Many cities have claimed to be the Venice of the North, but spanning 14 small islands, Stockholm has more rights than most. Sweden’s capital is the largest city in Scandinavia and we believe the architecture here is some of the finest in the world. The broad streets and waterside parks are ideal for strolling along and a walking tour of the old town is highly recommended. The Royal Palace, Riddarholm Church and observation deck at the Town Hall are must see sights but there are a number of others vying for your attention including the Vasa Museum, which showcases the city’s maritime history with an impressive and almost fully intact 64-gun warship that sank in 1628.
Helsinki also offers spacious streets that are interspersed with gardens and parks. The neo-classical architecture can be seen best in the impressive Lutheran Cathedral that dominates the central Senate Square. A harbour cruise gives the best views of the 18th century fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Suomenlinna, and do make time to stop for coffee in the downtown area of the city, close to the impressive National Theater and National Gallery, or for a taste of the modern Helsinki’s museum of contemporary Art is on the main thoroughfare of Mannerhelm Street.
Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, St Petersburg is a beautiful city with a fascinating past. Built as an imperial capital the architecture is impressive and has been preserved in all its traditional glory. You will see no high-rise or modern office blocks here and this sets it apart from the rest of the Baltic cities. A highlight is the Winter Palace which forms part of the Palace Square, the city’s focal point and venue for the Russia Revolution. Now a much more sedate area the gently curving façade of the General Staff Building stretches for nearly half a mile and the left wing is now part of The State Hermitage Museum, housing one of the finest collections in the world. From here you’ll also be able to see the soaring golden spire of Peter and Paul Cathedral, located within a fortress on the opposite bank of the river it is the burial place of the czars and well worth a morning of exploration. Finally the beautiful Church of Our Savior of Spilled Blood has a wonderful mix of baroque and neoclassical styles and is a wonderful site for some amazing photos.
Estonia’s capital Tallinn is the main seaport of the country and although it suffered heavy bombardment in the Second World War much of the old town is as it was in medieval times. Atmospheric streets converge on Town Hall Square which offers the usual tourist souvenirs. If the opportunity to causally stroll the small side streets seems a little mundane then you could choose to learn more about Estonia’s turbulent past with a visit to the seaplane harbour, the Estonian Museum of Occupation or pass the KGB house in the Old Town.
Over recent years Berlin’s reputation as a capital of culture has grown and an overwhelming number of museum, galleries and historic sites mean your time here will pass quickly. For most the reminders of the city’s divisions are the first on the sightseeing list. The restored Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie are the most famous of these but for a more in depth look a visit to the Allied Museum tells the post-war story of Berlin extremely well. Some of the more poignant sights are Berlin’s New Jewish Museum and the haunting Topography of Terror, an exhibition located on the former site of Nazi Germany’s SS and Gestapo headquarters.
Copenhagen is one of the oldest capitals in Europe and boasts a multitude of art galleries, theatres and museums. Make time to see Amalienborg Palace, the winter residence of the Danish Royal family and considered by many to be one of the finest examples of Rococo architecture in Europe. If your timing is right you’ll also see the changing of the guard which is best when a member of the royal family is in residence. The picturesque harbour at Nyhavn is a wonderful spot in the summer, with colourful façades of old houses now home to cafés and restaurants it’s an ideal place to relax after strolling through the nearby shopping area of Stroget, great for picking up those holiday souvenirs before you head home!
Book a Baltic luxury river cruise at Mundy Cruising.