Gap Year

Best Countries for First-Time Solo Travelers

Don’t let the fear of solo travel hold you back! Start your solo adventure in one of these 10 safe countries.

Traveling abroad alone is exciting and daunting all at the same time, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. As a solo traveler, you’ll want to take things like safety, accessibility, and maybe even language into consideration when picking a destination. Where do you start? While this list isn’t exhaustive, we’ve rounded up ten of the best countries for solo travel to help guide you.

What makes these countries the best?

With so many cool destinations, how did we narrow it down to just ten? We’ve picked the following countries based on personal experience along with these important factors:

  • Safety: The Global Peace Index ranks countries based on indices like crime rates, political stability, terrorism, and military involvement. For reference, the US is ranked 131st out of 163.
  • Level of English: EF assigns countries a level based on the country’s English proficiency based on exam test results across the population.
  • Daily budget: Affordability is important for many solo travelers who don’t have the ability to split costs with a friend, family member, or partner.

There are many fabulous countries in the world but these 10 are especially great for solo travelers.

1. Ireland

Graphic displaying best time to visit Ireland

🕊️ Global Peace Index rank: 3rd
🗣️ Level of English: Native
💰 Average budget per day: $100-$150 USD

Ireland is the only country I’ve hitchhiked in. Although I don’t recommend hitchhiking alone or even with a friend (like I did), if you need to, Ireland would be the place to do it. Ranked 3rd in the world on the Global Peace Index, the Emerald Isle is an extremely safe country with low rates of crime. During the two years I lived in Dublin, I traveled alone extensively all across the country and never worried about my safety.

With a reliable network of buses and trains, you’ll have no problem getting from A to B on your own. Bounce around between historic Dublin, bohemian Galway, and rugged Cork while enjoying stops in colorful villages like Doolin and Kinsale along the way. Irish people are generally very friendly and helpful so even if you get into a jam, you can count on someone who'll be willing to give you a hand.

2. The UK

Scotland, England, and Wales

UK travel guide

🕊️ Global Peace Index rank: 37th
🗣️ Level of English: Native
💰 Average budget per day: $130-$190 USD

As another native English-speaking destination, you can feel confident about navigating nearly every situation with little problem. As a solo traveler in the UK, you can visit three countries for the price of one plane ticket. There are excellent transit links between England, Scotland, and Wales and each country has unique cultural offerings and sites.

With the pub culture in the UK, you’ll find it will be easy to strike up a friendly conversation with local patrons on a casual night out. British people tend to be easygoing with a good sense of humor and love a bit of banter (with a healthy dose of sarcasm). As a popular tourist destination for travelers worldwide, you’re sure to meet diverse and interesting new friends in your hostel or on local tours.

3. Spain

Graphic displaying best time to visit Spain

🕊️ Global Peace Index rank: 32nd
🗣️ Level of English: Moderate
💰 Average budget per day: $70-$120 USD

As someone who lived in Spain for nearly 6 years, I can say from experience that this is a great solo travel destination, even for the first-timer. Spain has a number of bus and rail lines (including high-speed) that connect you to both major cities and villages along the way.

While Spain’s level of English isn’t as high as other European destinations, in places like Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville, you’ll find that most people speak a basic level of English should you need some help.

4. Costa Rica

Graphic displaying best time to visit Costa Rica

🕊️ Global Peace Index rank: 39th
🗣️ Level of English: Moderate
💰 Average budget per day: $50-$100 USD

Costa Rica is one of the safest countries in Latin America and is accessible even if you don’t speak much Spanish. Costa Ricans, known as Ticos, are generally friendly and laid-back and tend to be hospitable to tourists. The country is a much-loved destination for fantastic ecotourism opportunities so local businesses are used to people from all over coming to hike, bike, kayak, and zipline through its cloud forests and national parks.

Costa Rica is also a budget-friendly destination with a wide range of affordable options for hostels – the perfect places to meet other travelers!

5. The Netherlands

Graphic displaying best time to visit The Netherlands

🕊️ Global Peace Index rank: 16th
🗣️ Level of English: Very high
💰 Average budget per day: $80-$150 USD

Ranked first in the world for their English proficiency, getting around the Netherlands will be a breeze. With its bike and pedestrian-friendly cities and wide networks of reliable national public transportation, you can see much of what this open and welcoming country has to offer.

