2015 has been a great travel year for me. I was in the middle of my two gap years, when 2015 started, so I’ve had plenty of time to explore the World. Basically, my year has been work, travel, work, travel, work, travel. Just the way I like it.
I’ve been on weekendtrips to Latvia and Germany, family holidays in Spain, Andorra and England and travelled on my own around Northern Europe, Poland, Beijing and Australia.
My most memorable travel experience of 2015 is my journey through Northern Europe: two months of solo travel through Faroe Islands, Iceland, Svalbard, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia. On this journey, I discovered a lot about myself and the world. It was my first time travelling alone, so I had a lot to learn. Now I feel completely comfortable and confident when travelling alone and the journey has inspired me to keep dreaming and seeking new adventures. This was where I found out that not only is travel something that I like to do, travel is my passion. A passion that I will continue to follow for as long as possible.
I’ve decided to highlight my favourite new destinations of 2015; destinations that I hadn’t been to before and that I hope I can inspire you to visit.
Latvia was the first country in the Baltics that I visited. I went on a weekendtrip with my mum to the capital, Riga, and spent four beautiful days in Riga, Sigulda and Turaida. It was a great taste of the Baltics, a region that I can’t wait to see more of.
Best experiences: Exploring the ancient streets of Riga, chasing national gems in Sigulda and enjoying a breathtaking view of Gauja National Park from Turaida Castle, one of the oldest medieval castles in Latvia.
Okay, this is cheating a bit, as I visited Faroe Islands in 2013 as well. But that was only for two days and in March 2015, I got to see many new places that took my breath away and made me come back to the islands in August. I love the Faroe Islands, anyone who knows me is not in doubt of that, and I know that I’ll come back again in 2016.
Favourite places: Saksun, Nólsoy, Toftavatn, Mykines, Kunoy and Vestmanna.
Thorhallur invited Steve and I to stay in his home in Thingeyri, Westfjords – in the northwest corner of Iceland. A place so remote and so difficult to get to, that Steve and I ended up getting lost by 700 km. and getting our car stuck in snow 5 times, which resulted in two police rescues. Nevertheless, the Westfjords is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and a place that I still can’t believe I’ve actually been to.
I only had a short 9-hour stopover in Oslo on the way to Svalbard from Iceland, but chose to use it wisely and see a bit of the city. And even though I love my own capital, Copenhagen, I can easily say that Oslo is my favourite capital in Scandinavia!
Best experiences: Walking through the lively streets of Oslo chasing sights and watching the sunset from my favourite place in Oslo – the beautiful harbour.
Read: 16 Hours in Oslo
Located just 1.310 from the North Pole, Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, is a cold place to visit! I spent 6 active days there and saw a lot, including some beautiful wildlife! This is the most north I’ve ever been and probably ever will be – because Longyearbyen is the worlds northernmost town!
Best experiences: Dog sledding in Bolterdalen, visiting the Russian mining town of Barentsburg, Ice Caving in the Larsbreen glacier, hiking to the top of Sarkofagen Mountain and watching the Midnight Sun.
Lofoten Islands, Norway
Hiking was on the itinerary for my trip to Lofoten Islands, but crazy stormy weather put a stop to that. Despite sleeping in a tent in the freezing cold and feeling ready to go home, Lofoten surprised me with its beauty, some new friends and one day of good weather, where I got to do some hiking!
Best experiences: Camping on Svinøya (looking back, it was actually pretty awesome), the hostel experience in Ballstad and hiking to the top of a mountain in Ballstad.
I didn’t spend many days in the northern part of Sweden, but the days that I did spend there were spectacular. I fell in love with the vast forests and countless mountains in the area that made my two-day journey down to Slagnäs very worthwhile.
Best experiences: Exploring the little gem called Gällivare and experiencing the Sami way of life in Slagnäs.
The main town on the island of Gotland, Visby – A UNESCO World Heritage Site -, had been on my list for as long as I can remember. I spent two days there – two of the happiest days on my journey through Northern Europe.
Best experiences: Exploring every ruin in the hanseatic city center, climbing on the town wall and watching the most stunning sunset from the beach.
Read: Destination Gotland
While I was in Helsinki, Finland, Doris and I decided to go on a small day trip to the nearby country of Estonia – more precisely, to the capital, Tallin. We only had four hours in the city, but it blew me away with its history and well-preserved medieval buildings. Definitely a must-see in the Baltics!
Best experiences: Exploring the old center of Tallin and having a drink at the best and cutest cat café in the world!
Read: A Day Cruise to Estonia
A perfect little gem that is often overlooked because of the popularity of big brother Barcelona! I found Barcelona a bit boring, but I absolutely adored the ancient Catalan city of Girona!
Favourite sights: The old town, Girona Cathedral, Basilica de Sant Feliu, the Jewish Quarter, the Forca Vella fortress, views from the towers of the town wall and the river Onyar.
One of the most unrecognized countries in the world, the beautiful Andorra located between France and Spain in the pyrenees, was the scene of my parents’ Silver Wedding this summer. I can easily say that this country deserves recognition as it’s just too beautiful to be missed.
Best experiences: Exploring the small capital of Andorra la Vella, having the best sandwich ever at The Family Arms, enjoying breathtaking views from Valira d’Orient Valley, learning about Andorran history in the Església de Sant Miquel d’Engolasters church and walking to the beautiful lake Lac d’Engolasters.
Yes, I know. I’m half English and before 2015, I’d never properly been to London. Sure, I’ve flown to the airport a million times during my short life, but I’d never actually set foot in central London and seen all the must-see touristy sights. This year, I finally saw the city – my second capital – and I loved it!
Favourite sights: Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens, Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, House of Parliament/Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London and Picadilly Circus.
I spent seven days exploring the Central European country of Poland – a country that is so extremely underrated! I couldn’t choose just one place as my favourite, so the whole country made it to the list.
Kangaroo Island, Australia
I think of wildlife when I think of Kangaroo Island – and wildlife was exactly what I wanted to see in Australia! I went to Kangaroo Island for just one day, but I saw so many animals! Other than the wildlife, Kangaroo Island has spectacular scenery and amazing sights to explore!
Best experiences: Watching sea lions at Seal Bay, getting up close and personal with kangaroos and koalas at Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and climbing the Remarkable Rocks.
Whitsunday Islands, Australia
The Whitsunday Islands were one of my must-sees in Australia, so I didn’t let the ridiculous prices of the cruises stop me. I spent two days on a ship around the islands and three days relaxing in Airlie Beach.
Best experiences: Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, relaxing at the most beautiful beach on Earth – Whitehaven Beach, partying on a ship near Esk Island and partying in Airlie Beach.
Other amazing places that I visited this year: East Iceland; South Iceland; Snæfellsnes, Iceland; Tromsø, Norway; Narvik, Norway; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Malgrat del Mar, Spain; Norfolk, England; Beijing, China; Melbourne, Australia; Adelaide, Australia; Sydney, Australia; The Blue Mountains, Australia; Canberra, Australia; Brisbane, Australia; Byron Bay, Australia; and Hamburg, Germany.
Right now, I’m sitting in my hostel in Dublin, Ireland, about to go out on a day trip to Northern Ireland with my friend Bethann. I arrived yesterday and had a blast celebrating New Years Eve!
I’m flying back to Copenhagen on January 4th, but my travels don’t end here. I’m staying with my friend for the night and the next day, I’ll be jetting off to Budapest, Hungary, where I have 9 days to explore! I hope to make a trip or two to Slovakia as well.
I loved every minute of 2015 and I’m sure that 2016 will be just as amazing with many more travels to come!
What have been your favourite destinations of 2015?