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Is Iceland safe for solo female travelers?

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I always say I’ve traveled quite a bit on my own when I really should say I have traveled some because compared to all the places I haven’t seen in the world I’ve only seen a little piece of it. Where I’ve been and what I have seen isn’t necessarily important here though but the fact that I’ve seen most of it while traveling solo is at least somewhat relevant.

I understand that being brought up in Iceland, where things are fairly safe and parents have more of a hands off approach to raising their children, may give me a bit of a skewed view of the world. They often say that this gives the Icelandic youth independence and certain carelessness that may seem alien to many.

I was only 18 when I moved away from home for the first time and my destination wasn’t just next street from my mum’s house but a whole different country. Between 18 and 22 I lived in three different countries apart from my own and the years following I spent all my money on where I was going next or paying for what aunt VISA had provided me with on the last adventure.

I even finished a part of my education while traveling on buses around Southeast Asia. Othello tonight, Vodka Redbull bucket tomorrow. 20 straws please.

I never remember even thinking should I go there alone? Granted, my destinations were maybe not the most dangerous ones in the world but then again Iceland isn’t either. I also heard from older women in particular that they were jealous of my bravery and although I didn’t understand it then I do understand it a bit better now. It’s hard to one day stand up and tell your partner honey, I just bought a ticket to [insert destination] and you’re not invited and it’s even harder to leave the comforts of your routine and your home for the unknown. But it’s so very worth it! And I can tell you from personal experience, if you have someone waiting at home, that I always fancy the boyfriend even more when I’ve been away from him for a while. I think the right amount of separation is healthy for any relationship.

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Question: Is Iceland safe for solo female travelers

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The short answer is yes. The long answer is a bit longer but it ultimately leads to the same result: Yes.

Although Iceland is not necessarily the utopia some people make it out to be it is, if nothing else, one the safest places on earth for travelers. There’s not a lot of violence here and you can walk in most places alone without worrying about being harassed. Political unrest on the streets might mean a few thousand people coming together in front of the parliament singing songs or shaking their key chains to symbolize their disdain for politics. People are friendly, helpful and in general not trying to scam you if they offer their assistance. And unlike some places you might end up visiting we have proper toilets everywhere and tampons and sanitary pads readily available. So no need to stuff your suitcase full of Tampax.

If you don’t drink a lot and you’re not used to the party scene you might find Reykjavík at night in the weekend a bit intimidating but as long as you keep your wits about you you should be fine. Men might approach you and hit on you in bars but in most cases just declining whatever they are offering is sufficient. If they don’t take no for an answer it’s usually enough to leave or talk to the staff at the bar and they will in most cases take care of it for you. Of course there’s always some rotten apples in between but you can be unlucky everywhere.

Apart from the things to consider as a solo female traveler, Iceland is also just such an convenient country to visit. We make everything super easy for you and you almost don’t have to think for yourself (although I encourage you to do so, of course) with all the guided tours and pick ups and what not. Really, you’ll be fine.

If you want to travel the world on your own then maybe Iceland could be your first stop where you get used to the idea in a safe and somewhat controlled environment. You can of course have as wild of an adventure as you would like to but if you’d just like to dip your toes into the pool to test the water, Iceland can definitely be that pool.

Plus we have a lot of pools. Just saying #MeantToBe

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  1. Thanks for this! Getting ready for a little solo trip of my own to Iceland in September. So far your blog is my go to for advice. Looking forward to booking your walking tour during my stay!

    1. I leave for iceland in 10 days, and my roommate backed out of going yesterday. I’ve traveled a lot, but never alone. How did you feel through the entirety of the trip. Were there ever locations that you felt you should avoid? Did you rent a car? Whatever info you have wound be amazing!

  2. This just adds to why I like Iceland so much. I do lots of things by myself, but have never been on holiday by myself. it will only be a short trip, but its nice to think you dont have to worry about safety any more in iceland than you would anywhere else in the world, to just use your common sense. maybe i’m just super anti social! ha. Meeting new people which im sure I will in some of the things i will do on the trip will force me out of my comfort zone and that is more scary than any safety issue….

    i am practicing for my future as crazy cat lady living alone in house surrounded by Skyr.

    p.s. i am rather miffed to have read a fish and chip van (where they learnt in UK) and a chip place opening in Reykjavik when i wont be based there 😛

    1. If it helps the Fish and Chip van has been getting mixed reviews. Super excited about the chips place though. Fear I will become a regular (I get crazy, CRAZY, chip cravings every now and again)

      1. i will have to keep an eye on reviews (or your blog!) to see how the chip place is – if K and I get back there in May, then we’ll have to try and fit in a visit to the city (as we’re hoping to head out to the east)

  3. Just the motivation I needed!!

    I recently applied for a job in Iceland and luckily I got it too but my husband is a little skeptical letting me go for 6 months to Iceland all on my own, even though living, working and touring in Iceland has been the first thing on my bucket list.

