What to do in Iceland – the itinerary of a solo female traveller
Iceland – the land of fire and ice - it’s also one of the safest places in the world for a female solo traveller to visit - trust me, I know, I've just returned from my solo travel Iceland adventure are it didn't disappoint.
What to do in Iceland as a solo female traveller - what you need to know
Iceland – the land of fire and ice - it’s also one of the safest places in the world for a female solo traveller to visit - trust me, I know, I've just returned from my solo travel Iceland adventure are it didn't disappoint. In fact, I absolutely loved it, and then some. I’ve been all over the world, with girlfriends, and alone, and Iceland was the highlight of my solo travel adventures.
So many aspects of Iceland were on my bucket list – the Northern Lights, volcanoes and geysers, whale watching and who doesn’t love sunsets and waterfalls? So I took the plunge and booked a solo Travel Iceland adventure.
I love being a solo traveller as it provides so much freedom – no one to answer to or to compromise with - my schedule is completely mine, and I can do what the heck I want when I want.
A word of warning though – Iceland is expensive, especially for a British Northerner like me. £5 for a coffee, £10 for a glass of wine, £20 for a pizza – so take plenty of Icelandic Krona and/or your credit card on your solo travel Iceland adventure. It’s pricey, but it’s worth it, I promise. And, I have a few money-saving tips to share in this article to read on…
Want to meet people? Go with me on this… public swimming pools are widespread in Iceland and the islanders use them as a place for social gatherings - it’s very much a way of life. These pools are heated geothermically and many of them offer a range of “hot pots” – smaller hot tubs where many a debate may take place.
These public pools are a great opportunity to meet people if you are travelling solo. Although take note – it is a requirement to shower naked before entering the pools!
Kicking it off in Iceland’s capital - Reykjavik
Reykjavik really is a modern and dynamic city that oozes idyllic village charm. It’s approximately a 50-minute transfer from the airport (transfers are easy to arrange) and for a capital city, it's pretty tiny. All attractions are within walking distance.
The main street is named Laugavegur and boasts shops, bars, restaurants, clubs and everything you need on a solo travel Iceland adventure.
I stayed at the Center Hotel Klopp, which was very central, clean, and modern, with friendly staff and a continental breakfast was included in the price.
MONEY SAVING TIP: Make sure you book a hotel that provides breakfast - you’ll save a lot on food this way.
I am glad I took earplugs for my stay at Center Hotel Klopp as the road was quite noisy until midnight – it didn’t dampen my spirit though and I would stay here again.
So after checking in and making friends with the receptionist at the hotel who was originally from my home town in Yorkshire (what a small world), off I went to explore the city and the sights.
My first stop was the Sculpture and Shore Walk, complete with the bracing wind coming off the Atlantic ocean - it definitely makes you feel alive. The Sun Voyager Sculpture is a dreamboat and symbolizes the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom and is stunning with the backdrop of the mountains across the bay.
The Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre has impressive multi-faceted glass architecture and it is down on the harbour, just minutes away from where you pick up the boat for whale-watching tours and the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus.
I recommend a visit to the only Penis Museum in the world – The Icelandic Phallological Museum displays a number of phalluses from a wide variety of species. A female Solo travel Iceland trip itinerary should most definitely include this - if you’re into penises that is! It certainly was an eye-opener and my interest peaked on a few occasions whilst I wandered around checking out the pieces. None of which had frostbite though…
There is also another worthwhile attraction on the harbour called “Fly Over Iceland” which utilises state-of-the-art technology to give you the feeling of flight while you are seated/suspended. Watch the film and be whisked away on an exhilarating virtual journey across Iceland.
The showing lasts around 30 minutes and costs around £30.
The quaint old town of Reykjavik is very close to the harbour with traditional Icelandic architecture and the Parliament building taking centre stage.
Wander through the old town to Tjornin Lake - a great place to chill out and have a takeaway coffee while pondering life, relaxing and pinching yourself that you are actually in Iceland solo!
Turn left up Laugavegur which is the longest shopping street in Reykjavik for a wander around the various shops and check out the thick woollen jumpers made from local sheep’s wool (and cost an arm and leg!).
Turn right near the Christmas Shop and a Subway takeaway shop and head up the ‘rainbow road’ to the city’s famous iconic church – Hallgrimskirkja.
With its 250-metre-high tower and highly unconventional design to mimic the basalt columns found on the south coast beach of Reynisfjara, Hallgrimskirkja really is a stunner.
Inside is rather minimalist, elegant and understated, and you can pay extra to go up the tower for a 360-degree view of Reykjavik. As you head out of the church there is a lovely bistro opposite called Café Loki and their meat soup is to die for.
Or to the right and just down the hill is the famous Braud bakery where the famous cinnamon roll, or cheese and chilli giant croissant can be purchased – delicious!
The best supermarket is called Bonus -easily identified by the huge pink pig logo. There is one on Laugavegur at the opposite end of the harbour where everyday essentials can be purchased – try the traditional liquorice chocolate.
The people are so friendly and helpful and everyone speaks English. I felt very safe walking about on my own, both during the day and at night on my solo travel Iceland adventure.
However, if you don’t want to walk, there are plenty of city scooters all over the city that you can hire by downloading the app and with a swipe of your card, off you whizz.
The street art in Reykjavik is brilliant too.
The Golden Circle Coach Tour & The Northern Lights Tour
The Golden Circle Coach Tour;
Iceland has a volcanic eruption every 4 to 5 years and has approximately 150 to 200 volcanoes. This is due to the fact that it sits on two tectonic plates – the Eurasian and the North American.
