Although Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen are on the map when it comes to cruises in the Baltic sea, other European cities are yet to receive the same levels of attention. But those who book onto a tour of some of Northern Europe’s lesser-known cities are richly rewarded; believe us, these four harbor cities combined awe-inspiring architecture with fine-dining, making them the perfect choice for Baltic cruises.
Unusual cities to visit on Baltic cruises
Considered by many to be uniquely un-Polish, Gdansk certainly stakes a claim as a distinctive city to visit on a Baltic cruise. Its complex history, which saw the city under rule from Prusso-German and Polish jurisdiction at different points throughout time, is to thank for the splendid architecture of the city’s buildings.
With a day docked at the port in Gdansk, cruise ship passengers should take a stroll along Ulica Długa (Long Street) which was once the route for processions from visiting royalty and is now the main tourist thoroughfare.
Cruising during August? Be sure to spend a day enjoying one of Europe’s largest open-air trade and cultural events, St. Dominic’s Fair. Held in Gdansk over a period of three weeks, the festivities see merchants, artists and collectors selling handicrafts and antiques and plenty of food stalls providing an unrivaled opportunity to taste traditional Polish dishes including bigos (a meat, mushroom and cabbage stew) and pierogi (dumplings).
St. Petersburg, Russia
If the candy-cane domes of the Church of the Saviour on Blood don’t have you eager to include St. Petersburg on your Baltic cruise itinerary, then who knows what will. Well, maybe it’ll be a visit to The Hermitage, one of the largest museums on the planet, or just a wander through the city’s incredible UNESCO World Heritage streets, where Neoclassical, Russian-Byzantine and Baroque influences have sculpted what surely must be regarded as one of the most architecturally magnificent cities on earth.
But beyond the gleaming dome and towers, find culture in abundance. If you’ve got an evening to spare, watch a show from the Mariinsky Ballet Company at the eponymous Mariinsky Theatre or spend an evening at the White Nights Festival, an event taking place between May and July, which features world-class performances of opera, classical music and ballet.
What’s more, if visiting during summer, you’ll be treated to the surreal experience of the “White Nights”. Days merge into night and back into day again as the sun never disappears beyond the horizon thanks to St. Petersburg’s northern location. As a result, the city doesn’t sleep and visitors have even more time to soak up its truly unique atmosphere.
Latvia’s UNESCO World Heritage capital city, Riga, might not yet have marked its place on the list of top cities to visit on Baltic cruises, but it won’t be long until international visitors recognize its appeal.
Riga’s most notable sights include its incredible collection of art nouveau buildings (considered the largest selection in Europe), found mostly in the center of the city, as well as its medieval Old Town, where the Gothic towers of buildings such Riga Cathedral and St. Peter’s Church rise magnificently up into the sky.
Charming, vibrant and blending history with modern chic, Estonia’s capital Tallinn has much to offer to those on cruises in the Baltic Sea. Founded in 1248, this medieval city has retained much of its past glory: the Old Town has been excellently preserved, with stunning old merchant houses scattered between cobblestone streets and medieval churches such as St. Olaf’s and St. Nicholas’ still taking pride of place.
But Tallinn surprises with an excellent range of restaurants, bars and hotels to keep all visitors comfortable and well-fed. If visiting in March, Tallinn Music Week is not to be missed. Now into its ninth year, this contemporary music, arts and culture festival brings acts from across Europe to perform at venues around the city.
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