    I just had a question about how well a South Asian person would be received in Iceland and no I don’t mean to offend anyone but coming from a country like Pakistan and facing racism at times while travelling, I just wanna be prepared haha! Do you see a lot of South Asians in Iceland?

    I am so excited to see Iceland for real finally because ever since I got into photography all I have ever wanted to do was tour Iceland with my camera.

    1. I don’t really know how to answer this. I would love to say that we are open to everyone, no matter where they are from, but I’m Caucasian and pretty typically Icelandic so I just don’t know. I can only say for myself that I try to treat everyone with respect and as long as you are a nice person I am down with you 🙂 You don’t have anything serious to worry about but maybe some ill thought questions or comments. I really do think that most of the racism here in unintended and has more to do with lack of information and tact than anything else. We do have some Indian and Pakistani people in Iceland but I’m sad to say that I don’t know many so I don’t know how they feel about living here.

      But you don’t need to worry, the majority of the people here are nice, open minded and friendly. If you encounter something ignorant just educate people instead of spending energy on being offended. If you do that, most people would apologize and try not to do or say what was hurtful again. Or at least I hope so.

  4. Thank you for your continuously helpful blog, Auður, and I agree with you on your statements here. So in case anyone is reading this and thinks that you’re just promoting to help boost business – I can confirm that Iceland is a wonderful and safe place for a solo female traveler. My first solo traveling experience was to Reykjavik and surrounds. Everyone was polite and helpful, everyone spoke enough English for me to get answers to my questions, and even when I was walking around in the dark (I was there in October) I didn’t feel unsafe. Granted, several people thought I was Icelandic (they told me so, with great surprise, after I asked them to speak English), so I can’t speak to how someone of a different ethnicity might be treated. But I never observed anything that made me think that Icelanders wouldn’t be accepting of just about anybody who is polite and generally behaves themselves. It was a great experience. 🙂

    1. Well, I am hoping for an amazing experience and I will definitely be signing up for your tour once I get there. I am so excited and honestly I don’t expect any racism and even if there might be I know to usually be polite and ignore it because opinions of a single person do not reflect the majority.

      I absolutely love this blog and it has given me so much info that I now feel that I am living in Iceland already!

  5. I just returned from a week in and around Reykjavik (loved it!). I was traveling with a female friend, but whether together or wandering separately, I didn’t feel any concern about safety (beyond the typical caution to be taken in any city). In fact, one of our tours ended up with a female guide and five female tourists, and we had a great time together. I’d definitely recommend Reykjavik for solo female travel.

