A Solo Traveller's Guide to Iceland

Joel Rabinowitz

From hiking across frozen glaciers to hunting for the Northern Lights to soaking in geothermal springs, Iceland boasts a dazzling array of natural wonders to enjoy. It also consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world, making it an ideal destination for an unforgettable solo adventure.

What’s the vibe?

As well as majestic landscapes galore, Iceland is home to a proud culinary culture. Expect lots of fresh seafood, hearty lamb stews, delicious pastries and a thriving craft-beer scene. You’ll always feel welcome too – Icelandic people are famously friendly.

The towering Skogar waterfall is a must-visit in southwest Iceland

Safety

Travelling solo in Iceland is extremely safe – it has been ranked the world’s safest country for the past 13 years in a row, as measured by the Global Peace Index – an indicator that takes into account factors such as domestic crime rates, political stability, social security and militarisation. It’s so safe, in fact, that Icelandic police don’t regularly carry firearms.

Reykjavik is also one of the safest cities in the world, and you’re highly unlikely to encounter any problems while you’re there. However, it’s best to avoid walking alone late at night in the downtown area, especially at weekends – and always stick to well-lit streets where possible.

Sleep

1. Loft Hostel, Reykjavik

Hostel

Loft Hostel interior dining area and lounge in hip, industrial style with wood flooring in Reykjavik
Courtesy of Loft Hostel / Expedia

Need a budget-friendly place to stay in the capital? Loft Hostel, just a few steps away from Reykjavik’s liveliest street, Laugavegur, offers a variety of sleeping options, including beds in mixed or female dormitories or private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. The funky lounge bar, roof terrace and communal kitchen are ideal for meeting fellow travellers.

2. Fossatun Camping Pods, West Iceland

Camping

A pod in wood construction at Fossatún Camping Pods & Cottages
Courtesy of Fossatún Camping Pods & Cottages / Expedia

These cosy wooden camping pods are the perfect base to unwind and reconnect with nature – easily reachable from Reykjavik and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. You’ll have access to shared bathroom and kitchen facilities, plus a barbecue area and hot tubs. There’s also a restaurant serving excellent burgers and other comfort food, with an extensive vinyl collection to provide your mealtime soundtrack.

3. Hotel Husafell, Central Highlands

Eco Hotel, Hotel, Luxury

Chic lobby at Hotel Husafell with volcanic rock artwork, tile floors and floor to ceiling windows with a view of hills outside
Courtesy of Hotel Husafell / Expedia

This eco-luxury resort on the edge of Iceland’s central highlands interior is powered solely by renewable energy. The sleek Nordic decor pairs perfectly with views of the Langjökull glacier, while the gourmet restaurant serves innovative dishes made using local ingredients. With minimal light pollution, it’s a prime spot to view the Northern Lights – which you can do while soaking in geothermal pools.

You’ll spend a night at Hotel Husafell as part of Culture Trip’s exclusive five-day Iceland trip.

Eat and Drink

4. Flatey Pizza, Reykjavik

Pizzeria, Italian

This concrete-chic delight near Reykjavik’s Old Harbour serves some of the best pizzas you’ll find outside Italy. Sourdough bases are blasted for one minute at 500C (932F) for a light texture and topped with rich tomato sauce. As well as classic toppings, expect alternative options such as Icelandic potato and truffle oil. Even better – there’s no need to book.

5. Hlemmur Mathöll, Reykjavik

Market, Fusion

Hlemmur square in Reykjavik on a grey day
© Konrad Zelazowski / Alamy Stock Photo

From authentic Vietnamese street food to experimental twists on traditional Icelandic cuisine, this food hall – in an old bus terminal in downtown Reykjavik – is a must-visit. Follow up tempura cod tacos at Fuego with herb-infused cocktails at Skál – a combo the locals swear by. It’s a compact, intimate setting, with shared tables, so you’ll feel at ease dining solo.

6. Fjöruborðið, Stokkseyri

Bistro, Icelandic

If you’re following the Ring Road around Iceland, you’ll pass the small fishing village of Höfn on the southeast coast – and this family-run Nordic bistro, in a converted timber house, is well worth seeking out. It specialises in fresh, seasonal Icelandic dishes put together with locally sourced ingredients – think grilled salmon, langoustine soup, smoked cod and homemade bread.

Do

Snowmobile across a glacier

There’s no more exhilarating way to take in Iceland’s serene landscapes than by zipping across a glacier on a snowmobile, surrounded by otherworldly lava fields. Vatnajökull (Europe’s largest glacier) and Mýrdalsjökull (featured in the Netflix sci-fi drama, Katla) can both be easily incorporated into a Ring Road trip, while plenty of tour operators offer day excursions from Reykjavik to Langjökull.

A glacier snowmobile tour is just one of many thrilling activities you’ll get to try out on Culture Trip’s five-day Iceland adventure, led by our Local Insider.

Skidoo trips on the Langjokull ice sheet make for a thrilling excursion

Soak in geothermal pools

No solo Iceland trip is complete without visiting a geothermal pool. They offer a whole range of health benefits, not least for soothing sore limbs, and a great environment to get chatting with other travellers against an epic backdrop. The Blue Lagoon, Myvatn Nature Baths and Sky Lagoon are all very popular; if you’d prefer a quieter spot, consider Hrunalaug, Landbrotalaug or Hveravellir.

Chase the Northern Lights

If you’re visiting Iceland between late August and early April, keep your eyes peeled for the Northern Lights. Observing this spectacular phenomenon is dependent on solar activity and clear skies, but in winter they’re visible multiple times a week. Join a dedicated aurora-hunting tour to a dark sky area, with minimal light pollution, to maximise your chances.

Hornafjorour, in eastern Iceland, is a good bet for witnessing the Northern Lights

Getting around

Iceland’s towns and cities are easily explored on foot, but to get around the rest of the island, your best option is to hire your own vehicle. The Ring Road circles the entire country, with plenty of smaller roads branching off – although closures are common in winter. Buses are a reliable budget alternative, but provide less flexibility. There are also daily domestic flights from Reykjavik City Airport to numerous destinations.

Solo travel doesn’t have to be a lonesome affair. Join Culture Trip’s five-day Iceland adventure for the chance to experience Iceland’s epic landscapes and activities as part of a small group of travellers who are as culturally curious as you are.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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