As a Midwestern girl, born and raised, it’s no surprise that post-college I ended up here in Chicago. Now, after having lived in this wonderful city for nearly two years, I feel well-equipped to share my knowledge for any travelers passing through or for anyone considering making Chicago their home.
This city has a distinct feel, characterized by a beautiful architectural aesthetic with friendly, down-to-earth people. You’ll never be lacking for things to do, no matter the season, as Chicago is known for its food, sports, nightlife, festivals, restaurants, and museums.
If you’re looking to spend some time in the Windy City, this guide will give you all you need to know.
Chicago is made up of many neighborhoods, each with its own character. The city is laid out from south to north, hugging Lake Michigan to the east. This is good to know, because realizing that the lake is always east no matter where you are in the city will help you get your bearings right away.
The best way to explain each of Chicago’s prominent neighborhoods would be to start south and work our way north…
The South Side
Chicago’s infamous South Side is often recognized for its intense poverty and street violence, but truly it is much more than that. Go visit Hyde Park, The Museum of Science and Industry, and the University of Chicago, or go see a White Sox game, the set where the hit show Shameless was filmed, or the Pilsen and Chinatown neighborhoods, which are nearby.
Just north of the South Side is Chicago’s Loop neighborhood, which can be considered the true “downtown” of the City. This is where you’ll find Millennium Park and some of the best shopping and restaurants in Chicago. West of the river is referred to as the West Loop, which is an up-and-coming area known for its chic restaurant and nightlife scene.
Moving north, you’ll come to the River North neighborhood, named this way because it’s the neighborhood just north of the Chicago River! Here you’ll discover the Magnificent Mile, Water Tower Place shopping mall, and the Chicago Riverwalk, which is especially beautiful at night. River North is also a hub for Chicago nightlife, and this is where you’ll find some of the most notorious nightclubs, bars, and restaurants in the city.
Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood is a wealthy residential neighborhood, as its name would imply, just north of River North. It’s characterized by larger homes and high-rise apartment buildings which offer fantastic views of the lake. This area is known for upscale restaurants and shopping as well.
Moving north and a bit west, you’ll come across Chicago’s historic Old Town neighborhood. Old Town is one of my favorites, as its picturesque, tree-lined streets are beautiful year round. This is where you’ll find plenty of cute boutiques, restaurants, pubs and bars. Wells Street is Old Town’s main strip, and it’s the heart of the area’s nightlife. Old Town is one of the most popular neighborhoods to live in in the city.
Lincoln Park is my absolute favorite neighborhood in Chicago, as it’s the neighborhood that I call home! Lincoln Park houses the Chicago Zoo and plant conservatory, which are both completely free to the public. It is very near to the lake and is filled with picturesque cafes, coffee shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Popular with families, Lincoln Park is a relaxed place to live and is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Just barely north of Lincoln Park, you’ll come to Lakeview. Lakeview is one of the more lively and fun neighborhoods in the city, typically attracting a younger crowd. It is also home to Chicago’s Boystown which is especially exciting during the Pride Parade in the summer. This neighborhood has lots of funky restaurants, bars, comedy clubs, and shopping, and if you don’t stop for late night macaroni-stuffed grilled cheese at Cheesie’s, you’re missing out!
Continuing north past Lakeview, you’ll come to Wrigleyville, named for the Wrigley stadium which is home to the Chicago Cubs! The neighborhood is mainly characterized by sports bars, nightclubs, and restaurants relating to the team, and is an absolute blast for a night out or during a Cubs game. If you’re looking for cheap hot dogs and beer, this is the place.
Logan Square, Bucktown, and Wicker Park
Paralleling the lake-hugging neighborhoods I’ve just mentioned, Chicago’s west side has a several up-and-coming neighborhoods as well. Logan Square, Bucktown, and Wicker Park are all becoming more and more gentrified, which tends to attract a more hipster and artsy crowd. In these neighborhoods, there is no shortage of quirky bookshops, art galleries, speakeasies, and local theaters. In Wicker Park especially, you’ll find some great trendy bars and restaurants, such as Big Star and Paradise Park. All three areas have a variety of patios, craft cocktail and rooftop bars as well.
