Whether you’re taking your first steps as a solo traveller, or looking for the next destination to explore in this fantastic way, the cities and countries below offer the perfect balance of adventure and intrigue, safety and accessibility.
Ranked the world’s safest country by the Global Peace Index, Iceland is a joy for solo female holidays. Its capital, Reykjavik, is the optimum base – and The Reykjavik EDITION features a rooftop restaurant, which is great for spotting the Northern Lights in comfort. Once you’ve wallowed in the city’s Vesturbaejarlaug hot pools, snapped the street art of Laugavegur Street, and marvelled at the rocket-like architecture of iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, it’s time to hire a car and hit the road.
Head east to the thundering Gulfoss waterfall, the mighty geothermal fountains of Geysir, and the pristine wilderness of Thingvellir National Park. Here, you can snorkel and scuba dive between tectonic plates, while Langjökull Glacier features spectacular tunnels carved into the ice. Alternatively, go south to venture Inside the Volcano, a breathtaking tour of a cathedral-like underground cavern.
Good to know: Iceland’s major roads are well maintained, with convenient motorway services. It can be tempting to venture off-road in search of secret viewpoints and picnic spots – however, this should only be attempted by experienced drivers in a suitable vehicle, as it's easy to get stuck, punctured or lost.
When visiting Abu Dhabi, you’ll find a great blend of fantastic museums and dreamy beach life on Saadiyat Island. The restaurants and shopping of the UAE capital’s central neighbourhood are just a quick taxi ride away, too. On Saadiyat, you can see art by the likes of Monet and Picasso at Louvre Abu Dhabi, and participate in macramé workshops, local film screenings and sound-bath yoga at Manarat Al Saadiyat. This cultural and community space is a great opportunity to meet other travellers, or simply to enjoy some time to yourself. For a new perspective, why not join a kayaking tour of the Louvre?
The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi sits right on the island’s long golden beach, with soft sands and turquoise waters just a few barefoot steps away – not to mention three outdoor swimming pools and the luxurious Iridium Spa. From April to June, look out for wild hawksbill turtles, which come ashore nightly to nest on the beach.
Good to know: While the UAE is more liberal than most Gulf countries, it is still worth reading up on its laws relating to alcohol, clothing and behaviour.
In a city as beautiful as Vienna, it’s a pleasure just to watch the world go by – especially over a steaming einspänner (espresso with whipped cream) and a Sachertorte chocolate cake. Austria is one of the world’s five safest countries according to the Global Peace Index, and coffeehouses are so integral to life in its capital that nobody bats an eyelid if you sit solo: head to the likes of Café Central and Café Schwarzenberg for an opulent-yet-cosy experience in historic surroundings.
It’s worth getting hold of a Vienna PASS, which gives you all-inclusive access to Schönbrunn Palace, Danube city cruises, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Spanish Riding School – to see the famous Lipizzaner stallions up-close – and many more sights. A stay at the Vienna Marriott Hotel puts you right on the Ringstraße boulevard, just a short walk from the city’s glorious palaces and parks. The beautifully designed Le Méridien Vienna, meanwhile, also enjoys a fantastic central location.
Good to know: Various taxi apps operate in Austria, offering the usual safety perks – such as 24/7 support, emergency assistance and GPS tracking.
Ever-vibrant, ever-changing, Dubai has a style to suit every type of solo traveller. It is paradise for shoppers, with the likes of Dubai Mall – the world's biggest – and Mall of the Emirates full of top brands from around the world – while the coast combines epic skyscraper views with white sands and bath-temperature shallows. For the ultimate thrill, book a tandem jump with Skydive Dubai; for a desert adventure, join a 4x4 eco-safari with Platinum Heritage.
Craving some well-earned downtime? Head to Kite Beach, which has food trucks and book-swap stations – or book a spectacular sea-side hotel, such as Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa. It is located between JBR beach and Dubai Marina, a buzzing area of water-view restaurants and cafés, linked by a pedestrianised pathway which is perfect for those who like a morning run.
Good to know: The sun is very strong in Dubai. The best times to enjoy the beaches is Spring and Autumn.
Friendly, safe and full of authentic culture, Oman’s capital Muscat is ideal for a solo winter sun break. The maze-like Mutrah Souq has a real ‘Arabian Nights’ vibe, its air thick with spices and frankincense – the latter is harvested in Dhofar, Oman's southernmost province. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, meanwhile, is an opus of white marble, Swarovski chandeliers and soaring archways. It is free to enter, and open to visitors of all faiths and none. Outside of the capital, Oman is full of adventurous possibility, with a wealth of hiking opportunities, from the mighty Hajar Mountains in northeastern Oman to the country's picturesque wadi valleys – some with gorgeous wild-swimming spots.
