From bustling cities to tranquil fishing spots, there’s a destination and a Baltic cruise to suit pretty much every holiday palate. Here, we give you the best Baltic Sea ports of call, plus the popular cruises that will take you there.
Weaving through islet-speckled waters, you’ll reach Sweden’s capital to find a city full of stories. The medieval quarter, Gamla Stan, dates back to the 13th century and impresses with cobbled streets, colourful buildings and quaint boutiques. And with around 100 museums to its name, there’s a world of history to discover. Highlights here are the epic Vasa Museum and the Nationalmusuem, which houses the country’s biggest art collection.
Best cruises to Stockholm – Because Stockholm is one of the top Baltic Sea stops, you’ll find a huge variety of cruises that pause here. P&O Cruises heads to this Swedish hotspot and even offers shore excursions that take you to ABBA The Museum, down to the old town or even on a whistle stop tour of the city via rooftops.
Norway’s capital city might look like a work of chrome at first, but up close the skyline is actually a work of art. Curvy metal buildings meet up with 19th-century architecture, while in-between sit wide open space like the ultra green Frogner Park. Also within is an impressive range of museums, highlighting everything from Viking ships to famous artist Edvard Munch.
Best cruises to Oslo – Most major cruise lines offer itineraries that feature Oslo, including Marella Cruises’ ship Marella Discovery. Itineraries allow you to explore Oslo from all angles, through your tastebuds on a food tour or in the path of some of the country’s most famous explorers.
Not only is Copenhagen the capital of Denmark, but it’s also the world’s Happiest Capital too. You’ll quickly fall in love with this delightful destination, a 12th-century city known for its cycling, stunning architecture and perennially pleasant atmosphere that has inspired countless fairy tales. With leafy walkways, market stalls and breezy canals, you can’t help but leave this port city feeling happy.
Best cruises to Copenhagen – Like the other major cities on this list, there are a tonne of Baltic cruise deals for Copenhagen. On excursions with Princess Cruises you can embark on guided tours of the city, seeing the sites of local folklore including a certain famous mermaid. There are also trips out to Tivoli Gardens, where you can take a seat on the world’s tallest carousel.
Riga is not only the biggest city in Latvia but the biggest of the Baltic states, known for its medieval old town and striking architecture. With cobbled lanes and Gothic buildings, Riga might look passe, but trendy bars, markets and art museums keep it up to date. That’s not to say Riga isn’t historic – on the contrary, the old town alone is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Best cruises to Riga – Cruising to Riga with Marella Discovery will have you soaking up the highlights old and new, stopping in the Ethnografic Open Air Museum, which delves into traditional Latvian life, and down to the historic old town. There are even tours that will take you to slices of natural Riga, through forests and valleys to the 13th-century Turaida Castle.
St Petersburg, Russia
The streets of St Petersburg offer up all the pomp and circumstance you’d expect from a major Russian city, wound with canals, huge squares and big-time monuments. It’s home to the Hermitage, one of the biggest art museums in the world, and the Church of the Savior on Blood, whose iconic spires look like they’re topped with ice cream.
Best cruises to St Petersburg – With all the culture and history lining St Petersburg’s streets, there’s arguably only one cruise line up to meeting this challenge – Cunard. A cultural icon in its own rite, Cunard cruises to St Petersburg will get you touring palaces and fortresses, exploring folklore and cruising down the river discovering waterfront gems.
Helsinki is both Finland’s actual capital city and its culture capital as well, packed with neoclassical, Art Nouveau and functionalist buildings that are interspersed with waterways and art museums. Helsinki Cathedral is one of the most important buildings in the city, while the Helsinki Art Museum and the National Museum of Finland help fill in the historic gaps.
Best cruises to Helsinki – Visiting Helsinki with P&O Cruises will get you a more natural look at the city, touring you by bike, out on the water or into vast private gardens. With Cunard it’s all about relaxation, taking boat safaris or vintage trams – though you do have the option of the odd kayak excursion.
Tallinn is one of the Baltic’s best kept secrets. The city is a clever blend of contemporary and medieval, even boasting one of the best preserved medieval cities in all of Europe. As you might’ve guessed, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within Tallinn, you’ll also find incredible shopping, the wildly colourful Estonian Art Museum and the more futuristic KUMU Art Museum.
Best cruises to Tallinn – You’ll find ships from both Marella Cruises and Princess Cruises docking in Tallinn. Your shore excursion possibilities centre on the historic old town, giving you a unique window into Tallinn’s incredibly well-preserved past with comprehensive tours on foot and by car.
Those are just the major port cities speckling the Baltic Sea. In between are smaller towns and hidden villages that offer even more intimate views of this vibrant corner of the world, all equally worth a visit.
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