I wish my 18-yr-old self would have followed her dream of solo travel. Had I only known these 8 reasons why Scotland is perfect for female solo travellers.
Scotland Solo Travel

8 Reasons why Scotland is Perfect for Female Solo Travellers

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Last updated on November 1st, 2017 at 12:54 pm

Scotland came onto my travel radar when I was 18 years old and dying to travel for a year after my high school graduation. My idea was to hike and hitchhike around Scotland, drop my bag wherever I liked it most, find a WWOOFing host and just enjoy life. Without a doubt did I think of lush green hills, gorgeous lakes and never-ending sunshine – rain was certainly not on the agenda. Of course my parents did not agree with my aspirations to become the family hobo and I ended up doing a year of voluntary work in Denmark through the EU-programme European Voluntary Service instead.

Had I only known back then what I know now, I might have found it easier to convince my parents of the flawlessness of my backpacking plans. There are so many hidden gems in Europe, and Scotland is one of them!

I firmly believe that Scotland it THE perfect destination for solo travellers and female solo travellers in particular. Here are a few reasons why that is so…

1) Scotland is full of young internationals

Strength in numbers, right? Scotland is becoming increasingly popular, not only because its beauty is being featured in more and more big studio films, but also because people realised that Scotland is a great place to be for young people. The universities in Glasgow and Edinburgh are bustling with international students who spread out to explore the rest of the country. Hostels and budget accommodation are popping up everywhere, public transport is great and there are a lot of things to do for young people – therefore all you really need to do is set out and you will bump into many other young travellers. August is probably the best time of the year to get the full picture of how international Scotland can be – during the Fringe and International festival in Edinburgh.

Read more about experiencing Edinburgh during the festival month in my blogpost for Travelettes.

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2) The country is all about women’s rights

As of April 2016 the Scottish prime minister is a woman, the government made up of 10 cabinet secretaries is 50:50 men and women, there are government-funded initiatives to close the pay gap, to support women’s businesses, to ensure women’s rights at home etc., and just recently hundreds of men and women gathered to protest against a planned event by misogynist Roosh V. In short,  Scotland is all about women’s rights and female solo travellers should come here to embrace this.

3) Street harassment is rare

Call it a form of British politeness, but the Scottish people are just the most friendly people you will ever meet. And not only friendly, but also polite. In the years I have lived in Glasgow I have been catcalled on the street one single time – that’s about as much as it happens every 5-10 minutes in my home town Vienna; and let me not even begin with the two days I spent in Nice… On that one occasion in Glasgow I was riding a bike, it was around 1am and a drunk guy shouted a ‘compliment’ at me. But that’s about it.

Maybe I’m lucky for not having more issues with street harassment, but actually I think the reason is the general level of respect for other human beings in this country. In a society with so many strong women in significant political and public positions, it is no surprise that people show more respect for women as well. While I would certainly not walk around the parks after dark and prefer to pay for a taxi instead of walking home at night, I can still walk down the street in peace and safety.

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4) Friendly Locals

Back to the friendly locals though. Whether you need help finding an address or just fancy a chat in a local pub or in a shop – Glaswegians will talk to you with an open mind; sometimes more often than you’d wish. If only they were easier to understand… The Scottish folk I have encountered were always intrigued to speak to me about my reasons for moving here – again and again I can only tell them that its the people who make this place so special. Of course there are plenty of a**holes around (like everywhere) but in general, female solo travellers are in good hands here.

5) It is super easy to get around

Travelling on your own you might be hesitant to rent a car, especially if you want to stay on a budget or if you have never driven on the left side of the road before. The good thing is that public transport with busses, trains and ferries is really good in Scotland and you get get to many places along the coast, in the Highlands and on the Isles without the necessity of your own wheels. You can read more about getting around in Scotland by public transport and rail passes in my basic guide to planning a trip to Scotland.

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6) Thriving Hostel Culture

I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of hostels. There are great value-for-money hostels in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but when traveling to cities I prefer having a bit of space to myself by renting a private flat. However, when I travel alone through the countryside and I feel like connecting to other travellers, hostels can usually be a great place to start meeting folk.

The Youth Hostels Association has a branch in Scotland (SYAH), but there is also a Scottish association of independent hostels called Hostelling Scotland. Through this site I found the Glencoe Independent Hostel, which is set in a traditional highland croft the forest just outside of Glencoe village. It had a fire place and I met some nice other travellers which both made it one of my favourite hostel experiences ever.