One of the best and worst things about Chicago is its seasons. Winter can be bone-chillingly cold, as exhibited by the Polar Vortex we’ve experienced this winter, but there is a silver lining. The city has plenty of fun winter activities that will help you forget how absolutely freezing you are! For example, ice skating in Millennium Park or Wrigleyville, drinking hot chocolate (or spiked hot chocolate) in one of the many bars and cafes, and visiting the wintertime Christkindlmarket downtown. It also helps that the city covered in snow is an incredibly beautiful sight.
On the flip side of that, Chicago’s summertime is unlike anything else you have ever, and probably will ever experience. There is a buzz in the air, an excitement, and everyone in the city feels it. When summer comes, we don’t waste a minute of it. From sunbathing at North Avenue Beach to drinking craft cocktails at rooftop bars and patios, watching outdoor movies in the park, going to free outdoor concerts, strolling through farmer’s markets, and of course, attending acclaimed music festivals such as Mamby on the Beach and Lollapalooza, Chicago is the absolute best place to be during summer.
If you’re a sports fan, Chicago is a great place to be year round, and especially in the fall if you’re into college sports. Chicagoans pull from many of the surrounding states and the city is a huge draw for many Big 10 university graduates. The city is such a magnet for Big 10 grads that many neighborhood bars throughout the city are specifically university-themed, such as a University of Michigan bar or an Ohio State or Wisconsin bar, showing that school’s big games and bringing out tons of alumni as a result.
Things To Do:
I touched on it briefly before, but if you’re in Chicago during any time of year, here are some highlights of the best activities the city has to offer:
Go check out The Bean and several other of Chicago’s most famous sculptures, go ice skating during winter, and attend free outdoor concerts and movies in the park during summer.
Go see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, or if you don’t have tickets, watch at one of the many sports bars in the area. Though Chicago’s other sports arenas aren’t located in Wrigleyville, stop by a Chicago Blackhawks, Bears, or Bulls game to get a taste of the city’s sports scene.
Chicago is known for being home to some of the best museums in the country. Be sure to check out The Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, and many more.
The Magnificent Mile is the city’s primary commercial and shopping district, with upscale restaurants, hotels, and shops. Here you’ll find Chicago’s Water Tower Place shopping mall and can also access Chicago’s Riverwalk to enjoy an architectural boat tour, rent kayaks, or walk along the river, stopping at various bars and restaurants along the way. One of the area’s main attractions is the 360 Chicago Observation Deck at the John Hancock Center, which offers panoramic views of the entire city.
No trip to Chicago would be complete without taking in the city’s wild nightlife! Experience some of Chicago’s many pubs, live-music, speakeasy, patio, and rooftop bars all over the city. For trendy nightclubs, the River North neighborhood will be your best bet.
North Avenue Beach
During the summer especially, North Avenue Beach is a can’t-miss destination. Sunbathe at the beach, play volleyball, go swimming in the lake, and walk or rent a Divvy bike and ride along the boardwalk.
As a tourist, you’re required to stop by Chicago’s Navy Pier. Take a ride on the iconic ferris wheel and watch the fireworks Wednesday and Saturday nights during the summer.
Other great things to do in the city are going to see a comedy show at the world-renowned Second City theatre, a Broadway show or a local theatre show, The Chicago Theatre for rotating stand-up comedians, concerts, and speakers, or the free Chicago zoo, which hosts ZooLights during the winter.
Classic Chicago Food and Restaurants
No matter what brings you to the city, you absolutely cannot leave without trying some of the foods and restaurants Chicago is famous for. Possibly the most famous and most important Chicago food to try is our Deep Dish pizza. Love it or hate it, Lou Malnati’s or Giordano’s are the two best places to give it a try.
You’ll also need to make sure to try a classic Chicago hot dog, preferably at The Wiener’s Circle, which is open late and has several locations throughout the city. Garrett Popcorn Shops gourmet popcorn is another must-try while in the city, and I would definitely recommend trying the traditional Garrett Mix, which combines their popular cheesecorn and caramel corn. Other notable restaurants to try are Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company, Au Cheval for incredible burgers, BIG & Little’s for some of the city’s best tacos, and Sweet Mandy B’s if you have a sweet tooth.
