BEAU­TI­FUL BALTIC

The shores of the Baltic Sea are home to some of the world’s great­est cap­i­tal cities, where his­tory and cul­ture com­bine to tell fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Contents -

Don’t dis­miss a Baltic cruise as not hav­ing the glam­our of a trip around the Med – Copen­hagen, Stock­holm and Helsinki are all wa­ter­front cap­i­tals, and there’s the mag­nif­i­cent St Peters­burg as well as the eastern-eu­ro­pean cap­i­tals of Tallinn and Riga.

High­lights of the Swedish cap­i­tal Stock­holm in­clude Gamla Stan – the his­toric core of nar­row cob­bled al­ley­ways, 18th-cen­tury yel­low ochre houses, me­dieval mar­ket squares

and shops – and the war­ship Vasa, which sank just 20 min­utes into its maiden voy­age in 1628 and has been raised from the seabed.

With wa­ter on three sides, Helsinki in Fin­land is al­most an is­land. It’s the small­est Scandi cap­i­tal, but punches well above its weight for things to do. You can walk ev­ery­where – be­tween mu­se­ums (don’t miss Ki­asma for con­tem­po­rary art) and be­tween churches such as Temp­peli­aukio, hewn out of rock, and the Kamppi Chapel of Si­lence. Other land­marks

in­clude the water­side mar­ket and the mon­u­ment to Fin­nish com­poser Jean Si­belius.

With its mu­se­ums and gal­leries, cool bars and hot restau­rants, not to men­tion the now fash­ion­able con­cept of ‘hygge’ – en­joy­ing life’s sim­ple plea­sures – the Dan­ish cap­i­tal of Copen­hagen will ap­peal to a broad range of in­ter­ests. Must-sees and dos in­clude a boat trip from the his­toric Ny­havn quay­side, brows­ing the stores along pedes­tri­anised Strøget (such as Il­lums Bo­lighus for house­wares and Ge­org Jensen for jew­ellery), and vis­it­ing Tivoli Gar­dens – part fun­fair, part gar­den and part fairy tale. Den­mark is, of

course, syn­ony­mous with de­sign, best seen in the Dan­ish Mu­seum of Art & De­sign. And, for mod­ern art, if there’s time in port, hop on the lo­cal train to Louisiana, which is spec­tac­u­larly lo­cated over­look­ing the sea with Swe­den on the hori­zon.

St Peters­burg, Rus­sia’s ‘Win­dow on the West’, is a beau­ti­ful city on the River Neva. Es­sen­tial vis­its in­clude the Her­mitage, where, housed in the Ro­manovs’ old Win­ter Palace, is one of the world’s finest col­lec­tions of art. And it is vast – spend just seven min­utes in front of each paint­ing and you’ll emerge 49 years later, and will cer­tainly have missed your boat!

Ex­pe­ri­ence all Stock­holm has to of­fer

Marvel at beau­ti­ful St Peters­burg

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