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Travel bucket list idea:

Cruise the Baltic Sea

  • Multiple countries

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 06 February, 2024

A voyage around the Baltic is a cultural odyssey, with long, light-filled summer days to explore elegant capital cities including chic Copenhagen, famed for its galleries, palaces and cutting-edge culinary scene, and enchanting Stockholm, its old town, Gamla Stan, all gabled buildings and skinny alleyways.

Medieval Tallinn is like something out of a fairytale, its walled Old Town a jumble of cobbled squares and church spires, while Helsinki, gazing out over forested islands scattered across the Gulf of Finland, is known for its eclectic architecture and Scandi-chic Design District.

Most cruises spend two or three days in St Petersburg as there’s so much to see, from the Hermitage Museum to Peterhof, St Isaac’s Cathedral and the riotously colourful Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood.

You’d need an interest in city life and culture to join a Baltic cruise – but there’s plenty in each port of call for families, too.

Logistics

Price from: £Varies
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: Min 7 days

Getting there & doing it

Stringing together a series of the world’s great cities in one effortless voyage is the great appeal of cruising the Baltic. Cruises start from British ports, or Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Stockholm.

Typically, you’ll be in port all day and the sightseeing can be intensive, so make the most of downtime on board as the ship steams on to the next port. Many of the cities along the way, including Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tallinn, are easily navigable on your own, so it’s worth mixing up ship-organised excursions with independent exploration.

Cruise passengers on ships’ excursions in St Petersburg don’t require a Russian visa but you’ll need one to go ashore alone.

When to do it

The main season for Baltic cruises is May to September. The White Nights cultural festival in St Petersburg, from spring till mid-August, is a magical time to visit.

Who to go with: tour operators

3

Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Fred. Olsen Cruises [Baltic]

  • London, Multiple countries

Fred. Olsen Cruises [Baltic]

Operates a fleet of four comfortable but affordable, mid-sized ships aimed at the mature traveller. Itineraries include smaller ports as well as bucket list destinations.

Oceania Cruises [Baltic]

  • Miami, Florida, Multiple countries

Oceania Cruises [Baltic]

Operates six cruise ships on worldwide itineraries, typically 10-14 days. They offer detailed exploration in modern, mid-sized ships, known for the high quality of the cuisine.

Silversea Cruises [Baltic]

  • Monaco, Cote d'Azur, Multiple countries

Silversea Cruises [Baltic]

Some of the most luxurious small ships at sea, between 50-300 rooms. All-inclusive onboard and offering butler service for every cabin; this is the way to see Baltic in style. An excursion is included in most ports, too.

Destination guides

1

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

St Petersburg

  • Northwestern Region, Russia

Shining domed towers of orthodox cathedral

Destination guide

On the shores of the Baltic, Russia’s dazzling cultural capital – and former home of its lavish Tsars – is a treasure trove of art, music, literature, and history. Home to one of the world’s greatest museums, the State Hermitage.

Round-ups

1

Round-ups that include this experience