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Best Countries for Female Solo Hikers

Mar 8, 2024 | Travel Tips

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My first time backpacking solo (more than 25 years ago), I went to Switzerland and Austria, ideal places to begin for a novice solo hiker. Basing myself in various picture-perfect Alpine villages such as Innsbruck, Lauterbrunnen, Hallstatt, and Grindenwald, I was able to embark on day hikes into the stunning Alps and feel completely comfortable doing so on my own. These countries have well marked trails, efficient public transportation, a commitment to safety, and most importantly, no large animals to worry about (aside from cows).

Since then, whenever I’m traveling on my own, I’m always seeking out places where I feel comfortable hiking solo. If you’re a solo female adventurer seeking the perfect destinations for a memorable hiking experience, look no further. In this blog, we’ll delve into a handful of the best countries that offer not only breathtaking landscapes but also a safe and enriching environment for solo female hikers. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a tidbit to get you going.

Roys Peak New Zealand

New Zealand 

Known for its diverse and stunning landscapes, New Zealand is a dream destination for solo female hikers. The country boasts a well-established network of hiking trails, from the iconic Milford Track to the serene Abel Tasman Coastal Track. New Zealand’s friendly locals, excellent infrastructure, and commitment to outdoor activities make it an ideal choice for solo exploration.

There are a ton of resources on the New Zealand page, but here are a few guidebooks to use for hike planning:

  • Best Day Hikes New Zealand, by Craig McLachlan, Andrew Bain, Peter Dragicevich, 2021, Lonely Planet – https://amzn.to/49FmPRa
  • Hiking & Tramping in New Zealand, by Andrew Bain and Jim DuFresne, 2018, Lonely Planet Publications – https://amzn.to/49LdHuo
  • New Zealand’s Great Walks: The Complete Guide, by Paul Hersey and Shelley Hersey, 2021, Random House NZ Ltd – https://amzn.to/3P92Zpl 
islands norway

Norway

Norway’s dramatic fjords, pristine wilderness, and well-maintained trails make it a top pick for solo female hikers. The country’s commitment to gender equality extends to its outdoor culture, providing a safe and welcoming atmosphere. The famous trails like the Trolltunga and the Jotunheimen National Park offer challenging yet rewarding experiences for those seeking solitude and breathtaking vistas.

There are lots of resources on the Norway page, but here are a few guidebooks to use for hike planning:

  • Hiking in Norway – South: the 10 best multi-day treks, by Ute Koninx, 2021, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3wHHqFP
  • Lofoten and Vesterålen, by Andrea and Tobias Kostial, 2019, Rother Walking Guide – https://amzn.to/4c4bprQ

If you’re looking to join a group, try the Fjord Hiking Excursion from Bergen, offered by Manawa: Manawa’s Fjord Hiking Excursion from Bergen

mountains japan

Japan

Japan’s unique blend of ancient traditions and natural beauty makes it an intriguing destination for solo female hikers. The country offers a variety of hiking trails, from the sacred Kumano Kodo to the scenic Nakasendo Trail. With a low crime rate and a culture that values politeness and respect, Japan provides a safe and enriching experience for solo adventurers.

There are a lots of resources on the Japan page, but here are a few guidebooks to use for hike planning:

  • Lonely Planet Japan’s Best Day Hikes, 2nd Edition, by Lonely Planet, 2024, Lonely Planet Publications – https://amzn.to/3v5SnRd
  • Hiking and Trekking in the Japan Alps and Mount Fuji: Northern, Central and Southern Alps, Cicerone Guide, by Tom Fay and Wes Lang, 2019, Cicerone Press – great guide; up to date and detailed – https://amzn.to/3wSPinX
  • Japan’s Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage: The UNESCO World Heritage Trek, Cicerone Guide, by Kat Davis, 2019, Cicerone Press
  • One Hundred Mountains of Japan, by Kyūya Fukada, 2014, University of Hawai’i Press – https://amzn.to/3Pb8l3n
iceland waterfalls

Iceland

Traverse the famous Laugavegur Trail, winding through vibrant rhyolite mountains and soothing hot springs, providing an otherworldly backdrop to your solitary exploration. Iceland’s commitment to gender equality and low crime rates create an environment where solo female hikers can truly immerse themselves in the natural wonders that abound.

Whether marveling at the powerful waterfalls of Gullfoss, navigating the lunar-like landscapes of Landmannalaugar, or capturing the dancing Northern Lights in a night sky untouched by urban lights, solo hiking in Iceland promises a one-of-a-kind adventure.

