solo travel reykjavik: seeing the sun voyager

Reykjavik Solo Travel: The Best Things to See and Do

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Confession: Reykjavik is probably one of the most adorable and happiest cities that I’ve ever visited in my life. Reykjavik is just, for a lack of a better word, cute. Tons of colorful homes, top-notch street art, little boutiques, and local breweries. I could go on and on about what makes Reykjavik’s vibe so special.

As for me, I’ve been lucky enough to go to the Icelandic capital in summer and winter, and both times, this city was an absolute joy to explore on my own terms. 

I’m a person who’s used to massive cities, such as New York City, and while I love a big city buzz, I have a soft spot for smaller places. Reykjavik just feels very cosy and safe, which is perfect for solo travelers in particular. 

So, in this guide to solo travel in Reykjavik, I want to share some of my own experiences, as well as tips, to make your vacation to Iceland even simpler than it already is. Iceland, in general, has wonderful tourism infrastructure, and is definitely a destination I suggest for anxious solo travelers, because a trip here is so easy and relaxing. 

Let’s get started!

solo travel reykjavik: posing with street art

Solo Travel in Reykjavik: My Experience

Solo travel in Reykjavik was eye-opening for me in the best possible way. I first came to the city alone in December, and despite the perpetual darkness and unexpected snow squalls, I felt remarkably cosy and safe wandering the streets any time of day and night.

Furthermore, staying in hostels and taking guided tours made it possible to forge new friendships, which are the best travel souvenirs. New Year’s Eve in Reykjavik made me feel like I was part of a big happy family, and I’ll never forget screaming joyfully at the top of my lungs as fireworks exploded in the sky. 

And summer? Was just as fulfilling albeit a little quieter. 

One thing that I adore about visiting here is that you also don’t draw unwanted attention as a solo traveler in Reykjavik. After all, lots of people visit Iceland (I mean, lots), and no one will care or scrutinize you for traveling alone in my experience, which is very very nice. I loved flying under the radar, and seeing whatever I wanted without people harassing me. 

I could meet people on my own terms. 

Ultimately, Iceland, including Reykjavik, is a wonderful solo travel destination for everyone. A perfect place for solo travel in Europe.

summer is bright in reykjavik

Should You Travel Alone to Reykjavik?

Yes. 

But, seriously, if you have any hesitation about solo travel, then opt for a solo trip to Iceland for your first big adventure. Of course, your experience will differ if Reykjavik is your first solo trip versus your fiftieth solo trip. 

loving the bakeries in reykjavik

New Solo Travelers

New solo travelers will gain a lot of confidence in Reykjavik. I’m not even kidding here. I highly, highly, highly recommend Reykjavik for new solo travelers. No doubt about it.

If it’s your first time traveling alone overseas, you’re bound to feel a little nervous, and international travel comes with unique challenges and planning issues. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed.

Luckily for you, Iceland’s capital is safe, clean, fun, and small (compared to other cities), making it perfect for a first solo international trip. You’ll develop and grow as a traveler here, and have great stories to tell your family and friends at home. You’ll see and do a lot even with a limited amount of time. 2 days in Reykjavik is just perfect.

Book as many guided tours as you want. Reykjavik has plenty of them, and with the leadership of a good guide, you’ll feel inspired to book even more solo international trips in the future. 

reykjavik has some lovely homes

Experienced Solo Travelers

Experienced solo travelers will also love Reykjavik. Even though this city draws a lot of tourists, the vibe didn’t feel as cheesy as other famous travel destinations. It was easy for me to find a cozy cafe or bar, and unwind after a long day of hikes and other outdoor activities, while at the same time, not feel burdened by tourists. 

And hey, sometimes even experienced solo travelers need a break. You can mentally shut off the “hamster wheel” part of your brain when you travel to Reykjavik due to the ease of travel here. 

Experienced solo travelers may also want to use Reykjavik as a base for a bigger visit, such as a 6 day roadtrip in Iceland, or even longer! 

happy and pleased in reykjavik
All Smiles on Rainbow Street.