7) Great tour companies to join

If you want to visit Scotland on your own but not travel alone all the time, there are some great tour companies to join for female solo travellers. They offer trips all over the country for just a day or multiple days in a row. I personally made very good experiences with Rabbie’s* on several day tours (find them all here), but I’ve also heard great things about Haggis Adventures which is particularly aimed at young travellers and tours the country in their yellow busses.

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8) There is so much to do

Whether you are into historical buildings and cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, city travel, a good road trip, island hopping or simply want to taste as many whiskys as you possibly can you will find what you are looking for in Scotland. Cool cities to explore, breathtaking road trips, thrilling adventures, relaxing hikes, island hopping, wild swimming, golfing, castle touring, a vibrant foodie scene and gorgeous beaches – there really is something to do for anyone in Scotland!

One of my favourite solo adventures in Scotland was a 2-day sea kayaking course I did in Oban. I hitched from Balloch (near Glasgow) all the way to Oban on a Friday afternoon, stayed at a local hostel, learnt the basics of safe sea-kayaking and enjoyed a glass of beer in the sun. The perfect weekend for a female solo traveller in Scotland!

***

With all this in mind I wish my 18-year-old self would have stood up for her dreams and insisted on becoming one of many female solo travellers roaming Scotland. I love what Meg from Meander With Meg says about solo travel – it’s not something you need to be afraid of, or be particularly brave to do: ‘Travelling is a desire I wished to act upon until it became tangible and I could hold the experience of it in my hands.’

8 Reasons Why Scotland is Perfect for Female Solo Travellers | Watch Me See

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All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.

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34 Comments

  1. I literally just booked my flight to go to Scotland in June, largely based on this blog, so thank you so much for taking the time to write it! Now to decide to rent a car and drive in the left lane (which makes me nervous), or to book a tour with a tour company…. decisions, decisions… luckily, I have a bit more time to figure it out 🙂

    Thank you again!

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  5. Diane Houghton

    As a 1st time female traveller from Aussie, I found the Rabbies tours terrific.. both I did were a mix of young and older (4 “girls” my age, mid 60’s on the 1st one) the young ones great company, we all went to the pubs together most nights.. Scotland was just fantastic, (we so lucky with the weather.. just great for Nov last year) and the guide was just so so knowledgeable.. so much history to absorb everywhere..

    • That’s great to hear! I love going on tours with Rabbie’s – particularly the music they play in the buses; always makes the tour more fun 🙂 And good for you & the weather – I went on a tour today, and it was raining most of the day – in Scotland you just never know when the good weather hits you!

  6. Kariane Bourgault

    This is actually funny because, me and one of my friends are going to Scoltand this summer. She is 18 and I will have 18 in Scotland, during our trip. Thanks for your beautiful blog!

    • Living the dream <3 Have a fabulous trip to Scotland - you won't regret spending your birthday here!!!

  7. I’ve wanted to see Scotland for as long as I can remember and this blog telling me that it’s also good for a solo female travel makes me so happy! My friends ‘want to’ travel, but never actually buy a ticket, so I’ve been hunting for somewhere to go that I’ll feel safe. Are you still there?

    • It’s the ideal place for solo travel and there is so much to see! I’m still in Glasgow, studying at University of Glasgow and with no plans to leave anytime soon 😀

  8. Would you recommend this for your Grandmother? As the “baby boomer” generation retires, we are looking for fun destinations.

    • Absolutely! Scotland is so beautiful and you get really close up to nature without having to go for strenuous walks. Depending on what you’re into, Scotland is just great for anyone with an interest in the outdoors, history, food and culture! I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a great destination after retirement 🙂

  9. Michelle Crayford

    Totally agree! I’ve travelled as a solo female since I was 22 and got on a plane to England by myself (I refuse to sit around waiting for my friends to get their stuff together). I love the freedom of being able to make the choices I want.
    I travelled to Scotland solo this past July and fell in love! I’m actually hoping to move to Edinburgh one day. I rented a car for a week and drove with no real plan except to get to a certain town eventually. I never felt unsafe and everyone was very nice. I also came across several other solo females. 100% it’s the place I would recommend to anyone, but especially solo people.

  10. I know it’s been a while since you posted this but I just found it and am in love with it! I am from North Carolina (good ol’ southern United States) and have always had a passion for traveling over anything else! I have researched and researched places to visit that would satisfy my parent’s fear of me traveling alone and I feel Scotland is truly the most wonderful place to be if you are single and a girl and are new to traveling. Plus I am of Scottish decent and have bright red hair and freckles (which I know is pretty stereotypical) so I just kind of already felt drawn there! Thanks for the guides and inspiration to get out there!

