Go Solo – A Comprehensive Guide to Solo Travel in Iceland

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Add to Bucket List

Adventure is on the top of the list when it comes to vacationing Iceland because what is glacier hiking and snowmobiling if not an adventure. No matter where you go or what you do, Iceland will present a challenge in front of you that will be both beautiful and satisfying to conquer. The best part is that there is always something more for the ones who just can’t have enough of the thrill. You say you are done with the glaciers and none of them surprise you anymore? Then go take a ride on the Icelandic horses and try to conquer their flying pace. Flying pace is too easy for you to do? Then it is time to head to highlands and see how far you can go. And if you want to add some more spice to the journey, take a horse ride in the area, it is reportedly the hardest of the terrains to travel on an Icelandic horse.

But thrill should always be accompanied by a sense and understanding of safety. So, choose the options which bring you enough adrenaline rush and the risks that often-come hand-in-hand with it. One of the best ways to double the dose of adventure in your list is to fly solo. Imagine if traveling in a group can be as adventurous as it is in Iceland then what hitchhiking on long-stretched gravel roads would be like. Well, solo travel in Iceland is as happy-go-lucky as they come and should be in your bucket list if you like solitude, taking your own time in appreciating things, exploring stuff on your own, and meeting new people. Although, there are some unsaid, rules, terms, and guidelines that you should follow when hitting it solo. Let’s have a look at what you need, where you can go and what you can do when traveling solo in Iceland.

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woman in pink coat next to Svínafellsjokull glacier in south Iceland

First Things First – Answering the Basic Questions

Traveling to a foreign country always come with its set of apprehensions and everyone is concerned about a few things. It can be the questions like “is it even safe?” or things like “where would I even start?”. Tackling every problem one by one, let’s start with the basic doubts and questions about traveling solo.

If you have not had answers to your questions after reading this article, you can always contact one of our locals and we will gladly assist you with answers to everything we know. 

• Is It Safe to Travel Solo in Iceland?

In a nutshell – yes, it is completely safe to travel in Iceland. Ever heard the phrase, “It’s a small town. Everyone knows everyone.”? Well, it is exactly like that in Iceland. The human population is very low and hence very closely knit. But this close-knit community means that everyone looks out for everyone. And to top it all, the country is included in the list of The Safest Countries in The World.

If you are concerned that traveling alone as a woman may bring some factor of insecurity then you can sit back and relax. There are well-constructed parking lots everywhere around the country, especially the destinations that are popular among tourists. You are always accompanied by guides when on a tour and if someone does commit a crime, it gets in the eye of everyone in an instant because the total population of the country is only about 360,000.

Wandering outside in the dark or even camping in a remote area is not anything to be afraid of. If anything, locals are friendly and helpful in every way possible.

The only things you may need to take care of when traveling are dangerous roads and cliffs. Nature can be cruel if you are not careful so take necessary safety measures as and when required.

• What is The Crime Rate in Iceland?

Crime rate can be divided into many parts depending on the type of crime one is talking about, for example, thieving, murder, drug dealing, corruption, and bribery, etc. According to the World Population Review, the average crime rate in Iceland is 23.15% in the year 2020 which translates to “very low”. The safety rate of walking alone in daylight is 88.31 (very high) and in the night it is 73.76 (high) according to numbeo.com, last updated in May 2020.

And to make it all better, the World Happiness Report of 2018 from World Population Review ranks Iceland on 4th in the whole world. The female to male ratio is at 100:100.69. Equality and quality of life are in top shape which can explain the low crime rate of the country. So, empty consolations apart, all the facts show that you have little to nothing to worry about being mugged in Iceland.

• What About Language?

While Icelandic is the first language of Iceland, almost all locals are fluent in English. So, if you speak English then you are golden to travel. All road signs and directions to locations are written in both English and Icelandic. All children learn English from a very young age so one can safely say that most people are bilingual in Iceland. You may save some difficulty in the countryside. Although country people may not be very fluent, they will help you well. All the information websites, like Iceland Meteorological Office, are available in English so that tourists do not have a hard time procuring information to plan trips.

