Our cruises to The Baltics will take you to the three varied countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Not immediately recognisable by name or on the map by most, this trio of northern European outposts are home to unspoilt wildernesses and fun and fascinating cities, easily explored on one of our cruises to The Baltics. The mystery of these places means fewer crowds and therefore a more enjoyable time exploring these countries and their hidden treasures, such as Riga’s castles and art scene, Estonia’s rural idylls and Tallinn’s medieval architecture and forbidding fortresses. Though these three countries alone makeup the official Baltics, most cruises call or start at the atmospheric capital of Denmark, Copenhagen, with its dreamy spires, Oslo in Norway or Russia’s romantic St Petersburg, with its Venetian-like network of canals. Cruise holidays to this stunningly beautiful and immensely interesting corner of Europe are rewarding and illuminating; why not give the Baltics a try?
The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania offer some of the least-explored territories in Europe, but not to be overlooked thanks to their history and beauty, both natural and man-made. Wedged between Russia and the frigid Baltic Sea, the three countries once governed by Soviet rule are sparsely populated, thickly forested and largely unspoilt, the trio each possessing a buzzing capital city, folkloric traditions that have survived despite many decades of oppression and fantastic regional cuisine. In short, the Baltics are a travel secret, easily explored on a cruise. Each country’s coastlines is vastly different; Estonia is home to almost 1,500 islets offshore, with a wild, boulder-strewn coastline that holds a haunting appeal. Latvia is known as the Baltic Riviera, thanks to its pine fringed beaches, while Lithuania is speckled with a seemingly endless selection of lakes.
Denmark’s insouciant capital is quite possibly the coolest city in Scandinavia, with an edgy vibe and an incredible restaurant scene that includes the New Nordic cuisine pioneer, Noma, one of the top restaurants in the world and one of 15 Michelin-starred restaurants across the city. Its history harks back many centuries which has left a lasting impression on its grand and stately architecture, museums and culture. As one of the world’s most bike-friendly (actually, friendly in general) cities, its cobbled streets are fun to explore on two wheels as you gain a novel perspective from a different viewpoint. Its harbour is vast, but head around the corner to Nyhavn and you’ll discover the old port and its paint-box of brightly hued buildings, now housing restaurants and hotels. Take a riverboat cruise around the canals and under the bridges and you’ll see how old and new Copenhagen sit side by side.
Bursting at the seams with natural wonders and fascinating history, sail in the wake of the Vikings and enjoy the unique culture that Norway offers. Though the country’s famous fjords, one of the world’s natural wonders, are often seen in pictures and films, they truly have to be seen to be believed. The only way to soak up the majesty of this unique landscape is to sail through it. Float gently by as thousands of gallons of water cascade down one of the many striking waterfalls and continue on to crystal clear inlets and city harbours. The famous Pulpit Rock is just another of the stunning cliff formations this ancient landscape has to offer and her human history won’t disappoint either. Beautiful at any time of the year, the midnight sunsets are something magical to witness, while charming villages like Olden and Geiranger are also yours to explore.
Many cruises to The Baltics stop at St Petersburg, one of Russia’s most beautiful cities located on the Baltic Sea. Founded by Peter the Great, you can imagine the grand architecture and atmospheric canals and how they looked during the city’s reign as the nation’s capital, as it was for two centuries before Moscow became the capital. Visit during the summer and you may get to enjoy St Petersburg’s ‘white nights’, when the sun barely slips below the horizon. The Peterhof Palace and staggering Hermitage Museum are definite highlights, but the city also boats an underground art and music scene which vies for attention with its ballet, churches and tsars. <
Best time to travel
Most cruises to the Baltics run from May to September.
Spring and summer can be warm and mild while winter is generally cold: this time of year can be very atmospheric and if you wrap up warm it can be a great time of year to see the cities under snow.
Food in this region is hearty and packed with fresh produce from around the area.
Meat features in most dishes and due to its location on the sea you’ll find lots of fresh seafood. Many traditional meals contain cabbage, mushrooms, eggs and potatoes. Don’t miss the warming soups and filling dumplings or the staple dish of Russian, known as Olivier, which uses carrots, potatoes, eggs and peas in a thick dressing.
Russia is the world’s largest country and is thought of as a cold place, but it has subtropical beaches and gets very hot in the summer months.
Latvia is covered by forest – more than 50% of the country is blanketed in trees. It’s one of the most environmentally-friendly countries on Earth.
Things to do
- Enjoy the spectacle of the fountains at Peterhof, St Petersburg’s impressive summer palace
- View the ecclesiastical art at the 13th-century landmark of St. Nicholas Church in Tallinn
- Take a stroll around the waterfront to view Copenhagen’s genteel Little Mermaid statue
- Tour Stockholm’s archipelago of 14 islands on a rigid inflatable boat ride around the city
- Shop for handicrafts and traditional Finnish food at the Old Market Hall in Helsinki
- Climb to the top of Copenhagen’s Rundetaarn for amazing views across the city
- Take a day trip to Berlin to visit the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie
- Check out the raft and reed ships on display at Oslo’s Kon-Tiki Museum
- Eat your way around Copenhagen’s Torvehallerne Market and try a real taste of Denmark
- Get tickets for the Mariinsky Ballet Theatre and watch the incredible Russian ballet performances
- Visit the ‘church in the rock’ in Helsinki – Temppeliaukio Church is carved straight into solid rock
- Ramble around the Middle Age streets of Stockholm’s old town, Gamla Stan
- Journey through the life and works of artist Edvard Munch at Oslo’s famed Munch Museum
- Ride the 19th-century amusement park rides at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen
- Stroll around the pedestrianised Old Town in Riga and stop for a drink at Livu Square
- Dine at the 165-metre high restaurant atop Vilnius’ TV Tower – the views are stunning
- View the immense collection of art on display at St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum