Seven safe cities for women to travel to
If you’re female and you’re dreaming of a vacation by yourself or with your best girlfriend it’s good to know where you can go without feeling like you’re always looking behind you or worrying about just how hard you need to clutch your handbag and eyeball strangers passing you in the street. This is especially true for South African women, because, let’s face it, our country isn’t exactly the safest place to adventure by yourself. So here are a few international cities that have been listed as some of the safest in the world. Be sure to add them to your bucket list!
Osaka: Go for the cherry blossoms and interesting street food
Situated in Japan, Osaka is best known for its architecture and incredible street food. But more than that, it’s a wonderful city to view the cherry blossoms when they’re in full bloom during March and April. One of the best places to view the blossoms is at the Kema Sakuranomiya Park, where almost 5 000 cherry-blossom trees line the riverbank for over four kilometres. If taking in the sights and scents of these beautiful cherry blossoms isn’t your cup of Saki, you’ll be happy to know that there are many other attractions in this bustling commercial centre, including incredible shopping centres, river cruises, museums, delicious and interesting street food markets, restaurants, craft markets, sightseeing and spas.
Amsterdam: Go to explore a city by bicycle
Amsterdam, the picturesque capital of the Netherlands, is filled with artistic heritage and history, which is best explored on a bicycle. Your list of must-see places and one-of-a-kind experiences should include the famous flower market, the food stands on every street corner (raw herring is a must-try local favourite), the Amsterdam Museum, the Anne Frank Museum, the waterways with their criss-crossing bridges, the red-light district (be a devil, but limit yourself to window shopping, please), the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum (which houses 200 paintings and 500 drawings by the legend himself). If you want an authentic Dutch experience, visit a flea market, taste some local delicacies, buy some vintage clothing and antiques, take a walk through Begijnhof, one of Amsterdam’s tranquil secret gardens, and finish off your day with dinner at one of the city’s best restaurants or mingle with the locals in one of the many bars where you’ll discover Amsterdam’s diverse and exciting nightlife. But whatever you do, no matter how elated and free you feel, try to resist the urge to throw your bicycle into the canal when your trip is done – it’s hard work trying to fish them out! Don’t be that tourist.
Singapore: Go to enjoy the humidity of a tropical climate
The tiny island state of Singapore in Asia is a vibrant place with loads to see and do, and incredible cultural diversity from Little India to Chinatown. Its mix of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian cultures culminates in the most interesting collection of traditions and customs. Also good to know is that Singapore has some of the strictest littering laws in the world, so the chances of stepping in chewing gum while donning the brand-new high heels you just bought at one of the city’s high-end shopping centres are very slim. When it comes to things to do, there are plenty of options, but some of the most popular attractions include visiting Clarke Quay for some of Singapore’s best cuisine, wandering around the Science Museum, seeing the city from a different viewpoint in the Singapore Flyer (the world’s biggest observation wheel) or walking on the futuristic skywalk and through the spectacular super-tree structures at Gardens by the Bay. Because of the tropical climate, expect warm humid days and balmy nights, just the excuse you need to sip on another Singapore Sling.
Stockholm: Go for the live music
One of the main reasons to visit the capital of Sweden is for its live music. Sweden is a rock and pop country and the live music scene is huge! So a good idea is to plan your trip to Stockholm around that one band you’ve always wanted to see perform live. And then, while you’re there, you might as well do the following: take a historic walking tour through the mazes and medieval alleyways of Gamla Stan; visit two of the city’s best art museums – to see works by Picasso and Dali go to the Moderna Museet, and to view Dutch and Swedish art take the short walk to the National Museum; take part in one of the locals’ favourite pastimes known as fika, which roughly translates into ‘drinking really good coffee and eating Swedish pastries at a café for however long you like’; or go to Pontus!, a huge, three-storey eatery where you can indulge in something different on each floor (think the best oysters in Sweden, a cocktail bar where you can tuck into dim sum and sushi, and a dining room for modern cuisine). If you happen to find yourself in Stockholm during the summer, catch the ferry to the Stockholm archipelago, but remember to pack a raincoat!
Sydney: Go for a seaside holiday
Sydney might seem like an odd choice for a holiday – especially because it’s so far away from South Africa – but it’s one of Australia’s biggest and most cosmopolitan cities, which means there is an exciting mix of attractions for any type of traveller. On top of your list should be to indulge in a 10-kilometre walk from Manly Beach to the Spit Bridge. If this seems a bit much, there are lots of access points to get on and off at any time. Of course, Sydney is most famous for its spectacular Sydney Opera House and many harbour tours, and a visit to the city would not be complete without either. Enjoy the natural beauty of the Royal Botanic Gardens – depending on how much you love flowers, you could easily spend an entire day wandering the gardens without becoming bored. If looking at flowers isn’t your idea of a riveting time, perhaps soaking up the sun on Bondi Beach (one of Australia’s top 10 beaches) sounds tempting? But be warned: it gets busy, so either get there early or use public transport to avoid the frustration of trying to find parking. Other famous attractions in this bustling city include the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, the Queen Victoria Building (for a high-end shopping experience), the Sydney Tower (which will give you panoramic views of the city) and the National Maritime Museum. The great thing about Sydney is that there is loads to do for both the city slicker and the nature enthusiast.
Zurich: Go for the art
Situated at the north end of Lake Zurich in Switzerland, Zurich boasts more than 100 art galleries and several renowned museums, which makes this the perfect getaway for any art enthusiast. If you’re not an art lover, there are lots of other more active options, such as swimming in Lake Zurich (during the summer months); looking at the Rhine Falls; hiking through Uetliberg, Zurich’s local mountain; spending (a lot of) Swiss Francs in Bahnhofstrasse; spending a day in medieval times at Alstadt (Old Town); or embracing your inner child and spending some time at the Toy Museum.
New York: Go to shop … and eat
If you’re a die-hard Sex and the City or Friends fan, you will be happy to know that New York made it onto the list of the world’s safest cities! Other than the usual suspects (the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Empire State Building), there is loads to see, do and eat in America’s Big Apple. Start off by strolling through Central Park or walking the neighbourhood’s cobblestone streets. If walking isn’t really your thing, you might be in the wrong city, but nonetheless it’s good to know that you can sit and chow down on a pizza pretty much anywhere in New York. New Yorkers love to argue about where to find the best pizza. The top three options include John’s, Grimaldi’s and Lombardi’s. Why not try a slice at all three and judge for yourself? When you’ve had enough pizza, be sure to hit the shops. New York City is all about shopping. But we don’t need to convince you of that … just watch the shoe-obsessed Carrie Bradshaw and you’ll know what to do and where to go.