If you’re looking for a beautiful American city with something for everyone, Chicago should definitely be high on your list. From food, to sports, to music, to nightlife, you’ll never be lacking for something exciting to do. Come check out Chicago and see what the Windy City is all about!
Buenos Aires is a magical city. The people are beautiful, the food is delicious, and the accents are seductive. I had the privilege of living there for about six months and it was one of the wildest experiences I’ve ever had.
I had just graduated college with no clue what I wanted to do with my life and no true desire to join the real world just yet. The only thing that seemed right to me was to travel more and work on my Spanish language skills (Spanish had been one of my majors in college and after graduating I still wasn’t fluent), so naturally, I looked to South America. As I started doing some research, Buenos Aires immediately stuck out as the perfect choice. To me, it was a modern, westernized city with all the culture and spice of traditional Latin America.
I became certified as a TEFL English as a second language instructor and set off on my way, with no job, no place to live, no friends or family, and only a basic knowledge of Buenos Aires and Argentina as a whole. In the end, I was able to build a life there for myself and became immersed in everything that Buenos Aires has to offer. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever accomplished, and it wouldn't have been the same in any other city.
For other travelers planning to make a move to Buenos Aires, or even those just passing through, here are 10 things I wish would have known before visiting:
1. Argentinian Spanish is Different From Spanish in Other Latin American Countries
Argentinians are known for coming off as a bit snooty. This is largely due to the fact that Argentina differs greatly, both culturally and linguistically, from other countries in the region. In Buenos Aires, the Spanish is spoken with almost an Italian cadence, which makes sense as a good part of the population is descended from Italian immigrants. People from Buenos Aires are referred to as Porteños, and you can expect to hear a lot of slang words specific to Argentina, like “che” and “boludo/a”, thrown around regularly.
2. Buenos Aires is Pretty Far From Everything Else in Argentina
One important thing to note about Buenos Aires is that it is isolated from most of the other noteworthy places in Argentina. It’s easy to forget that Argentina alone covers the majority of the southern part of the continent, and as a result distances to get from place to place are very far and it can be quite expensive to travel between them. Most of the places that are worth a visit in Argentina outside of Buenos Aires, such as Mendoza, Patagonia, Iguazu, Bariloche, and Salta, are along the country’s borders, while the interior of the country is mostly farmland (hence the country’s capacity for amazing beef!).
3. Steak And Wine
That farmland we just talked about occupies the majority of central Argentina and is referred to as Las Pampas. This area is responsible for Argentina’s reputation for producing some of the best beef in the world. Argentinian steak and wine, particularly Argentinian Malbec, are absolute staples in Buenos Aires and in Argentina as a whole. One of the most popular dishes is the Bife de Chorizo steak, which often comes with a fried egg on top and is served with papas (french fries). Beef in Buenos Aires isn’t typically too expensive and is known for being some of the highest quality meat there is. If you’re looking for a great steak in Buenos Aires, definitely head to La Cabrera or Las Cabras, both in the Palermo neighborhood. Empanadas are also hugely popular in Buenos Aires and you can get them fast and served basically everywhere. The only food I would recommend avoiding while in Argentina is the pizza which is truly awful, ironic due to the majority of the population being Italian, go figure!
4. Cafe Culture
One of the best things about Buenos Aires is the cafe and coffee shop culture. If you want to feel like a true porteño, the most authentic thing you can do is go to a cafe with a friend and charlar over a cafecito (chat over a coffee)! Buenos Aires is made up of many barrios (neighborhoods), each with its own distinct flavor. One of my favorite barrios is the hip and trendy Palermo Soho neighborhood, which is characterized by cute cafes, boutiques, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, art galleries, and open-air markets. Cafes and coffee shops you can’t miss in Palermo are Ninina, La Panera Rosa, and Libros del Pasaje.
