What is London like for solo female travellers? Women's experiences of safety, cost and what to do

“By helping to improve safety for women, we are building a better London for all,” said London 'night czar' Amy Lamé.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

“If I had listened to others who said I should wait until I had a group of people to travel with, wait until I was married, or wait until the world was a safer place, I would never have left my home town."

This sentiment from Californian television presenter TC Newman will be familiar to many women who want to explore the world but are held back by fears of feeling unsafe.

While the onus shouldn’t be on women to change their behaviour to ensure their safety - but rather on society - we find ourselves taking precautions when walking alone in London. "Text me when you get home!”, nestling keys into gripped fists and avoiding badly lit areas have become autopilot procedures for many of us. 

TC spent six months travelling solo in Europe in 2017, keeping a hostel in Notting Hill as a “home base” to return to between cities. She has visited around 40 countries, more than half of them alone, and attributed a rising interest in female solo travel to the idea of women growing tired of waiting for the 'right' conditions to travel.

According to Booking.com, solo trips are set to “boom” in 2024, with 54% of women surveyed planning to travel alone in the next 12 months.

TC found herself taking several safety precautions during her time in the capital and advised women to research thoroughly when planning to travel alone.

“Solo female travellers cannot forget that London is a big city,” she said. “Narrow alleyways may seem charming in the daytime, but they should be avoided at night. Always have a phone with a local SIM card or international phone plan and a portable charger to stay connected."

Californian TV presenter TC Newman at Buckingham Palace in London. (Photo by TC Newman)Californian TV presenter TC Newman at Buckingham Palace in London. (Photo by TC Newman)
Californian TV presenter TC Newman at Buckingham Palace in London. (Photo by TC Newman)

Charlotte, a 24-year-old travel blogger from Australia, admitted to making conscious changes to her travel around London to prioritise her safety.

“I now avoid the top of buses at night,” she said. “I also choose the middle tube carriages at night so that I have more people around me.”

Appointed as night czar by the mayor of London in 2016, Amy Lamé has been responsible for launching the Women’s Night Safety Charter in the capital to prioritise women’s safety while travelling, working and going out in the capital at night.

She told LondonWorld: “Women’s safety is one of my and the mayor’s number one priorities and we’re working with organisations across the capital to make London a city where all women feel confident and welcome at night. 

“That’s why we launched the Women’s Night Safety Charter. Over 2,100 organisations and venues have signed up and are taking action to prioritise women’s safety and it’s great to see other cities following our lead by adopting our model. By helping to improve safety for women, we are building a better London for all.”

The charter lists pledges by organisations signing up, such as to nominate a champion to promote women's safety at night and to train staff to respond appropriately to reports of harassment.

London was ranked as one of the top cities for solo female travel in 2024 in a study by travel insurance company InsureMyTrip published this month. It used data to score destinations on criteria including "quality of things to do", "gender equality" and "safety walking alone at night". 

London was awarded an overall score of 7.03 out of 10 and climbed 14 places since last year’s study, scoring especially highly for things to do (9.7).

Sarah Webber, marketing director at InsureMyTrip, said: “London is largely considered one of the cultural capitals of the world. The city’s rich history and vibrant arts scene provide an extensive list of activities for solo female travellers to enjoy.”

There is no doubting London's appeal for travellers. Hayley Hoggarth, 30, a Norfolk-based travel blogger who has made several solo visits to the capital, praised the city for its variety of attractions.

“There’s such a diverse mixture of things to do and neighbourhoods to see, from quiet museums to amazing shopping streets, rich history and so many luscious green spaces and unbelievable food and drink,” she said.

Travel blogger Hayley Hoggarth. (Photo by Hayley Hoggarth)Travel blogger Hayley Hoggarth. (Photo by Hayley Hoggarth)
Travel blogger Hayley Hoggarth. (Photo by Hayley Hoggarth)

The city achieved the highest score for TikTok popularity in the InsureMyTrip study, with 112 billion views on the platform, more than triple last year’s figure of 34 billion.

Sonya Barlow, 31, from west London, creates TikTok and YouTube content on travel advice in the capital and praised the city for its lively atmosphere.

“London is multicultural and always buzzing,” she said. “For a solo travelling woman, you can be who you want, where you want and find acceptance, which is a big thing especially when travelling.”

TikToker and YouTuber Sonya Barlow at Tower Bridge in London. (Photo by Sonya Barlow)TikToker and YouTuber Sonya Barlow at Tower Bridge in London. (Photo by Sonya Barlow)
TikToker and YouTuber Sonya Barlow at Tower Bridge in London. (Photo by Sonya Barlow)

According to the InsureMyTrip study, London is one of the most expensive places for travellers to visit, quoting a figure of £187 a day for accommodation, transportation, food and attractions. London is certainly expensive but it should be noted that once you are here, there is plenty to see and enjoy for free.

Another study, by software company ECA International, found that the cost of living made London the fourth most expensive city in the world in which to live. Sonya advised travellers on a budget to look for a central hostel to save on transport costs, use food discount apps and travel on foot to keep costs down.

“Only touch the Oyster if you’re truly tired,” she said.

For more solo travel inspiration in London, see our readers' guide to the hidden gems to visit in the capital this year.