I can adapt to many countries and locations since I come from an international background. In many cities people have mistaken me as a local like in Paris and NYC. It’s cute, but then there are cities that are not so friendly towards solo female travellers with an international background. I chose these 15 cities because I have either lived there, spent enough time to get a good understanding of the atmosphere or applied/ looked for work there. I didn’t include my short tourist/ work trips, such as Tallinn, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Nice and Prague because I wanted to make a list of cities where I have experience of most of the things below. One to five day trips don’t really give a realistic idea unless you have time to do all of the things below. 😃
If you are planning to move abroad as a solo person, I have listed these factors below to consider when planning to relocate to another country. Here’s my PERSONAL list of cities where I have received hostile treatment vs. friendly and which cities are affordable. Thumbs up is friendly, fun and affordable. Thumbs down, hostile, maybe even racist, very expensive. Both thumbs is either or, good and bad. Maybe it’s super fun and friendly but way too expensive or it’s an affordable place but super boring and impossible to find a quality partner. I’ll write a separate post of finding quality partners in different cities.
Airport/ Train/ Metro:
- 👍🏼 New York City, United States. Airport security and police were friendly and “welcomed me back home” and gave me chocolate. 😄
- 👍🏼 Barcelona, Spain. I had extra kilos and I didn’t have to remove stuff thanks to the friendly lady.
- 👍🏼 Bangkok, Thailand. Amazing customer service, felt safe as a female solo traveler and no hostility towards foreigners.
- 👍🏼 Vienna, Austria. Friendly, great public transportation, no problems.
- 👍🏼 Milan, Italy. Friendly, no problems.
- 👍🏼 Malta. It’s a very tiny island, but well organized and safe for solo travelers.
- 👍🏼 Sofia, Bulgaria. I never took the metro, but people were helpful in the tram when I asked for directions.
- 👍🏼 Berlin, Germany. First time I arrived in Berlin as an exchange-student, a man helped me with my heavy suitcase (though he wasn’t airport staff). Same thing happened at a metro station, some man offered to carry my luggage up the staircase.😄 In Munich airport the cafe guy gave me a candy bag for free and that was just three years ago. 😄
- 👍🏼 Lisbon, Portugal. Friendly, welcoming and chill atmosphere.
- 👍🏼 London, UK. Airport and public transport was normal, nothing especially alarming.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Dublin, Ireland. Friendly, but what annoyed me was that you had to buy the little plastic bag for your cosmetics for 1€! The airports always give it for free so this was ridiculous.
- 👍🏼 👎🏼Paris, France. The airport lady didn’t charge me for extra kilos or ask me to remove stuff. Though, some metro lines and Gare du Nord train station are full of beggers and you really have to watch out for your bag. It took a while to get used to police men carrying semiautomatic rifles at train stations. 😄
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Luxembourg. Taxi drivers were very helpful towards female solo travelers. Airport people were WEIRD as fuck to say the least. I think they are either bored or don’t have too many brown people coming around. A blonde woman with a baby and some older man were trying to peek at my phone and were staring at me like a criminal when I was waiting for my plane. Also all the signs were super confusing so I got lost and did the security check twice. In comparison to Paris where tourist signs were very clear and directions were clearly marked.
- 👎🏼 New Delhi, India. People are friendly, but as a female solo traveler it can be very dangerous. Men stare in a primitive way and I have actually never in my life taken public transportation there, just private cars with drivers. For female solo travelers it’s a big NO.
- 👎🏼 Zurich, Switzerland. Nobody helped me with my heavy suitcase even though people saw me struggling at the train station. I changed my train twice and nobody helped, just stared. Very cold atmosphere.
Nightclubs/ Restaurants/ Beauty and Hair Salons:
- 👍🏼 Milan. Super friendly atmosphere, easy to meet people. Though I knew people when I went there so it made easier. I got in to all the clubs and even to a private fashion party with my male model friends. 😃 Nice times.
- 👍🏼 Bangkok. Friendly, though I didn’t visit too many nightclubs. Tourist areas were HORRIBLE. British drunks ruined that place for sure, but there were some quiet bars to sit, talk and have a drink. Tourist guided tours are good for solo travellers to meet people. Hanged out with British and German young tourists.
- 👍🏼 Barcelona. Very hip city. Even though I went there for work, I spend a couple days with my friend touristing around. Easy to get around alone, safe, affordable and nice sophisticated clubs.
- 👍🏼 Lisbon. Super chill, friendly and vacay mode. The beach is not far from the city, so you can chill at the beach and enjoy the nightlife in the city. Clubs are sophisticated and safe.
- 👍🏼 Malta. Very young and extroverted. It’s full of foreigners. My landlord was almost the only Maltese person I hanged out with. Clubs are very cool, friendly and safe. A bit pricey however.
- 👍🏼 New Delhi. Never went to a nightclub in India, but beauty salons are really good. Restaurants are amazing and yes the food is different than you get in Europe. They use very strong spices, Western stomachs need to be prepared. Indian bakeries are totally worth trying.
- 👍🏼 Vienna. Small but sophisticated city. Elegant, international and calm. Nightclubs have an age limit 15, so it was fun to go when I was teenager. The Donau river is super cool in the summer. It’s like mini Miami Beach or something. 😄 You can do sports, rent a pedal boat, have delicious cocktails and enjoy life.
