Many people have asked me where they should go for their next trip. Since my wife and I are “in the travel business,” we are often asked for advice. It’s a hard question to answer, as your next destination really depends on the type of person you are, what you enjoy doing during your travels, and where you’ve already been.
But many people have never left the comforts of their home country. It’s quite common, especially in larger and geographically isolated countries such as the U.S. or Australia where foreign travel entails purchasing an expensive plane ticket.
Some people are timid or anxious about leaving their home country for the first time. All sorts of questions arise about what it’s like to travel. People are usually most worried about the costs of travel, safety, speaking foreign languages, what hotel rooms might be like, and just the overall “unknown” of being somewhere new. Fear is often a big barrier to travel, second only to the financial aspects.
When someone asks me where they should go when traveling abroad for the first time, I often suggest a small handful of countries based on my own experiences. Knowing that these countries are easy to get around, have high standards of comfort and safety, and are also affordable, a few specific places often come up in conversation.
However, I’m only one person, and everyone has an opinion. So, I asked a large number of travel experts the same question:
“If you were to tell someone which country to visit for their first trip abroad, what country should they visit?”
Well, the results poured in! Here are some of the best countries to visit for your first trip abroad, as described by some of the world’s most interesting travel bloggers. And at the end of the list, I’ll give you my favorites along with a few other countries that might be a little different from the norm.
Australia is the perfect country to visit for your first trip abroad because there’s a minimal language barrier (sometimes those accents are really hard to understand lol just kidding!), it’s easy to get around, the people are very friendly and there is so much to see and do there.
Sydney is known to be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but there are so many free things to do in Sydney that will help you save on expenses.
You can expect to pay around $15 for breakfast/lunch and about $20 the absolute minimum for your dinner entree.
Getting around is fairly easy with uber and cabs readily available. The subway and buses are also good options to get around for cheap.
With so many amazing cities to visit in Australia, you’ll find that a few weeks is definitely not enough to see them all.
However, a popular way to see more of the country on a budget is to rent a car or campervan and do a road trip along the east coast. This amazing road trip usually starts in Melbourne and goes up to Cairns where the great barrier reef is.
If you don’t want to drive yourself, you can also do this trip with the bus. A Greyhound bus pass from Melbourne to Cairns costs around $519.
It will cost around $3000-$4000 for a month-long road trip up the east coast, but it’s definitely one of the best ways to see a lot of the country. You’ll also meet a lot of people doing the same trip who will be able to help you with anything you’ll need.
Australia is one of my favorite countries and it’s not hard to see why. You’ll make memories of a lifetime and soon become an expert traveler!
Naomi from Eatloveexplore.com
If you’re a newbie traveller looking to explore a new country, you might consider Germany as a great option. This developed country, located in Western/Central Europe, is culturally diverse, historically complex, and yet still modern and accessible to a novice traveller.
Germany is known for a few things – namely its efficient transportation system, beer, charming old towns and castles, and a rich history. When visiting Germany for the first time, you’ll have the chance to discover all of it – and then some!
Germany’s capital Berlin is a modern yet alternative city that has something for everyone. Top attractions – like the Berlin Wall – are important landmarks to explore if you want to understand the country’s turbulent past and current identity as a country in Europe.
Travelling to Germany for the first time won’t be a huge shock to your taste buds as you’ll find various different cuisines across many parts of the country. That said, you’ll have to try a few German specialties like schnitzel and spaetzle! The cost of food and beer isn’t overly high – with some prices coming in lower than you might be used to!
As for getting around, the Germans are known for their transport systems. One of the best part of Germany travel is the fact that you can take the train – and in some cases the bus – to basically any place in the country. And while the main language spoken is German, you’ll find that English is spoken in many larger centres. That said, don’t be afraid to try out your German phrases – Prost!
