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.
Countries that are great for new travelers
Here are six countries for new travelers, whether you’re traveling alone or with someone else on your first trip overseas.
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 or a day trip to Bath. Go a bit further and check out Liverpool and York.
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 visited as often by 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:
- Simple Germany Itinerary
- Understanding Germany’s Food Culture
- A Week of Things to do in Munich
- 51 Places to Visit in Germany: A Germany Bucket List
- 75 Famous Landmarks in Germany
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 Uluru. Check out Perth for a taste of city life on the west coast.
Read more about Australia:
- Interview with an Australia Itinerary Expert
- Traveling to Australia – Things to Know Before You Go
- Simple Australia Itinerary
- Great Ocean Road Tour Review
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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.
With so much history and so much natural beauty, Greece has a lot to offer to new travelers. In popular tourist areas 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:
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:
- 8 Random Things About Eating in Italy
- Simple Italy Itinerary
- Which Food Tour in Rome Should You Take?
- Why You Should Take an Early Entry Sistine Chapel and Vatican Tour
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?
You might also enjoy:
- The full destinations and itineraries section
- The full list of tour reviews on Travel Made Simple
- When is it Worth Booking a Tour?
- 7 Simple Steps to Research and Plan a Trip
- Travel Planning Resources I Love
November 6, 2018 @ 12:43 pm
Greece is cheap amongst all, Great list! Don’t give too much on the “snowy” description of Greece though, we’ve only had about 3 days of snow here this year and none last year, Greece winter is nowhere as cold as its reputation
November 10, 2018 @ 11:24 am
I’m not sure I knew Greece had a reputation for being cold and snowy in the winter, but thanks!
July 23, 2018 @ 8:46 am
Thanks for compiling this useful list.
I went to Malta in March and I would highly recommend it. I had no struggles with language barriers as everyone I encountered spoke really good English. Even the menus at restaurants were written in English.
Transport was slow but for the most part reliable and easy to use. Buses tell you what the next stop is going to be in both English and Malteese.
I am female and I was travelling solo. I did a lot of walking by myself along the cliffs and in the countryside and I felt very safe.
March was a lovely time to go as I found it was a comfortable twenty degrees and all the spring flowers were out.
For a small Island I felt there was a lot to see. Gozo is definitely worth a visit too.
I feel it is definitely a good place to visit for a nervous traveller.
July 23, 2018 @ 7:55 pm
Thanks Melanie! Malta is gorgeous, and definitely a good choice since it’s easy to get around and English is an official language. I got to go there years ago for a friend’s wedding, but I really need to go back and explore properly.
August 29, 2017 @ 7:11 pm
I want to travel outside my country (Ghana)….please can you help me. …it my first time to travel
September 4, 2017 @ 11:12 am
I’m not sure how I can help, but do some research, decide where you want to go and if you will need a visa, and work out how much money you need to budget for the trip. It might be easier to start with a country in Africa, someplace not too far from Ghana, so it won’t be such a huge culture shock.
October 20, 2013 @ 4:10 am
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.
October 20, 2013 @ 11:50 am
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!
February 6, 2013 @ 7:42 am
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.
February 6, 2013 @ 2:05 pm
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.
January 12, 2013 @ 11:44 am
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!
January 12, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
Thanks Ally! Sounds like a great trip, have fun! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
January 10, 2013 @ 10:15 am
Great suggestions. I can’t imagine going to someplace like India or China as my first international travel experience. Yikes!
January 10, 2013 @ 7:09 pm
Thanks Ellen! I agree, that would be scary. I’m not even sure I can handle India or China now!
January 7, 2013 @ 11:17 am
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.
January 7, 2013 @ 3:04 pm
Thanks Taryn! I’ll add Uluru as well, I’ve always seen it listed under both names.
January 6, 2013 @ 7:04 pm
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.
January 7, 2013 @ 3:04 pm
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.
January 5, 2013 @ 5:18 pm
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!)
January 5, 2013 @ 6:27 pm
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!
January 4, 2013 @ 4:24 am
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!
January 4, 2013 @ 2:35 pm
Thanks Jade! I really loved NZ, definitely lots to do and so easy to organize things!
January 3, 2013 @ 5:35 pm
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.
January 3, 2013 @ 8:03 pm
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!
January 3, 2013 @ 10:39 am
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!
January 3, 2013 @ 1:17 pm
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.
January 3, 2013 @ 10:23 am
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.
January 3, 2013 @ 1:16 pm
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!
January 3, 2013 @ 9:19 am
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.
January 3, 2013 @ 5:17 pm
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.