Something Scandinavian To Declare: Iceland; Helsinki; Sweden

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The Independent Travel

Next summer, you could spend a week island-hopping your way to Iceland. It helps if you start in Scotland.

Destination of the week: Iceland, the pretty way

Next summer, you could spend a week island-hopping your way to Iceland. It helps if you start in Scotland. If, however, you live in south-east England, first fly to Aberdeen - for example on easyJet (0871 750 0100; www.easyjet.com) from Luton, or get a Bargain Berth on an overnight sleeper booked on the ScotRail website ( www.firstscotrail.com). Next, sail from Aberdeen to Lerwick in Shetland aboard NorthLink (0845 6000 449; www.northlinkferries.co.uk). You can connect from here to the weekly northbound sailing on Smyril Line (01595 690845; www.smyril-line.com), with a possible stopover. She sails first to Torshavn in the Faroes, where you can take a stopover if you wish.

The final maritime leg is to Seydisfjordur in eastern Iceland. You then take a series of three buses: to Egilsstadir on Ferdath-jonnsta-austurlands bus line (00 354 4721515); to Hofn on Austurleid (00 354 5451717); and to Reykjavik on Austurleid. More adventurous travellers might like to hitch-hike, which is generally excellent in Iceland.

In contrast to the long and winding journey north, fly south to Stansted in three hours. Iceland Express (0870 8500 737; www.icelandexpress.com) has just launched its summer programme, with fares from £59 each way. Icelandair (0845 758 1111; www.icelandair.co.uk) flies to Glasgow or Heathrow, but for one-way journeys it sells tickets only in business class, for around £550.

Bargain of the week: Helsinki on the cheap

Go to HEL (the three-letter code for the Finnish capital) in November or early December and you can fly on British Airways for £148 return. Test bookings made in the past few days suggest that this bargain-basement fare is available for almost all departures except on Fridays. It compares with a lowest fare of £199 10 years ago.

Once in the Finnish capital, you can continue the budget theme by staying at the historic city-centre Sokos Hotel Torni (00 358 020 1234 604; www.sokotel.fi) for a very low rate. The hotel has a weekend special of €112 (£80) for a double room on Friday and Saturday nights, or a total of €150 (£107) for a two-night stay; these include a lavish breakfast.

Warning of the week: beware of smart strangers in Sweden

The US State Department says crime in Stockholm is increasing. It warns of pickpockets working in groups at main tourist sites, and "well-dressed thieves who blend in with the guests" in hotel lobbies and dining rooms.

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