With so many women traveling to so many countries around the world today, it can be hard to fathom that we wouldn’t be accepted and welcomed everywhere. However, we’ve all heard reports of women being harassed or otherwise harmed while traveling alone—reports that can make the most intrepid traveler hesitate.
With dozens of destinations in mind, I set out to find five that are ideal for women to visit—places where women will feel safe, and that appeal to a wide variety of interests and budgets. Read on for details about five great places for women, and feel free to write in with any picks of your own.
San Francisco came up time and time again in discussions with women’s travel experts. “San Francisco is the total everywoman city,” says Teresa Rodriguez Williamson, founder of Tango Diva.com and author of Fly Solo: The 50 Best Places on Earth for a Girl to Travel Alone. “It’s very scalable, with decent public transportation, and the center is completely walkable.” Locals and visitors alike ride public transportation day and night, so women can get around town easily and quickly.
Debra Asberry, president of Women Traveling Together, a provider of women-only trips, chose San Francisco as her top city pick, saying, “you could spend a weekend or a month and not see everything. [San Francisco] has a lot to do, and not just in the city itself.” The city has great eclectic neighborhoods, but you can easily escape to nearby places like Sausalito, Berkeley, Muir Woods, or Napa and Sonoma valleys for a change of scenery.
It’s impossible to run out of things to do in San Francisco. If it’s your first time in the city, spend a day sightseeing. Snap photos of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz from Fisherman’s Wharf, watch the sea lions from Pier 39, and visit Ghirardelli Square for a hot-fudge sundae and a cable-car ride. Women might also spend a day (or several) browsing the popular chain stores of Union Square or the small boutiques in Union Street’s Cow Hollow section. You should also check out Golden Gate Park, an oasis of green spaces and museums in the city, whose highlights include the Japanese Tea Garden, Strybing Arboretum, California Academy of Sciences, and the M.H. de Young Museum.
Williamson calls San Francisco “extraordinary, food-wise.” She suggests strolling through Chinatown, one of the country’s largest, for dim sum, or stopping for “a fabulous Italian dinner in North Beach.” The Mission is known for its cheap, tasty burritos, and you can find chowder in sourdough bread bowls at Fisherman’s Wharf. San Francisco also has a lively nightlife scene, with lots of bars, restaurants, and theaters to keep you out late. If you’re traveling alone, Williamson says “San Franciscans are very social, so you’ll be able to go out and meet a lot of people out for happy hour.”
Though safety is generally not a huge issue in San Francisco, it is a big city, so women should always exercise caution, particularly at night, and specifically avoid the Tenderloin district after dark.
San Francisco’s weather is foggy and cool year-round, and as Williamson says, “you’ll never be wearing a tank top.” High-season runs from May to October, when the weather is sunnier and drier. Hotel occupancy tends to be at its highest in the summer and around the holidays. Virgin America offers fall flights to San Francisco from Las Vegas starting at $44, or $139 from Dulles airport in the Washington, D.C, area. Read our San Francisco travel guide for trip-planning advice, or visit Only in San Francisco, the city’s official visitor’s guide.