After a busy day exploring Muscat – or upon your return to the capital after an adventure beyond the city – look forward to soothing sea views at Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which offers a ladies-only beach, yoga classes and indulgent spa treatments.
Good to know: Dress modestly when you visit the mosque: wear long, loose-fitting trousers or skirt, and keep your shoulders covered. Bring a pashmina to cover your hair. You can hire abayas and scarves at the mosque, which Muslims can usually visit throughout the day. Non-Muslims can visit at set times.
Cape Town is the place to be for exciting From the spectacular sea-view summit of Table Mountain, to the bustling shops and museums of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town has a wealth of great things to do – and as a solo traveller, you’ll love the easy day trips from the city too. Maybe you’ll get up-close with African penguins at Boulders Beach, sip your way around the Cape Winelands vineyards, and revel in the raw beauty of Cape Point, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet?
Thanks to South Africa’s well-established tourism scene, day tours from the city are plentiful and great value, and a brilliant way to meet like-minded travellers – so ask your hotel concierge for recommendations. For a welcoming vibe and bright South African design, stay at the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Cape Town in the trendy Tamboerskloof neighbourhood.
Good to know: before you go hiking or exploring in table mountain national park, save the local emergency number into your phone.
Denmark’s coastal capital has the perfect balance of fairytale charm and fun things to do, and is a great choice for a solo weekend break. It has an abundance of magnificent royal palaces to discover, such as Christiansborg, Rosenborg and the Amalienborg Museum (don’t miss the latter’s incredible Fabergé Chamber, which is filled with priceless jewels), while the old Nyhavn waterfront is the spot for indie shopping, cosy cafés and vibrant Insta-worthy architecture.
Feeling hungry? Delve into Copenhagen’s famous Nordic dining scene on a foodie walking tour, feasting on locally-made craft beers and rye smørrebrød – a type of open sandwich, loaded with cheese, pickles and cold cuts. For an evening’s entertainment, the Tivoli Gardens are perfect, with their exhilarating funfair rides, live music and food stalls.
There are lots of great places to stay in Copenhagen. The spacious, beautifully appointed Copenhagen Marriott Hotel ranks among the finest in the city, not least for its picturesque waterfront location.
Good to know: Copenhagen is a very bike-friendly city, with dedicated cycle routes, smooth roads and the Bycyklen Kobenhavn rental scheme offering wheels from just 38 Øre (4p) per minute.
Marrakech is blessed with a wealth of great restaurants, galleries, gardens, and shopping. Book a guided tour of the Medina, the city’s beating heart, to discover the secrets of this bustling, labyrinthine hive of souks, bath houses, cafés and historic buildings tucked within the city’s original ancient walls. The insights you’ll glean are priceless. All roads – or rather cobblestoned lanes – in the Medina lead to sprawling, UNESCO-inscribed Jemaa el-Fnaa square. Return here as the sun begins to set and enjoy a mint tea on a roof terrace as the square’s famed storytellers set about turning passers-by into an audience.
Booking accommodation in a laid-back part of town replenishes your personal battery for more Medina exploration: resort hotel Le Méridien N'Fis is nestled peacefully in lush parkland, while opulent AnaYela, Marrakesh, a Member of Design Hotels™ occupies a 300-year-old former palace.
Art and design is Marrakech’s strong suit, with everything from little textile ateliers to exhibitions in intoxicatingly beautiful settings. Highlights include the Maison de la Photographie, housed in a centuries-old former home, which documents life in Morocco since the dawn of photography, and the Yves Saint Laurent museum – the Musée YSL – dedicated to the designer and his heart-meltingly beautiful haute-couture creations. Be sure to meander through the surrounding Jardin Marjorelle gardens, once tended by Saint Laurent himself.
Good to know: Choose a quieter time to visit Marrakech. February is often wonderfully tranquil. Ramadan is a good option, too – the days are calm and meditative, before nightfall sees the city come to joyous, hungry life.
Published: February 01, 2023
Last Updated: March 15, 2023
Article Tags: Abu Dhabi , Cape Town , Copenhagen , Dubai , Marrakech , Muscat , Reykjavik , Vienna
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