5. Buenos Aires Gets HOT!
It’s important to note that because Argentina is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are flipped, so their summer ranges from December to March. In the summer months, Buenos Aires is very hot and humid, and unless you know someone with a pool, there is no place to swim! Buenos Aires is situated on a river, but as it is a port city, you’ll have to drive a few hours outside the city to find the nearest beach. However, rooftop pools are not uncommon and gathering with friends and family for asados, or barbeques, is fun and very typical during these warm months.
6. La Bomba de Tiempo
If you’re looking to party like a true local, you won’t want to miss La Bomba de Tiempo. Monday nights the percussion group La Bomba de Tiempo puts on a huge improv concert at Ciudad Cultural Konex. It’s always packed with locals and travelers alike partying to the rhythm of the drums. Buy tickets ahead of time or at the door and enjoy a mix of drums, dancing, and culture.
7. Feria San Telmo
A can’t-miss activity when you’re visiting Buenos Aires is a stroll through the famous Feria San Telmo Sunday market in the San Telmo neighborhood. This seemingly endless market starts at Plaza Dorrego and extends for many blocks. It’s filled with traditional Argentinian food, art, music, antiques, and handicrafts being sold by local vendors. Popular among porteños and tourists alike, Feria San Telmo is full of free tango shows and live music, and is sure to give you a taste for the best of Buenos Aires.
8. PM Open Air Concerts
One of my favorite things to do while I was living in Buenos Aires was to go to the PM Open Air electronic music concerts on Saturday afternoons, just outside the city. Dress for a casual music festival and go with a group of friends to see new DJs perform in this chic open-air live music venue. The concerts have a very cool vibe and you’ll mix and mingle with young people from all over the world who are living or studying in Buenos Aires.
9. Bosques de Palermo
One of the best ways to escape the city is to delve deeper into it. The Bosques de Palermo is like Buenos Aires’ version of Central Park, right in the middle of the city. A massive, beautiful park oasis filled with lakes, rose gardens, and wide open spaces, the Bosques de Palermo is a welcome change from the bustling crowdedness of the rest of the city. The park also includes attractions like the Buenos Aires zoo and planetarium, and often houses food trucks and outdoor festivals.
10. Can’t Miss Things to Do and See in BsAs
Buenos Aires is an incredible city with a million things to do and see. If you’re only there for a short visit, some of the highlights include seeing a tango show, visiting Teatro Colón opera house, Puente de la Mujer bridge in the Puerto Madero neighborhood, the famous Floralis Genérica sculpture in the Recoleta neighborhood, and the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s version of the White House. If you have a bit more time, I would also recommend visiting the Recoleta Cemetery, where many notable Argentines such as Evita Perón, are buried. Finally, the neighborhood of La Boca is a can’t-miss destination if you’re traveling to Buenos Aires. On the main strip, Caminito, you will discover traditional Argentinian steakhouses, tango shows, and colorful houses and buildings that will give you a true feel for Buenos Aires.
Anyone who travels to Buenos Aires is sure to fall in love with it. Many people associate the city with steak, wine, and tango, and while those things certainly are incredible, Buenos Aires is truly much more than that alone. I hope these tips will help to guide you on your next adventure and that you enjoy everything that Buenos Aires has to offer.
"This is indeed India, the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty...the country of a thousand nations and a hundred tongues...the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.”
If India isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. From food, to culture, to religion, India is easily one of the most interesting and beautiful places I’ve ever traveled to. This past October, I explored what is commonly referred to as India’s “Golden Triangle,” consisting of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. Traveling through that northwestern circuit, I felt like I got a pretty good sense for the country and its overall character.
India had been on my bucket list for a while, and when the company I worked for offered me the opportunity to go, I jumped at the chance. Though I’d had a vague idea about what I expected India to be like, truly I didn’t know what I was in for. As I started to research the destination more and more and speak with people who had been there before, I began to grow increasingly apprehensive. I was hearing all sorts of troubling things about the intense air pollution, lack of hygiene in food and water, crippling poverty, and manipulation of tourists. As a traveler my mindset has always been not to fear the world, but to explore it, so luckily none of this was enough to actually scare me out of going, but it certainly came close!