Eric from Penguin and Pia
Japan is a great choice for first time travelers seeking something exotic and completely different without needing to worry about safety. The language is definitely different, but English is spoken in the main tourist areas, so as long as you stick to the popular highlights, this will not be an issue. The top two places to visit are Tokyo and Kyoto, with a day trip to Nara. You can take the Shinkansen (bullet train) between the two main cities in three hours. For a unique experience, stay in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn). Many of the best ryokan have English-speaking staff. Other Kyoto highlights include the Golden Pavilion Temple and the Silver Pavilion Temple as well as Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Wander the narrow streets of Gion in the early evening where you can often see geisha and maiko in full makeup and gorgeous kimonos. Soak in the hot mineral spring waters of Arashiyama Onsen and get your zen on at the Ryoan-ji stone and raked sand garden. In Tokyo, be one of thousands at the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world at Shibuya Crossing, marvel at Asukasa Temple and the Imperial Palace and shop till you drop in Giza.
Sushi is famous, of course, but there are many other foods to try. Ask at your hotel for a recommended izakaya (a Japanese ‘pub’). They usually have large menus with pictures of their various tapas-like offerings. Most regular restaurants have plastic displays of their food near the front door, so it is easy to point and order. Other fun and simple restaurants to try are yakitori (chicken on a stick) and okonomiyaki (a kind of cabbage pancake that is a regional specialty in and around Kyoto).
Visiting Japan as your first trip abroad is bound to spark a lifelong love of travelling.
James Ian at Travel Collecting
Of all the countries in South America, Peru is always the one of first-time-travellers bucket lists. With the dramatic, mountain-top fortress of Machu Picchu situated here, it’s unsurprising that Peru has such a broad appeal to travellers. But it’s also a country really geared towards new backpackers.
Firstly, there is a well-defined “gringo trail” (aka a backpacking route frequented by foreign travellers or “gringos”) where you’re guaranteed to meet – and repeatedly bump into – other travellers, making it a really sociable experience.
Secondly, it’s a really cheap destination for studying Spanish, something recommended at the beginning of your trip as it will significantly help you communicate with the local people. You can expect to pay from $120 USD per week for a group class with 20 hours of study.
Thirdly, it’s a very cheap country for travelling and it’s easy enough to spend no more than $50 USD per day, meaning your trip can last even longer! By staying in hostels, eating in markets or other local restaurants and taking public transport, you can keep costs down. Tours are also very affordably priced; hitting up destinations such as Machu Picchu shouldn’t cost you much more than around $100 USD.
Finally, although it receives plenty of tourists each year, Peru has a wealth of under-the-radar places to visit. Ancient (and I mean ancient!) archaeological sites, golden beaches and dense Amazon rainforest home to incredibly biodiversity of flora and fauna; all of this can be found in Peru for those who know where to look.
Steph from Worldly Adventurer
With its iconic sights, delicious food and beautiful wine, Italy is an awesome choice for a first trip abroad. The passionate and warm locals are welcoming to visitors and one instantly feels at home. It’s also easy to get around and there is a great train system to navigate between cities. If you are travelling with kids, Italy is incredibly child-friendly: we’ve visited Rome, Venice and Florence with kids and had amazing trips!
A first-time itinerary to Italy usually includes the Italy ‘Big 3’ with the ancient sights of Rome, the romance of the Venice canals and the art and architecture of Florence. The three cities offer the opportunity to see some of the world’s greatest sights including the Colosseum in Rome and the Duomo and Michelangelo’s David in Florence. There’s also the opportunity to pop into a second country! Most visitors to Rome stop by the Vatican, a separate country, to see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
As well as sightseeing, Italy is renowned for its food and wine. Evenings are spent al fresco dining in the busy Piazza’s indulging in Italian wine and feasting on pizza, pasta and gelato.
Italy is reasonably budget friendly. It is usually possible to snap up a cheap airfare and hotels are readily available for under EUR 100 per night, even in the major cities. Italian wine is excellent value and the Italian food favourites aren’t expensive – if you research in advance, it’s possible to eat out and enjoy an amazing meal with wine for less than Eur 20 per person!
Elaine & David from Show Them The Globe
Back in the days, if I had to pick A country to start traveling for the first time it would certainly be Portugal. This Southern European country facing the Atlantic Ocean is ranked 4th on the Global Peace Index 2019, so you don’t need to fear terrorist attacks, sexual harassment (in case you are a solo female traveler) or any violence whatsoever. You can go to a bar alone and come back in the middle of the night and nothing will happen to you. True story.
