For many cruisers, ocean and river alike, a trip to northern Europe's Baltic region is on many a wish list. And for good reason. The area offers a different and unique experience, a view into a region that often times is a bit of a mystery.
Major cruise lines visit the Baltics (in the summer months only), with itineraries between Copenhagen and Stockholm and beautiful stops in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Read more about
THE BALTICS - BEAUTIFUL STOPS ON A NORTHERN EUROPE CRUISE
River cruise itineraries on the Volga are seeing great interest as well, traveling between Moscow and St. Petersburg, exploring quaint villages and historical sites along the Volga River. Check out more details here.
In most cases, it is St. Petersburg that draws curious and adventurous travelers to these itineraries. A real gem in the Baltics, St. Petersburg is Russia's second largest
city, behind Moscow. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, it was Russia's imperial capital for over 200 years. Fun fact: the city was renamed Petrograd in 1914 at the beginning of World War I to sound "less German", then named Leningrad in 1924 after the death of Vladimir Lenin. The city's name went back to St. Petersburg in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
St. Petersburg is known as the 'Venice of the North", with its beautiful canals and 342 bridges throughout the city. Peter the Great was a big fan of Holland, and thus the city has similar characteristics.
Today, St. Petersburg is well known for its lavish architecture, wonderful displays of art and culture. A city of the tsars, St. Petersburg is the ultimate display of imperial Russia.
A big treasure trove for lovers of art and museums, St. Petersburg is home to beautiful palaces and museums with some of the best collections of art in the world. An iconic tourist attraction is the Peterhof and Grand Palace (pictured above), known for its beautiful cascade of fountains. One the most well known displays of art is found in the Hermitage Museum, housed in the Winter Palace (pictured below). Built in 1754 by Catherine the Great, it is St. Petersburg's most popular attraction. With over 3 million items on display, one can meander through the museum for an entire week and still not see everything! So when visiting, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore.
Most cruises overnight in St. Petersburg for 2-3 days, allowing time to see and experience additional areas of interest, including the Russian Museum, one of the best collections of Russian art in the world, the Faberge Museum, a privately owned museum with one of the best collections of Faberge (including a few Imperial Eggs), Mariinsky Theatre, home to world-class opera and ballet, and Kazan Cathedral, a major Russian Orthodox cathedral, built in the early 1800's.
Baltic itineraries are most definitely unique and experiential, and perfect for travelers who have been to many corners of the world. If you are interested in exploring this part of Europe, start your planning early: 9-12 months in advance. Sailings are only available in the late spring and summer months, and cruises tend to sell out (or options become very limited) quickly.
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