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It’s hard to believe, but 2019 is almost half over! Seriously, it seems like yesterday that we were ringing in the new year, looking forward to all the travel 2019 had in store.
So far, 2019 has included a romantic trip to Hawaii, the maiden voyage of the MSC Bellissima, a Caribbean cruise over Spring Break, a 40th birthday celebration in Italy, and more! As we turn the page on the first half of the year, it’s time to look ahead to our annual European summer vacation…which has actually turned into two voyages this year!
Yep, we’re heading across the pond twice this summer! Here’s a sneak peek at where we’re going.
A Scandinavian Adventure: Norway, Denmark, Sweden
In June, we’ll be traveling to Norway – my ancestral homeland – for the first time. I couldn’t be more excited!
Even better, we’re not traveling alone. Along with the kids, my parents are also coming along on their first trip to Europe! We’re stoked to show them around and think it is going to be an absolutely stunning time.
This trip will last a little over two weeks and is happening in three parts – with my parents joining us for the first two. We’ll begin in Bergen, Norway and spend a few days traveling by land. After that, we’ll jump on a cruise ship to explore the Norwegian Fjords – which look incredible, BTW.
The cruise will complete its journey in Copenhagen, Denmark. My parents will say “vaarwel” from there (that’s “goodbye” in Dutch), but we’ll spend a few days with the kids exploring Denmark. We’ll probably include a trip across the bridge to Sweden, as well.
We’re definitely gonna be on the move, so here’s a closer look at some of what we have planned at each stop.
After arriving in Bergen, we’ll spend most of that first day getting our bearings and trying to stay awake! If you’ve ever flown to Europe, you know that fighting jet lag can be a bit difficult. It’s best to pack a good travel pillow, try to sleep on the plane, and hit the ground running. We’ve found that staying awake that first day, at least until 7 or 8 P.M., helps us get on a proper sleep schedule quickly.
The next day, we’ll just be bumming around Bergen. We plan to hit the Bergen Maritime Museum to check out some real Viking ships, wander through the Fish Market, and (weather permitting) ride the cable car up Mount Ulriken to get a cool view of the city.
On Day 3, we’ve rented a car for a little roadtrip. As of right now, the plan is to drive to the Borgund Stave Church to check out the incredible 800-year-old wooden structure. We also plan to stop in a little village or two, drive the Aurlandsfjellet National Route, and take in the mountainous scenery on our way back to Bergen.
Norwegian Fjords Cruise
The second part of this trip includes a 7-night Norwegian Fjords cruise on the MSC Meraviglia. Although we’re big fans of MSC Cruises, this will be the first time we’ve been on this ship. It will also be my parents’ first cruise of any kind, so we’re all pretty pumped.
The cruise starts with a couple of days at sea before we reach the Geirangerfjord. There, we’ve booked a nice hike to a glacier for all of us.
After that, we’ll get back on the ship and head to the Sognefjord where we’ll disembark at Flam. While we’re there, we’ll hop on a smaller boat for a leisurely three-hour cruise down the Naeroyfjord. We’ll spend the rest of the day exploring the little town of Flam before heading down the coast toward Stavanger, Norway – where we’ve booked another mini-cruise through the Lysefjord.
Our main cruise continues with a day at sea and a stop in Kiel, Germany. We’ll probably get off there just to say we did, but we don’t have any major plans. From there, the cruise wraps up in Copenhagen, Denmark. My parents will spend the day there with us before departing home the next morning.
Denmark and Sweden
The third leg of our trip will be just me, Holly, and the kids. For now, we plan to spend a day exploring Copenhagen. We also have a rental car, so we’ll definitely get out into the countryside a bit.
For now, the plan is to visit Kronborg Castle (the “Hamlet Castle”) and Frederiksborg Castle. We may also add a stop in Rothskilde if we have time. Finally, we’re going to head over to Sweden for the day – mostly just to say we were there. We’ll likely check out Malmo and maybe a small village or two.
Highlights of England and Scotland
Although it still seems like it’s a way off, we’re also heading to England and Scotland in July. Had we planned these trips at the same time, we probably would have saved some money on airfare by tacking this trip onto our Scandinavian adventure. We’ll likely do a month-long trip next summer, but this year we’re splitting it up.
London was the first place we visited in Europe, and I haven’t been back since. Really, our first trip to the U.K. is where our obsession with European travel began. Needless to say, I’m super excited to go back.
We’ll be staying in London for three days and plan to hit many of the major tourist attractions and historical sites. So, we’ll be visiting places like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court Palace, and more. Holly and I used the London Pass to visit many of these sites already, but – since we have the kids with us this time – we’re planning to go again. Plus, we just love them…so don’t gimme a hard time, OK? 😉
Additionally, we plan to see a show in the West End and probably just do some good old fashioned walking around. I can’t wait!
England’s Lake District
From London, we’ll be renting a car and heading up to England’s Lake District for about four days. We plan to make our way there slowly, swinging by Leeds Castle, Hever Castle, and Windsor Castle along the way. We’re also spending a night in York before continuing to our Airbnb.
To be honest, we don’t have much planned in the Lake District. We’ll be doing plenty of hiking and chillaxing as a family. I’m sure we’ll wander around and hit some cool taverns in the nearby villages, and that will be about it!
Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, and Edinburgh
Next, we’ll be off to Loch Lomond in Scotland for a few nights. Again, we’ll be taking our rental car, so we’ll probably plan a few things on the fly. Mostly, we’re looking forward to some more hiking and family downtime.
We’ll eventually make our way north to Loch Ness, spending a night or two in Inverness. At some point, we’re also planning to hit Stirling Castle, probably if the weather is bad in Loch Lomond or on the way back down to Edinburgh from Inverness.
In Edinburgh, we’ve got two nights to just hang. Obviously, we’ll be going to Edinburgh Castle. Other than that, we plan to wander around and soak up the city.
So, that pretty much wraps things up for our summer travel plans! It seems like a lot to take in, but I’m sure we’ll manage it somehow 🙂
Oh, we’ve also got plenty of travel coming up this Fall and Winter – including another trip to Italy, a Mediterranean cruise, and likely a beach vacay to Aruba…and that’s only the stuff we have planned so far! Who knows what else we might come up with before then?!?
Thanks so much for reading. Until next time, happy traveling!
Do you have any travel plans this summer? Have you ever been to any of the places we’ve mentioned above? Where are you going and what did you think? Let us know in the comments below!