British holidaymakers have traditionally used the summer as an opportunity to escape to the sun for a few weeks, jetting off to far flung destinations like Spain, Turkey and the Caribbean. However, the warm months are also a great opportunity to visit parts of Europe that sometimes difficult to reach and lashed by wind, rain and snow during the winter. The north of Scotland, the Atlantic island of Iceland and the Scandinavian country of Norway are all most easily accessible during the summer and boast spectacular scenery, amazing coastlines and friendly locals. If you’re lucky, you might even get to experience the midnight sun on your travels.
Scotland is already a favourite holiday destination for many Britons but few have ventured to the most remote parts of the country. North and west of the Highland capital city of Inverness is a vast expanse of wilderness unlike anything else in the United Kingdom and the staggeringly beautiful Western Isles, sometimes also known as the Outer Hebrides.
The Western Isles feel a world apart from the rest of Scotland, with Scots Gaelic still the dominant language in most areas and the traditional industries of crofting, fishing and weaving forming a major part of the local economy. Back on the mainland, the expansive area north of Inverness is home to delights like the picturesque fishing village of Ullpaool, situated on the shores of Loch Broom, and John O’Groats, the most northerly settlement on the British mainland which looks across the Pentland Firth to the mysterious Orkney Islands.
The island of Iceland, far out in the North Atlantic Ocean, has made the news in recent years thanks to well-publicised economic difficulties and the Eyjafjallajokull volcano which caused travel chaos in 2010. It is an amazing place to visit, quite unlike anywhere else in the world where all the power of nature comes to the fore in the form of towering glaciers and smoking volcanoes. The capital of Reykjavik is the centre of all activity on the island and is a compact, attractive city that makes an ideal base from which to visit the glaciers, volcanoes, geysers and waterfalls that make Iceland one of the most geologically active places on Earth.
Norway is another northern European nation that enjoys vast areas of unspoiled wilderness. The country is famous for its fjords, long narrow coastal inlets hemmed in by mountains of cliffs. These spectacular glacial features run the length of the Norwegian coast, one of the most rugged in the world. The south of the country is dominated by beautiful, picturesque cities like Bergen, Stavanger and the capital of Oslo while much of the north is given over to national parks and protected areas. The northernmost regions lie within the Arctic Circle and towns like Tromso and Hammerfest attract many visitors in the summer, who come seeking the famed Midnight Sun.
Before setting off for a holiday adventure in Scotland, Iceland or Norway be sure to get your travel insurance in good order. You will be visiting some of the most remote areas in Europe and don’t want to be caught unawares should something go wrong.