2015 List of Safest Countries for Women Travelers
Not much has changed since 2014, when we last analyzed the best and safest countries. Our favored countries remain safe, mercifully and sadly, no other countries improved enough to rival them. Our ranking is created according to the rankings by the Global Peace Index and World Economic Forum in the categories of tourism, as well as analysis of existing information as to violence against women, and specifically native women and tourists. Be advised that there is no comprehensive set of statistics that are uniform and recent. Even the UN statistics vary considerably, with some statistics being quite old and also not uniform. However, of the available information, the safest places to travel for women are:
1. Iceland –
Iceland is number one, though hardly a common tourist destination. However, Iceland has amazing scenery in the form of pristine waterfalls, geysers and geothermal spas. It is a great place for whale watching and has good diving sites. Iceland also has Europe’s largest national park; Vatnajolkull National Park with a huge glacier inside (larger than all the other glaciers in Europe combined). Research indicates none of the usual problems for women in the form of sexual assault, harassment, etc.
Weather is listed as the top safety concern, in the form of high winds, snow and cold. Geysers are also an issue as are hot pools and mud pots, since tourists unwittingly get too close and get burned. The coastal waters can be rough with huge waves.
The World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report voted Iceland the friendliest country for tourists in 2013. The 2013 Global Peace Index placed it at number one due to such factors as a minimal homicide and crime rate. When looking at statistics involving homicide and rape, Iceland makes you smile since tourists very rarely come to grief there. When it comes to native women in Iceland, the picture is a bit murkier but generally, there is a strong feminist presence, which includes a former prime minister who was both female and gay.
The country has admirable laws that make it one of the more equal societies in the world in terms of women having equal access to health care, education and being able to participate fully in economic and political life. Additionally, the violent crime rate is simply very low there, which always helps women.
Update (9/3/2014) – Iceland’s exciting and news-worthy geologic activity is causing the formation of new rifts; lava plumes, and earthquake tremors in the central eastern part of the island near the Bárðarbunga’s caldera. Iceland’s plate tectonics, one of its fascinating features, is where the North American plate meets the Eurasian plate; and they are drifting apart. The movement of the plates causes the country’s amazing beauty; and explains why geysers, geothermal spas and volcanoes are a part of its landscape. Our favorite summaries and updates about the latest geologic activity near the Bárðarbunga’s caldera, is The Daily Kos’ updates by their contributor, Rei. The writer clearly explains the complexities of this unfolding story; and includes helpful pictures and videos. We still rank Iceland as the #1 country to visit, but as always, please check on the local conditions of your destinations and monitor road closures.
2. Denmark –
Although mostly remarked upon for butter cookies, it also has the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Tivoli Friheden, which is located in the beautiful Marselisborg Forest (traditionally, one went to the woods to picnic, now one goes to an extensive water park, restaurants, etc. to play).
There are also historic attractions like Kronborg Castle, the old town of Aarhus with its historic houses and fun shops. The beaches on Denmark’s coast are attractive for swimming in July and August.
And it’s hard not to like a little Scandinavian country that is safe, and not only is very safe for women but a leader in gender equality so that there is no virtually no discrimination or sexual harassment.
Rated number two for the Global Peace Index and rated at 28 for Safety and Security in the Tourism Competitiveness index. Apparently, you have to watch out for drunks in Copenhagen but of all the information we’ve found from travelers and various sources, there’s not much mentioned by way of danger. Except that one has to watch out for the oceanic undertow.
Denmark not only supports the UN Commission on the Status of Women as a country but in 2013 funded a grant to combat gender-based violence in Sudan and Somalia.
3. New Zealand –
Visit where the Tolkien works were filmed with special tours like Hobbiton tours! Visit the Coromandel Peninsula (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) and visit beautiful white and golden sandy beaches. You can explore the Maori tribal culture including concerts, arts and crafts. There’s excellent mountain biking and cycling in beautiful natural areas.
New Zealand ranks quite high in the Global Peace Index (3) and in the Safety and Security in Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, it ranks a twelve. It’s difficult to find much by way of threats other than auto accidents and drownings in terms of deaths. There was a recent sexual assault on two women in Auckland, but generally, there are very few reports of attacks on women tourists either in terms of assault or harassment. Undoubtedly, there have to be some on native women but the rate doesn’t appear nearly as high as many other countries. For women tourists, there are accommodations to cater to solo women’s travelers and women’s travel groups.
4. Austria –
Can you say Alps? Of course you can and the skiing is legendary. There’s also numerous historic castles, the Vienna state Opera, and of course, for the musically inclined, Salzburg and Vienna. But let’s not limit ourselves to admiring the just the music,
Salzburg is a beautiful town that is so lovely the tourists photograph the signs for good measure. It also has amazing shops and events like their Christmas market that is paradise for the inveterate shopper.
Vienna, meanwhile, has baroque castles, gardens, monuments and parks and its own famous Christmas market. Austria’s Lake District offers beautiful blue lakes and tall, craggy peaks. It is rated at 4th place in the Global Peace Index and at 7th place in the Safety and Security section of the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index for the World Economic Forum).
5. Switzerland –
More Alps! And despite the fact that Switzerland is known for it’s skiing and chocolate, one should not lose track of the fact that you can’t toss a brick without hitting a museum or two.
They also look at themselves as the Land of Water due to their numerous lakes, rivers and streams and are justly famous for the fact that their water is so clean they boast you can drink safely out of some of their lakes. And of course, there is the famed Lake Geneva region where you can take culinary cruises to scenic spots.
