I visited Iceland in June 2023 after planning to go there for years. My trip started on the first day of summer, June 21st (such a cool idea, right?) and ended five days later. I made the most out of the time I had and managed to see many of the most popular sites and the ones that attracted me the most. For the short time I spent Iceland I saw the weather at its best and at its worst which was really cool because I feel I had a bite of everything. Let me give you more details!
Safety comes first
I am staring with safety as it is always the first thing to check prior to a female solo trip, right? Many sources say Iceland is among the safest countries to travel solo and I can confirm I had no issues whatsoever concerning safety while in the country. That wasn’t the case with Dublin, Ireland, for instance. Also, summer brings almost no night hours in Iceland and it sure feels safety to walk around late because it is not dark at all.
Iceland is safe in terms of crime, but the attractions are a whole different story. Famous singer Ed Sheeran, for instance, suffered burn in a hot spring, as many other tourists do. I witnessed a tourist getting too close to a waterfall while his mate was taking pictures. Luckily, noting happened. Most attractions in Iceland are nature sites and we just need to stay smart in nature.
Apart from planning your time and activities in Iceland, do prepare with proper water-and-wind-proofed clothing even in summer time! You will read this in every travel article about the country, so don’t underestimate how important it is. I don’t know how I would have survived without my waterproofed stuff! This being said, sunglasses are also a must as the sun shines a lot when it shines. Notice the picture below. This is the very first pic I took after arriving in Iceland – me at the airport waiting for the bus and wearing sunglasses because it was so sunny!
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How long to stay in Iceland
This is always a difficult question to answer, right? Well, I highly recommend staying at least 10 days. Two weeks should be enough for visiting all the attractions and having time to enjoy them. Three weeks will be enough to explore the whole country properly, in my opinion.
In my case, I had a bit less than a week, so I did long daily tours that included a lot of attractions. If I had more time, I would have spent more time on each of the waterfalls for sure. I would also visit some places later in the day since there is daylight almost all the time.
Be aware of the weather which can always surprise in Iceland, so stay and extra day or two just in case. You will have plenty to do! Icelanders say “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes”. It seems very wise, but in my case the weather worsened in 5 minutes. Despite visiting in summertime, the weather happened to be bad for a day and a half. I didn’t cancel my planned tour and visited Vik and the Black Sand Beach in pouring rain. It would have been so much better to have more time and just reschedule the whole thing, but I guess next time. If you don’t have a lot of time like me, it is better to use the capital as a base and move around. Many attractions are actually close to Reykjavik anyways.
Where I stayed in Reykjavik
I stayed at Kex Hostel and I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it is also a restaurant/bar/event center were locals also come. Location is awesome, the setting is awesome. I can only complain a bit from the staff because they seemed a bit cold, but who knows, maybe I am too friendly. All in all, Kex hostel is a lovely place to hang out and meet people, both travelers and locals, so I highly recommend it (it is difficult to meet locals – so many tourists everywhere!). Plus, they have all kinds of accommodation – shared dorms, mixed dorms, single rooms, double rooms, etc.
Not a huge fan of organized tours, to be honest. However, they totally made sense when traveling solo and feeling a bit unsecured of driving in a new country alone. I used Reykjavik as my base and went to daily trips from there. This way I had the late afternoons and evening in the capital city and the days exploring the rest of Iceland.
Organized tours were my best friend in Iceland. These are planned to cover several attractions, or at least the ones I signed for. I managed to see the famous Golden Circle and visit the Secret Lagoon in one day, and did a South Coast tour on the next day. I enjoyed both of these daily 8+ hour trips a lot. I especially liked my tour guide on the Golden Circle tour – a local named Jórunn who has a great travel blog about Iceland. The only place I visited on my own and without a group was Viðey Island near Reykjavik.
Reykjavik and how much time to spend there
A safe and charming city, Reykjavik offers a lot of strange museums, fine meals and places to explore. As it is not a big city, I don’t think you should plan a lot of time here. On my very first day, I booked a 3-hour walking tour to get to know the place. There is a very popular free tour of the city, but one has to sign for the tour in advance and check when they open new dates because they open two, three days in advance. I preferred to pay for the tour and have the privilege to book it when I wanted to book it.
After my initial tour here, spending my late afternoons and evenings in Reykjavik was enough for me to get to know it pretty well. The best experience I has in the city was visiting a local public swimming pool! Icelanders love their swimming pools and spend a lot of time there from a very young age. It is a great way to feel part of their culture, so don’t miss this one out! I chose the Laugardalur swimming pool and I am very happy with it. One thing that is valid for both lagoons and swimming pools – you are asked to shower completely naked, which seems a bit odd the first time, but the second time around felt pretty natural to me.
Besides enjoying the swimming pools, saunas and hot tubs, I walked the main (and not so main) streets of the capital numerous times and got to know all kinds of stuff – how expensive the manicure is (up to EUR 80), which grocery stores to go to, when it is happy hour for drinks, etc.
Iceland is a one of a kind and different place to visit which has a lot to explore. It is a safe destination for female solo travelers but I believe it is actually a suitable destination for all types of travelers. Don’t hesitate and put it on your list. I hope you enjoyed this overview of my solo trip. Let me know if you have any questions.