[blockquote type=”blockquote_line” align=”left”]Cruises to Northern Europe offer a unique opportunity to sample a wide range of cultures which few people outside of this area are familiar with. [/blockquote] A typical cruise of Northern Europe might take in countries as different as Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia. Others may even include areas as distant as Iceland and Greeland. Itineraries may opt to explore the whole region or focus solely on one, a popular country such as Norway – the choice is yours.
When most people think of this region they think of the Norwegian Fjords (which happen to be on our top 10 cruises list) and maybe a few of the more famous Scandinavian capitals like Copenhagen (home to famous authors Hans Christian Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard) and Stockholm, a cultural and economic centre. However, there are also cruise ports in: Riga, Latvia; Tallinn, Estonia; Kalipeda, Lithuania.
Since Estonia and Latvia have entered into the European Union, cruise tours have begun to dock there far more frequently. Both these cities, although not as well known as they should be, are home to some of the most stunning architecture, and amazing places to visit in Estonia in Europe as well as both having up and coming nightlife scenes. These factors, plus the relative affordability of a Northern European cruise, are contributing to the increasing popularity of this region for cruise-lovers.
Most Popular Northern European Itineraries
Baltic Sea Cruises
The Baltic Sea is the area of water between the East Coast of Denmark and Russia, framed by the coasts of Finland and Sweden. The most popular ports of call on a Baltic cruise are Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg and Tallinn – all capital cities of these European nations.
Cruises going to The Fjords
Everyone has heard of these stunning water-valleys, dotted around the Norwegian countryside. The biggest port on a Norwegian Fjord cruise is usually the picturesque city of Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city and one of the most vibrant cities in the region. Smaller ports visited on these cruises, often on the verge of fjords themselves, include Stavanger, Geiranger, Tromso, Alesund and Trondheim.
Gulf of Bothnia
Little known outside of the region, these waters between the eastern coast of Sweden and Finland are the northernmost reaches of the Baltic sea. Travelling here gives you the chance to experience the surprisingly different cultures of Finland and Sweden. The main Finnish ports in this area are Rauma (whose ancient wooden houses are a UNESCO World Heritage site) and Pori (famous for the lovely Yteri beach). On the Swedish side you’ll usually end up stopping at Sundsvall with its beautiful stone houses and Lulea.
Arctic Sea Cruises
Your opportunity to sample the icy delights of Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. This cruise is increasingly being regarded as quite trendy. Take your opportunity to enjoy the thermal baths of Reykjavic and pick up some Faroese knitwear.
Where do these cruises generally start out from?
The most common ports to embark from are Stockholm and Copenhagen, capitals of Sweden and Denmark respectively. Flights to these cities from the UK are frequent and relatively inexpensive, and from the US are at least relatively common. Travellers from the UK, however, may prefer to start out at home taking a boat from Dover, Southampton or Harwich.
4 Facts about The Baltic You Probably Didn’t Know!
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- Over 85 million people live within the catchment area of the Baltic Sea – in other words, in the coastal areas where the rain that falls eventually runs down to the Baltic.
- A wide range of languages are spoken in this region: Russian, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, German, Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian.
- At any one time at least 2,000 large ships are sailing through the Baltic, most of them freighters carrying cargo to and from the Baltic nations.
- As a mix of fresh and saltwater, the Baltic sea is one of the largest bodies of brackish water in the world, giving it a unique eco-system all of its own.