6 countries for new travelers

6 Countries for New Travelers

Do you want to travel overseas but can’t decide where you should go? Many people who haven’t traveled overseas much get overwhelmed trying to decide where to travel. The world is a huge place with so many choices, no wonder it’s hard to decide. If you’re a new traveler or a solo traveler, certain places will be more enjoyable, easier to navigate, and overall less scary, while still offering lots of culture and things to do. Here are six countries for new travelers, whether you’re traveling alone or with someone else on your first trip overseas.

England

England is a great country for new travelers for many reasons. One of the biggest is that they speak English, so you won’t have to worry about getting past a language barrier. While London isn’t a cheap city, you can save money by using public transportation and eating at local pubs instead of fancy restaurants.

Since London is a big city, there are lots of things to do. Visit museums, see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. There are also lots of great side trips you can take from London, such as Stonehenge and Bath. Go a bit further and check out Liverpool and York.

countries for new travelers

Germany

While not an English-speaking country, many Germans speak decent English and you shouldn’t have many problems with language in most areas. Public transportation is reliable and organized, so you can get around easily. The German train system connects all parts of the country, and if you book in advance, the trains are not expensive. Germany’s organization makes things easy for new travelers.

Explore Berlin’s history, Munich’s unique culture, and the beautiful scenery of the Black Forest.

Germany also has lots of other great areas that aren’t as well known to non-Europeans, such as Hamburg and Cologne. If you’re looking for castles, Germany has you covered. There are tons of castles in the Rhine Valley. Outside of Munich is Neuschwanstein Castle, and the Heidelberg Castle is a little north of the Black Forest.

Read more about Germany:

countries for new travelers

Australia

This is another great English-speaking country, so as a new traveler you can see something different without having to worry about the language. Australia is a really big country, almost the size of the continental US, so there’s something for everyone. But don’t try to squeeze too much into your trip. Travel from one part of the country to another is primarily on buses, which takes a long time, or flying, which can get expensive.

Explore Melbourne and Sydney for a taste of city life. Don’t forget the side trips from these two cites, such as the Great Ocean Road (from Melbourne) and the Blue Mountains (from Sydney).

Travel to the northeast coast, including Brisbane and South East Queensland, for beaches, the Great Barrier Reef and rain forests. Go to the remote red center to see Australia’s famous Outback and Ayers Rock or Uluru, its aboriginal name. Check out Perth for a taste of city life on the west coast.

Read more about Australia:

countries for new travelers

New Zealand

Another easy to navigate, English-speaking country, New Zealand is a little farther away but well worth the long flights to get there. The bus links are really good, and while there are good flight options within the country, it’s probably best to save those for longer distances. Another good option to get around are the scenic trains if you have a little extra time.

Auckland is a great place to start for both the city and the sea. Explore Rotorua’s thermal wonders, visit the capital city of Wellington, experience Queenstown’s extreme adventures, and get out into nature on a Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound cruise. New Zealand is great for both nature lovers and city people, and it’s a great place for extreme adventures like helicopter tours and bungee jumping. We took this overnight cruise on Milford Sound, and it was the highlight of our trip.

countries for new travelers

Greece

With so much history and so much natural beauty, Greece has a lot to offer to new travelers, and you should be able to find enough people who speak decent English. Transportation throughout the mainland is mostly by buses, which aren’t always as organized as a country like Germany. A good option for avoiding this is to join a tour to see places outside of Athens, like Delphi and Meteora.

Pick an island (or even a few) to explore. Santorini is famous for its gorgeous sunsets. Mykonos has more of a party atmosphere. Crete is the biggest Greek island where you can experience city life, beaches and loads of history. When you’re on the mainland, don’t forget to check out the ruins in Athens.

Read more about Greece:

countries for new travelers

Italy

Italy is one of the most popular countries in the world for good reasons, whether you’re a new traveler or more experienced. The beauty, the food, and the history are like no other. In the cities, you won’t have a problem finding English, and even if a menu is only in Italian, pasta is pretty easy to figure out. Don’t try to do too much in one trip though, Italy is bigger than it looks.

Spend a few days wandering through Rome to see the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and countless piazzas. Visit Vatican City (technically a separate country, the smallest in the world) for intriguing history and stunning art. Ride a gondola in Venice, see the David in Florence, eat your way through Bologna, and explore towns clinging to the coast in Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast.

Read more about Italy:

countries for new travelers

Choosing a country to travel to is a big decision, especially for a new traveler. English-speaking countries are good choices since communication is one less worry. However, there are several other wonderful options in countries where English is not the native language. Transportation, friendly people, great food, history and natural beauty make the countries on this list ideal for new travelers. Don’t let fear hold you back. Pick a place and go travel!

Do you have any suggestions for other countries for new travelers?

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6 countries for new travelers
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Comments

  1. Jennifer

    All great suggestions! I’ve been to 40 countries now, some I definitely had expected to have language barrier issues in, and oddly the only country I’ve had a frustrating time communicating in was Spain.

    Language barriers definitely aren’t a reason not to travel.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Exactly, you can almost always work around a language barrier, not a reason to stay home! I hated not putting Spain on this list, but for new travelers I thought English speaking countries, and places where they can find lots of English, would be best to start with. Spain is wonderful, but not nearly as many people there speak English as you’d think.