• Do I Need to Worry About Harassment or Assault?

As discussed before, the crime rate is very low in Iceland but the word “harassment” draws a lot more attraction than other kinds of crime, especially from women. The good news is that harassment or assault and armed robbery are one of the lowest ranking crime rates in Iceland. The most recent data, updated in May 2020 by numbeo.com, shows assault and armed robbery to have a crime rating of only 19.65 = very low. On the same note, mugging stands at 11.32 and car theft at 14.06. So, you can safely that you can travel with ease without being worried about someone lurking behind you in the bushes.

• What Travel Options Will I Have?

Traveling alone or with a group, there are two main ways to go around the country – a car or a bus. A car can mean anything from a super jeep or a campervan to normal 2×2 vehicles and buses include the local ones as well as the ones operated by touring companies. Tour companies sometimes use camper vans as well but on rare occasions only. The most-used mode of transportation for them is Mini Buses. 

If you want to travel alone without even a single companion then renting a car is the ideal way to go about it. But renting a car alone can get expensive for a single person. So, if you want to cut some cost then you should consider sharing the ride with a few companions.

• What are Locals Like?

Locals in Iceland deal with tourists regularly so, they are very skilled in the art of hosting. You find the locals to be very friendly and polite. They are always ready to help visitors and direct them in the right direction. But you will have to meet them halfway. Try and approach people, stay in a hostel, and attend the concerts and gatherings organized by hostels, bars, and restaurants. This will also help you with meeting fellow tourists and help you in gaining some companions to share your ride with.

man standing in front of Gjain in thjorsardalur golden circle in Iceland

Your To-Do List for Solo Travel in Iceland

Just like any other kind of vacation, there are some things that every solo traveler has to try. From the must-do things to the must-visit places, we have created a curated list for you to follow if you are planning a solo trip to Iceland.

Start with the Capital

Downtown Reykjavik and Esjan mountain

There is a huge probability that you will start your vacation from Reykjavik as the international airport is located close to the capital city and, all for good reason. Reykjavik is the settlement and the most populated area of the country. It is flooded with landmarks like the Harpa Concert hall, small bakeries, swimming pools, cafes, restaurants, and whatnot. Step out on the outskirts of the town and you will have yourself a dive into the country life of Iceland served with a side of history. Reykjavik is the perfect place to be if you enjoy art shows, music concerts, baked goods, drinks, dance, soulful food, and a little banter. And, you cannot miss the Blue Lagoon, located 40 minutes out of the city. The best thing about Reykjavik is that it is fairly close to many main attractions of the country so, you can easily get up and move in any direction you like and you will end up at someplace nice like Gullfoss waterfall – perks of traveling alone.

Go on the Golden Circle Tour

Gullfoss waterfall in Golden Circle

Solo or not, Golden Circle tour is not something that you can miss, no matter what. The circle has three main stops and several small detours that take you to beautiful destinations on the way. When traveling solo and by a rented car, the golden circle presents you with very quirky yet safe destinations to cover. All the paths are well-paved and easy to drive on so you do not have to worry about vehicle-failures. Even if you do not want to spend time on detours, make sure that you have properly explored the Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. If you indeed plan to stick to the basics, you can join a classic guided tour of the golden circle or take the ones with a few variations and added stops on the way. Take it from us, making detours will prove more fruitful than you can imagine. The Secret lagoon, Faxi waterfall, Efstidalur farm with its delicious meals, Sólheimar Eco-Village, and the Silfra Fissure – all of these wonderful locations are worth your time and should be experienced, especially if you are going solo.

