Solo Travel In Iceland
A common question when it comes to Iceland is: “Does the country suit solo travellers? “
The short answer is “absolutely”. Iceland, famously, has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. It is also a relatively small country with a strong infrastructure. And it is a feminist one, making it especially popular with female solo travellers. Also, Iceland is a friendly country – a chilly climate with a warm welcome – and a great night out is never far away!
Additionally, there’s a lot to see and do in Iceland, and solo trekkers enjoy mobility and versatility that groups sometimes don’t have: You are the only one to consult when choosing what to do, making a last-minute change or deciding how long to stay somewhere.
Apart from the practical considerations, the country’s natural beauty makes it attractive to lone travellers: There’s nowhere better for quiet contemplation than under the Northern Lights, in a hot spring or while taking in a breath-taking view. And thrill-seekers will love the adventurous side of Iceland, whether that means scuba diving, whale watching or conquering glaciers and volcanoes.
Here are some practical hints and tips to consider before you strap on that backpack…
Tell People Where You are Going
Perhaps the biggest danger facing a solo traveller is the risk of getting lost. If you take a wrong turn on a mountain trail or in one of Iceland’s vast national parks, you’ll be glad you told someone your plans and when you’d get back. This could be someone like an employee in the hostel or a new friend you’ve made on your travels.
Take the Usual Precautions
Yes, Iceland has extremely low crime rates: Street harassment is much lower than in other countries and most of the police don’t even need to carry guns.
But that doesn’t mean crime is totally non-existent: Keep an eye on your possessions, lock your car and be as street-smart as you would be at home.
Keep Track of the Weather (and Daylight!)
Icelandic weather is nothing if not unique: While this leads to some incredible scenery and beautiful seasons, it can also make solo travel challenging and even dangerous if you’re unprepared.
Self-drive tours in Iceland are common, and a terrific way to get around the small country. So, before you set out, it’s a good idea to check road conditions for the duration of your trip: The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has daily updates on driving conditions throughout the country. The Iceland Meteorological Office has an even more elaborate page. And both sites have English language options, so you should be able to get the information you need easily enough.
Also, as you might know, Arctic daylight hours follow very different rules from the rest of the world! If you venture out in winter you might soon find yourself in complete darkness, as the country can get as few as four hours’ worth of daylight at that time of year. This is less of a concern in cities, which tend to be well illuminated, but the more remote regions can get very dark, and for a long time.
Mix it up with some Group Tours
While you might enjoy the travel for the independence and introspection that it offers, going alone is (ironically) a great way to make new friends: You’re more likely to strike up conversations with strangers if you’re going solo, so it’s a great chance to get out of your comfort zone.
You might welcome the chance to connect with new people and share some of these once in a lifetime experiences. Group tours, even if they’re only for a day, are a nice way to meet people with common interests.
Hostels and Campsites are Good Places to Make Friends
If you’d like to meet people on your solo travels, Iceland’s many hostels and campsites are a good option: Social activities (both spontaneous and organised) are frequent – you’ll meet fellow travellers (and maybe some locals), and some will even be solo trekkers like you.
Prepare for Independence
In group, family or couples’ trips, different people play different roles: Some are good at travel admin and logistics; others might have a gift for dealing with the locals while another in the gang might be the one with a driving license!
If there’s something that you usually depend on others for – map-reading, good packing, accommodation booking, camping, research, etc. – now is the time for you to get good at it! Before your trip, have a think about everything you’d like to do and how you’d do it, especially if there’s something practical that you’re doing on your own for the first time.
Push Your Boundaries
As mentioned earlier, Iceland is a safe, well-worn trail for travellers, solo and otherwise. So, it’s the perfect place to push yourself a little. This might mean climbing to a peak of an intimidating mountain, braving the outdoors for longer than you might have done before, or pushing yourself socially by being the new guy or girl in a group. Solo travel is character and confidence building, and you may not always have the freedom to do it, so give it a go!
Solo travelling in Iceland is a profound and fun experience. It is little wonder that many of our visitors every year are arriving without friends, partners or family. We look forward to seeing you!
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