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Reykjavik, Iceland this march

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    I might be going solo to Reykjavik in two weeks time, staying in the Reykjavik Downtown Hostel.

    I plan to go whale watching; the golden circle tour including Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall, which looks stunning!, and Thingvellier national park, where you can walk between the two diverging tectonic plates; glacier walking and climbing; an ATV ride along the coast to the Blue lagoon, a geothermal spa; and with a lot of luck, see the northern lights. As well as exploring the city

    Any tips for a first time solo traveller or first time visitor to Iceland?

    Or is anyone else thinking (or is now thinking...) of going at the same time?
    Let me know if you are!
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    (Original post by Panini42)
    I might be going solo to Reykjavik in two weeks time, staying in the Reykjavik Downtown Hostel.

    I plan to go whale watching; the golden circle tour including Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall, which looks stunning!, and Thingvellier national park, where you can walk between the two diverging tectonic plates; glacier walking and climbing; an ATV ride along the coast to the Blue lagoon, a geothermal spa; and with a lot of luck, see the northern lights. As well as exploring the city

    Any tips for a first time solo traveller or first time visitor to Iceland?

    Or is anyone else thinking (or is now thinking...) of going at the same time?
    Let me know if you are!
    Ok. I've had two holidays in Iceland, staying for four weeks in total. My itinerary was very different to yours (I travelled around a lot), but I reckon I've still got some useful tips for you.

    Firstly, the Blue Lagoon is a little disappointing (at least for me). If you read the publicity you are told it's some kind of natural spa with magical healing properties -- whereas really it's the outflow of a nearby geothermal power plant, which is so mineral rich it goes milky blue. So really, it's a €20 dip in a swimming pool with too many bath salts added. In any case, the Icelandic swimming pools are really nice anyway (really warm).

    The Golden Circle is nice enough -- a good day trip, and do-able from Reykjavik. Fun fact: The prime minister of Iceland lives in Thingvellir. It turned out the nicely kept garden we were wandering through was actually the Prime Minister's garden. Oh dear.

    Whale watching is amazing (though I did it at Husavik). Had a whale dive right under the boat. If you want to try eating Whale, that's pretty good as well (but don't have whale mincemeat, cos it tastes crap (to anyone who's opposed to the killing of whales (which ironically includes me) I just did it to try it. I will not be eating whale again.

    Glacier walking and climbing -- go for at least like moderately challenging routes. The easy rated one is designed so that (literally) everyone and their mums can do it, which is kinda boring.

    I'm not sure how much I'd recommend ATV riding (though I haven't done it). I just don't see how unique the experience would be, since you can do it fairly easily in the UK. I'd definitely recommend snowmobiling though, which is run by all the major tour companies (there's a shop that organises all the tours near the big cathedral in the centre of Reykjavik (when you get there, you'll know the cathedral I mean).

    I'll give a massive recommendation for Icelandic Fish and Chips, a shop in the harbour: http://fishandchips.is/
    It's not *quite* the best fish and chips I've ever had -- but it's the best I've had in iceland, and is just really good.
    Also a must try is the hot dog stand in the centre of Reykjavik (google it). The food's not amazing, but it's definitely better than cheap McDonalds in the UK and costs like £1, which means you can buy 10-20 hot dogs for the price of a standard meal at most non-Reykjavik hotels. Bargain.

    And you're paying less than £10 for a meal there. Expect to get fleeced if you eat out at most places. Don't buy alcohol if you can avoid it.

    Try Egils Maltextrakt (comes in a beige 500ml can). It tasts like a slightly sweeter kind of beer, with no alcohol. It's the first type of non-alcoholic ale I've genuinely liked (I like it more than normal beer, to be perfectly honest), and is considered to be good for the health. Since real alcohol in iceland is so freaking expensive, if you like beer and don't mind not getting drunk, try some of that.

    Before going, read the e-book 'Zombie Iceland'. It's a reasonable zombie story wrapped up with tonnes and tonnes of random information about Iceland. Quite short, but I'd say worth the €10...
    http://okei.is/?wpsc-product=zombie-iceland-2

    This is probably slightly irrelevant now, but when I was there I passed up the chance to buy a traditional icelandic jumper, thinking I'd be mocked if I wore it at home, and they immediately became top indie fashion where I live. Bummer.

