19
May-2017

We’re Obsessed With Iceland – And We Haven’t Even Been

Iceland   /  
Solo travel to Iceland: Kirkjufellsfoss

Kirkjufellsfoss Mountain | Photo courtesy of Iceland Tourism

STALKING THE LAND OF FIRE AND ICE

 

I have a confession.

I’m an Icelandic Stalker.

I stalk Iceland photos and Instagrammers and YouTubers.

I obsess over things to do with anything remotely related to the Land of Fire and Ice.

I read and follow every Icelandic blogger or travel blogger who’s had anything to do with Iceland.

I blame my Nordic bloodline.

And finally, I’m planning a trip to Iceland in 2017.


SOLO TRAVEL TO ICELAND…AS A MARRIED WOMAN

 

You may notice in that last sentence I said I’m planning a trip to Iceland, not we.

I can hear two distinct crowds shouting in the background.

The first, the chorus of pro-solo female travellers fist pumping into the air in full support of venturing off my own, full of wisdom and advice about empowerment.

There’s another, smaller chorus in the background, shaking their heads as if to say, how I could possibly travel to the other side of the world without my husband?

Well, quite simply, we would both love to go, but coming from New Zealand, it’s a heck of a long way. Right now, it’s not practical for us both to travel 17,000 km across the world. John is also in full-time employment in NZ so it’s not easy for him to take time off for travel.

Financially, it makes better sense for me to go by myself. Because I’m a full-time travel blogger and freelancer, travel is my business and therefore a business expense.

But also, as well as being my business, travel, in my opinion, is an important personal development journey. I believe solo travel to Iceland (which coincides with my Ireland trip for TBEX) will be a huge learning experience, challenging at the least and a time of wonderful personal growth.

And, well…it’s ICELAND!

Solo travel to Iceland: Öxarárfoss waterfall Þingvellir National Park

Öxarárfoss, Þingvellir National Park | © Ron Kroetz / Flickr

IS ICELAND STILL COOL?

 

Tourism to Iceland has exploded. Visitor numbers in the first two months of 2017 were up 59% compared to the same time last year. 

We don’t need to have seen it for ourselves to know that Iceland is filled with spectacular natural beauty. As a travel photographer, I couldn’t ask for much more.

It seems both safe and dangerous at the same time. Safe from world political disagreements, dangerously attractive with its rumbling underbelly, rugged landscape and geothermal activity.

We’ve always been a little off-the-beaten track with our travel plans, and while Iceland’s tourism is going through a huge phase of growth, it still has that raw, mysterious and mystical feel that gets right into my core.

Tourism may change the face of parts of Iceland, but it will never change its root beauty and power.

 

THE ICELAND BUCKET LIST

 

DIVE OR SNORKEL THE SILFRA

Diving the famous Silfra fissure has been sitting firmly at the top of not only my Iceland bucket list, but number one of my whole entire life bucket list. A scuba diver’s dream? Well, definitely mine.

Time to do some drysuit training cos that water is IIICCCCYYY.  

Silfra fissure | © Shriram Rajagopalan / Flickr

Silfra fissure | © Shriram Rajagopalan / Flickr

DRIVE THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

Few surprises here; it’s a classic Iceland must-do. With the Gullfoss waterfall, Strokkur geyser and Þingvellir National Park all jaw-droppingly beautiful sites to visit, it would be mad to exclude this from the Iceland bucket list. 

 

WHALE WATCHING

As a scuba diver, I’m passionate about all marine life, from tiny little nudibranchs to the big whales and sharks of the the globe’s harshest ocean conditions.

There’s something truly magnificent and inspiring about the idea of watching these beautiful giants of the sea breaching that gives me tingles.

Orca watching at Grundarfjordur | Photo courtesy of Guide to Iceland

Orca watching at Grundarfjordur | Photo courtesy of Iceland Tourism

THE BLUE LAGOON

I’ve seen a lot of articles asking whether The Blue Lagoon is worth the price, especially given how many tourists are heading there these days.

