Iceland is Perfect for First Time Solo Travelers
May 26, 2018 / By Nate Wisan
I was 23 the first time I traveled overseas by myself. Even then, I was meeting up with my girlfriend who was studying abroad. My first truly solo trip—6 weeks backpacking through Europe—didn’t occur for another 9 years.
Looking back on my travels I should have started traveling by myself much sooner! Of all the countries I’ve now been to, Iceland provides the perfect destination for first time solo travelers.
Airfare is often the single most expensive part of any overseas travel. Not so with Iceland since wowairlines.com started flying to Iceland for as little as $99 each way. The price changes bases on your departure city and how much luggage you choose to bring, but for less than $300 round trip, seeing the snowy island just became much cheaper. Lodging is also quite inexpensive, if you stick with Airbnb and hostels. More on lodging in a second.
Iceland almost seems to be designed for tourists. The Keflavik Airport is modern and inviting. Numerous buses and taxis make the 45-minute commute from the airport into the heart of Reykjavik many time a day. Roughly 98% of the hospitality industry in Iceland speak English, and everyone seems to be polite and hospitable. Add the fact that it only takes 9 hours to fly there from the U.S. West Coast, and less than six hours from the U.S. East Coast, and you’ve got a prime European destination easily reachable within one day of travel.
Not to mention it is very European. You may be familiar with Iceland as the nature backdrop for Game of Thrones. The truth though, is that the country is far more modern and urban then one might think. In fact, 60% of the country subscribes to Netflix. That doesn’t mean there are not hundreds of miles of pristine landscape to explore, simply that you have a wonderful mixture of urban and natural.
Lodging: Hostels and Airbnb
Lodging in Iceland is quite inexpensive if you stick to the capital, Reykjavik. Roughly 60% of the country’s population lives within the city’s limits, which means there are plenty of Airbnb and hostel options to choose between. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $40 USD a night for either Airbnb or hostels. But if this is your first adventure with solo traveling, skip Airbnb and opt for the hostel experience. Hostels equal roommates, potential friends, and the employees will be able to direct you toward the best nightlife, restaurants, and shopping.
Speaking of shopping, Reykjavik, Iceland has everything one could ask for. Small local boutiques line the streets, major brands like 66 Degrees have flagship stores aplenty, and the weekend indoor markets offer the bold traveler a sample of fermented Greenland shark, Mink Whale, or a hand spun wool sweater. If shopping is your therapy, you’ll be happy traveler.
Iceland is known for unique and tantalizing cuisine, as well as the occasionally strange food item. Your taste buds will explode when you have seared Mink Whale, try Puffin (it has a deep and Smokey taste), explore the thousand varieties of lamb stew, and taste the traditional, yet putrid, fermented Greenland Shark. There are many more food items to sample, such as Icelandic yogurt, know as Skyer. For a relatively small island, the foodie traveler will find the choices abundant, and prices not too far above those found in any large city.
Wrapping it all up
Looking back on my many travels, the most exciting one was the first time I solo traveled. Had I known that Iceland was so conducive to solo travelers, then I might have started traveling by myself years before I actually did. Remember, just because you start a journey by yourself does not mean you cannot make friends along the way. Some of my best friends have been met while solo traveling.
Iceland combines easy and affordable access with world-class scenery and outdoor adventures. Hostels are inexpensive and abundant. There is no better way to start solo traveling than to visit Iceland. Get out and explore!