Guide to Traveling Alone in Iceland
Are you planning on traveling alone in Iceland? You picked a fantastic destination, especially if you’re traveling solo for the first time!
So, congratulations on literally selecting the perfect choice, haha.
How do I know your choice is perfect?
Well, personally, I think Iceland was one of the most relaxed and easy solo trips that I’ve ever done.
No joke, I absolutely loved it here even in the dead of winter (one of these days I’ll go back in summer). Honestly, the only downside I can think about Iceland is the price tag, haha. And the fact that I didn’t see the Northern Lights. Talk about a major fail, argh!
Over all, Iceland is a wonderful place, often called “The Land of Ice and Fire,” for its volcanos, hot springs, glaciers, and other stunning bits of natural beauty.
Iceland has also gained tremendous popularity in recent years. Although mass tourism is problematic (another rant for another day), it’s easy to see why so many travelers would fall in massive love with this tiny northern country.
I know I adore it.
Traveling Alone in Iceland is Amazing.
Without a doubt, I recommend solo travel to Iceland to new anxious travelers for many reasons.
Traveling alone is stressful. Sure, it’s amazing and builds a lot of confidence, but I’d be lying if I claimed there were zero downsides to seeing the world alone.
For example, you’re responsible for all your own luggage, need to watch out for your own health, and rely on your own brain not to get hopelessly lost.
Ultimately, solo travel is a rewarding endeavor, but a challenge too.
Thanks to Iceland’s impeccable safety and tourist infrastructure, a lot of the troubles that plague solo travelers are massively reduced. I mean, I can’t think of a single scam in Iceland. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Top Reasons I Loved Solo Travel to Iceland.
Without further rambling, I want to talk about the top six reasons why it’s a great idea to travel Iceland alone.
I’m sure I could write an entire book on this particular topic, but I invite all my fellow independent travelers to share why they loved Iceland in the comment sections at the end of this post.
Let’s get to it!
1. Iceland is Remarkably Safe.
First and foremost, Iceland is a very, very, very safe destination. Your odds of falling victim to a violent crime are exceedingly low.
Honestly, a friend (from the hostel) and I actually got lost in Reykjavik at two in the morning. What happened? A sweet old lady came out of her house to warn us about an impending snow storm.
Nature will really be your biggest enemy in Iceland. The chances of someone jumping out of a dark alleyway and harming you are probably similar to winning the Mega Millions lottery in New Jersey. It isn’t going to happen.
Of course, still exercise basic common sense like not climbing into unmarked cabs or waving around tons of money in public. You don’t want to completely leave your brain at home – regardless of Iceland’s incredible safety record.
2. The Tourism Infrastructure is Second to None.
Iceland is used to tourists. Meaning most signs are written in Icelandic and English, making it easy for foreigners to navigate throughout the country.
Furthermore, Iceland has a lot of wonderful accommodation and an endless number of guided tours to take all over the island.
However, even though Iceland is handling the massive flux of tourism to the best of the country’s ability, you should still be mindful of the fact that Iceland is a very popular place. Which means that tourism has impacted the fragile environment here.
Therefore, make an effort to shop at local businesses. Respect nature by not littering or antagonizing the wildlife. Just be on your best behavior in Iceland. Period. End of story.
3. Iceland Makes a Wonderful Wellness Trip.
As you already know, I’ve talked on this blog about healing places around the world, and the importance of mental wellness. Iceland is a great place to go if you’re wishing to wash away those daily stresses that come with “the grind.”
For example, Iceland has many gorgeous hot springs and spas capable of soothing even the most stressed out traveler. I went to the Blue Lagoon in winter, and felt like all the anxiety I felt about my upcoming flight melted off my body.
Wellness and Iceland seem to go hand-in-hand. I mean, if a place can make me feel less worried about a flight, then it’s magical for promoting personal happiness.
4. Iceland is a Photographer’s Dream Come True.
Are you an avid photographer? A person who’s always snapping a million pictures? Then Iceland is absolutely a destination you need to add to your bucket list. ASAP.
I especially think Iceland is great for photographers in winter. This time of year the sun never fully rises in the sky. The low light creates a perfect scenario for photographs. I mean, endless twilight is pretty and easy on the images.
Passionate photographers need to go traveling alone in Iceland.
5. You Can Participate in Big Adventures.
Alright time for some real talk. Who doesn’t want to go on adventure trips?!
Honestly, folks, whenever I do something like hike on a glacier, I feel like an absolute boss who wins at everything in life.
And Iceland was created for adventurer travelers!
You guys, I’m not necessarily a huge adventurer, but in Iceland, I embraced in inner Indiana Jones and dreamed big. For example, on my solo trip to Iceland, I explored lava caves, rode Icelandic horses, and snorkeled between tectonic plates.
6. Iceland Makes Reaching the Rest of Europe Easy.
Iceland is a great “stopover” destination if you’re planning on solo travel in Europe. I mean, it’s perfectly located halfway across the Atlantic Ocean.
For fearful flyers, Iceland may be the solution to breaking up a longer journey into much more manageable chunks.
Not to mention, you can save money on flights using Icelandair. The prices are usually lower than taking a direct trip right to France or Germany. Definitely worth checking out.
What to Pack for a Solo Trip to Iceland.
When alone in Iceland, you need to make sure that you pack appropriate items. Packing is especially important for two reasons.
Firstly, winter destinations always require more bulky items, so you need to be extra mindful of saving space in your luggage. Packing cubes are one method that you can use to help you save room.
And, as a solo traveler, you’re the only person responsible for packing essentials. For instance, you might spend significantly more money if you forget something at home, and then need to buy it at the airport. Plan ahead of time.