Besides being a safe country, Portugal has quite a unique value proposition for first time travellers: it is one of the cheapest countries in the European Union, it has an amazing cuisine (and eleven demarcated wine regions, too) and very friendly people who can fluently speak English and Spanish. In fact, I have yet to meet a person who does not fall in love with Portugal and its laid-back, cheerful culture.
I would recommend you to first visit its major cities – Porto, the baroque city which has already been considered the best European destination in 2012, 2014 and 2017 or Lisbon. From there you can explore the famous Douro Valley (in the North) or the dazzling looking beaches from Algarve (in the South) or in the lesser-know-yet-so-pretty Silver Coast (on the West).
Whatever you do, make sure eat your way along as the food is divine pretty much anywhere!
Sara Riobom from Portoalities
One of the Caribbean Islands
My recommendation of the best country to visit on someone’s first trip abroad would be a country where your native language is spoken. Since I’m from the US, my suggestion for fellow English-speakers would be the British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Neva, and/or St. Maarten – all in the Caribbean. These are separate island nations, but all in close proximity to each other in the South Caribbean Sea.
There are several advantages to choosing the Caribbean for a first trip abroad. One, choosing countries that don’t present a language barrier goes a long way in avoiding culture shock. Two, the islands are small, so even though they offer a lot of diverse things to do, there aren’t so many choices that it would overwhelm a novice traveler – there are tropical beaches to explore, small towns to discover, forested hillsides to hike, and best of all, friendly locals to show you the way. Three, these islands represent a fusion of British, French, African and Spanish influence, so you get a taste of several cultures in a single trip.
Another bonus: they can all be found on various Caribbean cruise itineraries. With everything planned out for you, you can simply enjoy the experience rather than worry about trip-planning. A cruise is a great way for a new traveler to get their feet wet (pun intended!) with international travel before branching out on a more DIY trip. And the BVI, St. Kitts and Neva, and St. Maarten are great “starter” destinations for a first trip abroad. Once you’ve got that first journey under your belt, planning your next adventure won’t seem as daunting.
Mary Beth from MB Sees.
France is the perfect place to visit for your first trip abroad. My first trip abroad was to France and it holds a special place in my heart after visiting 115 countries.
I spent two weeks seeing castles, the Eiffel Tower, drinking French red wine and trying French pastries every day. The Eiffel Tower is the symbol of France and one of the best known landmarks in the world. For me the best attraction in Paris is the Lourve Art Museum. Did you know that most people who visit the Lourve only visit the Mona Lisa painting and then leave? There are so many wonderful European artists showcased in the Lourve and you could spend hours there as well.
It goes without saying that Paris is the main draw card for tourists to France but there is more to France than just Paris. I highly recommend visiting the villages of Provence or the harbour town of Honfleur. For me, it is the small towns and villages that make a trip to France memorable and that includes the French countryside.
France is so popular with newbie travellers because it is easy to get around. In Paris, you have a working Metro system that takes you to all of the sites. If you are looking to travel around the country, taking the train is easy and affordable as is most of Europe.
Nicole from Travelgal Nicole www.nicolelabarge.com
The Netherlands is a perfect country to visit for anyone who has never left their home country. Reason being that most of the Dutch people speak English as a second language, the safety standards are high. As well as that there is a great public transportation system that can be found throughout The Netherlands. Whether you’d want to go to a very small village or to a big city, you’ll almost always find a bus or train service that connects it.
The Netherlands is one of the more expensive countries in Europe, so you’d have to think of that as well. Hostels are often more expensive than 20 euros a night. And mid-range hotels are generally around 60 euros a night.
When you think of The Netherlands, the first thing of a place that springs to mind is probably Amsterdam. But there’s a lot more to discover than this Dutch city. Amsterdam is beautiful, but also overrun with tourists.
And what you don’t want to do on your first trip abroad is to wander alongside hundreds of tourists. You would want to get a little bit of an understanding of the Dutch culture. And the best way to do that is by visiting smaller cities or towns.