    Hitchhiking is do-able in Iceland - it's safe, and relatively high numbers of people do it (though maybe not in March).

    Get your Icelandic currency in Iceland, from an Icelandic bank. They're desperate for foreign cash since the Ice Save fiasco, so you get rates as good as the best bank-transfer-to-currency services in the UK.

    Hope I've helped a bit.
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    (Original post by CHY872)
    Ok. I've had two holidays in Iceland, staying for four weeks in total. My itinerary was very different to yours (I travelled around a lot), but I reckon I've still got some useful tips for you.

    Firstly, the Blue Lagoon is a little disappointing (at least for me). If you read the publicity you are told it's some kind of natural spa with magical healing properties -- whereas really it's the outflow of a nearby geothermal power plant, which is so mineral rich it goes milky blue. So really, it's a €20 dip in a swimming pool with too many bath salts added. In any case, the Icelandic swimming pools are really nice anyway (really warm).

    The Golden Circle is nice enough -- a good day trip, and do-able from Reykjavik. Fun fact: The prime minister of Iceland lives in Thingvellir. It turned out the nicely kept garden we were wandering through was actually the Prime Minister's garden. Oh dear.

    Whale watching is amazing (though I did it at Husavik). Had a whale dive right under the boat. If you want to try eating Whale, that's pretty good as well (but don't have whale mincemeat, cos it tastes crap (to anyone who's opposed to the killing of whales (which ironically includes me) I just did it to try it. I will not be eating whale again.

    Glacier walking and climbing -- go for at least like moderately challenging routes. The easy rated one is designed so that (literally) everyone and their mums can do it, which is kinda boring.

    I'm not sure how much I'd recommend ATV riding (though I haven't done it). I just don't see how unique the experience would be, since you can do it fairly easily in the UK. I'd definitely recommend snowmobiling though, which is run by all the major tour companies (there's a shop that organises all the tours near the big cathedral in the centre of Reykjavik (when you get there, you'll know the cathedral I mean).

    I'll give a massive recommendation for Icelandic Fish and Chips, a shop in the harbour: http://fishandchips.is/
    It's not *quite* the best fish and chips I've ever had -- but it's the best I've had in iceland, and is just really good.
    Also a must try is the hot dog stand in the centre of Reykjavik (google it). The food's not amazing, but it's definitely better than cheap McDonalds in the UK and costs like £1, which means you can buy 10-20 hot dogs for the price of a standard meal at most non-Reykjavik hotels. Bargain.

    And you're paying less than £10 for a meal there. Expect to get fleeced if you eat out at most places. Don't buy alcohol if you can avoid it.

    Try Egils Maltextrakt (comes in a beige 500ml can). It tasts like a slightly sweeter kind of beer, with no alcohol. It's the first type of non-alcoholic ale I've genuinely liked (I like it more than normal beer, to be perfectly honest), and is considered to be good for the health. Since real alcohol in iceland is so freaking expensive, if you like beer and don't mind not getting drunk, try some of that.

    Before going, read the e-book 'Zombie Iceland'. It's a reasonable zombie story wrapped up with tonnes and tonnes of random information about Iceland. Quite short, but I'd say worth the €10...
    http://okei.is/?wpsc-product=zombie-iceland-2

    This is probably slightly irrelevant now, but when I was there I passed up the chance to buy a traditional icelandic jumper, thinking I'd be mocked if I wore it at home, and they immediately became top indie fashion where I live. Bummer.

    Hitchhiking is do-able in Iceland - it's safe, and relatively high numbers of people do it (though maybe not in March).

    Get your Icelandic currency in Iceland, from an Icelandic bank. They're desperate for foreign cash since the Ice Save fiasco, so you get rates as good as the best bank-transfer-to-currency services in the UK.

    Hope I've helped a bit.
    Thanks a lot! Yeah I was thinking the blue lagoon looked way too commercialised to be enjoyable as a natural phenomenon (which it apparently isnt! :0). I'll definitely look into snowmobiling and buy an Icelandic jumper!

    Did you travel alone? Did you stay in hostels? If so, how was that?
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    I went with my parents, which i am extremely grateful for, as its by far the most expensive place i've ever been to! Things like petrol and food are just... through the roof.

    Fantastic scenery though.
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    Iceland is an amazing place! It was definitely the best place I have visited to the extent that I would like to live there one day as a life goal. I am intending to go again later this year before Uni starts but it dont know when yet.