At the end of the day, it’s still a stunning natural hotpot of geothermal activity and quite frankly, I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks about it. I like the look of it – and that’s all that matters. I have heard there are some other great similar less crowded hot pools, so I’ll be keeping that in mind.

 

NORTHERN LIGHTS

Does this need an explanation?

The time of year I’ll be visiting, October, is apparently great Northern Lights hunting time as the nights are getting darker and the activity tends to be strong.

Solo travel to Iceland: Watching the northern lights

Northern Lights, Iceland | Photo courtesy of Iceland Tourism

 

SNÆFELLSJÖKULL GLACIER

Snæfellsjökull is probably Iceland’s most famous volcano, made all the more famous thanks to being the subject of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth

The Snæfellsjökull glacier, along with the peninsular’s spectacular waterfalls and black pebble beaches, send tingles down my spine.

 

ICELANDIC HORSES

With luscious platinum blonde manes and rockin’ bangs, these horses have serious style. How could I resist?

Solo travel to Iceland bucket list: Icelandic Horses

Icelandic Horses | © Jennifer Boyer / Flickr

 

HOW TO THROW IT ALL TOGETHER

 

I’m still in the early phases of planning and I’m yet to work out my itinerary. As I’ll be visiting in October, the roads potentially will be getting quite icy.

There are some exciting multi day tours in Iceland I’m eyeing up, which will allow me to tick off some of the above.

So there we have it – the beginnings of my solo travel to Iceland. I’m also very excited for my third trip to Bergen, Norway – the birthplace of my grandfather – but that’s a special story to be told another time.


DISCUSS: Does Iceland excite you like it does me?

Why my Iceland obsession means I'm planning solo travel to Iceland, as a married woman.

Oregon Girl Around the World

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  • Hey, I know what you mean about Iceland. I’m tempted to book a flight there all the time. Happy planning!
    #FlyAwayFriday

  • I’ve honestly never thought of Iceland as a snorkelling or diving destination – brrrrrr!!! 🙂

  • Iceland is and will always be cool! I understand why you might be a little reticent to travel on your own to Iceland, especially sine it’s such a long way from Iceland. But I’m sure that you’re going to love it since you seem to be so passionate about it!
    I was planning to get to Iceland while I lived in Europe, but my money didn’t stretch that far. I’ll be waiting to read all about your experiences though! #FlyAwayFriday

    • Well, given that I am going to Ireland in October, it seems silly to fly all that way and NOT visit anywhere else! I mean, it’s really just on the backdoor of Ireland…

  • Ha ha, YES! I’m totally the same as you. Two of our team at LWT have been to Iceland and Im insanely jealous. I will go, and possibly next year for my 40th… :s #FlyAwayFriday

    • What a great trip for your 40th! Every time I see a friend posting Iceland pics, my heart simultaneously flutters and sinks. Absolutely cannot wait.

  • Yes! I too am obsessed with Iceland even though I’ve never been. For a couple of years now, it seems every other person on earth has gone to Iceland (or you know, it feels that way because I’m not one of them haha). I’m dying to go but haven’t made it happen yet. #FlyAwayFriday

    • I know what you mean – it was definitely the hip place to go in 2016! But I don’t think it will have lost its charm. Natural beauty withstands everything and I think the locals will be working to mitigate any negative effects of tourism.

  • I am also obsessed with Iceland. It’s one of the top places on my bucket list. Good for you for doing it solo. I love the idea of solo travel (I am also married) but I haven’t quite worked up the courage to actually do it. But it is a goal of mine for some time in my life. #FlyAwayFriday

    • My first solo trip, at the age of 24, was not actually that fun. Parts of it were, visiting family in Norway was great but the rest I felt quite lonely and decided I’d never travel solo again. Fast forward 6 years and I’m ready to do it again. I’ve grown up and my expectations have changed, the type of travel has changed and my reasons for travelling are different. Back then it was about self discovery, now it’s because I have things I need to achieve!

