Weddings are stressful, no matter how big or small you go. My wife and I did a small, 40 person wedding with just immediate family and close friends. We found a beautiful spot in southwest Colorado and had all our guests come and stay for 5+ days. It was perfect!
While many of the logistical parts of weddings are stressful, one thing that shouldn’t be is your honeymoon. It’s like your reward for surviving the wedding planning questions, influences, budgets, contractors, requests, etc. I know I needed a vacation after so I can only imagine how my wife felt (who did most of the work).
I feel like people do honeymoons in one of two ways. They either want to go someplace warm and lay on the beach and drink cocktails for a week. Or, they want a once in a lifetime trip with many experiences and places to see. With neither of us being big beach people… we chose the latter.
We had both been dying to go to Europe for years and decide that was going to be our destination. We had heard good things about the UK and Ireland so we planned a trip that would fly us from Denver to London, London to Dublin, Dublin to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to Reykjavik, and Reykjavik back to Denver.
Heres the kicker in all this… we are both afraid of flying. So, if you are too, just know it’s not that bad (especially if you have Xanax or sleeping aids). Here are some trip details on what we did and would recommend.
Unfortunately, I have to skip over this part a bit. We were supposed to have an all-day layover in London before our flight to Dublin later that evening. However, we were so hungry and jetlagged that by the time we were ready to leave the airport we wouldn’t have had more than 2 hours before having to come back through customs.
I will say the flight to London wasn’t as bad as I thought it to be. We flew British Airways and got a two-seat row in the very back of the plane. My best advice is just to be prepared for 10 hours of sitting. That means brings snacks, get a neck pillow, get comfortable headphones, bring an eye mask, etc. They will give you some free movies to watch on the monitor in the headrest but the rest is up to you.
The flight to Dublin was short, maybe an hour. We took EasyJet which is kind of like the European version of Spirit. European flights feel like a party bus compared to American flights. People are talking, yelling, having fun, drinking, getting up and walking around, etc. Where as American domestic flights are typically quiet and people keep to themselves (unless you are going to Vegas). I digress…
We got there around 9 pm local time and rented a car. I had never driven on the left side of the road or the right side of the car so that was a neat little experience at night, in the rain, in downtown Dublin. Be prepared for roundabouts everywhere. And, not your typical one or two-lane roundabouts, I’m talking 4 lanes, heavy traffic roundabouts.
We stayed in an Airbnb right across the street from the Dublin Castle. This is a prime location in Dublin and you can walk to many places. We dropped off our stuff and went out to grab our first pint of Guinness at a local pub with live music.
The next day we started doing some sightseeing. We went and walked around the Dublin Castle. This was a pretty cool piece of architecture but pales in comparison to another Castle you will learn about later in this blog. We also walked to Trinity College which has the most amazing library I have ever seen. Any Harry Potter fan would be in heaven.
We then walked to The Temple Bar, which is a famous pub in Dublin with great live music (highly recommend!). What you will come to find is that Dublin has MANY tourists at all times of the year. We were there in March and felt like half the people we ran into were Irish and the other half were tourists.
For the last part of our Dublin stay we went to the Guinness Storehouse where you can take a tour and see how Guinness it is made. This was much different than I expected but not in a bad way. You are on your own and can go at your own pace. You continue to go up levels and learn more and more about the Guinness Brewing process. It is very modern with digital displays and cool lighting. In the end, you go to the sky bar and drink Guinness while looking over Dublin.
For the 2nd part of our Irish trip, we took the 2-hour drive across the countryside from Dublin to Galway on the west coast of Ireland. We stayed in a FRICKEN CASTLE outside of Galway in a town called Kilcolgan. I’m not kidding, look at the pic.
Here we wanted to relax and take in the countryside of Ireland. We also wanted to make sure we got to the Cliffs of Moher which is about 1.5 hours south of Galway.
The cliffs alone are worth the drive from Dublin. They are magnificent, if not a little scary how little barriers there are between you and a 400-foot drop into the sea. My wife was worried that the roads out there would follow the cliffs and nervous to be on the edge so we took country roads to the cliffs. Pro tip: don’t do this… we were on one-way dirt roads with no idea where we were for 2 hours. Take the highway, it is just fine on the way back and not close to the cliffs.
Next stop was the 45-minute flight to Edinburg, Scotland. We stayed in a country club outside the city and closer to the airport called The Dalmahoy. This was a beautiful property with a couple golf courses, nature walk, tennis courts, restaurant, and bar. It was only 15 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes to the city.
We got settled and immediately went to the lounge to try some scotch. I tried a flight of scotch that was very smoky and peaty which wasn’t my favorite but it was great none the less.
The next day we went into Edinburgh and toured the city. We went to the Edinburgh castle and, let me tell you, THAT is a castle! It is built on a huge hill overlooking the city with beautiful views and amazing history. It’s a must see!
We then walked around a bit to see the architecture and try my hand at a couple different whiskys. We went into a store close to the castle called The Scotch Experience and didn’t go through the tour, just straight to the bar. The bartender was SO helpful in easing my American whiskey pallet into scotch whisky with smooth scotch and then slowly a little smokier.
We spent the rest of the day just walking the city and trying restaurants and pubs. It was honestly our favorite day of our honeymoon. The next couple days we hung around the Dalmahoy, played golf, drank scotch… you know, Scotish things. It was nice to relax and just enjoy the Scotland countryside. The Scotish people were so friendly and accommodating, it was our favorite leg of our honeymoon.
I don’t think I was prepared for how different Iceland would be from the UK. Again, not in a bad way, but differently a lot different. From the language to the landscape, it was a whole new world. The city of Reykjavik is about an hour from the airport. We stayed in an Airbnb about half way between Reykjavik and the airport, just 15 minutes north of the Blue Lagoon.
We were only there for a day and a half so we didn’t want to spend too much time driving. Our Airbnb was right next to the Viking Museum. Being a big Minnesota Vikings fan, I had to go check it out.
Later we went to the Blue Lagoon which is amazing. Iceland, in general, is a huge geothermal hotspot and you can see it in the landscape. The Blue Lagoon is like the biggest natural hot tub in the world with an amazing complex around it.
There are locker rooms, gift shops, restaurants and more in the buildings around the Blue Lagoon. In the lagoon itself, there is a bar where you can grab a cocktail, an organic mud facial, and an algae facial spot (which my wife loved). Just be prepared for A LOT of tourists.
We spent the rest of the time in Iceland just walking around and looking at the amazing landscape. I’m told its even more amazing the farther you get away from the airport but, unfortunately, we didn’t have the time and were a little exhausted from the rest of the trip.
A couple things to note about Iceland. First, the conversion rate can be confusing if you’re coming from the UK. 1 American dollar is close to 100 Iceland Kronas when we went. Also, while getting to Iceland can be cheap, once you are there, things are pretty expensive so be prepared. Last, the towns/signs are very tough to pronounce if you are not familiar with the language. Be prepared to butcher their language when asking for directions.
We loved every single part of our honeymoon. Each country had its own unique history and each city had very different vibes. If I had to choose one place to go back to it would be Edinburg. The city, people, and scotch were all amazing.
Our trip was a bit of a whirlwind since we did 4 countries and 5 flights in 11 days. However, I am very glad we went and saw all the countries we did because it gives you perspective on how close these places are to each other but how very different they are. An hour flight in the US and things don’t change very much. But, an hour flight in Europe and it’s like a whole new world. I’d highly recommend all these places if you are looking for a European honeymoon!