Now after having gone and returned, I am so glad that I ignored the negative hype. I can honestly say that India is one of the most special places I have ever been. It’s loud, chaotic, overwhelming, crazy, colorful, beautiful, and alive, and is home to some of the warmest, friendliest people I’ve ever met. Though I did and saw a lot during my trip, one memory is particularly striking and seems to sum up perfectly India as I experienced it...
Riding in a hot air balloon had always been something I’d wanted to try and when I realized I could do it in India, I knew I had to go for it. The idea was to wake up at 3:30 AM, drive out of the city into the countryside of Jaipur, and float through the sky on a hot air balloon as the sun began to rise. It sounded nice enough, but beyond that, I really had no idea what to expect. In the end, what started as an aimless adventure turned out to be an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.
It was 3:30 AM in the middle of Jaipur, India, as I waited outside the hotel lobby for a shuttle to come pick me up for my “hot air balloon ride experience”. The van pulled up to the hotel with the logo for the hot air balloon company “Sky Waltz Balloon Safari” displayed broadly on its side and though the driver spoke no English, only Hindi, I decided I should get in. It was pitch-black and the city was still asleep as we drove out of town, a shocking contrast to the lively hustle and bustle of daytime life in India. After about an hour of driving, we pulled up to a massive, open field surrounded by mountains as we were met by a big group of westerners all standing around in the dark. Our group waited eagerly as the hot air balloon attendants filled up the balloons, blazes of ignition fire lighting them up in the darkness.
My group of eight westerners and our Spanish balloon conductor boarded our balloon as they briefed us on the takeoff and landing procedures, and then all at once, we were airborne. At first it was terrifying as we rose quickly up into the sky, with nothing but the balloon’s basket as a barrier between us and the open air. We started floating up over the countryside as the sun was beginning to rise and the villages were starting to wake up.
We weren’t flying, but floating, rising high above the earth, above everything else, taking in the world from a totally new perspective. It was so quiet and peaceful up there, unlike anything I had ever experienced. There were nine of us total on the balloon but none of us said a word. We just stood there taking the whole thing in, in total awe of what surrounded us. It was completely silent but for the sounds of the villages below; only birds and crickets, the occasional motorbike, and then kids and families rushing up to the roofs of their little houses waving and yelling “Hello! Good morning!” to us, could be heard.
We sailed up over the mountains and glided above the clouds. As people began waking up and starting their morning routines, we could hear the call to prayer in the distance. People would catch sight of the balloon and without hesitation, every single person, regardless of age or gender, smiled up at us excitedly and waved, or waved back when we did first. This trivial action of waving hello was such a foreign concept for me as a westerner; the idea that an utter stranger would go out of their way to recognize me for no reason at all other than simply to be friendly was unusual and exciting. The pure innocence of such a small but meaningful gesture, repeated constantly by every person we encountered, was just so strikingly beautiful to me. How excited we all were to wave and acknowledge each other combined with the rarity and amazement of people in hot air balloons drifting over the country fields was like something out of a fairytale.
People from several of the surrounding village fields watched as our balloon finally began to descend, and came running towards the field where we were sinking down to meet us. Once we had landed, we were met by a group of at least a hundred villagers, all dressed in the most vivid red, yellow, pink, and orange-colored saris I have ever seen. They shyly gathered in front of the balloon, all of us giggling and waving and smiling and taking pictures of each other and together, though still we remained divided by the confines of the balloon’s basket. None of us knew what to do with each other and we were all so interested in the other group. It was like neither the westerners nor the locals even really had any idea that the other existed before that moment and we were all pleasantly curious about each other, wanting to be able to do more, say more, learn more, about the other but just didn’t know how. The humanity in it all was so powerful that I started to cry and laugh at the same time, I was so overcome with emotion brought about by the purity of the encounter. It was the most human experience I’ve ever had.