  • Oh my gosh, I’m just like you – totally obsessed and haven’t been yet! I can’t wait to hear about your trip. #flyawayfriday

  • Audrey

    from reading your post I’m obsessed now! Good post

  • Edith Carolina Rodriguez

    Yes! I too get excited about Iceland! I don’t see myself going soon, but it’s one of those places that I won’t miss! I’m sure you will have a lovely time!

  • Jennifer Riley

    I feel the same way about Iceland. It’s like the crush I’ve had for years, but am too shy to ask out. I think it’s completely healthy for couples to have separate vacations (we do it too).

  • Jing

    Iceland is on my list, too. I’d love to see the waterfalls, the beautiful landscapes and of course, the Northern lights. Happy planning!

    • Yes the waterfalls look exceptional! And of course the northern lights and the rest of the landscape. There’s not much I don’t want to see there.

  • I’ve only been to Iceland for one day on my way to Greenland and didn’t do any of the things of your list but still had a blast! Iceland just is really charming and beautiful and I’m sure you’ll have the trip of your lifetime 🙂

  • Gokul Raj

    This is my dream destination. I will solo travel to Iceland one day.Love the photos and they are really pulling me there.

  • Miranda Knudtson

    I went to Iceland in January 2014 and though we couldn’t snorkel, everything else was GORGEOUS as a winter wonderland. I have a post up on my blog about Gullfoss, and I’m going to work my way through the Golden Circle. I’d also recommend seeing Eyjafjallajokull too when you’re there! 🙂 No matter what time of year you go, it will be beautiful.

    • Oh how perfect, what an incredible time of year to visit in winter. If I wasn’t going to Ireland in October I would consider a winter visit.

  • Liana Moore

    It might just be the most photogenic place in the world. I haven’t been but have lived vicariously through friends. Have a wonderful trip! #FlyAwayFriday

  • Sandy & Vyjay

    I am sure you would have a great trip, and to our knowledge you would add some more points. Though, the Iceland is sure to give you some beautiful adventures and memories, I support you being a traveler myself. Sometimes Going Solo is all you need. Best of luck.

  • Carol

    I am glad you are finally going. Iceland is such a special place on earth!

  • so awesome! I haven’t been to Iceland yet, but everything there looks amazing and magical! And its really cool that you are doing it solo, as much as traveling with your person is great, getting out on your own can be super exciting.
    #farawayfiles

  • Kevan Toombs

    I’ve spent a lot of time as a solo traveler, but it was all before getting married a few years ago. I haven’t gone alone since and think it would feel odd to me now. I applaud your ability to try it. It does look like and amazing place and I can see why travel has exploded there. It would be amazing to see the northern lights.

    • Yes it will be very odd going by myself, on my last solo trip I didn’t think I’d want to go solo again but now I am ready for it.

  • LC

    I can’t see you being disappointed. I felt the same way – obsessed for years, finally got there in 2014 and have been back twice since then (and it was the first country I travelled to, solo). People do tend to rave about places for a reason! Enjoy your trip planning.

    • How fabulous you’ve been three times! And did you enjoy travelling their solo?

      • LC

        I did! Stayed in a lovely hostel and made a few buds there.

  • Elena Melamory

    Good luck with your trip! I also dream of Iceland (and my husband has been there before he met me, which makes me jealous). I believe you would make incredible photos there!

  • MelBTravel

    I love how excited you are to go visit Iceland, you can hear the excitement in your voice while I read the post. Like so many others, I have been to Iceland I can tell you that your going to have an amazing time. The only difference with my trip, was that I went over 10 years go before they had much tourism. I would love to go back and I can’t wait to hear what you think.

    • I do wear my emotions on my sleeve/in my writing, don’t I! I am yet to hear of someone who didn’t like Iceland – how fortunate you were to go back when it was less touristy though, must have been absolutely magical!

  • That’s very interesting! Most of my Europe travels were solo as a married woman! Just that my guy couldn’t take the necessary leaves from office while there was no point not going at all altogether! I really hope I’ll get to see the northern lights atleast once in lifetime!

    • Well I’m glad there are others who understand the solo-travel-as-a-married-woman dilemma. My mother keeps telling me my husband really needs to come with me and is shocked that he isn’t!

