Long reserved for intrepid, off the beaten track adventurers, Iceland is becoming known by a wider audience for it’s surreal beauty, stunning landscape, haunting vistas and, of course, the northern lights! Flights from London to Reykjavik are surprisingly affordable, and this is a trip you won’t forget, let alone regret. From the breathtaking ice sculptures floating in the blue bay at Jökulsárlón in the south, to the better-travelled Golden Circle near the capital, there is an endless array of sights to behold in this country that punches well-above its weight in size.
Our tips: spend longer than you think you’ll need. Iceland is the country that keeps on giving, and try to get as far around it as you can because the north is different from the south is different from the middle. Secondly, rent a car and drive – that way you’ll be able to stop whenever you see the gorgeous Icelandic horses standing at the fence looking for a pat.
Not many people respond with Budapest when asked to name their top 5 places to see. But this underrated city delivers a whole lot for one not well travelled. Budapest is steeped in history, so for those of you interested in how Europe has gotten to where it is, not many cities will give you a better taste of the meeting of East and West, and boiling points experienced through wars. There’s an undercurrent of peacefulness to the city, however, felt particularly strongly when sitting for a coffee along the river or wandering through their extensive island parklands. The castle is one not to be missed, with guided tours easy to come by, and the subway system might be home to the cutest trains ever built. Think London tube, but enjoyable.
Our tips: We wouldn’t always recommend this, but try out one of the city bus tours. It’s a good way to sit back and see more of the city than you’ll see by foot or by train. Also visit the different parks they have around the place – they’re fantastic contrasts to an old-school city.
Want to save on flights, and try something a bit closer to home? Maybe you want to show the kids that there is more to the UK than London and Glasgow. The UK is home to one of the world’s largest dark spots: that is, an area devoid of artificial light, which is good for both animals and us! This is in Northumberland, England and is home to the now famous Kielder Observatory. If you’ve not heard of it, check it out. The observatory was built using locally-sourced materials and is a prominent astronomy observatory used by professionals, but that gives sessions open to the public most nights. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the sun and the moon closer than ever before, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the aurora in our own backyard!
Our tips: Book in advance. Well in advance. The observatory’s night sessions book up quickly. It’s also not a bad idea to book for a couple of nights in case you get cloud cover on the first one. Even if you don’t, you won’t regret going again!