1. Thermal Layers, Layers, and Layers.
You need thermal layers in Iceland especially if you’re traveling in the winter.
Seriously, don’t leave home without this extra layer of protection! Don’t even freakin’ try it. Layers are so important.
For traveling solo to Iceland, I would pick extra soft thermal layers, like this adorable paired set, to stay both warm and comfortable at the same time.
2. Adorable Gloves and Hats.
I always find that my ears and fingers get the coldest when walking outside through wind and snow. So it’s essential to protect them on your solo trip to Iceland.
3. A Durable Winter Coat.
Finally, a winter coat is of the utmost importance to take for when you’re alone in Iceland. This is one item you don’t want to skimp on. Your body will hate you forever and ever.
Columbia has great winter coats that will protect you in face of Iceland’s winds. Seriously don’t underestimate the winds. The cutting frigid gusts will get you every single time. Brrr.
4. Travel Insurance with World Nomads.
Travel insurance is very important for taking a solo trip to Iceland! I mean, think about it. You’re driving on unfamiliar driving conditions, taking adventure tours, and dealing with weather that changes in five minutes flat.
Personally, I use World Nomads Insurance for all of my trips. I’ve never had an issue with them, and their policy rates are reasonable. World Nomads all the way!
Ready to Go? Purchase Your World Nomads Policy
5. A Quality Guidebook for Iceland.
Without a doubt, a guidebook for Iceland will help you plan your upcoming Iceland Solo Travel Itinerary. Personally, I think Lonely Planet has the best guidebooks for adventurous solo travelers. I have an entire collection in my apartment, haha. Be me!
So flip through this Icelandic guidebook to come up with ideas for your next big trip. It’s also small enough to stick into your backpack.
Read More: What to Wear in Iceland in December
Will I Meet People Traveling Solo To Iceland?
Don’t be afraid of traveling solo to Iceland because you think that you’ll be lonely and sad. It won’t happen.
Honestly, it’s very easy to make new friends during your solo trip to Iceland. I think it’s actually harder NOT to meet people traveling throughout friendly countries such as Iceland.
You’ll only be fully alone in Iceland if you allow yourself to implement solitude into your itinerary.
1. Stay in Hostels & Communal Accommodation.
There is plenty of communal accommodation in Reykjavik to ensure you don’t feel lonely on a solo trip to Iceland.
On my own visited, I stayed at Kex Hostel which is located right downtown, not too far away from the famous Sun Voyager statue.
Kex Hostel was safe and clean, and it was easy enough to meet fellow travelers in the dorm rooms. I never once felt lonely or bored staying here.
If hostels aren’t your thing, look into a guesthouse or AirBNB stay to suit your individual needs. I’m sure you’ll find someplace great in Reykjavik!
2. Sign Up for Group Tours.
Not a fan of hostels and still wanna meet new friends? Not a problem.
Iceland has so, so, so many great day tours that make meeting fellow travelers a breeze.
For example, I met tons of great people on my snorkeling Silfra tour out in the Golden Circle. There’s nothing quite like diving into freezing arctic waters in December to promote bonding among strangers, haha.
Go on a group tour and find some friends!
Safety & Solo Travel to Iceland.
Alright, alright. I know I talked a lot about how Iceland is safe. And it is safe. Very safe. However, you still don’t want to go into your adventures without a single care in the world.
After all, it always pays to act with caution even in safe destinations like Iceland.
Here are some specific safety tips to keep in the back of your head.
1. Drive Carefully on the Roads.
Icelandic road conditions are much different than the open highways common in the United States and Canada.
Roads are narrow. Therefore drive extra cautiously. I wouldn’t start speeding in an attempt to reach your next destination. The last thing you want to deal with is an accident in a rental car.
And, if you’re driving in winter, you want to be especially careful due to limited sunlight hours. I mean, the sun sets at three in the afternoon. You don’t want to be stuck navigating in the dark in the middle of an expansive national park.
2. Stay Aware of the Weather.
Iceland’s weather is notoriously changeable.
Ice and snow storms come out of nowhere. You want to stay warm, meaning wear those layers, and always seek shelter if you feel too cold or overwhelmed. It’s especially important to stay aware of the weather if you’re driving on your own.
And, also, be patient on tours if the weather is bad. Like I had already mentioned, I missed out on the Northern Lights, because there was far too much cloud coverage. I also had a glacier tour canceled due to a snow storm.
At the end of the day, weather-related problems will happen in Iceland. Just grin and bear it, and stay safe.
3. Take it Easy in Reykjavik on Fridays & Saturdays.
Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital and serves as the home base to most travelers coming to this vibrant country.
While Reykjavik is small and safe for a capital city, you still need to know and respect your personal limits, especially since you’re traveling alone to Iceland. It’s very party happy, haha.
As a solo traveler, I’d limit yourself to two drinks, and stay aware of the company you keep. This tip is even more important if you’re traveling in Reykjavik in New Year’s Eve.
4. Be Prepared to Go Off the Grid.
Last but not least, Iceland’s national parks are gems, but cellular service isn’t always 100% available. You will fall off the grid at some point on your solo adventures throughout Iceland.
Having peace and quiet is rewarding, but you also need to stay aware and remain smart. Oh, and bring paper maps if you’re driving.
Finally, it’s imperative to leave a copy of your itinerary behind with friends and family. If (god forbid) you go missing in the wilderness, then at least someone will have an idea of your last location.
What’s your advice for traveling alone in Iceland? Do you plan on visiting Iceland in the near future? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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