A little belated, but here’s my full travel blog for the trip I took to Iceland from June 16-19th, 2019.
I flew on Delta Airlines roundtrip from Memphis to Minneapolis to Reykjavik. I use my mom’s travel benefits since she’s retired from Delta, so the whole trip was $40 total. Can’t beat that price for flying, and half the flights were a first class seat.
Before I go into details about my trip, I’d like to add a few key points about Iceland, especially for solo travelers.
- Every single person I encountered spoke English. Not just slightly, but full fledged and easy to understand English. I never had a language barrier not knowing any Icelandic. But I did learn how to say thanks (Takk) just to be polite.
- I felt very safe in every part of Iceland that I visited. There’s no vagrants, lewd behavior, or anything that even mildly get uncomfortable.
- You can use your debit card anywhere. It’s extremely common not to use cash, even for small amounts like 100 Icelandic krona (a bit under $1 USD).
- Don’t buy bottled water. It’s expensive and the water from the tap is the purest water in the world. And the water actually has to be cooled down before reaching the taps, so don’t feel bad about extreme long hot showers! Geothermal energy from the nearby volcanos powers pretty much everything in Iceland.
- The temperature in June was very mild. I mainly only needed a jacket when it was breezy or overcast. Not too hot, not too cold.
Now, on to my trip details! I’ll start with these gorgeous photos of when we flew over Iceland. So beautiful!
I arrived in Reykjavik late in the evening on the 16th and had not gotten much sleep on my flights over. So most of that evening was just a quick visit to a local market and then back to the hotel to sleep. It was summer time and I knew it would be daylight most of the time. Here’s a photo from 1am and this is as dark as it even was.
I was a bit thrown off with my jet lag and ended up being wide awake at 4am the next morning. My hotel was about 2 miles from downtown Reykjavik and the buses didn’t run that early so I decided to just walk the distance since it was an easy straight shot. My first place to visit downtown was the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral and it was a beautiful sight to see.
My next plan was to do a whale watching tour at 1pm but I had a lot of time to waste so I switched it to 9am instead. Whale watching is something I had always dreamed of doing, but I’ll warn you now, you likely won’t see much compared to what you may be imagining. We saw a lot of whales but only Minke and usually quite a ways off from the boat. But this is the wild, not sea world, so just adjust to expectations to what may happen on your tour.
While on the whale watching tour, I made friends with another solo female American traveler. We headed to a local seaside Fish & chips restaurant after the tour and it was great to have a conversation while enjoying our lunch. Don’t be afraid to talk to others on your tours, being a solo traveler doesn’t have to be a lonely experience. Here’s a pic of our lunches! The name of the restaurant was Icelandic Fish & Chips. Fair prices and great customer service.
I found out that this day (June 17) was also the Icelandic Independence Day! On the way back to the hotel for the evening, I found a huge festival. They even had several dozen tables along both sides of the street and were giving out small pieces of cake to everyone. (It was delicious!). Many of the attendants were wearing traditional Icelandic clothing too, a fun sight for a tourist.
I ended up walking nearly 8 miles this day!
For my second full day, I took a full day tour called the “Golden Circle Tour” with the company Gray Line Iceland. This tour took us to Thingvellir national park, across the Tectonic plate barrier for Europe and North America (that was also a filming location for the Eyrie/Vale in Game of Thrones), and then to Gullfoss Waterfall where I tried some amazingly delicious lambs meat stew with a beautiful view of the falls.
The next stop on this day tour was to see the Strokkur Geysir and the now non-active ‘Geysir’ which is where the original word for Geyser originated. The Strokkur Geysir is still very active and goes off every 5 seconds to 5 minutes.
On my third full day, I took another Gray Line Iceland tour over to the south eastern side of Iceland. It’s a very long day tour with lots of driving but the scenery is beautiful and keeps your fairly entertained in the long stretches. And the tour guide always has lots of interesting information about the sights and Icelandic culture.
Our first stop on this tour was the Skógafoss waterfall.
Then, we headed to the southern most city in Iceland, Vik. There’s nothing but sea between Vik and Antarctica so the waves are very violent and unpredictable in this area. I was very excited to partly go out on the beach though because it was my first time seeing a beach with volcanic black sand.
This tour also had amazing views of the glacier that makes up most of the southern part of Iceland. It’s twice the size of London and is shrinking one meter a year on average.
The main event for this tour was the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in Höfn, Iceland. This is located on the east side of Iceland and is beside the largest glacier in Europe. Pics don’t do justice for the sheer size and beauty of this area. Probably one of the most beautiful naturally occurring wonders I’ve ever seen.
On my fourth day, I left early and headed back to the airport for my return trip home. The FlyBus was the cheapest and easiest way to get round trip transport to and from the airport. It dropped me off and picked me up right at my hotel and was about $68 USD. You can get right off your flight, go to their counter, buy a roundtrip ticket, and then hop on the bus for the 45 minute ride into downtown Reykjavík.
If you have any comments or questions about this trip, feel free to leave them below!
Wanderlust Momma Smith
IG – Mommasmithx2