I do recommend you to stay one or maximum two days in Amsterdam, but then you should head to other places. This way you can feel and see the difference between the cities, and understand what I’m saying. Don’t rush through The Netherlands either. Sit on a terrace, rent a boat, cycle around some of the national parks in The Netherlands, etc. There are so many things you can do and places to visit in the Netherlands, that it’s worth staying a longer period of time.
Manon from Visiting The Dutch Countryside
Hungary, this landlocked country situated between East and West Europe is a perfect destination for inexperienced travelers. Here you are able to experience a busy metropolitan and also a laid-back countryside if you would like to escape the crowds. Compared to other European countries, Hungary is really affordable and has expansive domestic transportation so getting around in this small country is easy!
Budapest, the capital where you will probably arrive first, has two distinct parts: the green and historical Buda on the west side of Danube river and the modern, bustling Pest on its east. The Castle District of Buda is an all-time tourist favorite with an almost touchable history and instagramable attractions. Pest, on the other hand, is full of cafes, restaurants, and shops. Jewish District is one of the liveliest neighborhoods, loved by locals and tourists alike. Visit some of its ruin bars and unique design shops. Do not leave Budapest without dipping in the healing waters of our baths! Széchenyi Baths and Gellért Baths are the most famous of all, while Király Baths and Rudas Baths that were founded under Turkish rule during medieval times are also very popular.
Many interesting and beautiful towns are comfortably accessible from Budapest. The Hungarian public transportation system, such as bus lines or trains are easy to use and very cheap. Head to Szentendre, a charming town, or the Danube Bend, and visit Visegrád, the seat of medieval Hungarian kings. Esztergom is also situated at the Danube Bend. The cathedral has a picturesque situation among hills over the Danube Bend. Lake Balaton, the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe can be reached in two hours by train or car. During summer the beaches of Balaton are perfect with their clear and calm waters, and you can also get on the board of sailboats and public boats that zig-zag on the lake.
Katalin from Budapest Connection
Slovenia is one of the easiest countries to travel to. It is very small and compact so you won’t have to spend too many hours getting from one place to another, doesn’t matter if you travel by car or by public transport (that works very well there). It is also one of the safest countries in the world where no one really bothers tourists. English is widely spoken so you don’t need to worry about the language barrier either. The prices are a bit higher than in other Balkan countries but still very affordable.
Even if it’s so small, the country offers a variety of attractions and your Slovenia itinerary will be packed with beautiful places to visit. The charming capital city – Ljubljana – is packed with riverside cafes and lovely corners to stroll. The famous Lake Bled with is worth a visit not only for the church on the island but also stunning views of the around and a delicious cream cake typical for this town. Postojna Cave is among the largest caves in the world and will surely take your breath away. If you feel like relaxing at the seaside you can head to the Adriatic Sea that Slovenia has access to. And these are only a few amazing things you can do in Slovenia! I honestly can’t think of a better place for a first trip abroad!
Kami from My Wanderlust
Thailand is the heart of tourism in South-East Asia and although the idea of touching down somewhere completely alien may sound scary, it is the most wonderful place to start your travelling adventures. From your very first day in Bangkok, you will be swept away by Thailand’s vibrant street life, it’s beautiful temples and the astonishing array of foodie treats
The best thing about Thailand is that it can be enjoyed by people of any age, with any budget and with wildly different interests. You can get from A to B by plane, train or automobile..oh and by boat. You can stay in five-star resorts where you will be treated like royalty, and at the other end of the scale, you can rent an A-frame hut on the beach for pennies.
Thai temples are stunning. Dripping with gold and intricately formed, they are some of the most beautiful places of worship on earth. If you need to sit down after a day of exploring these temples, you can pull up a seat on a street side restaurant and try some Thai food. Each dish is a careful balance of sweet, salt, bitter, and sour. This means that every plate is a treat, from the lowliest street food to the fanciest Michelin concoction.
The islands that dot both coasts of Thailand have perfect sand beaches and there is one to suit everyone. Rave the night away at one of Khao Phangan’s infamous Full Moon Party, or enjoy total serenity in the Koh Tarutao. Our favourite was Ko Phayam, a relaxed atmosphere, cheap eats and a few cocktail bars on the beach made for the perfect island getaway.
