Traveling to Iceland is the ultimate solo travel experience – one that’s fused with bold immersion into the wilds and a harmonious connection with nature. The country’s incredible wonders have increasingly been drawing travelers off of the mainlands of Europe. Visit for yourself and it’ll be clear why.
This island destination features soothing hot springs, majestic wild horses and waterfalls adorned with rainbows. There are so many elements that enhance the appeal of this stunning volcanic island just south of the Arctic Circle.
Here’s why you should go travel solo in Iceland, and what you need to know about it.
Iceland offers a warm welcome for a cool climate
Like in any destination, it’s the people that make the place. Despite Iceland’s cooler climate, locals will give you a warm welcome. Why? According to some estimates, the country is actually the world’s friendliest!
If you’re lucky the locals might even share mystical folk and fairytale stories with you. And if you’re more up for meeting fellow travellers abroad then consider visiting during peak months (mid June through August). Prices will be more inflated, but the social opportunities are endless.
You’ll also find comfort in that nearly all native Icelanders speak English. This comes in handy when you need directions to that off-the-beaten path lookout point you’ve set sights on. And it eliminates a cultural barrier when you end up in town at night, mingling with locals over Brennivin. (The locally distilled Shnapps is Iceland’s signature liquor.)
The locals love to gather for a communal beverage, especially in major cities like Reykjavik, the capital. All in all, you’ll have no problem seeking out drinking companions – especially if you head to hostel or hotel bars.
Solo? Don’t worry: Iceland puts travelers safety over scams
To add to the allure of the atmosphere, this lone island has an incredibly low crime rate. It’s tight-knit community means if you’re traveling solo in Iceland you can feel safe in knowing that people are always looking out for one and other. Maybe pin it to Icelanders’ priding themselves on egalitarianism but this equal opportunity mindset also means low unemployment. The feeling extends to the community where everyone feels they count.
When you think of solo travel you may assume you’re prey for travel scams. Well, they are virtually unheard of in Iceland. So even though you don’t have a close pal to lean on, you’ll be a-okay! The only drama comes from the lingering twilight during December to March. (Though Iceland in winter is a joy to behold; here are 7 reasons why!)
A bonus point in terms of safety is Iceland’s accessible Wi-Fi and surprisingly great phone reception, even in northernmost areas. So you can travel solo in Iceland with confidence that there’s a cushion to fall back on — even when you crave that isolation from Iceland’s main cities and decide to go your own way.
Seamless navigation for travelers
Thanks to Iceland’s Ring Road (which connects most of the major spots), navigating must-sees can be planned seamlessly and still leaves room for off-pisting (cover the circumference of the island on this 10-day Intrepid trip). The Ring Road encircles the island and is well-maintained, with plenty of scenic spots to stop over on the sometimes-long bus rides, as you progress on the route of the ‘Golden Circle’ towards Þingvellir National Park.
The bus rides are the perfect opportunity to reflect on your journey. You can journal, stare out the window and watch the landscapes whiz by (one of the many reasons why slow travel rocks) or catch up on sleep. A cosy bus ride is a chance for solo extrovert travelers to mingle with other travelers or local Icelanders on their routine route.
The open road is accompanied by important signage to point out the impressive wildlife to keep an eye out for. When it comes to safety, the signs will also let you know not to go beyond a marker and also help as to not intrude on the natural beauty. And when there aren’t signs laid out, you’ll find that euphoric satisfaction of having found an unmarked gem. Bonus!
Safetravel.is is a fantastic site for safety advice, particularly when it comes to road conditions.
Icelands isolated charm is perfect for solo travelers
The island’s isolated charm is the perfect setting to give your mind and body a break and let the landscape do the talking. There’s an abundance of activities in Iceland that are perfect for the solo traveler to unwind. Sit back in hot springs nestled on the coast of Vatnsfjörður fjord or in the hidden valley below Eyjafjallajökull volcano.
Iceland has pioneered its geothermal energy to give the ultimate benefits thanks to its advantageous proximity to volcanoes. So, whether you indulge in hot springs alone or in the company of new friends on a group tour, the health benefits and zen-like feels are equal parts convenient and there to be enjoyed.
The otherworldly landscape is also so awe-inspiring. Sometimes no words need to be exchanged, nor do you want to avert your attention anywhere else. Picture waterfalls plunging into the depths of massive gaps in the earth’s thick layers and wandering the lava sands of Reynisfjara beach (see our top picks are here). Steeping yourself in Iceland’s orchestra of natural elements is the ideal solo travel venture.
Solo travelers are adventure magnets
Coupled with its ability to help travelers unwind, Iceland also intensely fuels the soloists chase for adventure. In the land where fire and ice co-exist, there’s never a dull moment. When flying solo there are endless opportunities to pair with fellow explorers. Even river rafting in Gullfoss Canyon you can join other like-minded travelers or be paired up with locals.
If your adventures take you to Látrabjarg, Iceland’s westernmost tip, your discreet presence is perfect to observe puffins when they come to shore to breed.
Now it’s not always an exertion of your physical adventures. Iceland breeds experiences that will make your heart race just on first sight. Stay awake and be in the company of the glowing Northern Lights across the night sky. Appreciate that you decided to embark on this wilderness escape.
The magical light show is merely a piece of what Iceland has offered you as a solo traveler.
Ready to explore Iceland? Check out Intrepid’s range of awe-inspiring small group adventures.
(Image credits from top to bottom: Michael Sadowski, Intrepid Travel, Intrepid Travel, Iryna K, Intrepid Travel.)