    I went on most of the activities you mentioned, I found them all amazing but the best of all is the Blue Lagoon, its the most awesome spa ever.

    Make sure you take a good camera, a good DSLR is a must for anyone interested in photography. I made the mistake of taking my iPhone as a camera, the battery froze up on several occasions when visiting glaciers and ice grew inside the camera and ruined several of my pics!

    Also load your iPod/entertainment devices up as the coach rides around the place take a long time, however the scenery around the roads is always amazing.
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    (Original post by Panini42)
    Thanks a lot! Yeah I was thinking the blue lagoon looked way too commercialised to be enjoyable as a natural phenomenon (which it apparently isnt! :0). I'll definitely look into snowmobiling and buy an Icelandic jumper!

    Did you travel alone? Did you stay in hostels? If so, how was that?
    No, I traveled with my family, and in general, stayed in hotels (not much choice outside of Reykjavik, if I recall correctly). We met up with quite a few people who did travel alone though (generally on minibuses), and they seemed to be having fun :P

    (Original post by nexttime)
    I went with my parents, which i am extremely grateful for, as its by far the most expensive place i've ever been to! Things like petrol and food are just... through the roof.

    Fantastic scenery though.
    The worst thing about prices is by far the consistency. Outside of Reykjavik, pretty much all food just costs a fixed 3000kr fee, no matter how good it is. You can go to the Hotel Foss and get amazing food, or some b&b and get something that barely deserves the title.

    Petrol's not too bad thanks to the massive oil hikes, I seem to recall about 280kr per litre, which works out at about £1.50 -- bad in the past, but ok now British prices are really high.
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    (Original post by Panini42)
    I might be going solo to Reykjavik in two weeks time, staying in the Reykjavik Downtown Hostel.
    How much where your flights if you don't mind me asking?
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    Regarding "solo travel tips" - just walk up to people in the hostel and start chatting to them. For a first time, it's easiest to start with the people in your room (assuming they're around) or at meal times - cook your meal then go and sit next to someone (however tempting it is to sit on the empty table!).

    Same on the coaches etc. - if there are people around you who seem open enough, just chat with them. Then you'll usually get the added bonus of walking around the attractions etc. together as opposed to on your own!

    (Original post by I_AM_SANTA)
    How much where your flights if you don't mind me asking?
    I haven't been yet (but have looked into it a lot) and I've seen Easyjet fly return for under £100 a few times in their sales. It isn't too hard to find it for under £140 if you book a decent period in advance either.
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    Oh, final tip;
    If you've chosen to fly Iceland Express, expect delays. Something like 30% of their flights are massively delayed. I've been on four Iceland Express flights. The delays have been as follows: 1 hours, 2 hours, 1 hours, 4 hours. I'm generally a very mild-mannered person, but I was a few minutes from becoming one of those 'problem passengers' who show up on youtube. Make sure you're prepared, take good food (because Keflavik food is in general not amazing).
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    (Original post by CHY872)
    Petrol's not too bad thanks to the massive oil hikes, I seem to recall about 280kr per litre, which works out at about £1.50 -- bad in the past, but ok now British prices are really high.
    I think it was around the £1.80 mark when i was there. I remember telling an american friend of mine it was $11.50/gallon - you can do the maths
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    (Original post by I_AM_SANTA)
    How much where your flights if you don't mind me asking?
    (Original post by callum9999)
    Regarding "solo travel tips" - just walk up to people in the hostel and start chatting to them. For a first time, it's easiest to start with the people in your room (assuming they're around) or at meal times - cook your meal then go and sit next to someone (however tempting it is to sit on the empty table!).

    Same on the coaches etc. - if there are people around you who seem open enough, just chat with them. Then you'll usually get the added bonus of walking around the attractions etc. together as opposed to on your own!

    (Original post by I_AM_SANTA)
    How much where your flights if you don't mind me asking?
    I haven't been yet (but have looked into it a lot) and I've seen Easyjet fly return for under £100 a few times in their sales. It isn't too hard to find it for under £140 if you book a decent period in advance either.
    Haven't booked yet but I'm finding prices around £270 by iceland express, unfortunately Easyjet don't fly there until april and I want to go in march for a fairer chance of seeing aurora let me know if anyone finds something cheaper for this march!

