This post was last updated on December 3rd, 2013If you’re planning on a cruise in Europe, then chances are you’ll be considering the Mediterranean above all else. Forming the perfect bridge between two continents, there are a remarkable number of things to see and do in and around this sea, whether you’re in Portugal and Spain or well on your way to Cyprus or Israel. However, one popular area that’s often overlooked because of its rival – despite being an arguably better cruise location – is the Baltic Sea.
While it doesn’t have the same consistently-amazing weather that the Med has to offer, it is just as socio-culturally wonderful as its rival, offering a remarkable number of experiences in the countries that dot its shores. Without further ado, here’s a brief rundown of two of the big-hitting countries you could experience on the Baltic Sea with a specialist operator such as MSC Cruises.
As one of the most often-overlooked destinations for European cruise ship takers, Denmark has a wealth of experiences that belie its relatively small size. Centred on the cosy Copenhagen, city life in the country couldn’t be more relaxed; the winding, colourful and safe streets of its capital. However, a short drive north delivers the stunning beauty of North Jutland – home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches, heathlands, forests and dunes.
If you’re looking for a fun day out, there are two particularly popular attractions worth visiting. The first, Legoland Billund, is the original theme park dedicated to the nation’s most famous toy: Lego. Meanwhile, Tivoli Gardens is a must for those both young in age, and of heart. Just a few minutes’ walk from City Hall and Copenhagen Central Station, Tivoli is the world’s second oldest amusement park, filled with rides, greenery, gourmet food and even the occasional rock concert.
The north coast of Germany isn’t usually the first place people think to visit when hitting the central European nation, yet it has a whole host of delights in Helgoland, Hamburg and Kiel – its primary three destinations.
Helgoland is perhaps the most visually striking of the three locations. This small archipelago in the North Sea was formerly Danish and British, and is now home to just over 1,000 people. Boasting a strongly independent community, the island also bans cars and even bicycles, meaning many people are limited to the use of kick scooters to get around.
Hamburg, by stark contrast, is Germany’s second city and the sixth-largest city in Europe. It is also the second-biggest port in Europe after Rotterdam, making it a no-brainer for those taking a trip on the Baltic. Its nightlife, made famous by The Beatles’ early years in the St Pauli quarter, is famed the world over, while tourists also regularly hit popular places such as the city hall and the grand church St. Michaelis, as well as the old warehouse district and Tierpark Hagenbeck.
Finally, Kiel – the most populous city in Schleswig-Holstein – is the German home of sailing, and one of the most relaxed places to visit in the country. Famed for its honest cuisine, great local breweries and extensive collection of museums, it could be the perfect place to start your cruise – or finish it.