Women-friendly destinations, compiled by Jessica Labrencis
In every part of the world, there are cities and countries that are safe for women to visit. In compiling a list of destinations, I spoke with several women's travel experts about their favorite places, and spotlight some of their recommendations here. Although the destinations I detail are generally considered safe, remember that there are risks wherever you go. Even when you're in a "safe" place, it's important not to let your guard down and always use common sense as you're sightseeing, shopping, and dining.
Most cities in Western Europe are considered safe for women to visit, either alone or with companions. Public transportation is generally safe, English is widely spoken, and European women have many of the same rights as American women. However, the same cities and countries kept coming up in my discussions with women travelers, including Amsterdam.
Evelyn Hannon, editor of Journeywoman.com, a comprehensive online resource for women travelers, says "From experience, I suggest Amsterdam ... English is spoken everywhere. The Dutch are completely pragmatic and believe that women should be independent. I seldom experience male harassment in that city." Phyllis Stoller, president of Women's Travel Club, a tour provider that organizes group trips, agrees with Hannon's assessment and remembers that she felt very comfortable in Amsterdam. Stoller says, "the Dutch are the most angelic people in the world. [Amsterdam] is a very friendly city where everybody speaks English."
SmarterTravel.com Editorial Assistant Kate Hamman took a month-long trip to Europe in the fall of 2005 that included three days in Amsterdam. It defied her dubious expectation of a city that revolved around sex and drugs. Hamman says, "I thought I might be harassed, but I actually found it to be an excellent place to wander around alone ... I wouldn't recommend wandering around the Red Light District alone at night, but there's so many great areas that most people overlook."
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