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Secret ports of the Baltic

Cruise Advice
By

Cruising the Baltic is an extraordinary treat, filled as it is with sparkling capital gems such as Copenhagen, Stockholm, Talinn, Helsinki and of course the crown jewel, St Petersburg, all of which merit a visit in their own right.

Whilst some 7-night itineraries feature only these hero ports, others include secret hideaways which cannot fail to captivate you: medieval treasures or maritime masterpieces, gateways to the magical landscapes and glowing light which infuse the paintings of the great northern artists, or remote island paradises where you expect to meet a Moomin at any moment. We selected some of our favourites...

1. Ystad, Sweden

Ystad is a medieval market town with half-timbered houses and rambling cobbled streets dating back to the 12th century. Its prosperity was increased when it joined the Hanseatic League in the 14th century. Here you can visit the abbey and castle, as well as visiting the iron age site featuring 59 boulders.

Ystad, Sweden

2. Visby, Sweden

The Hanseatic city of Visby, on the island of Gotland, is arguably the best-preserved medieval city in Scandinavia, and is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Visby, Sweden

3. Ronne, Denmark

On the Danish island of Bornholm visit the natural harbour of Ronne for beautiful scenery and an interesting history as a result of its strategic position, which means it has rich German and Swedish influences. Cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and interesting museums make it a great location to explore on foot.

Houses on Bornholm, Denmark

4. Mariehamn, Finland

At the very heart of the Baltic Sea you find Mariehamn, located halfway between Finland and Sweden in the Åland archipelago (an amazing 6,700 islands in total) with a strong maritime heritage, welcoming islanders, and outstanding natural beauty.

Rural landscape on the Aland Islands

5. Karlskrona, Sweden

Karlskrona was founded in 1680, when King Karl XI made it home to Sweden's naval base. Magnificent churches, grand squares, parade streets and fortifications testify to the prosperity of the region, which is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Karlskrona harbour, Sweden

6. Kemi, Finland

In the summer months, a handful of ships sail to the north up the Gulf of Bothnia, which separates Finland and Sweden. Visit Kemi, gateway to the extraordinary sights and tastes of Finnish Lapland,

Kemi, Finland

7. Kalmar, Sweden

At Kalmar stands one of Sweden's most spectacular storybook castles, where the Kalmar Union of 1397, which united the crowns of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, was signed. You can also visit Sweden's largest gold hoard, retrieved from the wreck of the 17th-century ship Kronan.

Kalmar castle, Sweden

8. Saaremaa, Estonia

Saaremaa, Estonia's largest island, boasts an extraordinary national park, its diverse flora and fauna including thousands of migratory birds and wild orchids, thriving as a result of its mild climate and lime-rich soil. What's more, you can visit the Kaali Meteorite Crater Field (which is the first scientifically proven meteorite crater in Europe).

Saaremaa Island, Estonia

9. Gotska Sandön, Sweden

The island Gotska Sandön, the Baltic's most solitary island, is an extraordinary National Park with sand dunes extending for miles, seals basking in the sun and abundant bird life. The tallest dune, Höga Åsen, rises 42 metres above the sea. Its ancient pine forests boast trees up to 500 years old.

Gotska Sandon, Sweden

10. Rauma, Finland

Old Rauma in western Finland is the largest unified wooden town in the Nordic countries. Walking around Old Rauma is like stepping into a fairy tale: the colourful wooden houses, decorative gates, cobblestone streets and beautiful public buildings create an atmosphere of the long-forgotten past.

Old Rauma, Finland
Edwina Lonsdale
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and, together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising.

More about Edwina

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