If you’re looking for a different type of vacation, think about cruising the Baltic Sea in the summer. This vacation combines the ease of a cruise, while visiting exotic European ports that most people never see. It makes a nice change from the more common Caribbean cruise, and takes you to some wonderful places full of cultural treasures.
Throughout the summer season, the Baltic nights are resumed to a couple of twilight hours. The Gulf of Bothnia, the northern arm of the sea is really close to the Arctic Circle, while Gulf of Finland, the eastern arm, stretches all the way to Russia. That being said, adventurers should know that the Baltic coastline spans over 9 countries. Together with the dozen of beautiful islands, a cruise along the Baltic Sea will surely be an unforgettable experience.
Places to see on a Baltic cruise
A Baltic cruise can take you to the capital cities of Copenhagen Denmark, Oslo Norway, Stockholm Sweden, and Helsinki Finland. You’ll have some time to get out and explore the cities, admire the surroundings, meet the people, and taste their traditional food. In Helsinki, you can see the famous Church in the Rock. In Stockholm, it’s only a 20-minute walk from the docks to the Old Town. You can also sign up for a RIB boat trip (Rigid Inflatable Boat) that takes you on a fast trip around the many islands there.
In Oslo, you can reach the old city in just a short walk from where the cruise ship docks. You can also visit the Kon-Tiki Museum, and see the balsa raft that Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian ethnographer, used for his famous voyage, along with his reed ship the Ra II.
St. Petersburg is a highlight of the trip, and many cruise ships stop here for two days or more because there is so much to see. You can visit Peterhof, the summer palace of Peter the Great, with its many fountains. You can spend an evening watching world class opera or ballet. You can see the cellar in the Yusupov Palace where the mad monk Rasputin was murdered in the days leading up to the Russian Revolution. The Hermitage is also a must-see attraction, with one of the greatest art collections in the world.
Cruises stop at other ports along the way, which are full of fascinating culture and history. You can visit the city of Tallinn in Estonia, or the port city of Gdansk, Poland. Both of these cities were behind the iron curtain for decades, and are now much more accessible for tourists. From Gdansk, you can take a riverboat to Westerplatte, to see the site where the first shots were fired in World War II.
Some cruises will also offer you a day trip to Berlin, where you can see the Brandenburg Gate, and the infamous Checkpoint Charlie, where people had to stop when traveling between East and West Berlin before the Berlin Wall came down.
Travel tips for a Baltic cruise
Summer is the best time to go, between May and September. Be prepared for a variety of weather conditions though. It is unpredictable, and you could find hot or cold days, as well as sunshine or rain. You will need different currencies in every country you visit. A good strategy is that at each successive stop, you change the remaining money from the last currency to the new currency. This will minimize the amounts you have left over in different currencies at the end.
In many places you visit, English is widely spoken, making it easy to explore on your own. In Russia, that is not the case, but taxi drivers usually speak enough English to get you where you want to go.
Cruising the Baltic Sea can be an unforgettable travel experience for the adventurous traveler hunting for an ideal vacation spot in Europe. Prepare to be amazed by historical destinations, beautiful attractions, welcoming people, and impressive history. There are lots of luxurious cruises you can opt for. Whether you’re traveling with the whole family or you’re looking for a honeymoon spot, a trip up north, to the Baltic Sea will definitely exceed your expectations.