Switzerland is rated as the 5th safest place by the Global Peace Index and number two for the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index
6. The Netherlands –
The Rijksmuseum, without a doubt, is one of the most amazing museums around for those who love the fine arts but it is just one of many fine museums to visit.
There is also the Hogue Veluwe National Park, which is a rather large nature reserve with heathland, sand dunes and woodlands and a Van Gogh museum in the middle if you get tired of nature. You can bike through it for free though you can also drive through at a price.
The Keukenhof Gardens Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) are famed for their spectacular tulip displays and is promoted as the World’s Largest Flower Garden (though you really need to go in the spring). There are canals to explore and really, this is the place if you like to bicycle since everyone does. Rated at number 5 for the Global Peace Index and at number 6 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index.
7. Finland –
Great skiing, tremendous scenery. It fancies itself a Pristine Paradise for Natural Lovers. Actually, that’s pretty accurate since they have the skiing you would expect, as well as the hilly laplands (complete with Reindeer tours and Santa Claus), islands and 200,000 lakes (yes, count them).
This is the land of the midnight sun and Aurora Borealis. If you like the woods, they happen to have Lemmenjoki National Park (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons), the largest wooded park in Europe.
Finland is ranked number one for safety in the Safety and Security ranking for the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index as well as number seven for the Global Peace Index.
8. Canada –
Could we skip past Niagara Falls? Sure, it’s spectacular but at some point, we have to move on to other things in Canada. Banff National Park, for example, is amazing in terms of both natural beauty to admire and wildlife. You can also go Polar Bear watching in Churchill.
Of course, there are the Canadian Rockies, which can be dicey for American tourists familiar with the Colorado Rockies since we find ourselves making comparisons and getting annoyed that the same people who make tourist trinkets for one do it for both. But getting past that, the Canadian Rockies do offer spectacular mountains, lakes and waterfalls.
The Quebec Province is fun for those who want to appreciate French culture in the new world. The Bay of Fundy has both natural beauty and what they believe are the most impressive tides in the world as well as amazing lobster dinners.
Generally, quite safe with some problems for live-in caregivers and mail order brides. If you look at the US State Dept. Stats, for 2010, you’ll note that most fatalities are due to motor vehicle accidents with the occasional drowning. Rated 18 Safety and Security ranking for the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index for the World Economic Forum.
9. Sweden –
The Kingdom of Sweden is understandably famous for it’s skiing, but it’s also famous for skating and dog sledding. Sweden is also one of the largest and least populated countries in Europe and awash with natural areas to visit.
They view the Swedish Laplands (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) as the last remaining wilderness in Europe (disputed). They have rather extensive national parks that include forest, mountain and marine parks. There is Stockholm, of course, which includes Gamla stan, one of the larges and best-preserved medieval city centers dating back to the 13th century, as well as the royal palace and the Vasa Museum.
Rated at number 9 for the Global Peace Index and at twelve for the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index. Violent crime does occur in Sweden, but not very often. You would more worry about purse-snatching, which doesn’t happen very often. They do mention one should be careful driving on snow and ice. Moose tend to wander the roads at dawn and dusk, another hazard.
10. Belgium –
Rather small as countries go and yet it has Brussels, which has spectacular museums and the Grand Place; a medieval square lined with guild houses. There’s Antwerp and its Het Steen, a medieval fortress. This city is also considered the Capital of Cool, due to their fashion, clever bars, art and modern architecture.
Bruges is a great place to visit since it has amazing chocolate shops, lace boutiques and breweries but for the historically inclined, the city’s center is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is closed off to cars so you can walk around or boat down their historic canals and see everything.
Bastogne is where the Battle of the Bulge was fought and is a memorable place to visit both to view the battlefield and visit the 4,000 trees planted in their woods in memory of the conflict. The wood of peace design is visible from above. Belgium is rated 10 at Global Peace Index and at Travel and at 10 for the Tourism Competitiveness index
Oslo’s Akershus Fortress
Norway is rated at 11th for Safety and Security and 10th place for the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index
Ireland is ranked 12th place for both the Safety and Security ranking for the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index
Photo Courtesy of Andrew Parnell of Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Slovenia is ranked 13th and 26th respectively for Safety and Security ranking for the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index.Global Peace Index.
Other Honorable Mentions By Region:
Photo courtesy Calvin Bradshaw (calvinbradshaw.com)
ranked 32 in the Global Peace Index, which is the best ranking in Africa.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Zambia is ranked 48 in the Global Peace Index, which is still pretty good in Africa and has great safaris as well as the famed Victoria Falls.
Asia: Hong Kong (SAR)
Photo courtesy Kamscharmog, Wikimedia
Hong Kong makes the top ten in the commercial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index at 3.
Singapore ranks 5th in the commercial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index and 16th for the Global Peace Index.
South Asia – Bhutan
Monastery – Photo courtesy of Bhutan Tourism
is ranked at 20 in the Global Peace Index)
Asia Pacific – Malaysia
(29 GPI) and Laos (39 GPI)
Central America – Costa Rica is ranked 40 in the Global Peace Index
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Panama is ranked at 56 in the Global Peace Index, making them the safest in Central America.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
is at 24 in the Global Peace Index
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Chile is ranked at 31 in the Global Peace Index.
At this time, we cannot recommend travel to any country in the Middle East.
Sources: The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness index from the World Economic Forum is a private and commercial source, unlike the non-profit Global Peace Index used for the main listing.