    • Well, I can highly recommend Scotland for a first dip into female solo travel – Canada is great too, but maybe too close for your wanderlust? 🙂 If you have any questions about planning your trip to Scotland let me know – I’m happy to help! I hope you get to come here soon! x

      • My friend and I are going to Scotland in 11 days and I am beyond excited!! It will be my first time in Europe and we are stoked to explore the country for 2 weeks!

        • Two weeks is a great amount of time to have in Scotland as well! Are you coming here for New Year’s Eve or just after? Do you have your itinerary sorted? 🙂

      • Jenny Sweeting

        Hi there,

        Great to read about solo female travellers 🙂 I am planning a week trip cycling around Scotland on the North Coast 500 route and am wondering if it is safe enough to wild camp alone and what things I should look out for?

        • Oh wow, what a journey! I’ve actually not wild-camped here on my own, but I think it’s no less dangerous or safe as anywhere else. I’d go for it! The North Coast 500 is a touristy destination, more and more popular, so it’s not like you’re absolutely in the middle of nowhere on your own. In terms of tips, have a look here – definitely a reputable source: http://www.tiso.com/blog/wild-camping-guide-scotland Make sure to bring a midge net for your head (not a mosquito net, as the holes are too big!) – the Scottish midges are everywhere!! Have a great trip – I look forward to hear how it went!

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  12. Hello! love this article!!! I am looking forward to traveling solo:) Scotland is def. my first stop! Thanks for this write up!:)

  13. I’m so glad I found this article! I am a new solo travelette from Texas and will be flying into Glasgow in October! My plan is to backpack and use couchsurfing for a month and I couldn’t be more excited! I didn’t get this opportunity in my twenties so I’m trying to make up for lost time lol.

    • Oh amazing! Scotland is such an amazing place. I haven’t couchsurfed here yet, but I’m sure you will meet some great people! Have a fantastic time, and if you need any advice on places to go, please feel free to get in touch! Cheers K

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  15. Thanks so much for this!
    As a first time female solo travellette I am thinking of initiating myself into solo female travelhood by travelling to Scotland for a week. I have been before, mainly exploring Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Now, all by myself, is there a place you would recommend to enjoy the outdoors ( I am NOT an experienced hiker), meet nice people and get some rest for the soul?
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Johanna, thanks for your comment! Oban might be a good place to go – there are some hostels, so you’ll bump into other travelers, no problem. From Oban you can explore the islands, e.g. Ferrara by bike or foot, the Isle of Mull, or Iona & Staffa on a boat trip. There are some great cycle route in the area, excellent sea kayaking also for beginners, and I’m sure also some nice hikes (although I have not hiked in the Oban area yet). Glen Coe is another option, although many hiking routes in that area get quite tricky quickly; or the Isle of Skye where you base yourself in one of the Portree hostels; or Fort William from where you could hike parts of the West Highland Way. Rest for the soul won’t be an issue in any of these places! Check out Scotland Independent Hostels as they have many great, quirky places all over the country 🙂 Hope this helps!! Happy travels 🙂

  16. Great blog. I live in Aberdeen and most weekends I spend enjoying what Scotland has to offer from Snowboarding at Glenshee in the Winter to walking and hiking in the Summer. I climbed my first Munro – Lochnagar today. Loch Muick is also gorgeous and I love Loch Lomond. Aberfeldy and Loch Tay at Kenmore is a must too. So many beautiful places. Enjoy!

    • Fiona, thank you so much for your comment! Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire is an area I have only just dipped into for the first time with my mum earlier this month – still so much to explore! Congrats on the first Munro – 281 to go 😀

  17. Hey Kathi! Great tips! I haven’t been to Scotland yet, but it’s definitely on my list. I have a friend moving to Glasgow later this year for school, so I’ll definitely be using that as an excuse to visit, hehe.

    • You certainly should! It’s such a great little country to visit and I love love love Glasgow! Which school is your friend going to? I’m at Glasgow Uni 🙂

  18. Oh how I miss Scotland, sometimes I wish I had never left! It’s full of inspiring culture, people and life. Plus Glasgow has more concerts per week than any other city I’ve ever lived in! AMAZING!

    • I’m happy I’m not the only one feeling this way 🙂 I’d miss Glasgow to bits and currently I can’t even imagine going on a longer holiday than 2-3 weeks! If you ever come back, give me a shout! Thanks for your comment 😀

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