Chasing the Midnight Sun – London to Scotland – Viking Cruises

Part one of my journey chasing the midnight sun on board Viking Cruises’ Viking Sea takes us from London to Scotland.  Here we explore Edinburgh, Orkney and the Shetland islands.

London

We started our voyage one of the most exciting cities in the World. I’ve lived and worked in London for a long time and it never ceases to surprise me.  Starting this journey with an overnight stay in the Capital of the UK is a great opportunity to explore the city and its many sights and sounds.

Viking docks in the heart of Maritime Greenwich and I recommend exploring it I you have the time. There’s so much to see and do, from the Naval College, to the National Maritime Museum and Greenwich Observatory, home to Greenwich Mean Time.  Why not take the included walking tour of Greenwich or to get further afield, the Docklands Light Railway is a stones throws away from the pier providing access to central London.

The highlight of starting the cruise in London has to be sailing up the Thames past the iconic Thames Barrier before you head out to sea. This is a really unique experience that only a handful of cruise ships are able to do and is definitely worth it!

 Scotland

Once we’d left London our first port of call after a day at sea was Edinburgh. Another firm favourite of mine, Edinburgh is a city where most things can be accessed fairly easily by foot, so take advantage of one of the guided walking tours included by Viking.

Like London, you could easily turn a visit into a holiday itself. If you are pressed for time I recommend heading to the Royal Mile.  This cute set of streets is the focal point of the old town and connects many of the sites and attractions.  At the top you’ll find Edinburgh Castle, an icon of Scotland that dominates Edinburgh’s skyline.  A little gem off of the Royal Mile is Mary King’s Close.  A forgotten street that was buried under the Royal Mile (see more here).  Below the Royal Mile you’ll find the beautiful Princes Street Gardens, which if you have time, is worth a stroll and explore.

Edinburgh is also very much a foodie city with many independent cafes and restaurants – so why not try one? Take a look at this article for more inspiration for what to see, do and eat in Edinburgh.

From Edinburgh, it was up to Orkney and Shetland. I’ve never been to either so I was really excited to be able to explore these places.  The included tours were a perfect way to explore each of these, charming, chain of islands.

In Orkney, we visited many of the ancient sites, including the mysterious and fascinating Ring of Brodgar. This site is an incredible thousand years older than Stonehenge and breath-taking set between two Lochs.  On our journey, we also learnt about local history and culture, as well as the famous sight of Scapa flow, where in World War One, the Germans famously scuttled their naval fleet.  Interestingly, Orkney produces 120 per cent of its electrical requirements and is a hub for sustainability – that’s incredible.

Heading to Shetland, we took another panoramic excursion to see the sights and sounds of the area. This included learning and seeing very cute Shetland ponies, a number of castles and the beautiful landscape of the area. Everywhere you look there are beautiful Lochs and an evident influence of both Viking and Scottish culture.

Leaving Shetland we entered the North Sea continuing our adventure into the midnight sun.  Click below to read part 2 where I enter the land of the midnight sun. 

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