Starting from Xela, Guatemala all the way down to Panama City, Panama, Central America has long been a backpacker favorite due to its low cost of travel, small geography, proximity to the United States, and locals’ hospitality. One area in which Central America has suffered has been in its safety for foreigners but that aspect is quickly improving and solo travelers should feel safe. Not as vast and tourist ridden as its neighbors Mexico and South America, Central America is the home of many historical cities and relatively un-touched sites. Once the kingdom of the famous Mayans, Central America is a great option for the solo, adventurous female traveler.
Top Destinations for Women Traveling Solo in Central America
Lake Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America and is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and is Guatemala’s most important national and international attraction. The author Aldous Huxley once referred to as “too much of a good thing” and with good reason as the lake is blanketed by three impressive active volcanoes providing a beautiful panoramic landscape. Female travelers can stay in a hostel or hotel in the backpacker friendly village, Panajachel.
Leon is one of Nicaragua’s oldest cities and is the country’s political and intellectual capital. Nestled along the Chiquito River, Leon is characterized by its rich Spanish colonial architecture and its arts and culture scene. Leon is no stranger to students and backpackers so female travelers will surely feel safe. Leon also houses popular beaches like Poneloya and Peñitas.
Copan was once an important Mayan center for government, art, culture, and astronomy. Today, these ancient Mayan ruins in Honduras consist of two impressive, large pyramids, plazas, and numerous stone temples which are famous for their hieroglyphics that depict ancient Mayan history, events, and customs. This site is a great option for the female traveler in Central America.
Once the capital of the kingdom of Guatemala, Antigua is beautiful city in the central highlands that is well preserved and today is one the most popular places in the Americas for tourists and backpackers. Well known for foreigners arriving to the city to learn Spanish, Antigua offers first class amenities and hostels for any solo traveler. In addition, Antigua is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Granada is one of Nicaragua’s largest cities and one of the country’s oldest centers. The city is rich in Spanish history and architecture. Granada is located in western Nicaragua along the shores of Lake Nicaragua and is a popular site for tourists and backpackers.
Panama City, Panama is Central America’s most cosmopolitan city characterized by modern high rise towers reminiscent of Miami, Florida. Made prosperous by the development of the Panama Canal, Panama City is one of the safest places to visit in the region. Panama City offers the perfect passage into South America for the solo female traveler.
Quetzaltenango or Xela as the locals call it, is the second largest city in Guatemala and is the country’s arts and cultural capital. With an estimated population of over 220,000 residents, Xela is sizeable backpacker destination. The city is well known for its museums, universities, and arts. Located in a mountain valley above sea level, Xela provides for a beautiful landscape.
Tikal, Guatemala was the capital of the powerful Mayan kingdom located in northern region of the country. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is an impressive set of ruins characterized by plazas, towers, and burial sites for the ancient Mayans. Even more impressive for tourists is that the city is in the middle of a rainforest.
Monteverde is a small community in Puntarenas, Costa Rica that is a major ecotourism destination. The community is home to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve which draws a large amount of tourists and naturalists. Famously crowned the “jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves” by National Geographic, Monteverde is a perfect destination for the solo female traveler.
This article was written by Walter Godinez.