The longer we stayed there the more people gathered from the surrounding fields to see us. We couldn’t communicate at all, not even the balloon conductor spoke Hindi or the local dialect as he was from Spain, so we tried to gesture to each other by smiling and using body language. We were all very shy with each other, especially some of the other girls that were around my age; it was like we came from two completely different worlds but somehow we were also exactly the same. Everyone was buzzing with excitement and the novelty of it all was overwhelming; it was so unusual to feel so connected to another group that we couldn’t even properly speak to. The villagers standing closest to me indicated that they wanted to invite me to their homes to eat and drink something, which was shocking to me as we couldn’t even speak a common language. I was a complete stranger seemingly from another life and these lovely people still wanted to invite me to come to their homes to feed me and offer me warmth and hospitality. Of course I had to decline and go back to the city with the balloon tour, but the gesture was profoundly touching. I was so moved by that, I can’t even find the words to properly describe the feeling. Despite our differences, we’re all humans, and whichever walks of life we come from, we can still find common ground in basic humanity. Friendliness, warmth, hospitality, and kindness can be universally communicated without any need for language.
I was warned a lot before coming to India about all manner of things; the food, the people, the hygiene; I was prepared for the worst, but in the end my experience was nothing but wonderful and genuine. If I learned one thing from the people in India, I realized how easy it is to just make the first move to be friendly. It’s such a small gesture to smile or say hello and it’s always immediately reciprocated with a wave and a big smile. It was like that all over India, everyone so friendly, kind, and warm, everywhere I went. From walking the streets, to being stuck in traffic, to standing in a hot air balloon amidst a group of strangers; I just smiled or waved, and was always received with the hugest, warmest, friendliest smile, and it was like we had been friends all along. Nowhere else I’ve been have I felt like that. I smiled so hard in India that my cheeks hurt; I still cannot stop smiling just to remember it.
The kindness and beauty shown to me in India was truly overwhelming. Yes the landscapes were expansive, the cities exciting, and the food delicious, but for me, the most extraordinary part of India was the people. Experiencing a culture that breeds this sort of innate warmth opened my eyes to the beauty of the world in more ways than I ever could have imagined. Though my entire journey in India was incredible, it ended up being something as whimsical as a hot air balloon ride through the countryside that turned out to be an experience so profound that I will carry it with me for the rest of my life.
As a solo female traveler myself, I know firsthand how intimidating it can be to get out there and see the world on your own. There are so many factors to take into account, especially if you’re not sure where to go or what you’re in for once you get there. Bearing in mind things like safety, friendliness of the locals, activities and attractions, ease of travel within the destination, and overall general vibe of the place, I’ve put together a list of destinations that makes for a great starting point for solo female travelers to begin (or continue) their adventure!
Here are my picks for the top 5 best destinations for solo female travelers:
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen may seem a bit off the beaten path as a travel destination, but it’s certainly worth the visit! The people are beautiful and friendly, they love having a big, delicious breakfast (which is rare in European countries), and the preferred method of transportation throughout the city is by bike, which is a cheap and fun way to cover a lot of ground in a short time. This city is very clean and safe, is an easy place to navigate, and lends itself well to solo female travelers. Can’t-miss things to do here would definitely be Nyhavn, which is the colorful waterfront, canal, and entertainment district of Copenhagen, stopping into any of the plentiful and cute Scandinavian cafes, and taking a trip over to Freetown Christiania, which is a cool hippie commune within the city.
2. Bali, Indonesia
Another great destination for solo female travelers is the island of Bali, Indonesia. Though still part of Indonesia, Bali has its own distinctive culture which varies both religiously and spiritually from the rest of the country, offering a more laid-back, spiritual vibe. A hub for surfers and yogis, Bali is the perfect place for travelers to unwind with like-minded people, reconnect with nature and the self, and enjoy the beautiful beaches, people, and culture surrounding you. The best way to get around the island is either by motorbike or tuk-tuk, and I would recommend seeking out Jamu juice, which is an ancient Balinese remedy made with Turmeric.
