Most of my friends say that I am brave to travel by myself and that they could never do it. Iceland is the answer to your scardy-catness if you would like to, yet are too afraid to travel alone.
Reykjavik is the largest city, having 106,000 residents. Iceland is the safest country in the world and if your first language is English, you will have an easy time figuring everything out. Icelandic, of course, is the official language of the island, but everyone speaks English. Some better than others.
Upon boarding the bus I told my bus driver I needed to go to Hostel Village and showed him the address. He stopped in front of the hospital and told me it was my stop. Hostel….hospital…. hey, it sounds close, I depart the bus and set out on foot in search of helpful soul. Entering the hospital grounds I inquired about my destination and two ladies walked with me around the other side of the complex and pointed out my home for the next five nights. Apparently, the bus driver knew what he was talking about.
Iceland is very expensive, but like all travel, it doesn’t have to be if you play it smart.
I originally wanted to rent a car and camping gear. This way, I could take my time exploring the country. With petrol at 1.90 ISK per liter, I quickly changed my mind going this route.
So, I stuck with what works – Airbnb and a hostel.
Usually I’ll stay in an Airbnb for the duration of my trip, but this time I decided to only reserve bookends: 1) I didn’t want to arrive at 2 a.m and wake up my roommates (yes, I am that considerate) 2) I wanted a good nights sleep on my last night 3) I didn’t want to be secluded, making new friends is part of the travel experience.
So how did that work out for me? Well, it could have been better.
The first Airbnb was a bit of a task to get to at eleven-thirty at night. The flybus took me right into downtown, cost 2,500 ISK ($28.76) arriving twenty-five minutes after leaving the airport. My host said to ask the bus driver to drop me off at Mjodd, because they drive right past it and they usually do not have a problem stopping here on the way to the terminal. Well, the driver would have nothing to do with being helpful, she must have been friends with the taxi drivers, making me take a taxi back to Mjodd and then up the hill, a fifteen minute drive, costing another 4,000 ISK ($37.65)…. OUCH!
My accommodations were nothing special, even though she rated as a super host. Not even close! It takes more than serving tea and toast to rate as a super host in my book, but the price was right at $36USD per night and I did get a couple of hours more sleep than if I checked into the hostel.
The second Airbnb was heaven on earth. It was a shared apartment on the lower floor in Natalia’s house. She stocked the kitchen with skyr (Icelandic yogurt), bread, cereals, cookies, jams, peanut butter, nutella, teas and coffee. There were three bedrooms and I was told that I only had one other guest coming in. From check-in until midnight I was a very happy girl. Then two hours after I laid my head down to sleep, I was woken by a flock of cackling hens. Three or four twenty-somethings checked in and had no concern for late-night manners. After a good amount of time to let them settle in and the noise didn’t lighten up. I made my appearance and notified them of my three o’clock wake up to catch my flight. Apologizes were given, yet not enforced. I ended up staying awake the rest of the night. This was not the hostess’ fault, she told them I had an early flight. I will recommend this home to stay upon arriving to Reykjavik and departing, because it’s less than ten minutes to the international airport and Natalia or her husband will drive you for only 1,500 ISK, which is half the cost of a taxi.
If you’re traveling like me, without a car, then taking the bus from downtown to Reykjanesbaer will cost 1,750 ISK ($16.53). It’s a half hour trip. Entering Reykjanesbaer, remind your driver of your stop. Mine forgot, even though there were only 3 other people on board. After the airport he turned on his ‘out-of-service’ sign and took me to my stop.
Hostel Village was the very first hostel in Reykjavik. With that said, it is not run down and dirty. The housekeepers do a wonderful cleaning job. I was in the room a couple of times and witnessed their thoroughness. The doors do slam loudly and you’re in a shared dorm room. I had four other sleepers in my room ($42 USD per night). The experience can go really bad if you get someone who snores or is not considerate. I was blessed with great room mates, all but one night, a New York snorasauraus kept us all awake. Thankfully, she left the next morning.
The hostel is in a great location for getting around: church Hallgrimskirkja, the city bus terminal and the main tourist shopping street Laugavegur are all a five-minute walk.
Walking around Iceland is safe no matter what time of day. If you’re touring during the longer daylight months, it is a rude awaking to discover it’s already past midnight when you’re done for the night.
Even though my transportation around Reykjavik didn’t go completely smooth, my fault not the cities, it is single traveler friendly.
I highly recommend renting a caravan if possible, because some sites I really wished that I could have stayed longer, but taking a bus tour makes life affordable and easy when traveling by yourself.
I booked two tours through Viator. I have their app downloaded, but I printed off my tickets. Pick-up went faster because I had a paper ticket, but no worries if you don’t have access to a printer, the app receipt is accepted.
The Golden Circle and Kerid Volcanic Crater Day Trip (Nice Travels). It was a small group tour that lasted 8+ hours, with a French tour guide that made sure we had a wonderful experience, stopping at special sites along the way that were not listed, but we had time for a quick look. I enjoyed the tour and was worth the $84. The sites reminded me of Yellowstone National Park in the United States, only on a much smaller scale.
Iceland’s Beautiful South Coast (Sterna Travel) took place the following day. It was another full day (9 hours) for $93. Our tour guide was Icelandic, was very knowledgeable and liked telling stories. He made sure we saw everything on our list and just like the previous guide, he made special stops.
Both tour guides made it obvious that our touring pleasure was their main concern.
I highly recommend both Nice Travels and Sterna Travel.
Eating out is by far where you’ll spend most of your hard-earned money.
You would think that soup would be cheap, nope, not here. A sour dough bowl with soup cost 1,850 ISK ($17.41), yeah, I don’t think so. A beer is 1,000 ($9.41), that is simply a crazy price! I thank my new Italian friend Fabrizia for the beer she treated me to. When I’m in Italy, I will definitely stop by to see her and reciprocate her generosity.
When you travel you have the wonderful option of dining in a restaurant or going to the grocery store. I chose the grocery store for the majority of my meals. I ate out once for lunch when I found a delightful deli off the tourist path that served meatballs and potatoes along with a salad for just 1,350 ISK ($12.59). For under $15 per day, I was satisfied with my grocery store meals.
Conclusion; Iceland is really easy to figure out, completely safe and if you are a nature lover it’s a must-see. Sure it’s pricey, but as the saying goes “you can’t take it with you.”
*Use my Airbnb link to save $40 on your first stay.
Okay, your turn……..
Have you been to Iceland?