    1. I’m glad to hear you had such a nice experience 🙂

  6. I am a solo female traveller who visited Iceland in the summer of 2014 for the first time.
    7 weeks on the road. Oh man, what a great experience!
    I came by ferry, with my own car (a VW-bus), followed most of the time the whole Ring Road, went to Landmannalaugar, followed other small and larger gravel roads, the West Fjords… camped in the wild (I sleep in my bus) or (only in National Parks) on a camping area. What a beautiful life I had there.
    And.. all things you ‘ve written here, Auður, I completely agree: never felt unsafe or scared.
    People in my country said: Are you crazy, travelling the way you do and sleeping in your car, alone!!!
    Right, there are no trees (or not many) in Iceland,you can’t hide in a wood to sleep… but no worry, no one was ever bothering me.
    I must say I don’t go out in the evening when I’m travelling, when it’s getting dark (but i had daylight till end of july all the time, as I remember) but in Akureyri i did. I went to Backpackers bar, there was life music, i had a chat with people till midnight. I went back to my car and searched for a place to sleep. It was calm, all night, at 1 km from this “town” (in my country Akureyri would be considered as a village;-) . Unbelievable! Like to add this too: Icelandic people are so friendly, so helpfull, when i needed something, they called somebody who knew more about the problem, came to have a look at the problem…
    I’m not the right person for “organised/guided tours” even if I visited Jokulsarlon by Zodiac boat, I like to find out things on my own. So this way of (free) travelling demands a lot of preparation, organisation … But in all tourist offices, people were friendly, helpfull (altough hiking maps) were sometimes expensive ;-)) , likely to tell me a lot of information about the region, having a nice chat about many other things. Same in coffee shops…Maybe in 1 or 2 tourist offices the young (temperarly ) job students (?) or young ladies were more interested in their nails and gsm than in tourists, but this is not important.
    Yes Iceland is safe, nice and… CLEAN! I tell friends: you can put your dish on the ground and eat, so clean it is! (if it isn’t cooked by these numerous thermical energy spots, hahahaa! )
    I’ve never never felt unsafe in Iceland. Except: when you hike in the mountains, Always leave a message at a restaurant or tourist office, take care and don’t leave the trail. Nature and wheater are quite “unexpected” and even dangerous sometimes. This made me pay attention for my life, not other people. Heavy rain, fog, not finding back the marks on the trail in the fog… on a summit…
    You know what? When the ferry left the harbour of Seydisfjordur, end of august 2014, I saw the mountains, the ice, the Island fading away… with tears in my eyes. I was so happy over there!
    (and now I’ve written a lot more than I had in mind)
    Great SAFE country!
    I ‘m coming back later, altough it’s a 10-days trip to get there and back!!!
    (sorry, English is my 3th language, I hope you understand)

  7. I’ve been to Iceland three times, twice on my own. Loved it each time and feel very safe there. In fact it’s one places of all the 22+ countries I’ve traveled to that I’ve felt safest. On one trip I rented a Happy Camper and drove around for a few days, sleeping in the camper, wherever I parked it. I also went out running, by myself, on each visit. Never felt at risk.
    Iceland is one of the most progressive countries for women. Their crime rates are low. Their people are friendly.
    I’d go back at the drop of a hat, alone or otherwise.

    1. I’m glad you had such a good experience in Iceland and agree with everything you mention.

      Just so you know – sleeping just anywhere in your camper is really frowned up on by the locals and many areas in Iceland, towns and villages, have passed rules now where they ban this behavior within the vicinity of their towns. Just for future reference 🙂

      1. Thanks so much for the heads up. I wouldn’t want to offend any locals or overstep the bounds. Now I’m trying to recall all the places I parked, hoping they were ok. My three nights included: one restaurant I had a dinner in which was very kind and offered me their out of season camping site, once I parked in a church parking lot because it felt safe, and the last night I parked beside a park on the street. I’ll make sure to ask for guidelines next time.

  8. I am from Canada, and in 2015 l traveled to lceland then Alaska. And if l had my way and things were different, l would give serious thought about moving to lceland, as people are not rude, they seem to be easy going. I plan on going back next year. However, l will also plan on visiting Norway, the sister country to lceland.

    John

    1. 1 thing I can tell you: if you will make a roadtrip in Artic Norway and especially those beautifull pearls in the ocean ‘Lofoten Islands”, you will probably catch another addiction! 😉 Free camping is a must over there and if you’re respecting the rules (of “allemansrecht” = all peoples rights) then you will have no trouble. Scandinavians are so easy going.
      Travelling in Norway is my positive “virus” , comparable to Island (and the Scottish Highlands).

  9. Hi,

    Iam visiting Iceland in May mid
    Will land in Reykjavik late at night – 1 am, wanted to check if it’s safe for me to go alone to my hostel at that time ??
    Pls advice

    Regards
    Abha

  10. Hi, I will be in Iceland in mid July and just found out my hotel’s shuttle won’t pick me up, but it’s only 2 miles from the airport. Is it safe for me to walk alone around midnight?

    1. Post comment

      Hrannar - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Erica

      Are you staying in Keflavik? It should be fine for you to walk.

  11. I don’t think I ever felt unsafe at all when I visited Iceland… but maybe I just happened to stay away from any of the “less savory” areas.

  12. I would like to travel to Iceland, but I would be going on either a group tour or solar.

    1. Post comment

      Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Once you’ve decided when you want to come and you’ve done some preliminary research in regards to what you want to do and see, you’re welcome to send us an e-mail and we can help you along.