Which countries are the safest and most welcoming for female travelers in 2023?
Travel has boomed since COVID restrictions have eased all over the world, and the rise in solo female travel that we saw before the pandemic looks set to resume, with searches for ‘female solo travel’ across all search engines increasing by 62% over the last three years.
There’s so much to see in cities all over the world, from modern metropolises like Adelaide to the ancient history of Athens. But which nations are the safest for women looking to travel alone in 2023 and how has this changed since last year?
To find out, Bounce has refreshed its Women’s Solo Travel Safety Index from 2022, analyzing over 30 countries around the world on eight factors, covering violence and attitudes towards women, as well as wider gender equality indicators.
The safest countries for female travelers
1. Spain - Overall safety score: 7.45 out of 10
Knocking last year’s safest country, the Republic of Ireland, off the top spot is Spain. Spain was amongst the top-scoring nations for four of the seven factors analyzed.
Spain scored 9.6% for its acceptance of violence against women, and the laws it has in place to protect women from violence, score 0.3 out of 1.
Spain is well known for its friendly and welcoming nature and is popular with travelers for its sunny weather and historic attractions in the capital of Madrid.
2. Norway - Overall safety score: 7.41 out of 10
Up from third place last year, second place goes to Norway with a score of 7.41 out of 10. Scandinavia and other Northern European countries often rank highly for social progressiveness.
That proves to be the case again here, with Norway scoring highly for the safety of women walking alone at night (83%), its female homicide rate (0.6 per 100,000 people), and a high gender gap index score (0.879 out of 1).
Norway’s capital Oslo is known for being a very safe city with low crime rates and the country has long been an early adopter of legislation and policies supporting women’s rights.
3. Netherlands - Overall safety score: 7.14 out of 10
Skyrocketing from ninth place in 2022, the Netherlands is up next with an overall score of 7.14 out of 10. The country scores particularly high when it comes to its strong laws against domestic violence.
Tourism to the Netherlands is popular due to the picturesque villages, tulip fields, and attractions such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
It’s also generally a safe country for all genders, with low crime rates including a 0.4 female homicide rate per 100,000 people and a score of 73.8 out of 100 for its safety.
The country with the lowest rate of domestic violence
Thanks to its strict safeguarding measures and increased public awareness, the nation with the lowest rate of domestic violence is Switzerland.
In Switzerland, 12% of women say that they have experienced violence from a partner in their lifetime, which is 3.6 times lower than in the worst country on the list. This is a slight increase from 2022’s result of 9.8%.
The very popular tourist destination maintains highlights including Zürich’s historic Old Town, with its picturesque medieval architecture and scenic views of Lake Zürich.
The countries with the lowest rate of female homicide
In terms of the female homicide rates each year, it’s Japan and Belgium that are the safest, with 0.2 victims per 100,000 women.
Norway, recording last year’s lowest rate, has seen a 0.4 increase per 100,000 people to 0.6. Aside from the usual risks faced by tourists like pickpocketing, both of these countries are very safe for both men and women, especially when it comes to the very low level of violent crime against women.
Popular with tourists thanks to the attractions on offer in its capital Tokyo, Japan’s rate remains the same as in 2022, with Belgium, home to popular tourist hotspots Ghent and Antwerp, dropping by seven times last year’s figure of 1.4.
The country with the highest safety index score
When looking at the risk of all genders being a victim of crime across countries, Japan comes out on top with a ‘Safety Index Score’ of 77.1 out of 100, according to Numbeo. Despite dropping from 77.88 in 2022, it still retains the top spot for this factor.
Japan is a popular destination for tourists, thanks to the rich history of cities like Kyoto and Osaka, and the country has very high standards of living and education, with crime rates being very low and strict rules on gun control too.
The safest country to walk in at night
With its zero-tolerance approach to crime, highly visible police officers, and well-lit streets, Norway takes the top spot for the percentage of women who feel safe walking alone at night, at 83%, unchanged since last year.
The country with the lowest acceptance of violence against women
For solo female travelers, a country’s attitude towards violence against women is one of the most important factors, as it could indicate a risk of being a victim of violent crime.
This indicator looks at the percentage of women who believe that a man is justified in beating their partner in some circumstances, whilst demonstrating how domestic violence is viewed across nations. It stands at 1.4% in Ireland, rising by 0.4% over the last year. This statistic can be as high as over a third in other countries.
Lithuania, home to the capital Vilnius, shares the top spot. The percentage of women in Lithuania who believe that a man is justified in beating their partner in some circumstances has dropped by 0.6% since last year.
The countries with the strongest laws against violence
For this indicator, a lower score shows that a country offers a legal framework that offers women protection from domestic violence, without discriminating against women’s rights.
Several countries on our list achieved a score of 0.0 here, including France, Turkey, Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico. This is a positive change over last year, where no countries scored less than 0.3.
Key legal provisions include French laws that allow health professionals to break patient confidentiality in cases of domestic violence. Additional provisions include the expansion of the definition of domestic violence by the Mexican government, making digital and media violence punishable under the same laws.
Chile has also taken steps to protect women against domestic violence by disallowing violent emotion as a mitigating factor in sentencing and Costa Rica’s laws on domestic violence provide 18 protective measures available to victims including police protection orders.
The best country for gender equality
Looking more broadly at which nations offer women the highest level of equality and thus are more likely to make them feel safe and accepted, Norway comes out on top, replacing its Nordic neighbor Finland which took the top spot last year.
Norway scores 0.879 out of 1 on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, which rates nations on various equality measures such as economic participation, educational attainment, political empowerment, and more.
Each country was analyzed on the following factors, with each one being given a normalized score out of ten for each factor before an average across all of these scores was taken.
Women who have experienced violence
The percentage of women who have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner at some time in their life, according to OECD Data from 2019 (or the latest date available).
Female homicide victims
The number of female victims of intentional homicide per 100,000 females according to the World Bank from 2019 (or the latest date available).
Safety index score
A score out of 100 on the overall safety of the country according to Numbeo’s Crime Index (as of August 16th, 2023).
Women who feel safe walking alone at night
The percentage of women who feel safe walking alone at night in the area where they live according to a Gallup World Poll, sourced via the OECD’s How’s Life? Report from 2018 (or the latest date available).
Attitudes toward violence against women
The percentage of women who agree that a husband/partner is justified in beating their wife/partner under certain circumstances, according to OECD Data from 2023.
Laws on domestic violence
Whether the legal framework offers women legal protection from domestic violence. Laws on domestic violence are presented as values ranging from 0 to 1, where 0 means that laws or practices do not discriminate against women’s rights and 1 means laws or practices fully discriminate against women’s rights, according to OECD Data from 2023.
Global Gender Gap Index score
The country’s score (out of 1) on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023.