  2. Matthew Cheyne

    Those are great suggestions. My first overseas trip will be to New Zealand probably sometime from 2014 onwards because of my finances, health and studies. For an Australian, New Zealand is a really good destination. You’re only three or so hours flying time from the east coast of Australia, the Australian dollar buys around $1.26 New Zealand stretching your budget that much further and being so close to Australia culturally, there’s not much of a culture shock involved in stepping off the plane in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch.

    I think New Zealand has the potential to be the next big thing for solo travelers and couples alike. I’ve read numerous blogs of people who have been to New Zealand or are going now and they report back that the country is a totally gem of a place to visit.

    The other countries on your list are also great options too. I must admit that I am a bit hesitant about Greece because of all the protests in Athens but I’ve heard from my mother who is going on a cruise in the mediteranean in June that the protests get blocked off and the rest of Athens and Greece is okay.. But I’ve seen heaps of footage on Al-Jazeera English and the BBC showing heaps of rioting that appears out of control so for me Greece wouldn’t be on the list of countries to visit as a first trip overseas.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Matthew! I’m so excited for you to go to New Zealand, I think you’ll love it! There are definitely differences between Australia and New Zealand, but you’re right, no real culture shock to worry about there. And it is nice that the exchange rate is in your favor. Let me know if you need any help planning!

      As for Greece, keep in mind that the media tends to blow things out of proportion. They’re in very specific areas of the city, it’s not like it’s all over the place. The protests have nothing to do with tourists, so there’s no violence against foreigners. I’ve known a few people who have been to Greece over the past year who had no problems at all, so I wouldn’t worry about it. And it’s mostly just in Athens, so for anyone really nervous about it, you can easily skip Athens and head straight to the islands. Good thing about going to Greece right now is things are a little cheaper and they could certainly use some tourism money!

  3. Gigi

    Excellent list. I’d also add Belgium (specifically Flanders) to the list myself. Nearly everyone speaks perfect English and the Flemish Belgians are hospitable to the extreme. They don’t want you to trouble yourself and will go out of their way to help you if you need it. Plus, it’s beautiful, easy to navigate, great train system, and tons to do!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Gigi! Belgium was definitely on my list, but the length of the post was getting out of control. When I noticed I was getting close to 1000 words, I knew I had to make some cuts. If I do a part 2, Belgium will definitely be on it.

  4. Adam

    I’ve been to 5 of the 6. I think you’re probably right with these, but I’m sure there are some outside in Asia and South America that must be equally as easy.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Adam! I think there probably are a few places in Asia and South America that would be easy for someone who isn’t so experienced. But for a true new traveler, someone who has probably never left their home country, I felt like Asia or South America might get a little too overwhelming as a first trip. Plus I had so many countries on my list, something had to go!

  5. Jade - OurOyster.com

    I totally agree about NZ especially… the country is just built for tourists! The hostels are affordable, comfy and clean and there is so much to do in such a small area!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Jade! I really loved NZ, definitely lots to do and so easy to organize things!

  6. Kerry (Goodtrippers)

    Great list – love New Zealand! Maybe some Scandinavian countries would be good too – they speak great English in Sweden, Stockholm is pretty metropolitan and the rural areas are amazing (especially Arctic Sweden if that’s not too scary for first-timers!)

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Kerry! Sweden could be a good one too, though I haven’t actually been there yet. I may need to do a part 2 post at some point because I have several others in mind but I couldn’t make the post 3000 words long!

  7. Deb

    Great suggestions. A lot of people are always putting together lists about obscure places or off the beaten path destinations. But there is a reason these countries are so popular. When you start traveling, you want to go to the premier destinations. Heck, I still love visiting all the above. Travel should be fun, not difficult and these are certainly fun spots for anyone.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Deb! Exactly, these countries are popular for a reason, so much to offer so you can experience a foreign country while still being easy to navigate, safe, not so intimidating.

  8. Taryn

    Hi Ali

    Great list for people who are nervous to travel! Just wanted to point out Ayers Rock should be referred to by its indigenous name – Uluru.

    Regards

    Taryn

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Taryn! I’ll add Uluru as well, I’ve always seen it listed under both names.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Ellen! I agree, that would be scary. I’m not even sure I can handle India or China now!

  9. Ally

    I’ll actually be going to all of these places in my backpacking trip (except for Australia as I already live there ha ha). And I love the sunset photo for Greece!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Ally! Sounds like a great trip, have fun! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

  10. Sofia

    Great tips! I’d also like to add Scandinavia, it’s super easy to travel there for foreigners – pretty much everyone is fluent in English, the countries are well structured and the public transport system is pretty good. Switzerland is another easy and fun country to travel in.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Sofia! I had so many countries that I thought were good for new travelers, I may have to do a part 2! I haven’t been to the Scandinavian countries yet, but I’d love to make it up there one of these days.

  11. Lauren @ Beautiful Fight

    I went to Iceland this summer and thought it would be a great starter country. All Icelanders speak English and are incredibly friendly. It’s a very safe country too! Not to mention beautiful.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      I’ve heard people from Iceland speak English. I’ve never been, but I’d really love to get there someday! Thanks for the suggestion!

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