Explore eight countries united by the Baltic Sea, discover their intertwined histories, and encounter fascinating cultures. Delve deeper through dramatic water approaches, and foray into character-filled villages and island stops for quiet walks. Wander along the medieval walled city of Visby, explore dazzling St. Petersburg over two days, dine on local specialties, and enjoy private musical performances—or have a deck party in the tranquil Swedish Archipelago. Enjoy ample choices and avenues for exploration in each of the cities. Explore from a privileged vantage point—going by ship allows you to sail routes of the old Hanseatic League, in the paths of early traders and nobles, and lets you enter the cities as they were meant to be—by sea.
Venture into the medieval Old Towns of Riga and Tallinn, UNESCO sites
Explore the tiny islands along Finland and Sweden by kayak or nature walks
View one of the world’s greatest art collections at the Hermitage Museum
Experience the fascinating history of eight Baltic countries
Sail to the tiny isle of Christiansø, where Danish fortifications date from 1684. Join National Geographic Photography Expert for a walk among the colorful buildings of this car-free island, home to less than 100 people and just one species of mammal: the hedgehog. This afternoon, you will cruise to Bornholm Island. Hike the coast trail to the clifftop ruins of the Hammershus fortress, or visit the island’s round churches and the harbor village of Svaneke, voted Denmark’s most beautiful town in 2013.
Arrive in Poland and take in Gdańsk’s art and architectural highlights, including the GothicRenaissance Town Hall and the National Museum. Visit the Westerplatte peninsula, where World War II began with the German invasion of Poland, and take a guided tour of the European Solidarity Center.
Enjoy a day at sea, as you sail into the Gulf of Riga, with lectures by experts, photography workshops with Certified Photo Instructors, and National Geographic Photography Expert, and enjoy a scenic sailing into Riga this evening.
Day 5: Riga
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Take a walking tour through Riga's UNESCO World Heritage-designated center, passing wooden houses, art nouveau architecture, and funky cafés. Wander through the airy Central Market—Europe’s largest market, housed in old Zeppelin airship hangers. Or drive to the Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum, situated in a wooded park on the outskirts of the city.
Cross the Gulf of Riga to Estonia arriving in Tallinn this afternoon. Stroll the cobbled, medieval streets of the walled Old Town on a guided walking tour, and see the Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. Visit Town Hall Square and take in the view of Tallinn’s picturesque spires and gables from Dome Hill.
Arrive in Helsinki in the morning, a stylish capital known for its creativity, architecture, and vibrant contemporary design scene. Choose from several options during your time here: a traditional Finnish foraging excursion; a visit to the World Heritage-listed Suomenlinna Fortress; or a trip back in time to the home of Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, one of Finland’s most notable statesmen. Then explore in and around Finland’s capital: tour a grand estate in Porvoo or visit the Seurasaari Open Air Museum, dedicated to preserving the traditions of rural Finland.
Today you’ll explore Finland’s southern coastline, with its numerous bays, inlets, and islands rich with natural history. Navigate the labyrinthine passages of Ekenäs Archipelago National Park by kayak or Zodiac and disembark to explore its rocky and windswept islets.
Arrive in Mariehamn, the capital of Finland’s Åland Islands, an autonomous region made up of over 6,700 islands where 90% of the population speaks Swedish. Delve into the rich history of the islands, get a taste of their musical and culinary traditions, and learn how the Baltic Sea has connected major empires throughout history. Set off on a hike or a bike ride along its shores, or venture out into the harbor of Mariehamn on zodiacs to explore the historic pilot station, Kobba Klintar.
Experience the natural beauty and cultural history of the largest archipelago in Sweden as you cruise among countless islands and past Fredriksborg Fortress on your way into the Swedish capital. You’ll stay docked in Stockholm overnight so you can enjoy this magical Scandinavian city at your leisure. The next day, marvel at an amazingly preserved 17th-century wooden warship Vasa, housed in Stockholm’s Vasa Museum. Take a walking tour of the Old Town and visit the Royal Armoury to see the sparkling costumes and carriages of Sweden’s monarchs.
Spend the day exploring the World Heritage site of Visby, a former Viking settlement on the island of Gotland and one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Scandinavia. Stroll the old town’s cobbled streets and walk along its 13th-century wall. Then visit the Gotland Museum, where an incomparable collection showcases Swedish history, from eighth-century picture stones to the discovery in 1999 of the Spillings Hoard, a treasure trove of Viking silver. Alternatively, head into the countryside for a visit to a sheep farm, or join a local guide for a bike ride, enjoying amazing views of the medieval town of Visby and the harbor.
Enjoy a leisurely sail through the narrow Kalmar Strait, which separates the Swedish mainland from the island of Öland. Visit Kalmar Castle, a seaside Renaissance castle set on the site where the Kalmar Union was signed in 1397, bringing Norway, Sweden, and Denmark under a single monarch. Or venture to Öland, a long island of limestone heaths, biodiversity, and prehistory, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its first inhabitants date back some 6,000 years. As you explore the island’s coast, learn about its Mesolithic and Neolithic sites and discover its diverse flora and fauna—including a surprising number of bird species. On a guided tour of the Ottenby Bird Observatory, where researchers have been studying migratory birds since 1946, learn about bird banding—a technique used to study the approximate 140 species that migrate through the region each year.
Day 15: Copenhagen, Denmark | Disembark
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for flights home.
The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.