This new tour circumnavigates the Baltic Sea and explores its fascinating history and culture in depth. Discover the first Iron Age and Viking expeditions from Scandinavia, the great Hanseatic trading league of Germany which dominated Northern Europe for four centuries, and the struggle for control between Scandinavia, Russia and Germany in the modern era. We’ll be treated to some of the most stunning architecture, art and design of Northern Europe, spanning the medieval to the modern era.
Get to know
Centuries of battling for dominance in the Baltic, from Viking raiders to trading leagues, Christian crusaders and modern empires
The golden age of northern Germany and the stunning Hanseatic cities of Hamburg, Bremen and Lubeck
The rise and fall of Scandinavian ambitions, and their legacy in Copenhagen and Helsinki
The unspoiled beauty, medieval masterpieces, and long struggle for independence in Latvia and Estonia
Art, architecture, music and design in Copenhagen, Hamburg and Helsinki
Hamburg’s stunning Hanseatic waterfront, Lutheran cathedrals and Kunsthalle
The remarkably intact Brick Gothic cityscapes of Bremen and Lubeck
Helsingør Castle, the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Great art nouveau architecture in Riga, and the medieval city of Tallinn
The beauty of the Baltic, from Helsinki’s Suomenlinna fortress to the rugged islands of southern Denmark and our ferry crossing from Estonia
Modern design by Jørn Utzon in Copenhagen and Alvar Aalto in Helsinki
World-class music and opera in Hamburg, Copenhagen and Helsinki
Days 1–5: In Hamburg, see world-class art, music and architecture, and discover the Hanseatic world with day trips to Lubeck and Bremen.
Days 6–8: In Copenhagen via the southern islands and Roskilde, visiting Viking heritage, royal palaces and modern masterpieces.
Days 9–10: Fly to Riga, and take in its beautiful old city and collections.
Days 11–13: Drive to Tallinn via ancient castles and visit this superbly preserved medieval capital.
Days 14–17: Ferry to Helsinki, and explore its imperial history and its remarkable design, music and architecture.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Emirates and Qantas offer flights to Hamburg and return via London from Helsinki. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Day 1 | Wednesday August 15: Arrive
After making your connections to Hamburg and transfers to our hotel, there will be welcome drinks and an introductory lecture on the history of the Baltic Sea and its peoples. Overnight Hamburg. (B)
Day 2 | Thursday August 16: Hamburg: Maritime Powerhouse
Hamburg has long been one of the great maritime powerhouses of Europe, sending ships across the world for commerce, conquest, colonisation and conversion. This morning there will be a walking tour of this remarkable history, taking in landmarks such as the Hamburg City Hall, St Nicholas’ Church and have time for lunch in the Krameramsstuben quarter. In the afternoon, we’ll see the World Heritage Speicherstadt (city of warehouses) and visit the Hamburg Maritime Museum, one of the world’s best. We’ll have a group welcome dinner later in the evening. Overnight Hamburg. (B, D)
Day 3 | Friday August 17: North German Culture and Art
Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg is home to some of the nation’s greatest cultural institutions. This morning we’ll have a guided tour of the encyclopaedic Hamburg Kunsthalle with a focus on its North German paintings. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the birthplace of Johannes Brahms, see the beautiful St Pauli Piers and walk the famous Elbe Tunnels that run under the river and host temporary art exhibitions. We’ll also experience the newly finished modern masterpiece, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall. Overnight Hamburg (B)
Day 4 | Saturday August 18: Bremen: Free Imperial City
This morning we’ll take a train through the German countryside to Bremen, one of the most influential cities of the Holy Roman Empire with a fascinating and complex history. We’ll have a guided tour of some of its most important sites, including the beautiful medieval Bremen Cathedral, Town Hall, Marketplace and Guildhall. We’ll enjoy a group lunch in the 15th century Ratskeller. Afterwards, we’ll take in the more modern interwar Viertel district, and in the afternoon the Bottcherstrasse and some of its charming house museums and small collections such as the Roseliushaus. Overnight Hamburg. (B, L)
