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Discover the Baltic cities

From Viking raiders setting out across its frigid waters, to medieval traders carrying goods between Hanseatic ports and epic clashes between Russian, German and British fleets, the Baltic has long been at the centre of Europe’s changing fortunes. Sandwiched between their former master, Russia, and the often-icy waters of the Baltic Sea, the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania might not be everyone’s go-to holiday destinations. But this unlikely trio, and their colourful, vibrant, café-strewn capitals – Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius – are making some serious waves. For those who love their history and culture, a cruise to this region opens up a world of possibilities, with itineraries that, in the main, visit far more than just these three fascinating destinations. In fact, from the delicate spires and pastel-hued townhouses of Copenhagen to the grandiose palaces, iconic onion-domed buildings and landmark museums of imperial St Petersburg – a city widely regarded as one of the most architecturally impressive on earth – this remarkable region’s list of cities reads like an historical record. UNESCO-listed Tallinn’s attractions, for example, include a delightful medieval Old Town and the equally enchanting Kadriorg district: a throwback to the time when Estonia was ruled from afar by Russia’s Tsars. In neighbouring Latvia, Riga’s quaint streets reveal myriad cafes and beer cellars framed by some of Europe’s most impressive art nouveau architecture. It’s also home to a host of fascinating museums and superb galleries, all of which helped to make it one of Europe’s Capitals of Culture in 2014. Another classic Baltic city is Gdansk on Poland’s north coast; a city with a remarkable history and some distinctly un-Polish architecture, much of which takes its influence from the multitude of sailors and wealthy merchants who, over the centuries, have plied their trade along the busy shipping lanes that connect Poland’s Baltic coast with Russia and the rest of Northern Europe. Then, finally, there are the three Scandinavian capitals: Stockholm in Sweden, Finland’s Helsinki and Copenhagen in Denmark, where cutting-edge design and some of Europe’s trendiest bars and restaurants blend seamlessly with historic harbours and complex coastlines that are home to peaceful inlets, idyllic islands and secluded bays. When to go The Baltic region is generally best explored during the European summer, from May to September, when the days are long and temperatures warm. In the winter, large swathes of the Baltic are frozen and temperatures plummet to well below zero. Who to cruise with Several of the world’s leading cruise lines visit the Baltic, including Regent Seven Cruises, Silversea, Oceania Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Azamara and Celebrity Cruises. Scott Anderson is General Manager at The Luxury Cruise Company. The Luxury Cruise Company is your port of call for incredible cruise holidays. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Scott Anderson

Scott is one of the most well-travelled people, having visited more than 70 countries and counting. He has worked in the cruise industry since he was 19 years old, beginning as a cruise ship photographer and duty free shop manager, and knows more than most how enjoyable cruising can be.

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  1. What a wonderfully evocative piece of travel writing. I have never considered a trip to any of the Baltic cities but the combination of persuasive writing and some superb photos is beginning to persuade me that I ought to start planning a trip to this part of the world.

  2. I have visited Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm and enjoyed all three of those cities. Definitely time for me to make tracks for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania next. Some friends are just back from Gdansk and they are raving about the wonderful time they had.

  3. What sold me on Copenhagen was watching “The Danish Girl”. It was probably one of Eddie Redmayne’s least convincing performances. That didn’t matter at all as Copenhagen was the star of the film. It was full of scenes like the lead picture, which I’m guessing is Nyhaven. Every shot was perfectly set-up and so attractive that within days I’d booked my flight to Copenhagen. My top tips? Visit Denmark’s capital rather than watching the film and get out early to see these beautiful canals and streets before they get too crowded.

  4. Hi Valerie. Thanks for your comment – Ive not seen the movie but not a big fan of Mr Redmayne! However glad that Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen came across well! Its a great city – easily walkable and the people are great too!

  5. Having visited a lot of these Baltic cities what I like is the pragmatic nature of the people. Yes, the winter is cold and the nights are long but they accept that and hunker down cozily at home or in a bar. Then in summer there’s a feel-good factor about, people make the most of the long hours of daylight getting out in the warmth of summer.

  6. My friend went to St Petersburg and Copenhagen last year and wouldn’t stop talking about it. I can see the attraction with the culture and history. I love the architecture and the colour, such vibrant places to explore. It’s interesting that the capitals can retain their classic appeal and not loose their history even as they’ve given themselves a make over with contemporary elements. Hopefully it stays that way and they don’t upset the balance because it would be a shame to lose the culture and peaceful nature of the coastlines and such in favour of modernist requirements and tourism.

    1. Hello Tracy and thank you for your comment. From my expereince the architecture has been sympathetically resotred where needed so retaining the history and keeping the appeal of these beautiful cities – you need to visit!

  7. This is quite a persuasive pitch on behalf of these Baltic cities. I’ve never travelled in that direction. Few people would argue that the Scandinavian countries have a high cost of living. When we had the kids at home and were paying for them too it would have all been a prohibitively expensive holiday. Now that we’ve got an empty nest and a little more in the bank I think that we could treat ourselves to a trip round the Baltic cities. Who knows maybe even a cruise?

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