Just a few years ago, Iceland was an under-the-radar destination. Explored only by a few adventurous travellers looking to get off the beaten track. Yet nowadays, the country’s cascading waterfalls, striking landscapes and stunning geothermal spas are attracting more visitors than ever. And plenty of them are choosing to travel alone. So if you can’t decide where to go on your next adventure, here’s why Iceland is a great solo travel destination.
It’s very safe
For most travellers, safety tends to be the number one concern. Especially when considering travelling solo. But if you’re booking a trip to the Land of Fire and Ice, you really don’t need to worry.
The Global Peace Index recently published a report ranking the safest countries in the world. And for the eleventh year running, Iceland has officially been ranked as the world’s safest place.
‘Iceland is a very safe place for the solo traveler. I’m not saying that crime never happens there, but with only 131 people in their prison system, it’s a fair bet that you’ll be safe. While there, I did not feel the usual need to grip my bag and look over my shoulder while walking around Reykjavik at night. Iceland is also a world leader in gender equality so a solo female traveler is far less likely to get groped, marginalized or mansplained. This element of safety makes Iceland a pretty stress-free place for travel.’
– Carol, Wayfaring Views
You can stay connected
Whilst Iceland is known for its remoteness, don’t worry about being disconnected from your loved ones back home. It’s easy to purchase a SIM card and sign up for a phone plan with data. And it’ll only set you back around $20.
There’s also plenty of ways you can get online in Reykjavik, with cafes, hotels, bookstores and even bars offering free WiFi. Outside of the capital, many hotels and guesthouses provide internet access, either complimentary or for an additional fee.
It’s easy to get around
Whether you’re exploring independently with your own vehicle or as part of an organised tour, you’ll find Iceland is very easy to navigate. The Golden Circle is the most popular sightseeing route and can be managed within one day. Spanning for 300 kilometres in southern Iceland, it encompasses some of the country’s most spectacular natural wonders.
For those looking to travel further afield, Iceland’s Ring Road encircles the entire island. It’s well-maintained and offers plenty of scenic stopping points. And if you’re staying in Reykjavik, the capital can be easily explored on foot with City Walks maps available for free in the Tourist Information Centre.
‘What I love about Iceland as a solo destination is it has a very low crime rate, and the capital of Reykjavík is super walkable and full of hostels offering both dorms and private rooms. Plus, there are loads of hiking trails and hot springs nearby that make for fun, non-awkward solo experiences. One thing to note though is that the weather in Iceland can be severe. This is particularly important if you’re renting a car. I highly recommend getting a local SIM card in case of emergencies, having supplies like water and blankets in the car, and knowing a few basic car repair tactics, such as changing a flat tire. If you’re uncomfortable with this, the good news is that there are tours going to almost anywhere you desire, so you can have an experienced local drive you around instead!’
– Jessie, Jessie on a Journey
The locals speak English
Although the country’s official language is Icelandic, you’ll find that most Icelanders speak near-perfect English. It’s a mandatory subject in Iceland’s primary schools and become of increasing importance thanks to the country’s recent tourism boom.
Whilst the Icelandic language can seem quite challenging, especially when pronouncing street names and attractions, in restaurants and other public places you’ll always find English translations. You definitely won’t need a phrasebook to get around, but it’s always appreciated when you do know a few words of the local language.
Halló – Hello
Bless – Goodbye
Já – Yes
Nei – No
Hvor er… – Where is…
Takk – Thank you
There’s plenty of hostels
Whilst Iceland is known for being an expensive destination, there’s plenty of budget options when it comes to accommodation. Hostelling International alone offers a network of 34 hostels located in Reykjavik and across the rest of the island.
But the perks of hostelling aren’t just the cheaper costs. Surrounded by other like-minded travellers, you’ll easily meet people to explore this incredible country with.
‘Being on a low budget, hostel stays were necessary for me. You knew that everyone staying in a hostel was in Iceland for adventure and I loved getting to interact with people from different walks of life and cultures than my own. By far my favorite hostel was Snotra Hostel, close to Hella. It was the most comfortable hostel I have ever stayed in and in a pretty central location for southern travel. Traveling solo, I knew I needed to find safe accommodation. In every hostel I either had my own key or key code and never ran into any safety or security issues. I’ll definitely been staying in hostels again the next time I go to Iceland!’
– Cassidy, Cassidy Kelley Design
You won’t get bored
Iceland may seem like a small country, but this Nordic isle is packed with attractions and activities. From the famous Blue Lagoon and Seljalandsfoss waterfall to the mesmerising Northern Lights and erupting Strokkur geyser, Iceland’s natural wonders captivate all its visitors.
The choice of activities is endless. One day you could be hiking a glacier field, the next day watching whales off the coast. But no matter what you decide to do, you certainly won’t have any regrets about travelling solo in Iceland.