We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Amy, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Amy is from the United States, and submitted the following report about Reykjavik. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Icelandic, English
Reasons to go to Reykjavik
What a wonderful place Reykjavik is! I found the culture overall to be relaxing and the air to be remarkably clean. They seem a very health conscious society with a focus on fresh food, thermal pool routines, and lots of walking. The capital city has many activities to choose from without losing a smaller town feel. I walked around town most of the time. Some of the activities I enjoyed were a guided bicycle tour of Reykjavik, hiking Mt. Esja during the midnight sun, visiting the Blue Lagoon (geothermal spa) and taking wonderful self-guided tours through the city photographing interesting statues and unique flowers. Otherwise, I relaxed much of the time around Tjornin Lake.
I found an affordable B&B called the Askot. I highly recommend it – the owner’s name is Arna and her place was clean and in a wonderful neighborhood. Her breakfasts were diverse and protein packed which was excellent considering all the nature exercise you’ll get during the day. My favorite place to eat was the Icelandic Bar because of its cozy atmosphere and interesting food like minke whale, lamb, and some of the best salad I’ve ever eaten. It was here that I found out most people would begin talking to me in Icelandic but when I responded in English they were always able to continue the discussion.
Some advice would be to have hiking shoes to walk around Reykjavik because they are often lightweight but durable. The weather changes quickly so be prepared. In one day it would turn from warm sun into brisk winds with cloudy skies and back to warm sun again. I could always tell who were tourists…it must have been the cameras…but I also noticed that Icelanders don’t dress very flashy but instead wear dark, simple clothes.
Another word to the wise – ask a local there to write down some simple words for you like “ladies restroom”. I didn’t find that the proper version of those words, which I had learned before my trip, were used at all and often the bathroom doors have a shorter/maybe slang version with no diagram of a man or a woman. I did walk into the wrong restroom once but luckily no one was in there. Also, if you visit local thermal pools or the Blue Lagoon please be aware that, because Icelanders have high standards of personal hygiene, the common practice is to rinse off without your swim suit on before you get into the pools. They do not use chlorine there nor do they allow sunblock that I saw. The Blue Lagoon offers a few private showers but most showers in thermal pools I visited are in an open room so you might be rinsing off undressed in front of other women. I recommend visiting at least one thermal pool though because the locals go there to chat, exercise, and relax.
A few other suggestions of wonderful places to visit in Reykjavik would be the Sun Voyager statue called Solfar, enjoy at least part of the Sculpture and Shoreline trail, and eat at Bæjarins beztu. Bæjarins beztu is their famous hotdog stand around the harbor area. The difference is that they know what is in their hotdogs! They are made of pork and lamb. I had one with the “works” and one called the “Clinton.” Go ahead, ask someone to tell you the story of how it got that name. The hot dogs were excellent! Additionally, I’d suggest going to enjoy the city parks. If the weather gets warm and sunny just know that many of the locals take off work and flood the parks to enjoy. It was great fun! I never felt alone unless I wanted to be. I will return, hopefully to venture out into the countryside next.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 1 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)