Why Iceland is a Great Place for a Solo Tour
Iceland is a great place for a solo tour. Everyone speaks English (and Icelanders speak it so well that they can be both funny and cynical in their responses and observations). I lucked out on my journey because, although weather reports in the weeks preceding my trip forecasted constant rain and cold, every day that I was there was sunny and relatively warm. Iceland’s clean air, clean water, and sparkling Northern Lights were spread before me like a luminous gift for a solo tour. I can’t take credit for my weather luck, though. It was autumn, and the icy blasts had not yet begun to pummel the island.
Travel Lite: Just a Daypack and a Purse!
On my eternal quest to jettison luggage when I travel, I traveled to Iceland with a day pack and a purse. Did my daypack’s worth of clothes suffice for my five-day (NOT enough) trip to Iceland? Já! And I have to report that not only did I have everything I needed, I loved the ease of traveling without luggage.
Travel Lies: Ignore the Weather Reports
I can’t take all credit for traveling light, though: I’m sure that the weather contributed—it was sunny and relatively warm every day (and I ditched my rain pants because the zipper broke the first time I wore them—on a boat to see the Northern Lights). My waterproof hiking books lasted only a bit longer (I should have road tested them a LOT more than I did). I ended up painfully hobbling down the main drag, Laugavegur Street.
Icelanders: Keep Calm and Carry On
My flight to Iceland on Icelandair was calm and pleasant. I felt very comfortable as a solo tour-taker. When I arrived I took the Airport Direct bus (airportdirect.is) from Keflavik airport to my hotel, but there are many other companies and all are more or less the same cost, I believe. Reykjavik has a wonderful system of numbered bus stops, so any tour or transportation is made easy when you tell a company to pick you up or drop you off at Bus Stop #10 or another numbered stop. Any online map of Reykjavik will have the numbered bus stops.
Hotel Phoenix: Quirky Solo Tour Digs
I stayed at the Hotel Phoenix (Laugavegur 140), a small and kind of quirky place (and very very quiet) on the main drag of Reykjavik. The hotel was a bit removed from the action—it was on the opposite end of the street from the Old City, government buildings, the pond, and many restaurants and shops. That seemed fine at first (except when I realized that I wanted to go to a restaurant on the other side of town and was too lazy—and hobbling—to walk for 20 minutes).
The hotel has chandeliers, oriental carpets, and some plastic flowers. It is run by two very low key and kind men. The large breakfast is lovely……bread, cheese, meat, skyr (Icelandic yogurt), orange juice, and tea or coffee. I made sure that I stayed at a place with breakfast, since food is so expensive in Iceland, and I needed something to last me most of the day.
Iceland: Day Trips on a Solo Tour
There are many tour companies that offer day trips or longer trips; most list similar ones. I did mine with Arctic Adventures (adventures.is), and they were good—but of course your tour depends on the personality of the driver/tour guide.
I took two all-day trips with them, one was the Golden Circle and Secret Lagoon (thermal pools in Iceland, whether the expensive and tourist-filled Blue Lagoon or others, are not to be missed), and the other was South Shore Adventure (you can choose to hike on a glacier—or not. All the people I talked to who went on the hike felt that it was worth it). While many of the travelers on the tours were couples or small groups, there were a number of solo tour folks as well. I met some lovely people from different countries, most notably my fellow thermal bathers in Fludir.