Rosie from Flying Fluskey
Canada is a comfortable place to visit for your first international experience. While English and French are official languages, English is predominant. Great cities, from Vancouver to Toronto to Montreal will keep you entertained and beautiful national parks will take your breath away.
Vancouver offers a mix of natural sights and trails to explore, indigenous culture, the delights of being on the sea and delicious cuisine, including seafood and authentic Asian restaurants. A ferry will take you to Vancouver Island and the charming city of Victoria.
The Rockies, accessible by car from Calgary, is a wonderful place to enjoy the mountains and trails of the Rocky Mountains. Banff has a small main street and hot springs to enjoy. Lake Louise, with its famous view and Fairmont Hotel, is another place to explore.
In Toronto, skyscrapers dominate the downtown core in this safe and clean city. Sports, theatre, museums, concerts, parks and attractions are plentiful. Neighbourhoods like Little Italy, Greektown, Chinatown and more, host festivals throughout the summer. A subway, rail, streetcar and bus system will get you wherever you need to go. Niagara Falls and the Niagara Wine Region are best reached by car.
Montreal, with the largest population, is a mix of the old and new, with the charming Old Montreal neighbourhood dating to the 17th century. French is the primary language. Festivals, such as Just For Laughs or the Formula 1 Grand Prix are great reasons to visit. Try the poutine and smoked meat while you’re here. Via Rail or a short flight will take you to Quebec City to explore the only preserved walled city and to further your Quebec adventures.
Canada is the second largest country in the world, yet by population, it ranks 38th. Most of the populace lives close to the border of the United States. Popular TV shows and U.S. news is seen by Canadians, so striking up conversations about something familiar is easy.
The Canadian dollar costs less than the U.S. dollar, so those coming from the United States will benefit from the exchange.
Allison Fraser from Tour and Table
With over 195 countries across the world, it is not surprising that many travelers have a hard time picking which one is the best to visit for your first International Trip. I recently had the luck of visiting Malaysia and I can hands down vouch for it being one of the best places to visit if you are just starting out.
While there are a number of reasons behind the same, I would be highlighting some of the best points that I think are worth mentioning.
Malaysia is one of those beautiful Asian countries which have a little bit to offer to everyone. This is what makes it stand out of the rest. Not just the high rise buildings but you get a glimpse into the culture and traditions with beautiful temples and even a wide range of national parks and wildlife spotting around which is an added bonus. Also, Malaysia has some great beaches where you can relax and unwind. Some of the sites that you shouldn’t miss out on include Petronas twin towers in Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves, KL Towers, Bukit Bintang. One can also head to melaka for a day trip and explore the historical city in the day and the Jonker walk street market at night.
In comparison to the rest of the countries around, Malaysia is a lot easier on your pockets. It won’t dig a hole in the pocket and also ensures to get you amazing things to cherish your trip even more. There are a plethora of shopping malls, one better than the other.
Additionally, the street food there beats some of the lavish restaurants and you get everything for a very cheap price too.
The last but not the least is the fact that the country is quite safe to visit, irrespective of whether you are traveling alone or with friends and family. You wouldn’t have to think twice about anything and can travel along anywhere around the country without any kind of problems whatsoever. However, it is always better to be aware of the surroundings and be careful and responsible for our own safety.
Seema from Panda Reviewz
The first time you visit a foreign country can be a life-change experience. If you liked it you will always aim for more and to be sure that happens, Greece is a perfect choice! Known for its amazing sandy beaches and crystal blue waters, Greece is synonymous with summer holiday. It has a lot of islands with exotic sceneries and many of them are very affordable.
You can get there by plane (most islands have their own airport) and rent a car once you’re there. The price per day for car rental depends on the season and on how many days you plan to use it. Regarding the accommodation, in high season you can pay around 70 euro per night in a good 2- or 3-star hotel. 4- and 5-star hotels are more expensive, but still very affordable compared to other countries. With 20 euro you can have a great lunch with traditional food and beverages. Of course, there are some islands considered luxury destinations (Santorini for example) and there the prices can be different.