Reasons to Travel Alone in Reykjavik 

Are you convinced to travel alone to Reykjavik yet? No? Don’t worry, because I have plenty of additional reasons why you ought to pack your bags right now. Time to take notes.

having a delicious meal in the centre of reykjavik

Friendly and Kind Service

Tourism is thriving in Iceland. Furthermore, Icelanders, in my experience, are kind and welcoming toward respectful visitors. During my last trip to Reykjavik, the locals were very helpful toward me, and made me feel as if I belonged here, as if I was home. It was a great feeling.

Sometimes solo travel is isolating. Sure, it’s also a magical experience, but it would be disingenuous to say that it doesn’t feel lonely on occasion. 

Thanks to Reykjavik’s fantastic tourism sector, those lonely moments won’t last nearly as long as other cities. You can always find someone to talk to.

south coast is a great day trip from reykjavik

Lots of Great Day Trips Available

You won’t run out of fantastic day trips even if you only stay in Reykjavik. After all, Reykjavik’s location is perfect for escaping into Iceland’s nature. You can easily rent a car and do your own self-guided tour. However, I personally loved going on a small group tours where all transportation was taken care of for me. 

So, I’ve listed a couple of tour options below for you to check out. 

solo travel iceland tip: don't miss the golden circle

Best Reykjavik Day Trips

  • Blue Lagoon: The Blue Lagoon sells out fast, so while you can book directly on the website, you can also book through a tour company to secure tickets so you don’t miss out. You can also reserve transfers from downtown Reykjavik or the nearby KEF airport where all international flights arrive and depart from. 
  • The Golden Circle: The most popular day trip near Reykjavik is The Golden Circle. It’s touristy and crowded, but for a good reason. The Golden Circle is beautiful. You will find many guided tours that leave Reykjavik every single day. I personally like this fully guided Golden Circle tour that also makes a stop at the Secret Lagoon. Because why not? 
  • The Snæfellsnes Peninsula: This peninsula is home to some of the most gorgeous scenery that I have ever seen in Iceland, including the famous Kirkjufell Mountain. It’s a longer journey from Reykjavik, but this fully guided tour is well worth it if you have extra time. 
  • Snorkeling Silfra: Going on a snorkeling excursion in Silfra is one of the most incredible activities you can do near Reykjavik. Snorkeling between the North American and European tectonic plates at the UNESCO-listed Thingvellir National Park is a solo travel experience that you will remember forever. 
  • South Coast: The South Coast has some of Iceland’s most epic and gorgeous waterfalls, as well as black sand beaches that make you feel as if you’ve transported to another planet. You can easily take a full day guided South Coast tour from Reykjavik and see everything without a car rental. 
loving in the sky lagoon near reykjavik
Reykjavik Solo Travel Tip: Don’t Miss a Spa

Perfect for Relaxation & Wellness

Solo travel in Reykjavik means relaxation. Yup, thermal hot springs are available for you to enjoy on a trip to Reykjavik. The best part? It’s perfectly acceptable to visit alone! 

The Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular geothermal spas in the country, and is scenically located on a lava field. You can visit year round. Yes, you can even visit the Blue Lagoon in winter! Pre-booking for the Blue Lagoon is absolutely essential no matter what time you visit here. 

For a spa closer to the city, the relatively new Sky Lagoon is also a wonderful option and a little cheaper than the Blue Lagoon. I loved gazing out the infinity pool to look at sweeping views of Reykjavik. Like the Blue Lagoon, you will also want to book tickets in advance. 

solo travel reykjavik bar hopping

Plenty of Other Solo Travelers 

Iceland has lots of other solo travelers. Whether you stay in a hostel or go on a guided tour, you’re bound to strike up a conversation with someone else. So, if making new friends is a priority for you, then I definitely recommend giving Reykjavik a try for your solo trip! 

You’re far more likely to meet other travelers at popular times of the year. For example, summer months and Christmas week (New Year’s Eve in Reykjavik is lit) are perfect times to link up with other people. 

It might be quieter in the off season, but hey, I bet you still find new friends.