  • Sonja Thomson

    I went to Iceland 4 years ago before I saw it exploding on social media, and now it’s just made me obsessed with going back! I think it’s awesome that you can still travel solo when you’re married. Why not?! I hope you get to do all the amazing things in Iceland (and I hope I get to go back!). P.S. See you at TBEX Ireland 😀

    • Yay for another TBEX-er in Killarney! Fabulous you were able to visit Iceland before it became so popular, must have been very special to see it. I think it will still be awesome!

  • Monica Suri

    Totally awed by your love for Iceland. On my list for long now and reading this post have me a good sneak peak by someone who hasn’t visited but we’ll researched. I now look forward to your post, post visiting Iceland. Northern lights is the reason I will visit Iceland this year. Thanks for sharing

  • I visited Iceland recently and it more than exceeded my expectations. There are a few waterfalls and glaciers missing from your list, a drive on the 1 ringroad out to Jokulsarlon will pass many plenty of beautiful sites. One thing I regret not visiting when I visited is the black beach in Vik, everyday I see a Vik beach picture on Instagram to remind me of this! Good luck with the Northern Lights coming out and make sure you know the camera settings in advance!

    • Ah thank you for the recommendations! I know there will be many places I will want to find there but won’t be able to get them all in. The glaciers and waterfalls look absolutely spectacular over there. Good point about the camera settings! Sadly we just missed the Aurora Australis over the weekend as we were in Queenstown where it was visible, but they only came out the night we left!

  • Jeanette Cheney

    Make sure you take a ride on the Icelandic ponies! They are so much fun. I’ve never been to Iceland but I did this in christchurch. So jelly that you’re off to Iceland. Can’t wait to see your photos

    • How gorgeous! And to think I didn’t even know about the Icelandic ponies in Christchurch and that’s my hometown!

  • AMIT AGRAWAL

    Good Luck for your visit to Iceland. Before going only you have done such a beautiful research and highlighted the main points. After going I believe you will another beautiful blog with your experiences. Northern Lights and Riding on Icelandic Horsers are on my wish light.

  • Clare Thomson

    I think it’s great to travel on your own sometimes. It can be really empowering. Iceland does look a truly stunning destination. I just hope it’s not becoming so popular that it falls victim to its own success. Thanks for sharing your wishlist of attractions on #FarawayFiles

    • I think so. And Iceland and the Nordic countries seem like a safe place to solo travel too. I think Iceland will stay beautiful but some areas will not feel so remote and magical because of the tourism.

  • Tasha Haley

    I snorkeled Silfra!! How friggin awesome is it? Sooo cold but the best and the coolest thing I have ever done!!

    • How incredible!! I can’t wait to do it for myself! Freezing cold for sure, but definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

  • The Lavish Nomad

    I am in love Iceland for far too long and I haven’t been there either. It just looks so beautiful and I would love to visit there more than just once 😀

  • First of all let me just say that I LOVE the design of your blog. Absolutely great and really user-friendly, I think I’m going to “steal” some of your ideas. Second, I really love the fact that you posted an article BEFORE going to Iceland, that’s such a new thing to me, so I think it’s very smart! Well done. Lastly, I am in Bali, but I’ve spent the last three days talking to various people who have been or want to go to Iceland. Its crazy! As you said lots of people are now planning to go there and I think the government has done a great job with their tourism board. I really hope you get to see the northern lights and post some pictures here 🙂 Enjoy Iceland!

    • Thanks so much Sabrina for your lovely compliments! Glad you could find some inspiration here! I really can’t wait for this trip to Iceland, it will be such a magical experience, especially if I get to see the Northern Lights! I’ll be posting them here for sure.

