A time-saving negotiation of the Kiel Canal pours you into the belly of the Baltic, where pristine ports of call await, and adventure beckons the harder you scratch the surface. With the communist-era cobwebs dusted down, 21st Century culture has been fully embraced; and boy have they done it in style.
Expect chic cafés and boutiques rubbing shoulders with medieval masterpieces in Stockholm and Tallinn, vintage trams scuttling through Helsinki’s Art-Nouveau-inspired streets or in Copenhagen, simply people-watch whilst tucking into a delicious pastry. It’s the quintessential Nordic way.
From Neoclassical to Romanesque, Gothic to Vernacular, Northern Europe serves up a smorgasbord of architectural delights and oozes bundles of character. Succumb to the imperial splendour of St.Petersburg, the dynamism of Oslo, with its uber-contemporary gloss, or perhaps Riga’s Old Town, harking back to its hanseatic heyday. Alternatively, the 14th century spires, turrets and fortifications paint a fairy-tale scene in Tallinn, Northern Europe’s oldest city.
Scandinavia, dipping its feet into both the Baltic and North Sea, enjoys a more diverse, arguably superior level of gastronomy. Hearty husmanskost (farmer’s fare), coupled with the nouvelle-cuisine craze that has swept the region, ensures a tasty time.
The scenery is equally as varied – look no further than enchanting Norge (Norway) for evidence. Cradling the region’s westernmost expanse, and the most northerly point of Europe for that matter, this nation waves farewell to the beaten path. Part Scandinavian/part Arctic, this slither of extraordinary wilderness is tailor-made for every outdoorsy type imaginable. Set the heart racing with an exhilarating husky ride, witness the swirling palette of colour of the Aurora Borealis dancing the night away up above, or let the fabulously green and rugged fjords lazily pass you by on a cruise, reminiscent of a fantasy film set.
Links to its ancient antiquity are all readily available, depicted through the numerous museums stirred into the region’s intoxicating melting pot. Scandinavia and The Baltic are evolving fast, but then they always have been, haven’t they?