- 👍🏼 Sofia. Friendly, top notch beauty treatments, manicures, pedicures, and cellulite salons. Nightclubs are cool and fun, but don’t go in with too many dudes. 😆 Restaurants are nice and peaceful.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 London. People stare at Indian people in restaurants. It happened in two different trips with different people. Very expensive prices too, but then again it’s London. It’s worth paying and experiencing.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Zurich. Nightclubs are safe and relaxed, very empty during the week though. Restaurants are very expensive, not for budget traveling. I stayed and cooked at a friend’s house, but for normal solo tourists I don’t recommend. It can be a bit boring because it’s very career oriented city.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Paris. When I went with an Asian female friend to a nightclub, they let us in for free and the male bouncer complimented us. When I tried to go with a black guy, Moroccan guy and a Jewish guy to a club they refused to let us in. 😂
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Berlin. Good is that bartenders always serve women first. Bad is racism and my Turkish guy friend didn’t get in to a club because he was Turkish. They told him “we have too many Turkish people in already”. Omg. I also didn’t get in to a club because I was “dressed too fancy”, though I heard from my friends that everyone had tattoos and black clothes in that club. 🤣
- 👍🏼👎🏼 NYC. It’s not for the poor. I had savings and friends when I went there, but nail salon ladies laughed at my discount coupons.🤣🤣 I guess Manhattan people don’t use coupons but I went as an unemployed single tourist. No rich man to give me money. 🤣 Though in my favorite salad bar Chopt Creative Salad in Manhattan, the guy making my salad noticed an older posh lady was trying to skip ahead of me and he got pissed off at her haha. A+ for his customer service and their salads!
- 👍🏼 👎🏼 Dublin. Even though the Barbie hairdressers all had dirty looks when I walked in lol, they were PROFESSIONAL enough to tell me that the highlights that I asked won’t look good on my dark base and I ended up leaving the salon looking fabulous. 💇🏽♀️ Though I did have a bad experience with a hotel. I asked for dry cleaning, paid for it and they gave it to me in a laundry bag still DIRTY claiming it was clean. 🤣 I got food vouchers as compensation though.
- 👍🏼 👎🏼 Luxembourg. A chill small country, but also very expensive. I didn’t actually eat out at all except in McDonalds. 😂 I bought fresh ready made salads from the supermarket and bakeries had affordable bread and pastries. Not for budget traveling.
Quality of Life/ Safety/ Career Opportunities:
- 👍🏼 London. If you can get a job, it’s a great city. Without a job not very affordable. The good thing is that you don’t need any extra languages, but also a lot of competition.
- 👍🏼 Bangkok. Safe, friendly and clean, weather is good and food is awesome. Not sure about career opportunities for foreigners, but they are friendly towards foreigners.
- 👍🏼 Sofia. You can have a good quality of life for a very affordable budget. Career opportunities are better for foreigners than for locals. Something you don’t see too often in Europe. 😂
- 👍🏼 Vienna. Safe, affordable and surprisingly fun! There are big organisations such as IAEA from the UN ( behind me in the pic), so foreigners don’t necessarily need to speak German to get a job.
- 👍🏼 Lisbon. Very relaxed, friendly and clean city. Many foreigners’ favourite. Never applied for work there though.
- 👍🏼 👎🏼Dublin. Depends on the neighbourhood, but my student apartment was very expensive and brand new, next to the new tram line and my college. In the end of the road, however, were drug dealers. 😆It was very scary at times and there were many young hooligans. One of my Asian classmates had kids throw rocks at her. Career opportunities are really great though, many big corporations such as Microsoft and Oracle.
- 👍🏼 👎🏼 Berlin. Very vibrant city, super cool, fun, affordable and safe, but a bit hostile towards foreigners. A lot of punks with big dogs. It’s better to know German if you look for work.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Paris. I LOVE Paris, but career opportunities are a bit narrow if you don’t speak French.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Zurich. Safe, clean and rich, but you need to speak German, French or Italian for job opportunities. Not a place to live with a small salary.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Luxembourg. Safe, clean and rich, but you need to speak French for better career opportunities. Not a place to live with a small salary.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Malta. Super cold inside the apartments in winter. The apartments are built from some rock material, the moisture builds in and most of them don’t have heating in all rooms. I lived in two different apartments and my bedrooms didn’t have heating! Career opportunities for foreigners are good but a bit limited to online casinos and banks.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 NYC. NYC is one of my favourite cities with amazing food, people and fashion, but it’s a SUPER competitive job market. It’s a challenge to look for work there because it’s also very expensive. The customer service jobs don’t pay enough for rent. You need a really good job to survive and then it’s great.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Milan. Friendly, fashionable and chill. Not very cheap either though. Salaries are not very high compared to Finland for example, yet the prices are almost the same.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 Barcelona. It’s a safe city, but again, expensive and salaries are small. Never applied for a job there but heard complaints from locals. Many (corporate) jobs require you to speak Spanish.
- 👍🏼👎🏼 New Delhi. It’s friendly and amazing for tourists, but for settling down for Westerners it might be a bit much. Women can’t walk around alone late in the evening and there’s generally less freedom than in Europe. Never applied for work there, but Indians are very friendly, open-minded and respectful towards foreigners.
So as a conclusion, the winners for the most thumb ups are Bangkok, Sofia and Vienna! Vienna was actually my favorite city for a long time until I went to Paris and NYC. 😄 Sofia is a place I could definitely live in, the weather is great and I blend right in as people are very mixed. Thailand is a favourite for many people. The perfect city is very hard to find and of course everything is more fun with a good job and money. For more fun, avoid going to nightclubs with a bunch of dudes! 😆😉 If you’re a dude, go with five girls and you’re good! ☺️