• Traveling to Nordic

    countries is tricky.

    Despite all the adventure you sign up for (at a heavy cost!) one may never be sure about the weather, what to pack, how much money to save or what to see. A lot of people specially travel to see the Northern lights and there is never a guarantee if that dream is going to materialise. All my trekking trips have taught me a great deal of patience with mother nature but nothing has ever prepared me for getting knocked over by winds, spending hours stranded at the airport or having my trip completely change due to a hurricane. Nevertheless, a trip well within your budget is absolutely possible if planned well.

    All my trekking trips have taught me a great deal of patience with mother nature but nothing has ever prepared me for getting knocked over by winds, spending hours stranded at the airport or having my trip completely change due to a hurricane. Nevertheless, a trip well within your budget is absolutely possible if planned well.

    The capital of Iceland (Reykjavik) is easily accessible via direct flights from the big cities in Europe. I took a direct flight with Jet Airways from Mumbai to Amsterdam and spent some time in the city of canals before flying Wow Air into Reykjavik. I think that combining one other big city on my itinerary was a good way of checking a whole lot on the bucket list.

    Pro tip

    Book a connecting flight that let’s you have a day or two in cities like Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels.

    Travel time

    Minimum 7 days, anything less than that will leave you hungry for more. Account for bad weather and cancelled tour this is very common because the weather is bonkers during winters and spring.

    Accommodation

    As a budget solo traveler, I prefer hostel dorms which are a great way of meeting potential friends and saving money. Hlemmur Square, at Bus Stop 10, may be a tad too mainstream being the most popular hostel in Reykjavik. All tour companies have pick ups and drops at bus stop 10 which makes Hlemmur an obvious choice for many. The 12 bed dorm room was very quiet and comfortable, and this was the view from my bunk.

    What I liked most about the hostel is the common kitchen with all the amenities to cook your own meal. It also has a restaurant and a bar. Majority of the folks I met here were solo travelers from around the world.

    When it comes to the staff, there isn’t a friendlier place! Owing to bad weather, 2 of my 3 plans had to completely change as the tours got cancelled. There was little to do when the staff came to my rescue and booked me on tours for various days! Friendly, effective and so patient with a solo brown girl who just felt like a lost sheep in the forest.

    Pro tip

    Book a refundable stay well in advance, you will save a lot of money.

    Food

    Restaurant meal

    1400 INR

    Grocery cost

    5000 INR

    Cooking your own meals is way too cost effective.

    Now this is the part that most of you would not like. May be it was my taste buds but I genuinely struggled with food in Reykjavik. Icelandic food could be a bit average. Grocery stores are the best way to go about.

    Pro tip

    Buy your groceries from Kronan instead of the 24/7 store.

    Choosing a tour

    There are a million tour companies in Reykjavik I discovered Reykjavik Sightseeing thanks to the hostel and signed up for the Golden Circle Tour and the South Iceland tour. In that order because one may not enjoy the former after seeing the latter.

    I stuck to Arctic Adventures for the Northern Lights tour and was given a free 2nd tour since we didn’t have any luck with the lights the first time. Mostly all companies stick to this policy.

    Pro tip

    Tours are always sold out so book the most important ones in advance.

    What to see

    Iceland is so much more than the northern lights. The best way to see anything is to rent a car and drive but solo travel is possible only through tours unless you are up for driving solo. There are marked camping zones around the country where you could park and camp for an overnight fee. There is no public transport in Iceland.

    A week in Iceland is very doable if planned carefully and booked in advance as the flights are expensive, the hostels and tours sell out weeks in advance. I narrowed down on Arctic Adventures and Grayline Tours to shortlist the things I want to do since they have a good mix of itineraries.

    Hiking in mountains or national parks, glacier climbing, walking underneath a volcano, whale and puffin watching, game of thrones tours, horse riding, geysers, waterfall chasing and so much more to do here. However, the trick is to really stick to a handful of things that you can spend good time on instead of fitting in too much!

    What to see

    Iceland is so much more than the northern lights. The best way to see anything is to rent a car and drive but solo travel is possible only through tours unless you are up for driving solo. There are marked camping zones around the country where you could park and camp for an overnight fee. There is no public transport in Iceland.

    A week in Iceland is very doable if planned carefully and booked in advance as the flights are expensive, the hostels and tours sell out weeks in advance. I narrowed down on Arctic Adventures and Grayline Tours to shortlist the things I want to do since they have a good mix of itineraries.

    Hiking in mountains or national parks, glacier climbing, walking underneath a volcano, whale and puffin watching, game of thrones tours, horse riding, geysers, waterfall chasing and so much more to do here. However, the trick is to really stick to a handful of things that you can spend good time on instead of fitting in too much!

    What to wear

    Take every piece of warm clothing you ever own. The northern lights tours from 10pm to 3 am in the bitter cold are a spirit dampener if you aren’t dressed for Icelandic weather. One of the nights were so cold and windy that everybody went back in the bus instead of hunting for the lights. I remember shivering and sleeping the loss of energy off for atleast 2 hours inside the bus.

    Essentials

    • 1. Fleece lined trousers
    • 2. Waterproof ankle boots
    • 3. Windproof gloves
    • 4. Waterproof jacket
    • 5. Shirts
    • 6. Thermals
    • 7. Beanie
    • 8. Warm thick socks

    Pro tip

    Head to Decathlon and pick up stuff from the hiking and trekking section. It’s reasonably priced.

    Budget

    INR 10k per day is a good budget to have that includes stay, food and other activities. This country is so expensive it almost makes you question your existence. Airport to city by bus is 4990 ISK for a return trip. That is INR 3493. If you are a Bangalorean this expenditure may seem normal. A Siminn sim card costs about 3000 ISK.

    I travel strictly within a budget and booking a cheaper stay, getting discounts and deals on activities saved me a lot of money too.

    Pro tip

    I honestly saved about 15k on food and 10k on tours only because I got good discounts from the companies and chose to cook my own meals.

    Getting around the city

    The cheapest way to get from the Keflavik airport to Reykjavik city centre is Grayline bus tours that offers online and airport bookings. Again, Iceland doesn’t really have public transport so you have to depend on tour buses or self driven cars.

    Visa

    For Indians, a Schengen visa is required to enter Iceland. I did thorough research on requirements and will curate a list of documents which may help both for UK and Schengen visas. And lastly, while you are there, learn about Icelandic history, geography, literature, street art and its really nice people and sheep. Don’t be that jerk who’d for a photo op will destroy natural wonders by stepping and climbing on things you aren’t supposed to — which infact is a very disheartening sight in most places.

    That’s all folks!
    If you do infact make it to Iceland after reading this, do drop me a line!

  • Comments on this post (2 comments)

    • DUmGKPaQr says...

      kjNtuTInXwsGzRB

      On November 12, 2019

    • ufsyPlZrTaMBm says...

      bRxhXcKflQqoWHjC

      On November 12, 2019

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