If you’re planning a Baltic cruise, you may be looking forward to taking in well-known destinations like St Petersburg in Russia and Tallinn in Estonia, but it’s worth spending some time exploring the lesser trod gems that can be found dotted throughout the Baltic regions.
Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg, is likely to appeal to culture vultures and foodies alike, offering a fine selection of museums and many restaurants serving freshly-caught seafood. You can easily walk between many of the city’s museums, and it’s especially worth calling in at the Gothenburg Museum of Art to admire a collection of Scandinavian late 19th century pieces by the likes of Carl Larsson and Edvard Munch.
Head to the Gothenburg City Museum afterwards to learn more about the settlement’s 12,000-year history, as well as to admire Sweden’s only surviving Viking ship, and call in at a restaurant to sample the tasty catch of the day. Grebbestad serves up oysters renowned the world over, while the town of Smogen is famous for its shrimp.
Getting around Gothenburg and Sweden as a whole to see how beautiful the country is, is highly recommended. You can rely on the great public transport system they have in place or enjoy the freedom of a rental car.
The Polish city of Gdansk is located on the Baltic coast and boasts some awe-inspiring monuments, beautiful houses and a thriving market. Here, you can hit the beach, visit one of the largest zoos in Poland or tour the city to take in landmarks like the Neptune Fountain of 1633 and the elaborate Golden House, which was built in 1609.
Must-sees include the Crane, which has become a symbol of the city since it was erected in the Middle Ages. Powered by a large wooden wheel, the port crane is looked after by the National Maritime Museum, which you might want to visit while you’re nearby. Afterwards, take in the sight of the Oliwa Cathedral, which was put up in the 13th century as a Cistercian shrine.
Situated on the island of Funen, the Danish town of Faaborg boasts beautiful natural scenery comprising rolling hills and vast lakes, as well as age-old settlements you’ll want to explore on Baltic cruises. Climb onshore and head to the spectacular mountains of Svanninge Bjerge and Svanninge Bakker, which date back to the Ice Age, or get active on a sea kayaking excursion.
Faaborg boasts many castles and it’s worth visiting at least one during your time in the town. Egeskov Castle is a Renaissance fortress built in 1554 that contains ten museums, including displays of classic cars, an old smithy and collections of dolls owned by the aristocratic Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille family. Alternatively, call in at Hvedholm Castle in Horne to admire the buildings picturesque spires, before partaking in a wine-tasting session.
The largest town to be found on the Danish island of Bornholm is Ronne, a lovely spot with a natural harbour and a rich history. Pay a visit and you can tour cobbled streets, passing half-timbered houses and stopping off at fascinating museums.
During your visit, make your way up to Hammershus, the largest ruined castle in Northern Europe. The oldest parts of the fortress are thought to date back to the 12th century and were added to over the years that followed, before the castle fell into disrepair in the 1700s.
The capital of Latvia is surprisingly not as popular a port of call on Baltic cruises as you might think, but it’s certainly worth a visit. Ancient history and rich culture characterise this gem of the Baltic, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Riga’s collection of Art Nouveau buildings is one of the largest in the world, and it’s for this reason the city is protected on the heritage list. As you make your way around, keep a lookout for even earlier wooden structures too. Attractions you won’t want to miss include the stunning Baroque and Rococo Rundale Palace, the spectacular natural beauty of the Gauja National Park and the Blue Flag beach at Ventspils.