Learn how easy and safe it is to travel solo in Iceland. | Icelandair
Pingdom Check
11/02/2023 | 3:00 PM

Iceland: The perfect place for solo travel

2023 has been the year of the solo traveler, and this doesn’t look set to change as we head into 2024. Embracing some alone time on a solo trip has never been so popular.

The rise of solo travel

The BBC reports that the number of people Googling "solo travel" has almost doubled compared to five years ago, and #solotravel on TikTok has seen an almost tenfold increase in the last three years.

Pre-pandemic data from Booking.com saw that 14% of travelers were planning a trip on their own, while nearly double (23%) now say they'll be planning a solo trip in the future.

It's not just young or single people booking solo trips either, with 45–54-year-olds accounting for a third of solo travelers according to Staysure, and 29% of people saying they would leave their partners and families at home as they seek to boost their self-confidence, and experience more freedom and adventure.

Why Iceland?

Beyond being a safe and relatively easy destination, there are countless more reasons why Iceland should be on a bucket list, at any time of year. The country's magnificent landscapes are a magnet for all kinds of travelers. The northern lights, midnight sun, thermal pools, whale watching, and the buzzing cultural life of Reykjavík are just a few more reasons why an Iceland getaway is a great idea.

So, whether you’re a first-time solo traveler or an experienced go-it-alone explorer, where better to travel than to Iceland?

Below we've explored some of the most common questions around solo travel in Iceland. Come see for yourself just how liberating a solo trip is!

Is solo travel in Iceland safe?

Yes. Iceland ranks top of the list of the world’s safest countries – and it’s held that top position since 2008.

Every year, the Global Peace Index is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a global think-tank, and is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness.

The Global Peace Index is calculated using indicators from highly respected sources, and it measures the state of peace across three domains, including societal safety and security (assessing the level of harmony or discord within a nation); whether a country is involved in internal and external conflicts; and the degree of militarisation.

Is Iceland safe for solo female and non-binary travelers?

Yes. We understand that safety is often a greater concern for female travelers and non-binary people. We hope that Iceland’s ranking as the safest country in the world gives you some peace of mind.

Other statistics point to a similar theme. Iceland scored position number 4 in the 2023 edition of the global Women Peace and Security Index, which ranks 177 countries in terms of women’s inclusion, justice, and security.

Equality, diversity and inclusion are hallmarks of Icelandic society. The country is recognised as one of the leading LGBTQ+-friendly places in the world.

You can travel to Iceland confident that you'll likely be free from the nuisances and harassment you might meet when traveling solo in some parts of the world.

Is it easy to travel solo in Iceland?

Yes! Close to 100% of Icelanders speak English (for the English-speaking among us). Other foreign languages frequently studied include Danish, German, Spanish and French.

The country is well set up for travel, hosting an increasing number of international visitors.

Combine the low rates of crime with high levels of security, plus a small and friendly English-speaking population, and traveling solo in Iceland is as stress-free as possible.

How do I get around while traveling solo in Iceland?

Hiring a car and driving is one of the best ways to experience Iceland – the country has road-tripping scenery that’s out of this world. But car hire and fuel costs can add up if there’s no-one to share the expense.

You might consider other options for getting around, such as hiring a campervan to combine the costs of transport and accommodation. Or hire a car and bring (or rent) camping equipment, to help bring costs down.

Joining tours is another way to travel around the country. You can opt for a multi-day tour, or you can base yourself in a larger city (such as Reykjavík, or Akureyri in North Iceland) and take day trips from there. There are dozens of amazing choices, from a day chasing the waterfalls of the south coast to snowmobiling on a glacier, horseback riding through a lava field, or bathing in a lagoon under the northern lights.

Other options include taking the bus. Iceland's bus system is not especially easy to build a trip around but it's possible to get to many of the highlights, especially if you have plenty of time. Check out the route map and timetables to see what's viable. In summer, there are also buses that visit the highland areas that are particularly beloved by hikers.

Another option is car-pooling via a ride-sharing website, popular among locals and travelers. You can post that you’re looking for a ride, or that you're driving and looking for passengers to share the costs.

How expensive is it to travel solo in Iceland?

We know Iceland has a reputation for being an expensive place to travel, solo or not. But: It doesn’t have to be! The stunning nature and hiking trails are free. The gorgeous landscapes are ubiquitous.

You’ve probably heard about the array of fancy lagoons that make great use of Iceland’s geothermal water, but there are hundreds of public swimming pools all over the country that are an economical way to tap into the local scene.

Buying groceries and cooking for yourself while staying in camping grounds or hostels is another cost-effective way to travel, with the bonus of being great for meeting fellow travelers.

Check our blog on free and cheap things to do in Reykjavík for other ideas.

When is the best time to travel solo to Iceland?

There’s no real best time to come – just the best time that suits you.

Summer with its midnight sun, festivals, and puffin visitors is a great time to visit, but it's also the busiest tourist season and popular with families.

Winter has plenty to recommend it – northern lights, especially, but also ice caves and glacier hikes, followed by warming up in cozy cafes and hot pools.

To help make the decision on when to travel, check our article outlining the best things about traveling in Iceland in every season.

Is it easy to meet people while traveling solo in Iceland?

You may be looking to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the solitude – and Iceland has plenty of space for that. However, if you want to meet locals, you can! We’re a friendly bunch. It's easy enough to join the locals in the swimming pools, or in cafes and bars.

There are plenty of ways to meet fellow travelers, too. There are benefits to booking onto tours and excursions, including the comfort of being in a group if you’re a bit nervous about being alone, meeting other solo travelers, or simply exploring the sights with knowledge and insights from a local expert.

Alternatively, if you simply want to meet other solo travelers, there are apps such as Backpackr where you can connect with people who want to see and do the same things as you.

Camping in summer is a good option for socializing, and there's a Hostelling International network of 18 hostels across the country, plus plenty of independent hotels and guesthouses that generally list their availability on sites like Booking.com. You can often get a budget-priced dorm room or small private room, and many such places have a shared kitchen and dining area. It's always fun to swap stories and tips with other travelers at the end of the day.

In Reykjavík, especially, there are bars with happy hours, events, quiz nights, live music, and all the rest. Browse hostel noticeboards and Facebook Events for stuff that grabs your fancy, and check the listings of the Reykjavik Grapevine.