  • Iceland is awesome, but not unlike New Zealand in my opinion. Rugged beauty, natural landscapes, and some adrenaline activities but then there’s the blue lagoon and as touristy as they may be, they are awesome

  • Iceland has always fascinated me. The more I read the faster I would love to go.
    Thanks for your wonderful article with a lot of tips

  • Haha I love this post! Hopefully you guys make it out there soon! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this weekend! xo

  • Janine Good

    I want to head to Iceland eventually too! I love everything on your itinerary and would add seeing Bjork’s house as I love musical/pop culture nostalgia 🙂 thanks for coming to fly away friday! Hope to see you this week 🙂

    • Oh yes Bjork’s house would be absolutely amazing to visit too! I didn’t think about that. So much to see and do, I won’t be able to fit it all in.

  • Explore a Corner

    Very jealous!! I was considering a short getaway to Iceland earlier this year but instead visited Scotland.

    I definitely look forward to visiting one day though. It definitely has becomes “the” place to be this year as I had a few friends who all visited within a few weeks of each other this year.

    I hope you have a fantastic time and I look forward to hearing your recommendations and experiences. 🙂

    • Scotland would have been great though! I hope you get the chance to visit Iceland another time though. It does seem to be a very hip place to go to! I can’t wait.

  • You will love Iceland! Also, if you get to the Blue Lagoon as soon as it opens, you will beat a lot of the crowds. I think it’s awesome that you are going solo. Have fun!!

    • Good bit of knowledge there! I don’t like the idea of being in such a crowded spot so that’s good advice to go early.

  • Mink Borwornsenee

    Have always wanted to visit Iceland, the number one place on the list is the Blue Lagoon!

  • Melody Pittman

    I can understand the infatuation for sure. 😉 I had a trip to Iceland scheduled last year and we had to forfeit our air (That great WOW sale fares) because we were building houses at the time. Sucked. I hope you have a fabulous trip and it lives up to the hype.

    • Ah yes the old travel versus building-a-house thing! We are facing that dilemma right now, which is partly why I’m going solo and John’s not coming with me. Can’t wait to go!

  • Corinne Vail

    I know exactly what you are feeling. We stalked it all before going to Iceland, and really still do now that we’ve already been there. Love Iceland.

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one who feels this way! I suspect the obsession will last long after I leave…

  • Angelina Minor

    I’d love to go to Iceland, i think seeing the aurora borealis would be spectacular! I’m heading on a trip this summer without my husband. He’ll meet up with us later but it will be interesting going at it solo, the first time in a long while!

    • Yes that is my dream to see the aurora! I will be also heading to Finnish Lapland to go northern lights chasing so if it doesn’t happen in Iceland, hopefully Finland! I hope your solo trip goes well! I know hubby will be jealous (if he’s anything like my husband!) but sometimes you just have to go it alone. Good luck!

  • Carol

    And when you get there, like we did in 2014, you would definitely be more obsessed and go back!

  • I’d love to go to Iceland – for all the reasons you mentioned! The Northern Lights, diving between the plates, the horses, the landscapes and not to mention the orca’s. It woill be such an incredible travel experience. Happy planning and enjoy every minute when you get there.

    • I just wish I could stay for longer! It is only going to be a quick trip because of other travel commitments. Sigh. Just a good taster for the next time though, right?

  • Milijana

    Looking at photos of the Silfra and the Northern lights make me understand your obsession with Iceland. Enjoy your trip to Iceland ! Looking forward to read about it!

  • I spent my bday in Iceland last year! You’re going to love it. I didn’t get to see the Northern Lights since I was there in the summer so now I’d love to go back in the winter to see the Northern Lights and the ice caves.

  • Sandy & Vyjay

    We share your fascination for the white wonderland of Iceland. The landscapes to say the least are stunning. We too are always on the lookout for articles and pictures of Iceland across Instagram, Facebook and the likes. We must have pored over countless articles and pictures . We hope some day our dream of visiting this wonderland materializes.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one so obsessed! Such incredible landscapes. I hope I can later feed the Iceland addiction with my own photos! Hope you get to visit soon.

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  • Lara Dunning

    I have an Iceland obsession too. And, I would totally go alone if the hubs couldn’t go. Sometimes that’s the way it works out and it doesn’t mean you won’t return later with your partner. I hope you had a great time!

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