There are lots of resources on the Iceland page, but here are a few guidebooks to use for hike planning:

  • Walking & Trekking in Iceland: 100 Days of Walking and Multi-day Treks, Cicerone Guide, by Paddy Dillon, 2015 – Paddy Dillon, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3IuOzMu
  • Iceland: The finest coastal and mountain walks: 63 selected walks in the land of fire and ice, by Gabriele and Christian Handl, 2019, Rother Walking Guide – https://amzn.to/3Is0WJ1
  • Iceland, Landmannalaugar, Hiking and Trekking: Smart Travel Guide for Nature Lovers, Trekkers, Photographers, by Oleg Senkov, 2021, Independently published – https://amzn.to/3IptR0y
mountain path madeira

Madeira

Nestled in the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira is a paradise for hikers seeking a solo escapade into nature’s embrace. With its diverse terrain featuring lush forests, rugged coastlines, and towering peaks, Madeira provides a captivating backdrop for a solo hiking expedition.

Embark on the renowned levada trails, a network of historic irrigation channels transformed into scenic walking paths, allowing you to explore the island’s rich biodiversity at your own pace. Or explore the veredas such as the ascent up to the summit of Pico Ruivo for panoramic views, Madeira’s trails offer a perfect balance of challenge and serenity.

There are lots of resources on the Madeira page, but here are a few guidebooks to use for hike planning:

  • Walking on Madeira: 60 mountain and levada routes on Madeira and Porto Santo, Cicerone Guide, by Paddy Dillon, 2019, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3V7vck0
  • Walking in Madeira: Landscapes of Madeira: 6 car tours, 100 long and short walks, 11th Edition, by John and Pat Underwood, 2024, Sunflower Guide – https://amzn.to/3PcC6ku
Hong Kong

Hong Kong

For the solo female traveler craving a unique blend of urban vibrancy and tranquil escapes, Hong Kong emerges as a surprising haven for solo hiking. Beyond the bustling cityscape and towering skyscrapers, Hong Kong’s diverse terrain boasts a network of scenic hiking trails, including the iconic Dragon’s Back trail, where panoramic vistas of lush landscapes meet the azure waters of the South China Sea.

Hong Kong’s commitment to safety and excellent transportation infrastructure ensures solo female hikers can navigate the trails with ease. Connect with locals during your journey, as the city’s warm hospitality shines through even in its less-explored corners. Discover hidden temples, encounter ancient banyan trees, and relish the meditative moments amidst the calming greenery.

Check out the guidebooks available to help with hike planning on the Hong Kong page:

  • The Serious Hiker’s Guide to Hong Kong: Four Long-Distance Trails that Reveal Hong Kong’s Wild Places, 13th Edition, by Pete Spurrier, 2024, Blacksmith Books – https://amzn.to/49x6cqO
  • Hiking in Hong Kong: Wilson, Maclehose, Hong Kong, and Lantau Trails and 21 Day Walks, by Andrew Mok, 2023, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/49H3RJZ
  • Hong Kong Hikers – Trails, by Andrew Wood, 2023, Independently Published – https://amzn.to/48GgQKP
  • Above the City: Hiking Hong Kong Island, by Alicia M. Kershaw and Ginger Thrash, 2021, Hong Kong University Press – https://amzn.to/49UPHVb

Slovenia: Alpine Tranquility

Located between Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia, Slovenia’s compact size belies its diverse beauty, offering a perfect haven for solo hikers seeking both serenity and adventure.

Embark on solo journeys through the Julian Alps, where emerald lakes mirror the rugged peaks, and alpine meadows invite quiet contemplation. Triglav National Park, home to Slovenia’s highest peak, Mount Triglav, boasts an extensive network of trails. Hikers can also trek the captivating Soča Valley or wandering through the fairy-tale landscapes of Lake Bled.

Engage with the warm locals in picturesque villages, savor traditional Slovenian cuisine, and discover the rich cultural heritage that permeates the charming capital city, Ljubljana.

There are lots of resources on planning a hiking trip in Slovenia, check out these guidebooks:

  • Trekking Slovenia’s Juliana Trail: Three Week Trek: Bled, Triglav and the Julian Alps, by Rudolf Abraham, 2024, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/4c2OexZ
  • The Julian Alps of Slovenia: Mountain Walks and Short Treks, Cicerone Guide, by Justi Carey & Roy Clark , 2015, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3V34clM 
  • The Slovene Mountain Trail: Slovenska planinska pot, by Justi Carey & Roy Clare, Cicerone Guide, 2019, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3IkcdLo 
  • Walking in Slovenia: The Karavanke, Cicerone Guide, by Justi Carey and Roy Clark, 2013, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/49TMkOs 

Embarking on a solo hiking adventure as a female traveler is a liberating and empowering experience. The countries mentioned above not only offer breathtaking landscapes but also prioritize safety and provide an enriching environment for solo female hikers. So, pack your backpack, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready for an unforgettable journey of self-discovery and exploration in some of the best hiking destinations the world has to offer. Happy trails!

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