So you’ve decided that this is the year that you’re going to travel even if it means you’re going it alone. Your best friend, sister, partner, cousin, and that guy you kind of remember from junior high gym class are all too busy to join you. So what’s a girl to do if she wants an adventure but wants to feel secure in her decision while still adding an element of adventure?
Head to Iceland!
First off, Iceland is stunning. At some point, you will have seen so many waterfalls in one day that you will stop pulling over to take pictures of them. It seems that around every curve and bend in Iceland there’s a new mind blowing view specifically designed by nature’s hand to completely knock your socks off.
It’s also incredibly safe, the infrastructure is great, it’s clean, it’s easy to get around, and most importantly, it’s a little wonderland of adventures!
If you’re traveling solo for the first time, Iceland truly is the perfect choice; here are 6 more reasons why:
It’s a popular place
Heading off the beaten path and being one with nature is a wonderfully freeing experience, though as a solo traveler it can feel like it comes at the cost of being alone a lot. Thankfully in Iceland you can get the best of both worlds.
With such cheap flights from within Europe and the US available through WOW air, plus the growing popularity of Iceland as a stopover or destination in and of itself, you won’t have to be alone. In the last 5 years, tourism to Iceland has more than doubled.
That said, you don’t have to head too far if you do want some solitude. Half the time that I was in Iceland I was at popular spots like the Goðafoss waterfall where there were plenty of people around, and half the time I saw almost no other people, like at Ásbyrgi canyon.
Pro tip: Give yourself enough time to stay in the capital, Reykjavík, for a few days and chances are good you’ll be able to meet others who will join you for part or maybe all of your trip if you want to share the journey.
It’s the safest country in the world
I couldn’t believe it when I pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store outside of Reykjavík and saw someone get out of his car, leave the key in the ignition, and go in to do his grocery shopping. That’s how much people trust each other in Iceland. Even minor crimes make major headlines there because they just don’t happen very often.
According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, Iceland is the safest country in the world with a low violent crime rate, a low theft rate, and a high standard of living with a responsive police force. In other words, you’re statistically safer in Iceland than you are at home.
The Blue Lagoon
The locals are friendly and speak English quite well
If you’re traveling alone for the first time, the idea of being lost without any ability to communicate can be pretty terrifying. Thankfully, English is very widely spoken in Iceland. I came across plenty of locals who could’ve easily passed for a North American with their flawless accents.
I also found that the locals to be friendly, which always makes for a more pleasant solo traveling experience.
It’s easy to navigate
Most of the main attractions that visitors to Iceland will want to see are off of a road that goes in a circle, either the golden circle day trip outside of Reykjavik or the ring road, which more or less takes you around the circumference of the island.
The roads are well-maintained, there are plenty of places to pull off and take photos, and they are well-marked, too. so even if you don’t have someone riding shotgun giving you directions, you’ll be able to find your way.
Iceland was made for road trips.
It’s simple to stay connected
If you are traveling by yourself for the first time the idea of being stuck in a desolate place without any type of connection or method of reaching people might sound downright terrifying.
I was a little bit worried about connectivity in Iceland and was shocked, shocked!, at how often I had a solid 3G connection with Vodafone there, and for only €15 for 3 gigabytes!
Seriously, I remember being in the middle of the Highlands on a road only for 4 x 4 vehicles that took hours to reach and was absolutely shocked to find that I still had full 3G. I took solace in the fact that should anything go wrong, I’d be able to call for help. I suggest picking up a SIM card at any Vodafone shop in Reykjavík before heading out of town on your adventure.
It’s the perfect spot to test out your adventurous streak
If you’ve never really thought of yourself as adventurous or outdoorsy, Iceland is the perfect place to test the waters and try something new. You can search for the northern lights, horseback ride on those famous Icelandic ponies, go for a hike in any one of the famous canyons or in the Highlands, SCUBA dive between two tectonic plates, explore ice caves, take a helicopter around the active volcanoes, and the list goes on.
It’s almost impossible to be bored in Iceland, plus, the healthcare is great, everything is well organized, and the activities are fabulous. They are also a great way to meet others!
The Northern Lights in Iceland
Those are a few of my reasons why Iceland is the perfect spot for first-time solo female travelers, though I could probably talk your ear off for a week about why I love Iceland so much, if you let me.
If you do go, be forewarned that it will be hard to top the amazingness of Iceland for your following trips, but it’s well worth the risk to be able to see the northern lights, magical waterfalls with basalt columns, and bubbling blue water with geysers springing up. It seriously looks like another planet, and that’s part of what makes a trip there feel so life changing.
Have you been to Iceland? Do you travel solo? Any tips to share?
Kristin Addis is a solo female travel expert who inspires women to travel the world in an authentic and adventurous way, she even wrote the book on the topic – Conquering Mountains: How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly. A former investment banker who sold all of her belongings and left California in 2012, Kristin has solo traveled the world for over four years, covering every continent (except for Antarctica, but it’s on her list). You can find more of her musings at Be My Travel Muse or on Instagram and Facebook.