Travel Associates advisor Meagan Bailey recently travelled to Europe and the UK for her honeymoon and shares her personal photos and favourite experiences.
It wasn’t until we returned from our honeymoon that I realised we didn’t go for the typical romantic escape. There were no tropical islands, overwater bungalows and lazy beach days. Instead, we opted for a three week journey through Europe and the UK, complete with bucket list sights, self-drive freedom and beautiful hotels – plus stunning photo shoots along the way, with our destinations forming the perfect romantic backdrop.
Ticking off the bucket list in Iceland
Our first stop? Iceland, which we picked because we wanted something a bit out of the ordinary and to see the magic of the Northern Lights.
Based in Reykjavik, we took day tours from there to the incredible parts of Iceland: the Golden Circle, beautiful black sand beaches, the stunning Langjokull glacier and Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls. Reykjavik was like a large village in that it’s not full of tall buildings, it’s really green and it’s so compact you can walk around everywhere.
I’ll never forget our night cruise to witness the Northern Lights; it’s so beautiful and peaceful on the water and you can see the lights dancing across the sky with zero light interference. It was just stunning! The Blue Lagoon is also a must, which we did at night – it was so warm and toasty there in the water relaxing after a long day of sightseeing.
When it comes to food, I highly recommend the Icelandic Lamb Soup – it’s absolutely divine and really warmed me up in the cold, cold winds. I had it everywhere!
TRAVEL TIP: Pre-book for the best show. My best tip is to pre-book your Northern Lights experience to fall on your first night there, so if the tour is cancelled due to bad weather (extremely likely), you have a number of nights it can be moved to. Also, take a reusable drink bottle and sometimes you can fill it up from the icy fresh glacier-fed streams.
Self-driving in Scotland
We knew we wanted to do some self-driving on our honeymoon – somewhere that was relatively easy and without a hassle. Scotland was perfect! We landed in Glasgow and hit the road from there.
Every day we were in awe at the beauty of the countryside around us. The highlands were spectacular – those sheer cliffs, rocky areas, mountains and winding roads. The landscape was a lot more wild than I expected! On purpose we avoided the main roads and drove on the single track roads as much as possible, and ended up in gorgeous villages with cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings.
We visited every castle we could find – Urquhart, Edinburgh, Stirling and Duntulm, which is actually just ruins of a castle on the very edge of a cliff and so amazing! We also did Loch Lomond, Loch Ness (no sighting though!), Fall of Foyers, Fairy Pools, Quiriang, Falls of Dochart – and every inch of it was stunning. Definitely the best way to experience the wilderness is to be out in it. There were stunning hikes and walks everywhere.
TRAVEL TIP: MUM’s the word in Edinburgh. I had a beef stew at a place called MUM’s in Edinburgh. It was to die for. The restaurant was so sweet and cute and the staff were amazing. They matched whiskey/wine to the meal and the food was huge portions and so delicious – good, hearty food to warm you from the inside out.
Quaint and green England
In England we passed through the beautiful Lakes District, York, Nottingham, Oxford and Canterbury, then topped it off with three nights in glamorous London.
There were so many highlights, from seeing the Cliffs of Dover and the Angel of the North to visiting Brighton Pier and the Avebury Stones (the sister to Stone Henge). The city of York is amazing. The town walls were incredible to walk around. The centre of town is mostly pedestrians only with little alleys and cobblestone streets to wander on around the Minster (we went to the very top of the tower) and the Castle. The history is overwhelming.
TRAVEL TIP: Fine English hotels you’ll love. We discovered two absolutely divine stays in England. Broome Park in Canterbury was amazing – it’s on a golf course and the house is a gorgeous ornate mansion with loads of history. We woke to beautiful green fields, walked down grand staircases to breakfast and marvelled at the architecture.
In the Lakes District we stayed at MacDonald Hotel in Windermere – right on the lake with views, on a small little street just metres from cafes and restaurants. Just perfect. And in London The Copthorne London proved ideal, in a great location right next to the Tube (and they give you a phone to use to take out for Google Maps while you’re sightseeing).
TravelShoot captures the romance
Perhaps the most romantic part of our adventurous honeymoon was doing a photo shoot with TravelShoot in each country in the major cities – Reykjavik, Edinburgh and London. It was honestly the best – we have some incredible photos of us on our honeymoon in amazing places that aren’t selfies! I love it. I recommend it now to all my clients!
Considering options for your own honeymoon? Talk to Meagan and get her insights on the most romantic places and experiences around the world - and don't forget to book a photoshoot with TravelShoot.