Iceland: one of the safest countries in the world for female travelers

by | 7 Mar 2023

Iceland, AKA The Land of Fire and Ice. This rugged island of fearsome volcanoes and creaking glaciers may, on the surface, seem dangerous. But at its heart, Iceland is one the safest countries in the world – especially for female travelers, who face plenty of unique obstacles when traveling alone. With low crime rates, progressive social values and fantastic public services, visitors can feel at complete ease embarking on their icy adventure.

In light of International Women’s Day, we take a closer look at why this far-flung island nation remains a steadfast bastion of safety and equality.

Iceland is the safest country in the world

Crime in the land of fire and ice is extremely rare. The Global Peace Index ranks Iceland as ‘the world’s most peaceful country, a position it has held since the first iteration of the GPI.’ That’s quite the track record.

With a total population of less than 400,000, Iceland is a network of relatively small-scale, inter-connected communities. The degrees of separation are few, and there’s a feeling that even total strangers are likely to share a common acquaintance. Even in the capital, and most populous city, Reykjavik, there’s a close-knit feel that promotes safety and accountability.

Iceland ranks very low on the Crime Index, with a score of 23.75. It’s such a peaceful country that it doesn’t even have an army, and the police don’t carry any firearms. It boasts world-beating public healthcare and generous social services. It is a national point of pride that visitors should feel welcomed, safe and supported. Solo female travelers who may have more safety concerns, can feel confident that they’re in a place that recognizes their concerns, and is acting accordingly.

Read more: The Insight Packing Guide for Chasing the Northern Lights.

A bastion for gender equality

As well as being one of the safest countries in the world, this progressive country holds 1st place in another global index: it is the most gender equal society in the world (for the 12th year in a row). Iceland leads the way for women’s political empowerment, in closing the gender pay gap, and for female representation across corporate company boards.

This push for greater gender equality is not a recent development. Iceland has a strong history of pioneering women’s suffrage going back to the 19th century – in 1850 it became the first country in the world to grant equal inheritance rights to both women and men. It has mandated several laws over the years since then to ensure a fair society between all genders, meaning Iceland has now closed over 90% of its gender gap.

So, what does this mean for solo female travelers? With a push for greater gender equality backed up by legislation, a strong sense of female empowerment has been woven into the fabric of Icelandic society. Its effects are evident in the industry-leading roles women take up in Icelandic society. Take some of the women you’ll meet on Insight Vacations’ women-only trip to Iceland, for example.There’s Agnes, founder of one of the only women owned microbreweries in Iceland. Julia, owner of bio-tech company MýSköpun who make spirulina ice cream. And Ásta, director of the heritage museum Bakkastofa.

And that’s not to mention all the inspiring women of Icelandic history you’d learn about during a women-walking tour of Reykjavík, talking through the island’s strong history of feminism.

Also read: In Conversation with Agnes Sigurðardóttir, One of Iceland’s only Female Microbrewers

Iceland knows how to do warm welcomes

Iceland knows how to put on warm welcome for visitors. While attempts at simple Icelandic are appreciated, you won’t need to bring a phrase book. English is spoken widely, and usually impeccably. Locals are generous with their time and knowledge, often stopping to help if they can see you’re looking confused.Spending time in the cities? Don’t be surprised to have invitations extended to you by locals. Icelanders are creative and enterprising, and there’s often a new exhibition, dining experience or live music show happening somewhere.
And, if you’re exploring beyond the city limits, the country’s circular main road couldn’t be easier to navigate. Signposts are in English, petrol stations are frequent and well-signposted, and even the smaller towns are warm and welcoming.

Also Read: 3 Female Travel Directors on how Travel Empowers them Every Day

Seeing Iceland on a women-only tour

Taking all these factors into account, Iceland makes the perfect destination for a first solo travel adventure. It’s a gorgeous country that is perfect for the curious traveler, filled with stunning natural abundance, incredible Viking history and fascinating folkloric tales.

One of the safest countries in the world, its progressive politics stance and world-leading gender equality standards are just part of the reason why we created a specialized women-only tour that takes you on a 10-day exploration through this incredible island.

Our team of travel experts have designed your itinerary to ensure you see all the sights: from fjords and lakes to glaciers and lagoons. And all the insights: diving into its history of female empowerment and suffrage.

You’ll join other female travelers from around the world and meet some of Iceland’s most inspiring women: business owners, specialists, and experts in their respective fields.

While Iceland is entirely safe to go it alone, you may find it particularly special to take this journey with other women just as curious about the land of fire and ice as you.

Also read: A first-hand account of our first women only tour to Croatia

I'm Jay – born in Italy, raised in South London. Having French sisters and Hungarian ancestors, I've always been fascinated with the world and its cultures, and I carry this curiosity into my writing for Insightful. My favourite destinations I've traveled to so far have been Italy, Peru, France and Brazil.