    Delays won't bother me too much as long as they don't take a day sized chunk from my holiday, it's a chance to do the revision I should be doing instead... heh heh.
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    People people people, there are so many things wrong in this conversation that I don't know where to start

    First of all - yes, the Blue Lagoon is a accidental man-made wonder, and even quite expensive, but the minirals in it actually do your skin good. They are leading in research and treatment of psoriasis patients who on doctor's orders visit the lagoon regularely.

    Second - the prime minister doesn't an has never lived in Þingvellir Our former president used to have summer house in Þingvellir (which Björk apparently later bought) and possibly our current president has a summer house there too but I'm not sure. But none of them live there.

    The current gas prices are around 250 a liter (http://gsmbensin.is/gsmbensin_web.php?language=en) which is about 1.25 GBP

    I support that you support local authors and buy Zombie Iceland, just be aware that it contains some factual errors (http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2012/...ombie-iceland/)

    Iceland Express actually has been doing a lot better in the delays department, they've signed a deal with a new carrier that apparently is a lot more punctual than their old one. Plus they were always late because they were trying to connect the Europe flights with their American flights and they no longer fly to the States. There was a news item in one of the bigger papers here recently that suggested they were doing better.

    You can easily get a meal under 3000 ISK outside of Reykjavík. I had a wonderful Pad Thai in Akureyri last night for example and it cost me 1500 ISK and it was big enough to take home half of it in a doggie bag. That's around 7.50 GBP by the way.

    There are plenty of accommodation options outside of Reykjavík that are not hotels - 34 hostels for example (http://www.hostel.is) and about 180 farm stays.

    The only thing I will say is that our public transport system outside of Reykjavík is pretty useless - so if you are going to use it, make sure you study it well. There's also a car pooling site that you can use, http://www.samferda.net. . There is also a board at the Reykjavík Downtown Hostel where you can put up an ad and see if there's anyone at the hostel who is renting a car who wants someone to share the cost with them - I know a lot of people who have done that and made new friends while they are at it. And as for the social aspect, check out their social calendar either on their Facebook page or hostel.is and see the events you can take part in to meet some people.

    Also, every Friday in February and March I host a little event called Latte with a Local where you can come and ask any questions you have about Reykjavík and Iceland which I'll try my best to answer. You can see more about it here: http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/whats...ll-2012-03-30/

    And don't forget to enjoy your stay!

    Hope that helps
    Auður - I heart Reykjavík
    http://www.iheartreykjavik.net
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    (Original post by Panini42)
    Haven't booked yet but I'm finding prices around £270 by iceland express, unfortunately Easyjet don't fly there until april and I want to go in march for a fairer chance of seeing aurora let me know if anyone finds something cheaper for this march!

    Delays won't bother me too much as long as they don't take a day sized chunk from my holiday, it's a chance to do the revision I should be doing instead... heh heh.
    Ah sorry missed the "in 2 weeks" bit. I don't think you're going to find it much cheaper than that at this short notice. Iceland isn't a very competitive route so the few airlines that fly it can all charge extortionate prices!

    I can't even find fares that cheap! You do realise that the prices on the Iceland Express website exclude fees don't you? If you select the price and scroll down then it tells you the total price.
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    (Original post by callum9999)
    Ah sorry missed the "in 2 weeks" bit. I don't think you're going to find it much cheaper than that at this short notice. Iceland isn't a very competitive route so the few airlines that fly it can all charge extortionate prices!

    I can't even find fares that cheap! You do realise that the prices on the Iceland Express website exclude fees don't you? If you select the price and scroll down then it tells you the total price.
    Yeah they've gone drastically up recently
    Surely they have empty seats on their flights, wouldn't they rather fill them up by offering lower prices than have them go empty?
    Maybe if you call them... what do you think?
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    (Original post by Panini42)
    Yeah they've gone drastically up recently
    Surely they have empty seats on their flights, wouldn't they rather fill them up by offering lower prices than have them go empty?
    Maybe if you call them... what do you think?
    Well if they have a cheap phone number then give it a try, but I highly doubt they have any cheap seats left - airlines don't work like that. Seats get more and more expensive the closer you get to the date.

    There is almost no competition on that route so flight prices are ridiculous - which is exactly why I haven't been yet! I would like to go to Iceland, but the cost of flights there almost put them in the same category as the US a lot of the time. If only Ryanair would fly it!

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