visit for those soaking in his unique style.
Outside of Barcelona, most of Gaudí’s work can be seen in northern Spain, in Cantabria and Castilla y León.
Up next on the list is Singapore, also graded B+. When in Singapore, belly-up for its countless delectable street stalls. Wander the country’s endless hawker markets and try everything from local cuisine to Malaysian curries and even Indian rotis.
Chilly crab is one of the most popular dishes in Singapore. Try it with some steamed buns or just by itself. Chicken and rice is another crowd favourite, as is the Laksa—a fish soup made with rice vermicelli noodles.
Hong Kong style wonton soup, Malaysian Lontong curry and Indian roti prata are a few of Singapore’s popular international offerings.
Also graded B+ is Ireland, the third safest country for women on the list. Any visit to Ireland is incomplete without a road trip. Grab your buddies, and a camera, rent a car, and off you go! The Emerald Isle is perfect when you’re in the mood for one stunning vista after another. Drive from Dublin to Portlaoise for a journey through the mountains, stop by Powerscourt Waterfall and Sally Gap's pass for some breathtaking views.
Make sure to visit the Burren National Park for some limestone landscapes and also click the unique biodiversity. Driving through the Boyne Valley Scenic Loop is also not a bad idea!
No matter what vibe you’re looking for, Ireland has a road trip itinerary waiting just for you.
Austria received a B. While the country is famous for its rich history in classical music, what you must do is take a Sound of Music tour. Salzburg has over two dozen locations that were featured in the 1965 classic including the Mirabell Gardens from "Do-Re-Mi," to the Leopoldskron Palace gazebo from “Sixteen going on Seventeen”—which was later moved to the Hellbrunn Palace gardens.
Maria von Trapp was a young nun at Nonnberg Abbey and the von Trapp house was the Frohnburg Castle. Scenes from the movie that were shot in the city are open to visitors like the fruit market, the Mozart footbridge, and the steps leading down from the Modern Art Museum. If you’re a Sound of Music fan, you absolutely cannot miss Salzburg.
The fifth safest country on the list, Switzerland received a B grade. And when in Switzerland; cheese. Appenzeller is a hard cow’s milk cheese that’s cured in wine or cider—visit Appenzell in the northeast of the country to try the nutty cheese. Sbrinz is a unique parmesan substitute that’s made in only 42 dairies across the country and originated in central Switzerland.
Go to the Canton of Glarus region for some Schabziger or Sapasago, or to the canton of Fribourg for some semi-hard Vacherin-Fribourgeois. And when you’re tired of all the cheese... who are we kidding, have some more!
Other countries in the top ten include Norway, Portugal, Croatia, Canada and Poland, each graded B.