When it comes to cruising, Northern Europe is a fascinating choice for those in search of history, beauty and old-world charm. From the coastal scenery of France to the medieval towns of Estonia, a tour of this part of the world can open up a treasure trove of sensory delights that will create lifelong memories. For more information on northern Europe, here’s a lowdown of some of the best ports of call.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Bursting with life, Amsterdam never fails to impress, with its charming network of canals and paths offering scope for sightseeing, cycling and people-watching. The iconic gabled houses and historic monuments make exploration a joy and it’s easy to get around on foot. Those interested in culture will have plenty to keep them busy including the Van Gogh Museum, which boasts works by big hitters Vermeer and Rembrandt.
St Petersburg, Russia
There are a host of sightseeing must-sees in St Petersburg so it’s worth opting for an organised shore excursion. This city is simply stunning, packed with ornate buildings and pristine, fountain-filled gardens. St Isaac’s Cathedral, with its impressive gold dome, is not to be missed – be sure to check out the Baroque Winter Palace in Palace Square, too. If you’re lucky enough to be here in the evening, you can enjoy a ballet recital at the Conservatoire theatre or head to a vodka bar to sample Russia’s favourite tipple.
Packed with nautical charm and seafaring history, Cherbourg is another classic port of call. Aside from its pretty harbourside lined with cafes and restaurants, there’s a naval arsenal and host of museums to explore. The Liberation Museum, which can be found inside the 19th-century Fort du Roule, is well worth a look. If you have time, head to the fascinating Titanic exhibition in City of the Sea as well. Cherbourg’s surrounding landscapes offer a fabulous coastline, too, dotted with sandy coves and dramatic cliffs.
The beautiful Scandinavian city of Stockholm, which spans 14 islands, is a delight to explore with a 13th-century old town, cobbled streets and a vibrant café culture. The Gothic Cathedral is a highlight as is the Livrustkammaren, Sweden’s oldest museum, which houses a fine collection of antique weaponry and royal carriages dating more than five centuries. Don’t leave port before sampling some traditional Swedish meatballs, or gravlax, tangy dill-cured salmon.
Wonderful Copenhagen is an enticing destination, with colourful houses providing a scenic backdrop for the canal and harbour. The National Museum, which has impressive collections dating to the Stone Age, is one to add to your sightseeing hitlist, with Amalienborg Palace another historic attraction not to be missed. For childhood wonder head to Tivoli Gardens, a fabulous fairy-lit funfair near City Hall with classic rides and gardens. Finally, you can’t leave Copenhagen without having your picture taking with The Little Mermaid at Langelinie Pier, a surprisingly diminutive but iconic statue, and one of the city’s mode famous landmarks.
With a UNESCO-listed Old Town dating to medieval times, eclectic dining opportunities and the only Gothic town hall in Northern Europe, Tallinn ticks all the boxes when it comes to a fascinating Northern European cruise stop off. Toompea Castle and St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral are top of the to-do list, with St Olav’s Church Tower a must for those wanting gorgeous city views.
Capital of Norway’s high north, Tromso is a city like no other with its picturesque backdrop of dramatic mountain peaks and fabulous fjords. Those wishing to find out more should head to the Tromso Museum with its exhibition of traditional Sami culture, the largest in the world. This eclectic city is also a great place from which to observe the incredible Northern Lights in winter, that magical natural phenomenon also known as the aurora borealis. If you’re visiting in summer don’t miss a trip to Telegrafbukta, an Arctic beach with stunning views of neighbouring Kvaloya.
These are just some of the highlights you might discover in Northern Europe – there are plenty more gems in the region, so be sure to add them to your cruise bucket list.