An Enchanting Mix of Nature and Legends: Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea

See awe-inspiring mountains and maybe even the Northern Lights on your way to 800-year-old cities.
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It’s not surprising that the lands of Scandinavia and the Baltics are home to famous folklore and rich culture: Norwegian fjords, ancient Viking history, medieval architecture, the spectacular Northern Lights, unspoiled forests, and blue freshwater lakes bring the region to life. With impressive coastlines to boot, exploring this part of the world by ship is your best bet.

Here’s a look at the natural and man-made wonders that await you on a cruise to this northern cluster:

Natural Wonders as Far as the Eye Can See

Norway is known for its sprawling, mountainous areas, and our shore excursions can get you up close—and up top. Hike the Path of the Trolls in Alesund and admire an unbeatable view of waterfalls, the Troll Wall—Europe’s highest vertical mountain wall—and peaks from 2,500 feet atop the Gudbrandsjuvete. Feeling adventurous? Take in dramatic landscapes on a thrilling alpine trek to the top of Pulpit Rock.

Surround yourself with magnificence when you sail through Nærøyfjord in Flam, a 10-mile fjord named after the Norse sea god, Njord. It’s so stunning that it’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can even kayak the Geirangerfjord for a closer look at the impressive waterfalls, like the streams of the Seven Sisters. And the Northern Lights? Roam the wilderness of Tromsø for a chance to see them, preferably in September. As you wait for nightfall, consider catching a special tour led by your furry local guide—a husky.

Explore the great fjords and more on these Norwegian Fjords and Arctic Circle cruises.

Vikings, Myths and Fairytales

The Vikings’ seafaring conquests are among the most well known in history, and you can get to know these ancient explorers in Oslo, Norway, where their iconic longships and artifacts are displayed. Glimpse their surprisingly charming homes in Visby, Sweden—one of our new European ports—or a Bronze-Age Viking burial site in Gotland, a small island 90 miles east of the Swedish mainland.

Fairytales abound in this region, like those of Witches Hill in Lithuania, where you’ll take a walk in the forest and discover sculptures inspired by local fairytales. In Denmark, you can visit the home of the region’s most famous storyteller, Hans Christian Anderson, who grew up in the town of Funen. There’s even a walking tour in Copenhagen that passes a monument of one of his most famous stories, “The Little Mermaid.”

The 800-year-old Latvian city of Riga has its own storied history as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travel back in time as you gaze on architecture that spans the Gothic period, the Middle Ages and the Soviet era, or view the works of Latvian and Russian Art nouveau masters in this city also known as the “Paris of the north.”

Discover the region’s legends on these itineraries.

Man-made Marvels and Storybook Settings

It’s impossible not to snap pics aplenty of the colorful portside homes lining Bergen’s Bryggen wharf in Norway or Copenhagen’s canals in Nyhavn. There’s also the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum in Denmark, which features a stunning “Your Rainbow Panorama” 360-degree walkway. Then, dive into Helsinki’s rich culture by visiting the 1952 Summer Olympics stadium, the New Opera House and the Finlandia Hall, a sleek feat of acoustic engineering.

Many cruises visit Russia as well, so prepare for a new level of architectural mastery in St. Petersburg. The Hermitage Museum boasts the world’s largest collection of paintings—including Goyas and Rembrandts—and is home to the ornate, expansive Winter Palace. Experience further grandeur at Peterhof, the “Russian Versailles,” which was once a summer residence of the tsars. With all this and St. Petersburg’s iconic cathedrals, there’s a lot of historic ground to cover. Take our adventure-packed, two-day tours to make sure you can see it all.

Admire incredible history and impressive buildings on vacations or sailings to Scandinavia and Russia.

Whether you want to explore the world’s most iconic fairytales or retrace the Vikings’ steps, Scandinavia and the Baltics are brimming with natural and architectural wonders from long ago, so head here to book your next trip.

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