But since Greece has so many islands, you can choose one that fits your budget. Corfu, for example, is an amazing place for beach lovers. Zakynthos is perfect for those that love adventure and Halkidiki seems designed for families. Athens is an attraction for those that like history and for honeymoon, Santorini is known to be “the place”.
Greece is a country so easy to like because of its landscapes, its food and people that after a holiday here you will want to come back.
Corina from Another Milestone
Spain is the ultimate European destination for newbie travelers. Apart from all the beautiful places you can visit in Spain, this country has a rich and diverse culinary scene, fascinating history, and vibrant culture. It’s also easy to get around and suitable for a variety of budgets. Another reason Spain is a fantastic destination is the kindness of the Spaniards. Even though they are not the best English speakers, they will definitely try to help you with everything you need while having the biggest smiles on their faces.
A city break is probably the easiest type of trip to plan (for both newbie and experienced travelers), and there are plenty of cities to visit in Spain such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville. Each one has its unique characteristics and rhythm, but they all have a convenient public transportation system and are very tourist-friendly. Most major sites like the Royal Palace in Madrid or the iconic Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona also offer guided tours which are great for first-time travelers. If you want to get out of the big city and experience something a bit different, that’s also possible. Whether it’s by public transportation or a full day guided tour, there’s at least one easy-to-take day trip from each city.
For those of you who feel more comfortable and want to see more than one place, Spain’s extensive train system (Renfe) is a simple-to-use solution. You can also book a flight from one city to another as sometimes flights are cheaper than train rides.
Or from My Path In The World
We are Polish and to be honest, if someone asked us 10 years ago whether to visit Poland, I would be skeptical. However, over the past 10 years our country has changed so much that if you have never been abroad and you do not know where to go, Poland is a great choice.
Let’s start with the fact that you can fly cheaply to Poland practically from all over Europe. We have a network of high-speed trains, Pendolino, and buses that travel between the most famous Polish cities. For the first trip, we highly recommend visiting one of the two cities: Krakow or Gdańsk. You’ll like Krakow if you’re looking for places with history, beautiful architecture and you want to get to know Polish traditions and culture. If you want to discover one of the most beautiful cities in Poland, and at the same time relax on the Baltic Sea, choose Gdańsk.
Do not worry if you do not speak Polish. The majority of young Poles speak English quite fluently, and many touristic places are described in English.
Being in Poland, you must necessarily try our national dishes. You’ll be amazed! Try the dumplings with cheese and potatoes, and if you like heavier dishes, you will like bigos or stuffed cabbage. In Poland, we love soup – try borscht, zurek, or cucumber soup. For dessert, we recommend a donut, cheesecake, or yeast cake. The choice is huge! When visiting Poland, remember that Poland has a long and rather difficult history. In most cities, you will find places that commemorate the victims and heroes of the Second World War and communism. Last but not least – Poland is a VERY cheap country. If you come to us from Western Europe, you will be pleasantly surprised by the low prices!
Marta and Milosz from Backpackers.wro
Fiji is an awesome choice for a first trip abroad – I should know, because it was one of my firsts! The tiny island nation is fairly isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so no matter where you hail from, it’ll definitely be abroad. That said, it’s pretty easy to navigate and has incredibly friendly locals, so even a novice traveler won’t feel overwhelmed.
For folks who are more comfortable in an all-inclusive resort-style atmosphere, there are plenty of those to choose from on the island of Viti Levu – this is Fiji’s largest island, where the majority of the population and the international airport are located. But for those who are eager to explore the local scene, it’s easy to get out and about. Taxis and buses are readily available to take you around the island, and locals are happy to help with directions, suggestions, or any questions you might have. Expect to hear “Bula!” often as you walk down the street or explore the market in town – it’s Fijian for “Hello!”
Fiji has great snorkeling, and there are several companies that will take you out to see the marine life. There are also lush tropical forests to explore on some great day hikes. Another great option is to do a little island-hopping. We went to Malolo Island during our visit and stayed for a few days, and it was beautiful. We made friends with a local family who invited us to go crabbing with them in the mangroves and taught us how to spear fish – what an experience for a new traveler!
