I have some pretty cool trips under my belt, but Iceland has a certain “wow” factor that no other place has. A lot of my friends asked me “Why Iceland?” I wasn’t all the way sure why until I arrived and had endless reasons. My main goal was to see the Northern Lights, which was also why I planned my trip for the winter. I went for 4 days in November.
The landscape in Iceland is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Volcanoes, lava fields, glaciers, geysers, and hot springs — from hot to cold, Iceland strangely has all of the above. It wouldn’t be a place you’d think of hot springs, but they have some breathtaking ones.
Iceland is a very desolate country with remote towns of small populations. In fact, the entire population of Iceland is under 400,000, which is smaller than most U.S. cities. This is also why I chose Iceland to do a solo trip: safety. With very low crime rates, it’s a good destination for solo female travelers. It’s definitely something that I always consider when I am looking to take a trip on my own. There is no sense in putting myself in danger.
A couple of tips for solo travel in Iceland: bring warm clothes and lots of layers. Stay in hostels so that you can meet new people — I did this and it was great to meet fellow travelers after a long day of exploring alone. Be careful when hiking as some hikes can be steep and somewhat dangerous — it’s not like hiking in a National Park in the U.S. with maintained trails everywhere.
Day 1: Reykjavík
I flew into Keflavik Airport, which is the international hub of Iceland. The first stop is Reykjavík – the capital of Iceland and also the largest city in Iceland. The population is still only a mere 131,000 — tiny compared to what I’m used to! Reykjavík was the first settled area in Iceland so there is lots of history there. It’s an awesome place to spend a couple of days.
I grabbed a hostel my first night to meet some people and get a feel for the travel scene there. I stayed at Kex Hostel which was very affordable and had a funky vibe. After a few drinks with some friendly travelers, we decided to wander downtown and check out the evening scene. Reykjavík is very artsy with lots of cool bars and laid back vibes.
From my research, I knew I wanted to see the Northern Lights as many times as possible on my trip, so for my first night, I booked a Northern Lights tour by boat. This was absolutely incredible. We headed out away from the lights of the city and into the darkness. You have to hunt for them and hope you see them — it is not guaranteed. We got lucky though and saw a solid sighting. The green lights danced and flashed across the sky, and although it didn’t last long, it was something completely worth every ounce of my journey.
Also, make sure you check out my other blog post on how to take aesthetic photos so you can come back with some epic photos from your trip!
Day 2: Ice Caves
Since I only had a short trip I decided to stay in Reykjavik and take tours from there. One of the things I had researched and was extremely excited about was checking out the ice caves. I booked the Ice Cave Classic tour with Reykjavik Sightseeing. The tour was phenomenal from start to finish.
From the beginning of the trip, you could see our destination in the distance: Langjökull Glacier, which is the second-largest glacier in Iceland. The trip starts on a very nice bus, each seat equipped with a computer screen so that you can follow along and learn about the glacier and its history on the journey out.
Upon arriving, we checked out the man-made ice caves. Our knowledgeable guide took up deep in the caves. Wait till you see these colors! The ice has deepest and simultaneously lightest blues depending on where you are in the cave — remember, we were IN a glacier.
We spent an hour inside the glacier and then headed off in our custom truck to Husafell for our lunch. After lunch, we ventured out to Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls, a stunning sight with crystal clear water cascading out of a lava field. It really is a beautiful sight. This tour lasted 11 hours and every minute of it was stunning and educational.
Day 3: The Golden Circle and The Blue Lagoon
I am not usually one to stay in one place on a trip or repeat tours, but Reykjavik Sightseeing was so professional and smooth that I decided to book another day with them to see the Golden Circle and The Blue Lagoon, which is another combination tour.
Again, we were on another bus with computer screens to give us some facts and history about where we were heading. Our first stop was Thingvellir Valley which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This valley was formed by the separating of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, leaving a beautiful lake. This was extremely cool to actually be able to see the remnants of the earth moving thousands of years ago.
Our next stop was Geysir Park, which is home to Strokkur Geyser. Strokkur Geyser erupts 35 meters into the air, the ground shakes, and then boom! I had never seen anything like this. It happens sporadically, but the tour will wait until you see the eruption at least once. Think of the amount of pressure building inside the earth to blow water that far! Our last stop is one of the wonders of the world: The Blue Lagoon. It’s a geothermal spa where you can dip in the warm waters. It’s absolutely stunning and I can see why it has been deemed a natural wonder of the world. The water isn’t coming out of the ground as you would think, it is actually run-off from the geothermal power plant next door. It felt good to be that warm in an icy place!
Day 4: Reykjavik Touring and the Northern Lights
What a quick trip! My tours the last few days were long, so I was ready for a chill day before traveling. I decided to learn about the amazing city of Reykjavik on a city tour. I booked a tour with City Walk, which is a free guided walking tour giving you the history and fun facts about Reykjavik. The tour is free, but you can donate at the end, depending on what you feel it is worth.
I learned so much about the Viking history, music scene, political views, and economical situation of Iceland. I always think it’s so important to learn these things about the countries you visit. What better way to actually understand it than by being there and hearing it first hand. Our guide was awesome and very knowledgeable; this was a great addition to the trip.
I had to see the Northern Lights one last time so I booked my last tour to try to catch a glimpse of them. I booked with Iceland Extreme on their super jeep tours to get out into the darkness and hunt for the beautiful green lights in the sky. Don’t hate me, but I got lucky again! This time the lights were sprawling across the whole sky and dancing and moving like nothing I have ever seen before. It was 10x what they were the first night and I was blown away, yet again.
This trip was a complete win from start to finish. I would highly recommend making the trek here at some point, even if it is for just a short trip like I did. I would recommend doing your research and perhaps even booking tours to make sure you see everything. It wasn’t a cheap trip, but it didn’t break the bank either. I always say that if you spend all the time and money getting somewhere, you might as well check out all there is to see!
And if you still haven’t gotten your fill of traveling, I say it’s never too late to start planning your next trip! Check out my 10 day Alaska itinerary from my most recent travel and start planning today!