Reykjavik solo travel tip: don't miss the blue lagoon

Super Safe and Friendly 

Last but not least, I cannot emphasize how safe and friendly Reykjavik is. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Everyone who I met in the service industry – including flight attendants, retail workers, waiters, and tour guides – were absolutely delightful. 

As a solo traveler, you have nothing to fear if you need help. People will support you. 

Over all, I found service in Reykjavik a lot better than other big European cities. I’m not saying the service industry on the continent is mean or anything, but Icelandic service just felt a lot warmer, which means a great deal when you’re traveling alone. 

As far as safety goes, I never once felt like I had to watch my belongings closely or avoid aggressive men as a solo traveler. Iceland, in general, has a very low crime rate, which should bring you a lot of comfort.

the city hall offers tours in reykjavik

Solo Travel Reykjavik: Practical Tips

Last but not least, I wanted to send along a couple of practical tips for solo travel in Reykjavik, such as packing ideas and accommodation suggestions.

Of course, it’s still important to do your research ahead of time (I mean, think about the season that you decide to visit), but I hope that these tips will help jumpstart the planning process!

Have fun in Reykjavik! 

reykjavik solo travel: hot dogs are perfect
Most Delicious Hot Dog EVER.

Safety Tips for Reykjavik

Seriously, guys, you don’t need to stress about safety in Reykjavik. Crime is very, very, very low. I’m 99.99% sure that Reykjavik is safer than your home town, haha. 

However, it’s always good to take basic precautions, such as not drinking too much alone and keeping an eye on your drink, as well as providing an itinerary for friends and family. 

The biggest threat to your safety in Reykjavik will be to your wallet. Iceland is notoriously expensive. Be aware of the conversation rate, and don’t feel bad about skipping alcohol to drink water (the water is delicious here) or packing a picnic lunch instead of eating at a restaurant. 

iceland's cool public art

What to Pack for Reykjavik 

  • Bathing Suit: Summer or winter, sun or rain or snow, always have a bathing suit in Iceland to indulge in the hot thermal springs. Your body will love you for it. 
  • Highly Quality Shoes: Oh my goodness, footwear is so important in Iceland, including when you’re wandering around Reykjavik. I personally suggest sturdy sneakers for the summer and waterproof snow boots for winter. 
  • Lonely Planet Iceland Guide: I’m still a sucker for traditional guidebooks, even in the age of social media, and therefore, I totally recommend buying a physical or pdf. copy of Lonely Planet’s Iceland Guide for up to date information about Reykjavik.  
  • Rain Jacket: You’ll definitely need different clothings depending on the time of year, but whatever you do, do not skimp on a rain jacket when visiting Iceland, especially if you’re going to sightsee near the waterfalls. It’s just … not a smart idea not to have a rain coat with you. 
  • Sturdy Umbrella: Don’t be scared to spend a little extra for a windproof travel umbrella in Iceland. While I can’t promise it will work 100% of the time, having this umbrella is still much better than nothing.
  • Travel Insurance: Despite its safety, you’ll want to buy travel insurance in Iceland to protect yourself from sickness and injury, especially if you will be taking part in outdoor activities. I always buy World Nomads insurance prior to my trips – including my solo trip to Reykjavik. 

hotel holt is a lovely hotel for solo travel in reykjavik

Where to Stay in Reykjavik 

  • Eric the Red Guesthouse: This small family-run guesthouse is the perfect compromise between a hotel and hostel. You are located right next to Hallgrímskirkja Church, in the middle of all the action. See prices on Booking.com and Expedia.com.
  • Hotel Holt: For an upscale option, check out this unique boutique hotel that is adorned with original paintings, prints, and more. Located in a quiet and beautiful area. See prices on Booking.com and Expedia.com.
  • Kex Hostel Reykjavik: A trendy and super fun hostel that is located right on the waterfront. The perfect option for social travelers who want to connect with other people. See prices on Booking.com and Expedia.com.

enjoying the splendor of the blue lagoon

I hope this post about solo travel in Reykjavik inspires you to go on your adventures to Iceland soon. As always, feel free to contact me for more solo travel advice, especially to Europe.