Mary Beth from a Reluctant Mom
Finland is a perfect destination for newbie travelers. Similarly to the other Nordic countries, it is safe and clean, so you don’t need to worry if you have nobody to accompany you on this journey. The cost of life (and travel) is comparable to Western Europe, and definitely the cheapest place among the Nordic countries. Dorm beds start from 25€ per night and a decent double room is around 50-100€. Public transportation rather pricey, unless you travel alone, the most economical choice is to rent a car if you wish to visit more than just one place. A regular restaurant meal is around 25€, beer and alcohol, in general, are overpriced due to the state monopoly.
Two major areas you need to discover are the capital, Helsinki, and Lapland on the far north. If you have at least 10 days, you should consider a road trip across Finland.
Helsinki offers a variety of cultural sights, museums, cathedrals, the Church in the Rock and the Suomenlinna fortress just to mention a few. Nearby cities and town, such as Porvoo, Tampere, and Turku also worth exploring.
After a couple of days in each, it’s time to fly (or drive) to Lapland to see its exceptional nature, the midnight sun in summer (or the northern lights in winter), observe reindeer, try Finnish sauna, and meet with Santa Claus. Santa lives in a town called Rovaniemi, and Ivalo has a unique exhibition about the indigenous Sami people. As for nature and outdoor activities, head to one of the national parks for more wildlife and spectacular views, just don’t forget, in northern Finland snow stays at least until April.
Katalin Waga from Our Life Our Travel
See also: Tours to Riga
For travel newbies, it’s often intimidating to leave your comfort zone and visit a country with a completely different culture. It’s especially true as a westerner traveling to Southeast Asia. If that’s you, Singapore may be your perfect first-time travel destination. This tiny city state on the Malay peninsula has a lot in common with the West, while maintaining its distinctly SE Asian roots.
First, English is widely spoken in Singapore, a hold-over from British colonial rule. Signs, menus, subway schedules, all printed in English (and a few other languages). You’ll hear languages like Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil spoken here, but English is an official language, too. You’ll always finding someone who speaks it.
Second, Singapore is modern, with first-rate infrastructure and a clean, safe transportation system. First time travelers need not worry about sanitation, using ATM or credit cards, or finding reliable Internet. In all of this, Singapore rivals countries in North America and Europe.
Third, Singapore is foodie heaven. You’ll find familiar (and not so familiar) Asian foods in the city’s famous hawker markets. But if you need a taste of home, western food is widely available.
Finally, while not as cheap as other countries in the region, you can do Singapore on a budget. It’s expensive to live there; not so much to visit.
Travel newbies not accustomed to Asia will find Singapore culture to be quite different. But it’s a very safe country, with just enough familiarity to make it a comfortable and rewarding destination for your first trip abroad.
Halef from TheRoundTheWorldGuys
Denmark is a great destination for first time travellers. This Scandinavian country is very safe and the vast majority of the population speaks English as a second language. While Denmark is about the size of Maryland and has a population of less than 6 million, there is plenty to discover.
The capital city of Denmark, Copenhagen is famous for the little mermaid statue but it also has great museums, a lively atmosphere and Tivoli amusement park. The most popular amusement park in the country is the Legoland Billund resort. It attracts travellers, especially families from all over Europa who don’t only come for the Legoland amusement park but also the Givund zoo, indoor swimming park and activities such as whale watching and bridge walking.
There are also plenty of Viking remains to discover in Denmark. From archaeological sites, open air museums, to cute little towns like Ribe that take you back to the middle ages.
Many travellers fall in love with Denmark’s fantastic beaches, beautiful clean sand beaches that are never too busy. Even if it is not swimming weather, there is plenty to do. You can go seal watching at the Waddensea, spin your wheels on the beach or visit the buried Rubjerg Knude lighthouse for example.
Travelling in Denmark can be expensive. Especially the cost of alcohol and eating out are higher than in many other Western-European countries. Public transportation between the main towns is frequent and easy to use. But if you want to get to the best beaches and nature parks renting a car is your best option.
