Iceland takes my breath away. Despite the unforunate rise in tourism, it’s fabulous – easy trip from New York and offers amazing scenery and experiences.
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- Female solo traveler rating
- Touristy or authentic rating
- Getting around / Transportation
- How to save money
- WiFi access
- SIM card / cell phone service
- Insects, rodents and reptiles
- Passport and visa
- Health, water, etc.
- What to pack
- How to make friends
- What to do and see
- Where to stay
Very good. Going to Iceland is like going to the moon. It’s a place where you can relax in thermal baths or go wild on an adventure tour into snow, mountains, hiking and more. You’ll find weird food or normal food to eat. Even though Iceland has, unfortunately, become super touristy, you can still find amazing adventure and small groups to travel with. I saw the Northern Lights for the first time in Iceland in January 2017. It was like meeting God. One of the most spiritual experiences I’ve ever had. If you’re fortunate enough to see them, you’ll see what I mean.
Excellent. Iceland is so safe you won’t even see poliemen. Sadly, they have had one murder that made headlines in 2017. The entire country came out looking for the woman that disappeared and then held a vigil for her when she was found. They care deeply for one another and are mostly very happy and kind people.
Highly touristy but Authentic land. The first time I went to Iceland, in 2015, the airport had about 6 people in it and I got a somewhat empty bus into Reykyavik. In 2017, it had become a bustling airport, as overcrowded as any principal airport in Europe. Sadly, I don’t think the over-tourism is a good thing for Iceland. What makes it shine is the remoteness and feeling like you are alone on another planet. Tourists, unfortunately, do not all have respect for local rules and values. I sincerely hope that tourism does not destroy the beauty of Iceland. When it comes to life, however, and the land, I feel you still get an authentic experience of life. While there are so many small busiensses that have come into existance because of tourism – that’s what’s amazing about Iceland. It is hugely entrepreneurial and creative in spirit.
Buses and planes. You can rent a car to explore Iceland, and it gives you wonderful flexibility to see every nook and cranny. Personally, as a solo traveler, I wouldn’t dare rent a car. The weather is ever changing and unpredictable. I saw cars that couldn’t tell where the edge of a road was due to snow, and they had fallen off the road. Happily, no one was hurt, but you can wait hours for someone to rescue you. That’s why I would recommend tour buses to get around Iceland. Because of high tourism it’s really easy to get around. You can also fly up north, for example.
Exceptionally expensive. It’s nearly impossible to save money in Iceland. You can buy food at the 10/11 (their version of a 7/11) and perhaps spend $10 or $15 on a meal instead of $30. Some people bring alcohol with them to avoid buying it locally. Tours are actually reasonably priced. For lodging, try AirBnB, hostels or couchsurfing. Also, instead of the pricey Blue Lagoon, go to the Secret Lagoon or some of the thermal baths in the center of Reykjavik which are less expensive and less touristy.
SIM Card / Cell Phone Service
Easy to obtain You can buy a SIM card easily at the airport and start using it immediately. As a bonus, if you fly IcelandAir you can buy the card on board, or even order it before you go!
Excellent. Fabulous – Western style, clean, complete with toilet paper and soap. 🙂
Insects, Rodents and Reptiles
Minimum. It’s too darn cold for most of them! You’re more likely to see beautiful horses and, if you’re lucky, some cows, than you are to see rodents.
Health, Water, etc.
Excellent. One of few places that’s probably got better water and healthier food than the US. No need for any vaccinations either. 🙂
Cold. Even in summer, it’s pretty chilly in Iceland. In winter, it’s just really, really cold, but honestly, sometimes it’s warmer than New York because of its proximity to the ocean. So you get the humidity mixed in with the cold.
Essentials to Pack
You must bring long underwear, a hat, and gloves at a minimum. If you’re going in winter, read this article which is probably the best advice you can find out there!
How to Make Friends
You’ll have a hard time NOT making friends in Iceland. Everyone is so happy and will want to get to know you and help you. Tours are also going to connect you to lots of wonderful people. Just wear your best smile, chat with passerby, dinner neighbors, and you’ll make tons of friends!
What to Do and See
The Northern Lights, of course, however they won’t just come out for you because you’re there. Weather is completely unpredictable. Stay at least a week in Iceland to maximize your chances. A good tour company will not take you out if the prediction isn’t good, and if they do and you don’t see the lights, should give you a free re-do if you’re still in Iceland a few more days and another night ends up better. You can see the lights in any month there is darkness provided the weather aligns. Basically end of September to early April. Otherwise, depending on your adventurousness, you can take tours all over Iceland, or do adventure sports. Geo Iceland is a great tour company to start with. They also give you a 10% discount if you book more than one tour with them.
Where to Stay
Skuggi Hotel – in Reykjavik. Boutique hotel with fabulous rooms, quiet, warm, great location – right off the main street, but because it’s off that street, you will sleep great! Awesome breakfast, nice staff.