My third cruise was with Norwegian Cruise Line again and this time was to visit cities on the Baltic Sea. I set sail on the Norwegian Getaway from Copenhagen on an exciting vacation that was filled with history, art, and culture. Click on the linked headings to read more about each city.
After 2 days at sea, we reached St. Petersburg, Russia. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, it was the imperial capital for 2 centuries. It remains the country’s cultural center with venues like the historic Mariinsky Theatre hosting opera and ballet. Also the Russian Museum showcasing Russian art, from Orthodox icon paintings to abstract works by Kandinsky. St. Petersburg is also home to numerous parks and gardens. While in St. Petersburg, I witnessed the amazing Swan Lake ballet and also took a guided tour of the most iconic cathedrals of the city.
The next port was Helsinki, Finland’s southern capital that sits on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland. Its central artery, Mannerheimintie, is flanked by institutions including the National Museum (tracing Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present), imposing Parliament House and Kiasma contemporary art museum. On busy Senate Square, you’ll find the neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral which stands in contrast with the Uspenski Cathedral and its cupolas.
Tallinn, Estonia was my favorite port of call and is now my favorite Eastern European city. Tallinn, Estonia’s capital on the Baltic Sea is the country’s cultural hub. It retains its walled, cobblestoned Old Town, home to cafes and shops, as well as Kiek in de Kok, a 15th-century defensive tower. Its Estonian History Museum is dedicated to the country’s 20th-century history and its Gothic, towering Town Hall is among the Baltic region’s oldest.
The only city that I had previously been to was Stockholm, Sweden. Laced by an ingenious network of waterways and bridges strung between a freshwater lake and the sea, Stockholm is easily seen on foot or by waterway cruise. Its gabled old townhouses peer over cobblestone streets, while its magnificent 17th-century palace sits watching over the harbor. The city is spread across a total of 17 islands and was founded in 1252 by a Swedish statesman Birger Jarl.
The last stop on the cruise was Visby, Sweden. I had never heard of Visby before so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. The first thing that catches your eye when arriving at the Port of Visby, is the impressive cathedral and all the rooftops of the stone buildings in the town, surrounded by the mighty medieval town wall with its towers. Centrally placed, Visby was for a long time the natural meeting point for sailors and merchants from all over the Baltic region. Still today, you can enjoy the majestic merchants’ houses from 17th and 18th century along with almost 200 stone buildings – some of them dating back from the 12th century.
After one more day at sea, we arrived back at Copenhagen where I spent two days before heading back home. It is one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and is also one of Europe’s busiest hubs. On just about every street you will spot something beautiful.