2017 was the year of the modern female traveller. That year has been torn off the calendar, but the modern female traveller is, well, still travelling. And travelling more. To unknown lands and sunnier climes. To stretches of silken sand and sheets of snowy white. To little squiggles on the map and to cities oft-popping in everyone’s must-see list.
Sadly, not every city or country is deemed safe for women. Happily, there are a few very women-friendly places. Here are the six best destinations for women:
Palaces, a museum quarter, flea markets, coffee shops, cakes (including the famous chocolate cake, sachertorte), schnitzels, and stories about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig van Beethoven, George Klimt, Egon Schiele, who lived in Vienna. That Vienna is pretty, historical and aesthetically supreme is reason enough to go to the Austrian capital. Add to it the fact that the city is women-friendly. Public transport is convenient, pubs are safe. So safe that SafeAround website that rates cities according to their risk factors gives it a ‘low’ ranking for ‘women travellers risk’.
Oslo remains a city of vikings. So, do not be surprised if you see men in red hair and plaited beards. They are just repeating history! Focus on new wave Nordic food and coffee. No cinnamon buns or fancy squiggles on the latte froth. In Oslo, coffee is about the bean. Walk the harbour, gape at the Opera House, or take the metro from Oslo’s centre and in 20 minutes, you will get to the unspoilt Nordmarka forest cluttered with tall dark green pines, small clear lakes and rocky trails. Norway is ranked ninth on world’s safest countries’ list.
Melbourne is safe, streetsy and arty. There is a free tramline that runs around the city. Look for ‘You are in a Free Tram Zone’ signs. Go to Hosier Lane for the famed street art. After dark, step into Cherry Bar in AC/DC Lane, which describes itself as ‘perhaps the most rock n’ roll bar in the world’. Or, stand and quaff negroni in Bar Americano (it is a stand-only bar). Do a Melbourne Cricket Ground Tour, or stare at the world’s largest stained glass ceiling in National Gallery of Victoria (International). Have tea at the 1892-founded Hopetoun’s, and create your own Melbourne scent with master perfumer Emma Leah.
New York, USA
Here’s something you might want to know: women have been legally allowed to go topless in public in New York City since 1992. That says a lot about how safe a city can be for women. New York City’s female-run and female-forward party scene is creating safer spaces for women. Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, the High Line… some of New York’s most famous attractions don’t cost a dime. Public pools open during the summer months. All you need is a swimming suit, towel, bag and a padlock for the locker (you won’t be admitted without the padlock). Look for free comedy nights & free days at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Nearly 50 million people visit New York annually, and its crime rate is lower than the national average. There is some pickpocket-related risk in New York. Be careful around crowded Midtown streets, packed subway cars.
Hear this from the Institute for Economics and Peace: Iceland is the safest country in the world with a low violent crime rate, a low theft rate, and a high standard of living with a responsive police force. In other words, you’re statistically safer in Iceland than you are at home. Crime is almost non-existent. The big villain is the weather. Play safe. Visit Safe Travel (safetravel.is), run by ICE-SAR (Icelandic Search & Rescue), with travel and weather alerts. If you are planning to hike or go to remote areas, travel with a tour operator, rather than alone.
Drink tap water (do not ask for bottled water), do not wear shoes indoors and shower with soap before taking a dip. A warning for women: late night, do not step into Reykjavik’s Austurvöllur Park. It is not a dungeon, just a popular place for drunk people.
Mark Twain thought Mauritius was made first and heaven crafted thereafter. Twain had a huge funny bone. Not sure about the heaven’s blueprint, but Mauritius is a great destination. History sits at Apravasi Ghat and Le Morne Monument; there’s dholl puri as the fave street food; the world’s third-largest zip line, which is not for the faint at heart; seven-coloured sand; potent rum; 12 types of sugar-tasting at Sugar World; and one of the rarest stamps at Blue Penny Museum. Nightlife starts after midnight. Cabs are not easily available, so pre-arranging one is a good idea. Mauritius is named one of the safest countries in Africa. So, lace your sneakers and walk around, without fear in what Twain thought was heaven ’s prototype.