Despite the never-ending cold gripping North America and Europe, summer is coming sooner than you think. If you like to travel in luxury and comfort, cruising is an excellent way to discover the world. During the summer months, Europe is a popular place to explore via this mode of exploration.
While you might be tempted to follow everybody to the Mediterranean, know that you can see spectacular scenery on a Baltic cruise as well. With plenty of ports of call at which to dock, you’ll get to see tons of amazing European architecture, eat incredible food, and meet fascinating people.
To save you the detail work of trying to figure out where to go every time you disembark from the boat, here’s what you should see in commonly visited port cities in the Baltic region.
A common first stop on many Baltic cruise itineraries, Copenhagen has no shortage of Scandinavian charm to offer visitors. Once you step off the ship, make a beeline for Nyhavn, a waterfront entertainment district with colourful buildings and plenty of restaurants and bars.
After a hearty lunch, check out either the Rosenborg Castle (dates from the 17th century), The David Collection (an impressive private collection of fine art), or the Christiansborg Palace (home to many royal and government functions).
Of all the cities in the Baltic states, Riga gets some of the best reviews from cruise passengers. Its Old City is well preserved with plenty of charming cafes and restaurants, its central market is the largest in Europe, and its museums will sober those who view them.
When you aren’t busy admiring the numerous examples of Art Nouveau architecture through Latvia’s capital, make time to see the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. An uncompromising view of the years when this tiny country was occupied by the Nazis and then the Soviets, it will make you appreciate the freedom we enjoy in western countries.
After Riga, many cruise boats will head across the Baltic Sea to the Finnish capital of Helsinki. After disembarking, hop on a ferry to the Fortress of Suomenlinna. A defensive stalwart which has guarded this city’s harbour for centuries, it is both a military museum and a meeting places for Finns on brilliantly sunny days during the summer months.
Also, make time to check out the Rock Church. Built within a rock outcrop in the 1960s, the solid stone walls give this Christian hall of worship a look that few other churches on Earth have. Combined with great acoustics, try to attend a service if you have the opportunity to do so.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Think you can’t visit Russia without a visa? If you follow along with approved shore excursions, you are allowed to explore St. Petersburg without having to go through the onerous paperwork needed to formally enter this country.
If you go this route, book an excursion which takes you to Catherine Palace, which was the former playground of numerous Russian Tsars. Also try to take in the Hermitage Museum, which is the second-largest museum dedicated to the arts and culture in Europe and the world.