There are several truly can’t-miss places in Bali. In Seminyak, experience great beaches, shopping boutiques and restaurants, and of course La Favela nightclub, which is popular among tourists and locals alike. Ubud offers more of a cultural feel, where you’ll find many places for yoga and a heavy emphasis on natural and health foods. Here you will also find Hindu temples, the renowned Monkey Forest, and the beautiful rice terraces Bali is famous for. Canggu is another funky little town not far from Ubud, which is known for great surfing beaches and has a very laid-back vibe. If you have time, Gili Trawangen island is only a ferry ride away, and is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
3. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok has something for everyone and lends itself especially well to solo female travelers, who likely won’t remain solo for long! Thailand in general has become a classic destination for intrepid backpackers, and in Bangkok in particular it’s very easy to meet people if you’re traveling solo. Bangkok is characterized by its lively nightlife, friendly locals, rich culture, and great food. The city’s magnificent temples and cultural sites, along with amazing day and night markets make for an exciting cultural experience that you won’t want to miss. The best way to get around is on foot, by bus, or via tuk-tuk, which are typically very cheap and convenient. I recommend staying at Mad Monkey Hostel here; it’s got great vibes for meeting people, amazing food and a fun bar, and a swimming pool which is essential in the Bangkok heat! Can’t-miss things to do in Bangkok are getting a Thai massage (a bit of an odd experience but feels amazing and is incredibly cheap), Khao San Road (great for nightlife, street food, and to get the overall feel of Bangkok), and a trip to both the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, which is a massive temple complex home to the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand.
4. Miami, USA
Miami is an amazing place for solo female travelers, but is a bit more expensive than some of the other places on this list, so plan for that before you go! Miami is a very international city, so you can expect to hear a mix of languages, ranging from English to Spanish to French and beyond. The general culture here is very flashy; the people are beautiful and they love to show off their wealth with fast cars and luxurious yachts. The city is characterized by a great nightlife scene, phenomenal Cuban food, and gorgeous beaches.
As far as where to stay as a solo female traveler, South Beach in particular has some nice centrally located hostels which offer free airport transfers, breakfast and dinner, and free club crawls to some of the most famous clubs in Miami. When traveling alone, this is a great way to meet other travelers as well as get a taste of the wild nightlife Miami is famous for! As a female, going out abroad can be a little tricky, especially when there is alcohol involved and you’re in a foreign place. Taking advantage of an organized pub crawl like this can be a fun and safe way to ensure you’ll have some friendly faces looking out for you who are all staying at your same hostel and can give you a bit more peace of mind during after-dark activities. The can’t-miss destinations in Miami are South Beach (must visit Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, streets which are both classic Miami), the Wynwood Walls (a neighborhood of ever-changing street murals by artists from all over the world), and Little Havana (a hub for Cuban culture in Miami). The best way to get around Miami Beach is via their free trolley system that loops around to the main sites in the area, but beyond that, I would recommend taking Ubers or taxis.
5. Rome, Italy
Finally, Rome is a wonderful place to visit as a solo female traveler. A city renowned for its history, food, culture, and overall air of romance, you will never run out of things to do here. The best way to get around the city is on foot or via metro or bus. Some of the main attractions in Rome include the Vatican, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, numerous parks and museums, and the list goes on and on. Of course, you can’t leave the city without filling up on endless pizza, pasta, gelato, and wine. Make sure to try a glass of Limoncello, a traditional Italian lemon liqueur, here as well! The people are warm and friendly, but as a woman you may be a bit put off by the catcalling, which is very much part of the Italian culture. I’ve found that it’s more annoying rather than threatening, and in time you learn to just ignore it. If you’re concerned about visiting this city on your own, I can assure you that it’s often much easier to meet people when you’re traveling alone, and it can be even easier in a city as romantic as Rome!
Though the thought of traveling the world as a solo female can be scary, once you put yourself out there, there truly is not a more empowering feeling. Exploring the world on your own terms is liberating, and you’ll realize that there is no limit to what you can do. Getting started, it helps to have some great destinations in mind, so I hope this list will help motivate you to kickstart your next solo adventure!
My name is Sophie Mendel, and I’m an American travel writer and editor currently residing in Chicago, Illinois, USA. I have traveled to 42 countries and lived in 5, am fluent in English and Spanish (and always in the process of learning more languages), and love lugging my guitar around the world with me! Follow my travels on Instagram @theunboundedtraveler!