These plates are pulling apart by about 2cm per year - the pressure builds up under the earth’s crust and when it finds a weak point a volcano forms and erupts spewing lava into the countryside.
The Golden Circle half-day tour explores this interesting phenomenon and showcases a number of Iceland’s main attractions.
The first stop is Thingvellir national park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the site of the foundation of the oldest parliament in the world. If you’re into snorkelling, you can snorkel between the tectonic rift on a separate tour (pre-booking is necessary and you’ll need to do this in advance).
Then it’s on to Geyser and Strokkur hot springs which are so very impressive.
The anticipation when you turn your phone camera on to record and wait for the geyser to erupt (approx. every 10 minutes) is tangible. It hadn’t erupted since the year 2000 before suddenly bursting up into the air in February 2016 and continues to erupt every 10 minutes to this day – eruptions vary from day to day.
Finally, we visited the stunning double-tiered waterfalls of Gulfoss. It was certainly bracing walking close to the falls - another ‘pinch-myself’ moment - I certainly felt alive within the forces of nature here. Simply stunning.
The Northern Lights Tour;
The highlight of my Solo Travel Iceland trip was definitely seeing the Northern Lights. I joined an organised trip - a coach took us to a lava field outside of Reykjavik in the black of night.
And what a wonder they were – absolutely awesome! I have not other words other than… just magical.
Obviously, as they are a natural phenomenon, there is no guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights. Apparently, they can also be seen sometimes just off the shoreline in Reykjavik as well, although in a miniature format.
The South Shore Adventure Tour & The Pearl - The Perlan Exhibition Centre;
The South Shore Adventure Tour;
The population of Iceland is approx. 350,000 and a third of the people who call Iceland their home live in Reykjavik, so the rest of the island is quite sparsely populated. Dotted with a few towns and villages here and there.
The landscape along the south coast is baren in places, mountainous and volcanic in others and with the stunning waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss (the one you can walk behind) and Skógafoss - the tallest in Iceland at a whopping 60 meters high - boasting a viewing platform accessed by 370 steps - which if you climb, you are rewarded with the most dramatic scenery.
As we crossed over the rift in the tectonic plates we visited the iconic black sand beaches of Vik and Reynisfjara with their towering basalt columns where thousands of puffins can be seen nesting in the summer season.
Sadly, the breathtaking Sólheimajökull Glacier is receding and melting as a result of global warming – so there were small icebergs visible.
I also managed to get a look at the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which last erupted in 2010 and brought Europe’s air traffic to a standstill due to the massive ash cloud that was formed. I think we all remember that well!
The Pearl - The Perlan Exhibition Centre;
The Perlan Exhibition Centre is definitely worth a visit - it’s incredibly interesting.
The building consists of a huge glass dome that rests on top of six district heating tanks, each of which holds about 4 million litres of geothermal water that service the local area.
Inside the exhibition centre, there is a lot going on including frequent cinema showings which document The Northern Lights and the island’s volcanos. There’s an ice cave too. The ice cave in the Pearl is 100 metres long and built from 350 tons of snow - you can wander through it and experience a glacial environment.
Other interesting artefacts include a large exhibition which focuses on the glaciers and a really interesting timeline of Iceland.
Although it looks a little way out of the city – The Pearl is only a 30-minute walk from Hallgrimskirkja Church and definitely worth the wander.
The Sky Lagoon - move over The Blue Lagoon
The new Sky Lagoon is just minutes from the city centre of Reykjavik and is simply heaven with a capital H. And the perfect end to a Solo Travel Iceland trip.
This is a thermal hot springs lagoon experience and rivals the world-famous Blue Lagoon, as there are plenty of smaller areas where you can get lost in the moment by soaking in the geothermal hot springs whilst looking out over the North Atlantic Ocean.
Complete with a swim-up bar and the infinity lagoon pool dropping off into the Atlantic – it really is luxurious and a great way to unwind.
Take your relaxation deeper with the “Ritual”, and immerse yourself in the seven-step spa experience:-
⦁ Laze and relax in the hot springs for as long as you like whilst sipping on a cold beer, wine, cocktail or champagne
⦁ Drop yourself quickly into the cold plunge pool on the edge of the lagoon to stimulate your immune system, increase the blood flow and tighten the skin
⦁ Step into the simply awesome sauna with a floor to ceiling window to enjoy the stunning coastal views and serenity
⦁ Next walk through an outdoor cold mist room to stimulate your skin again
⦁ Apply a salt body scrub to exfoliate
⦁ Step into the steam room
You can also re-enter the lagoon again to totally chillax.
HEAVEN! Who needs men and children?
Iceland - my recommendations for solo travellers
In summary – what a great destination to visit and especially as a female solo traveller. There are so many trips and tours, and there is so much to explore.
You could extend your stay and travel to the north and east of the island, which are in complete contrast to the south and the west of Iceland.
Iceland promises a myriad of safe adventures for any solo traveller… do take a look at the bucket list below, and Google whatever takes your fancy. Whatever you choose to do solo, this is the place to do it.
1) Foodie tour walks
2) City walks with Viking
3) Museums and exhibitions
4) Snorkel between the tectonic continents
5) Waterfalls, geysers, and volcanoes
6) ava tunnels and ice caves
7) Glacier walks
8) Snowmobile adventures
9) Whale watching
10) Boat trips
11) Mountain helicopter tour with summit landing
12) Horseback riding on the traditional Icelandic horses/ponies
13) Northern Lights
14) Geothermal swimming pools and lagoons