Golden Circle Tours

Hike a Glacier

Solheimajokull glacier hike in south Iceland

Join a random group of tourists you met at your hostel or become a part of a guided tour and get set to conquer some glaciers. Hiking is hands down one of the most thrilling activities in Iceland and you need it to be on your bucket list. And joining some friends you made recently for such a task will be more than just rewarding. You will get to have your solitude and alone-time whenever you like and the safety of being with the group – a win-win case. Just make sure that you do not heed to the call of mountains alone. Hiking can be tricky and dangerous if not done with all the security measures taken care of completely. So, glacier hiking “alone” is not advised. Always be a part of a group or in the company of an experienced guide to avoid accidents.

Glacier Hiking Tours

Horse Riding – The Perfect Sport

Woman sitting on the Icelandic horse and Horse Riding in Iceland

A ride with these majestic creatures of Iceland is all you need to feel the magic of the wind. Icelandic horses are exceptional creatures, beautiful beyond comprehension with their blue eyes and exquisite fur, extremely intelligent, prideful (like any other stead out there) and very friendly. Iceland is popular for its natural charisma and the landscapes that bring it but, it is also known for its pure-bred horses which can not be found anywhere else in the world. These horses have never left this small volcanic island and are a prized possession of the country. The Icelandic horse is known for its unique walk Tölt, a pace so smooth that the rider can sit with a glass full of water on the horse and still won’t spill even a drop – enticing, right?

Horse Riding Tours

Take a Dip in the Hot Springs

Landbrotalaug hot spring in Snæfellsnes Peninsula

There are about 170 hot springs, geothermal pools, and baths around the country. Some of them are located in the main settlement areas while the others are located far away in the countryside. Most hot springs located in the remote areas are extremely exotic but so small that they can fit only one or two people at a time. If you are a fan of exploring what no one explores then visiting the little-known hot springs of Iceland is a must. You can find the unknown hot springs in the hot spring map (a map with all hot springs in Iceland). Along with that, we suggest you try some of the popular ones as well as the Blue Lagoon. No matter which way you choose to go, you find a pool of soothing hot water underneath the clear sky waiting to calm your nerves and wash away the fatigue.

Try Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking in Iceland

Hitchhiking is not a very uncommon thing for solo travelers. If you have traveled alone before then you must already be aware of this. Trying it in Iceland is very easy and reaps great results. Locals are of course very friendly so any given time of the day, you are sure to get a ride if you are looking for one. Since tourists are aware of the friendliness of Icelandic people and the number of solo travelers, they are very quick to help out a fellow tourist as well. The only thing to consider here is that you do not hitchhike in the winter season if you are going to remote areas like the Westfjords. The number of tourists is lesser and there is a chance that no one on their way to the Westfjords will pass by the whole day.

Camp Under the Midnight Sun

camping at Laugavegur hiking trail in the highlands of Iceland

Not everyone is comfortable staying in a camp instead of a hotel room so, it may be difficult for a free soul to convince others in the group to spend a night under the stars. But since you are traveling alone, you can pack the essential and drive to a suitable campsite and spend some time with nature without any restrictions. Camping under or going for a little picnic under the midnight sun is every bit exotic as it sounds.

Get to Know the Locals

When we say ‘get to know’ we do not mean for you to stop by for a minute and talk about the weather. Iceland is primary a Nordic country and hence it is flooded with folklores, myths, unique cultural and traditional ways, and stories from Icelandic sagas. You can simply sit with the locals of the town you are staying at and the conversation will flow itself. There are several guest houses in almost every town in Iceland. You can spend time with the folks there, talk about anything that crosses your mind over tea and cookies and get to the fabulous culture from within.

Traveling solo is never a disappointment. You could travel to just a different state and still return with so many experiences and stories to share. When you do not walk with companions, you pick new ones on the way and get to know the more that there is to the world. Imagine what a country like Iceland has in store for you. You can go to the places you never would go before and indulge in things that are outside of your comfort zone. Given how safe it is to travel solo in Iceland, it is probably one of the best places to start if you have never traveled alone before. You will be amazed by the experience that you will have, the independence, the thrill and, the sense of freedom that solo traveling brings. Go beyond!

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