Where to go, where to go. There’s a beautiful world out there and it’s high time that black women start allowing ourselves to enjoy it to its fullest. Here are just five incredible travel destinations (there are many more!) where you’ll be sure to make unforgettable memories and lifelong friendships with locals.
1. London, England
London is a great place to go if you’re just looking for a super relaxing girls trip or an easy-going solo journey. There’s no language or cultural barrier and there are plenty of entertainment options, from theatre to British cinema. You can also visit The Africa Centre and Black Cultural Archives to immerse yourself in interesting information about the history of black people in London.
In an interview with Essence Magazine, legislative assistant Izmira Aitch stated: “London is a lovely city to travel to alone, and it has a vibrant Afropean community, nightlife and art scene.” She also described the mental benefits of traveling and visiting unfamiliar places, which can often help black women heal from pain and trauma. She said, “When you surround yourself with intrigue and new stimuli, your brain is constantly working. There’s not a lot of room for being down.”
2. Madrid, Spain
I know what you’re thinking. Why go to Madrid when you can go to Barcelona? There are so many reasons why, my friend. Think of Madrid as the NYC of Spain, while Barcelona is the Los Angeles of Spain. If you’re like me and you’re more of an art and culture type of girl than a beach girl, you’ll probably get more out of going to Madrid than Barcelona, although both cities have thriving local art scenes. Plus, you can always visit Barcelona for a weekend or after you’ve had your fun in Madrid. This year I’ll actually be moving to Madrid and I couldn’t be more excited to say goodbye to long, cold Canadian winters and hello to glorious Spanish sunshine!
Spanish nightlife is crazy and it’s typical for the average Spaniard to start partying at twelve midnight and stay out until six in the morning. Getting around in Spain is also very cost-effective, with the majority of locals opting to take public transportation like trains or buses, or even just walk, since most attractions are within walking distance. So check out the casinos and museums in the Gran Via neighbourhood (where pretty much everything in Madrid happens) or the Salamanca “barrio” (which means neighbourhood in Spanish) for some high-end shopping and sight-seeing.
3. Nairobi, Kenya
Don’t miss out on a trip to East Africa’s most cosmopolitan city, Nairobi, especially if you’re the type of traveller who likes to do a lot of walking, sight-seeing and all-around adventurous stuff. If you’re an animal lover, you can skip the traditional safari and opt for a visit to the Dame Sheldrick’s Elephant and Rhino Orphanage, the Giraffe Manor or even the Nairobi National Park.
On the other hand, there’s lots of opportunity for hiking with many trails scattered throughout the gorgeous landscape of the Ngong Hills. Also, it’s a good idea to immerse yourself in the Kenyan art and culture scene, keep an open mind and write in a journal about all the fun experiences you have and the people you meet.
4. Paris, France
It’s no secret that Paris is a glamorous place. You’ll be able to fill your days exploring historical places like the Palace of Versailles, the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. Even if you’re not one for visiting museums or you prefer dining out and shopping, rest assured that Paris has got you covered in this regard. Paris is literally one of the fashion centers of the world and you’ll find that donning your usual, comfy sweatshirts and yoga pants will actually make you stand out amongst the uber-fashionable people of France.
Whether you’re going with your partner, your friends, or alone, Airbnb is an affordable way to find accommodation in France. Otherwise, there are plenty of beautiful hotels like Hotel Esmeralda and more. Africans and people of African descent are a huge part of the reason Paris is as gorgeous as it is today. In fact, the city of Light was actually built on the backs of Africans. Not only is there a thriving black community in Paris (and France in general), but you can actually take a Black Paris Tour to learn more about the rich history of Black Americans, Haitians and Africans in Paris.
5. Tokyo, Japan
If you’re up for a good culture shock, some amazing cuisine and great, friendly people, Japan is your spot. From the incredible architecture of the many historical temples, castles and shrines that you’ll have a blast sightseeing (make sure to visit the Todaiji temple!) to the gorgeous bloom of cherry blossom season, there are always fun things to do and see in Japan.
Many gardens in Japan are zen places where you’ll have no problem becoming one with the elements and meditating. There are also numerous animal-themed cafes in Tokyo where you can pet goats, owls, cats, dogs, and rabbits.
Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law.