Known for its history of art, colorful tulip fields, and iconic windmills, the Netherlands, nestled between Germany and Belgium, is the perfect place to enjoy all things beautiful. Rather than renting a car, you can just as easily travel by bicycle as your main mode of transport. And since it’s a mostly flat country comprised of low-lying plains, biking in the Netherlands is accessible for almost everyone!

6. Canada

Graphic displaying best time to visit Canada

🕊️ Global Peace Index rank: 11th
🗣️ Level of English: Native
💰 Average budget per day: $90-$160 USD

Canada is a great option if you want to dip your toes into the world of solo travel but you don’t want to go too far from home. The USA’s northern neighbor has a reputation for being notoriously kind and hospitable which is another plus for those who may feel hesitant to take a solo trip.

Canada has a vast and diverse landscape offering something for every traveler, whether you want to lose yourself in the tranquility of the mountains or immerse yourself in the arts scene in cities like Montreal and Toronto.

7. New Zealand

Graphic displaying best time to visit New Zealand

🕊️ Global Peace Index rank: 4th
🗣️ Level of English: Native
💰 Average budget per day: $100-$150 USD

Gorgeous New Zealand is the stuff of dreams for many travelers. It’s also a top destination for those traveling the globe alone. Safe, welcoming, and easy to navigate, New Zealand is one to add to your list.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be particularly at home in New Zealand which is known for its adventure sports, hiking, and ecotourism. Solo travelers can join guided or private tours to visit the country’s most spectacular natural wonders, trek one (or all 10!) of the Great Walks, or learn about Māori culture and heritage through a trip to Rotorua.

8. Iceland

Graphic displaying best time to visit Iceland

🕊️ Global Peace Index rank: 1st
🗣️ Level of English: Very high
💰 Average budget per day: $150-$200 USD

Iceland was so nice that I solo traveled it twice! Ranked the safest country in the world by the Global Peace Index, solo travelers find a nearly perfect destination in Iceland. Because it’s a fairly compact country, many tourists start and end their trip in the capital, Reykjavik. There you can find local fare, lively bars, shopping, and a variety of tour companies that will take you around the Golden Circle, out on a whale watching tour, or, depending on the time of year, to see the Northern Lights.

However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other places to visit. Check out cities and towns like Akureyri, Selfoss, and Ísafjörður as you travel around this charming island. It’s important to note though that the main mode of transportation in Iceland is car!

9. Portugal

Graphic displaying best time to visit Portugal

🕊️ Global Peace Index rank: 7th
🗣️ Level of English: Very high
💰 Average budget per day: $80-$120 USD

As a solo traveler in Lisbon, I was met with kindness and opportunities to meet new people all around. I even had a woman on the street help me carry my luggage up a hill when I first arrived! Portugal’s beautiful weather and captivating scenery seem to be infectious and it shows in this welcoming destination.

Portugal is a great option for travelers looking to enjoy relaxing coastal towns and beaches as well as energetic cities packed with things to do and see. Public transportation in both cities and across the country is clean and well-connected so you can experience all Portugal has to offer with relative ease.

10. Japan

Graphic displaying best time to visit Japan

🕊️ Global Peace Index rank: 9th
🗣️ Level of English: Low
💰 Average budget per day: $50-$100 USD

Tourist-friendly Japan is perfect for solo travelers – don’t let the language barrier scare you! Though Japan has a relatively low level of English compared to other nations in Asia, many cities have information booths and centers catering to tourists should you need help or a little guidance.

What’s unique about Japan as a solo travel destination is that culturally, the movement of doing things alone (ohitorisama) is on the rise. From going to the movies alone or taking up solo karaoke, Japanese people are embracing enjoying things once viewed solely as group activities. So grab a cocktail at the bar alone, you probably won’t be the only one!


Start your solo travel adventure

Solo travel can build your confidence, give you time to unwind, and open you up to meeting more new people (internal:node/301510) than you would traveling with a group. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from getting out there and giving solo travel a try! It may just become your new favorite way of seeing the world.

Learn more about how to get started: