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BlogTravel tipsHow to travel solo in Iceland on a guided tour
skogafoss waterfall cascading down into the river in iceland
Travel tips

How to travel solo in Iceland on a guided tour

Dec 01, 2022 by Lindsay Day

With its otherworldly landscapes and array of cultural offerings, Iceland tops the wish lists of many travelers who want to share their adventures with friends and family members. But if you’re among the increasing number of travelers who are opting to explore on their own, you might be wondering, “Is Iceland safe for solo travel?” Well, thanks to the island nation’s walkable cities and welcoming locals, and its citizens’ penchant for peaceful living, Iceland is one of the best places to travel by yourself.

If the thought of figuring out how to travel alone in Iceland feels daunting, don’t worry. Our guided tours of Iceland make it easy to explore the country, and to make new friends along the way. Keep reading to learn about the epic solo trip to Iceland traveler AJ enjoyed on one of our guided tours.

4 reasons why you should consider a solo trip to Iceland on a guided tour

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1. You can absorb Iceland’s culture without having to figure everything out yourself

Whether you’re looking for ways to spend free time in Reykjavik or need help deciphering the local language, when you take a solo trip to Iceland on one of our guided tours, you’ll travel in the company of an expert Tour Director who can help you sort everything out. “Our Tour Director was very kind, knowledgeable, and helpful,” said traveler AJ, who chose our Iceland: Reykjavik & the Northern Lights tour not just for his first solo trip, but his first-ever trip outside the United States. “She was there to help all of us with recommendations for activities, restaurants, and any other questions we had during our tour. Having someone on the trip that knows the area and customs helps take the worry out of the trip.”

2. You can spend time relishing the beauty of Iceland’s natural attractions—not worrying about how to get from one of them to the next

From moody black-sand beaches to ghostly blue glacial lagoons, natural wonders await around every turn in Iceland. If you plan a trip to Iceland on your own, you’ll need to figure out which ones can’t be missed, and how to get from one to the next. Those logistics might include renting a car, planning a driving route, and knowing how much time to spend exploring each spot. For those traveling to Iceland alone, it can all feel overwhelming. If you want to experience solo travel to Iceland without facing those uncertainties, our guided Iceland tours offer the best of both worlds. We’ll take care of every last logistical detail so you can enjoy your Iceland solo travel experience to the absolute fullest.

northern lights

3. We take the guesswork out of seeing the northern lights

If you’re thinking of going to Iceland alone to see the northern lights, then you might already know that spotting them can be tricky. Seeing them depends on the time of year, the time of night, weather conditions, and finding a just-right viewing spot that’s far removed from city lights. Although they can never guarantee a sighting, our expert Tour Directors in Iceland know where and when to look for them.

“It was a great time because, even though we didn’t see them, we all had fun on the bus,” said traveler AJ of searching for the northern lights on our Iceland: Reykjavik & the Northern Lights tour. “The guided, group tour made it easier for everyone because we didn’t know the best way to find the best viewing spots, and it was no hassle to us on the tour. It was simple and easy, and I appreciated that.”

Learn more about the northern lights, including how to see them on our tours

Of course, when you opt to enjoy solo travel to Iceland on a guided tour, we’ll make sure you experience the country’s highlights, from soaking in the Blue Lagoon to watching waves crash on the black-sand shores of Reynisfjara beach. But we’ll make sure your Iceland solo travel experience includes off-the-beaten-path pleasures, too. Think: exploring a state-of-the-art, geothermal greenhouse and warming up with a bowl of soup made from tomatoes grown on site. Or, for travelers on our Iceland: The Golden Circle & Ring Road tour, spotting wildlife while cruising through the country’s remote, eastern fjords.

4 places to visit in Iceland as a solo traveler

Reykjavik

1. Downtown Reykjavik

If you’re wondering how to travel solo in Iceland, exploring the country’s vibrant capital city is a good place to start. Reykjavik’s pedestrian-friendly downtown district is home to a picturesque stretch of waterfront, dozens of cultural sites, and too many cozy restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and coffee bars to count. Reykjavik’s residents also welcome travelers of all stripes, a collective mindset that makes it one of the best places for solo travel—male, female, LGBTQIA+, or otherwise.

No Iceland solo travel experience would be complete without exploring Reykjavik’s many food halls. One popular pick: Hlemmur Mathöll, the city’s first food hall, which is set in a former bus station. Why add these culinary hubs to your Iceland solo travel itinerary? Each is home to dozens of food-and-drink stalls, which means you can sample a little bit of everything during a single visit. Plus, bar and communal-style seating options make striking up conversations with other patrons pretty easy.

To find a souvenir that’s truly representative of Icelandic culture and style when you travel to Reykjavik, stop by the Icelandic Handknitting Association’s shop, as traveler AJ did on his Iceland solo travel adventure. “It was a highlight,” he said of the store, which carries sweaters and accessories knit by locals from Icelandic wool. “I’m really glad to have a nice, warm sweater that was made in Iceland. My mother really likes hers, too.”

For solo travelers who want to explore Reykjavik’s nightlife, AJ recommends Magic Ice, a sub-zero bar and ice-art gallery. “It was a really cool and unique experience,” he said. “Everything is made of ice, and the drinks, which are served in an ice cone, are very good.”

Find out why Reykjavik is one of our top Christmas destinations that’ll make you feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie

2. The Blue Lagoon

Joining our guided tours means not having to figure out how to travel alone in Iceland. And, for travelers who visit Reykjavik on our guided tours of Iceland, it also means having the option to soak in the milky blue waters of the Blue Lagoon—a highlight for AJ. “I loved being outside, but still warm in the water,” he said of his visit. “I could’ve spent all day there.” Take to the mineral-rich, thermal waters alongside your tour mates, or claim a quiet corner, smear some chalk-white silica on your skin, and enjoy your soak in relaxing solitude. Whether you soak with new friends or on your own, as a solo traveler, how you enjoy the Blue Lagoon is entirely up to you.

In fact, that’s a philosophy AJ embraced throughout his entire Iceland solo travel experience. “It was nice making new friends during the trip and getting to know others that share similar interests as you, but you don’t have to,” he said. “There are lots of times where you get to explore on your own, or with others. How social you want to be is up to you, but you won’t be bored.”

Harpa Concert Hall iceland

3. Harpa Concert Hall

Although it’s located in downtown Reykjavik, this striking structure on the city’s waterfront is worthy of its own spot on our list of places that Iceland solo travelers should visit. If you’re an architecture, design, or photography enthusiast and you plan to visit Reykjavik, you can while away hours by wandering Harpa’s floors and hallways and admiring its glass facade. If you’re searching for artful souvenirs, you can find plenty in Harpa’s well-curated gift shop. (You might not have had to figure out how to travel alone in Iceland, but you might just have to figure out how to fit your stylish, new keepsakes in your suitcase.) And if you’re a music buff, you can buy a ticket for a live performance and enjoy a show alongside locals.

4. Hraunfossar waterfall

Located northeast of Reykjavik, this series of waterfalls cascades over a ledge of lava rock. It was also a favorite for traveler AJ, who visited while traveling to Iceland alone on our Iceland: Reykjavik & the Northern Lights tour. “Hraunfossar was my favorite waterfall we went to,” he said. “I loved that we had the area to walk around and explore on our own.”

4 of the best bites to try in Iceland

iceland fish

1. Fish and chips—and all the fresh seafood

When it comes to food and solo travel, Iceland delivers a one-two punch. That’s because the island nation offers lots of fresh, locally sourced fish and seafood, and it’s home to plenty of casual restaurants, food halls, and cafes where solo travelers can try it all. Keep an eye out for Icelandic-style fish and chips (a combo of spelt-flour batter and rapeseed oil results in a tempura-like texture), salmon soup, and succulent Icelandic langoustine. “The food was amazing—very fresh and natural tasting,” said solo traveler AJ of dining in Iceland.

2. Baked goods

Bread and pastries might not be obvious standouts of Icelandic cuisine, but trust us when we say that Reykjavik’s bakeries are abundant, and some of the best we’ve tried. Traveler AJ agrees. “Brauð & Co., in Reykjavik, was one of the last places I went to before I left, and it was the highlight of my food experience there,” he said of the popular bakery with six locations in the city. “I recommend trying as much as possible while you’re there. Do not skip out on anything!” Whether you order a chewy, spiral-shaped cinnamon roll, a monstrous croissant covered in crunchy, slivered almonds and powdered sugar, or an entire loaf of warm, crusty sourdough, you can’t go wrong.

3. Skyr

Some describe this popular Icelandic food as a marriage between yogurt and cottage cheese. To enjoy skyr like a local, try it on its own or with tart berry jam.

iceland hotdog stall

4. Hot dogs

Hot dogs are all the rage in Reykjavik, especially when they come from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, a nearly 100-year-old chain with seven locations around the city. But these aren’t just any old franks. Here, they’re made with beef, lamb, and pork, a combination that elevates them to a status beyond basic ballpark fare. Ordering yours eina með öllu, or with everything, will get you a dog piled high with raw and fried onions, sweet brown mustard, and tangy remoulade.

Learn more about what to eat in Iceland

Check out these Iceland tours

3 tips for traveling solo to Iceland

view of iceland

1. Go guided

Before choosing solo travel to Iceland, AJ had never been outside the United States. So, he joined our Iceland: Reykjavik & the Northern Lights tour. “I had some reservations about traveling solo out of the country, but booking through Go Ahead put those to rest,” he said. “With all the guided tours and traveling with the same group of people, it made the trip less stressful, and it took the worry out of getting around and where to eat—things of that nature. Booking through Go Ahead was very simple and made being in a new country a lot easier.”

2. Don’t worry about taking out cash

“Aside from tipping your bus driver, guides, and Tour Director, there’s really no need for cash,” said AJ of traveling in Iceland. “Credit and debit cards are accepted for just about everything.”

3. Be open to expanding your circle of friends

Is Iceland a good place to travel solo? For traveler AJ, the answer is a resounding yes. That’s thanks in part to the new friends he made along the way. “I was happy to meet all the people on the trip, and I hope to possibly run into them again on another trip,” he said. “I was happy with how inviting and inclusive my group was.”

Want to know how to travel solo in Iceland on a trip that’s just right for you? Check out our Iceland tours


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About the author | Lindsay Day
A devoted aisle seat-sitter, Lindsay first traveled overseas—to Italy and Greece—with EF as a high school sophomore. Since then, she’s visited nearly 60 countries on six continents (one of these days, Antarctica!). When she’s not in the office (or on the road), she’s probably cooking up a new plant-based recipe or biking on a local rail trail.

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