Tikva from Gezin op Reis
Mexico is a fantastic destination choice for the first-time traveler. It is an extremely affordable destination, and all-inclusive vacation packages can be purchased at low costs from most major US and Canadian airports. Mexico boasts fantastic sunny weather, delicious food, and the majority of people working in the tourism industry even speak English!
A few fantastic destinations you can choose from in Mexico include Los Cabos (given the moniker of the “aquarium of the world” by Jacques Cousteau due to its abundant marine life), Mayan Riviera (where you can visit spectacular Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza and Tulum), and Cancun (a party town popular with spring-breakers letting loose).
Transportation can be tricky to navigate in a new country, especially for first-time travelers. However, transportation is extremely simple in Mexico! Plenty of hotels offer airport shuttles, and there are many shuttle service companies that will pick you up right at the airport and take you wherever you need to go, at a low cost. Many tour companies also include transportation from your hotel in your tour purchase.
Food is always a highlight for any Mexican vacation! Most resorts cater to any type of palette, whether you are looking for an authentic Mexican dish, or simply missing the comforts of home with a good hamburger and French fries.
Family resorts are plentiful in all resort areas of Mexico, and they are teeming with activities for children. There are romantic couples-only resorts, high-end luxury resorts, party resorts, budget resorts, and on and on. Mexico truly has something for every traveler, and every budget.
If you’re looking for fantastic turquoise waters and great beaches, the Mayan Riviera is for you. Or, if you’re interested in a sunny desert climate and interesting natural formations, check out Los Cabos. If you’re looking for something a little bit different, give Huatulco or Mazatlan a try!
Mexico is a destination that is easy to return to time and time again when you’re looking for that quick getaway without any hassles.
Jennifer Fast from Jenn Explores
So that about sums it up, as those are the recommendations from a variety of people who have traveled extensively. If you happen to be an experienced traveler, you may find that some of your favorites may or may not be on that list. But there’s no arguing against some of the trends here, as European countries tend to be mentioned quite a lot. Other modern countries are mentioned frequently as well, such as Australia, Singapore, Canada, etc. I think it’s safe to say that many people suggest countries that are easy to get around in with modern comforts, and the more developed and wealthy nations tend to fit those criteria.
And my personal recommendations? I often suggest that people visit Italy or France when leaving home for the first time. This is due to a combination of factors. They are beautiful countries with plenty of activities, amazing food, and diverse cities and landscapes. They also provide just enough of a cultural difference from most English speaking countries so that you “feel” like you are in a foreign country. The history, architecture, and way of life are all usually much different than what we have at home. At the same time, it’s easy to visit these countries due to their modern infrastructure, a wide range of hotel options, and overall safety. The only real downside to western European countries is the expensive price.
If you are looking for more of an adventure, then I would suggest that your first country abroad be Thailand, Costa Rica, Peru, or Kenya. All of these countries also have a great infrastructure for travel, but provide a more “rough around the edge” feel to them. Depending on how you visit them, the price can also be fairly low.
And what shouldn’t be your first country to visit? I realize that this may offend some people, but keep in mind that I’m talking about making a recommendation for first-time travelers here. India is one of my absolute most favorite countries in the world. However, it’s a bit of a slap in the face to westerners as the culture shift is fairly extreme. In India, you can be surrounded by poverty, open sewers, and extreme crowds, and this comes as a shock to many people. But like I said, it’s one of the best places I’ve ever visited, and everyone should go at some point in their life. (And other countries have similar challenges, such as other Asian and African nations.) Likewise, Egypt and Morocco are two other countries that I absolutely love, but they can be very challenging for visitors. In both countries, shop keepers, taxi drivers, and restaurant workers can be very aggressive in their attempts to try to sell you things, especially in crowded markets or populated streets. In Egypt, they even have word (“baksheesh”) for the constant bribing or tipping that is required everywhere you go. Despite these challenges, both of these countries are amazing to visit. Everyone should go to Morocco and get lost in the medinas. Everyone should visit Egypt, and not just for the Pyramids. But if it’s your first time abroad, it might be a bit rough for you.
What do you think?
So, what country do you think someone should visit when traveling abroad for the first time? Or, do you have experience as a first-time traveler to a foreign country that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments!
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.