Day 5 | Sunday August 19: Lubeck: Queen of the Hanseatic League
Today we’ll take a coach to Lubeck, long the leading city of the incredible Hanseatic League that dominated the Baltic Sea for centuries. We’ll see its legacy everywhere in our tour of the old city, especially its beautiful brick gothic masterpieces of the Holstentor and Burgtor, Town Hall and Hospital of the Holy Spirit. In the afternoon, we’ll continue to Schwerin Palace, a fairy-tale romantic castle built on a lake island by the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg, and tour its apartments and art collection. Overnight Hamburg. (B)
Day 6 | Monday August 20: The Danish Islands
Our tour continues to Copenhagen today, via the beautiful southern islands of Falster, Lolland and Møn, and the southern reaches of Zealand. After a ferry over the Fermer Belt, we’ll see the charming villages and frescoed medieval churches of Keldby and Elmelunde, and the Viking burial mound at Grønsalen. After enjoying a group lunch on the island, we’ll see the beautiful chalk cliffs of Møn, and take a scenic coastal drive onwards to the capital. Overnight Copenahgen. (B, L)
Day 7 | Tuesday August 21: Copenhagen: The Danish Capital
The Danish monarchs long strove to make their kingdom the premier cultural, naval and trading power in the Baltic, an ambition that can be seen on every corner of their capital city Copenhagen. Today we’ll do a comprehensive exploration of the layered history of this grand city by foot and by boat tour, seeing the Amalienborg and Christiansborg palaces, the neo-renaissance icons of the Børsen and Rosenborg, the waterfront Nyhavn district, and even discover the influence of the sea on Danish literature at the Little Mermaid. Later in the day, we’ll tour the glorious Copenhagen Opera House. Overnight Copenhagen. (B)
Day 8 | Wednesday August 22: Along the Øresund
Today we drive to Helsingør, once a prosperous and prominent harbour town long central to the struggle for the control of the Baltic, and home to the romantic icon of Kronborg Castle, the famous backdrop to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. After a tour of the castle and some of the historic sights of the town, we’ll make our way onwards to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, one of the finest of its kind in Europe, before returning to Copenhagen in the afternoon. Overnight Copenhagen. (B)
Day 8 | Thursday August 23: Crossing the Baltic
The morning is free to explore the design shops and department stores of Copenhagen, take a peek at one of the city’s marvellous art or sculpture museums, or see the Iron Age and Viking treasures at the National Museum of Denmark. Our flight to Latvia is in the afternoon, and after transferring to our hotel in Riga, we’ll have a group dinner and a lecture near our hotel. Overnight Riga. (B, D)
Day 10 | Friday August 24: Riga: The Struggle for Freedom
Riga has long been the target of Baltic empires, changing hands a dozen times in its fascinating history before finally achieving lasting independence just a few decades ago. The influence of many periods and cultures abounds in the city, and we’ll have guided tours of the Old City, including its beautiful Guildhall, the Nativity Church, the House of the Blackheads, and Riga Castle. In the afternoon, we venture to the more modern Jugendstil and Art Nouveau districts, and visit the Art Nouveau Museum. Overnight Riga. (B)
Day 11 | Saturday August 25: From Riga to Tallinn
This morning we take a guided tour of the Latvian National Art Museum, one of the most comprehensive collections detailing the development of art in the Baltic region. Afterwards we take a scenic coach drive to Tallinn astride the Gulf of Riga and will enjoy a group dinner near our hotel on arrival. Overnight Tallinn. (B, D)
Day 12 | Sunday August 26: Tallinn: History and Innovation
Today we explore Tallinn, whose UNESCO listed medieval city centre is one of the best preserved walled cities in Europe, but with a people and economy firmly focused on innovation and the digital future. We’ll trace the development of the Estonian capital, including its remarkable medieval walls and guild halls in the Old Town and the cathedrals and knights halls of Toompea Hill. In the afternoon, we see the Russian Imperial legacy in the Baltic with Kadriorg Palace, an ornate baroque estate built by Peter and Catherine the Great amidst a complex of landscaped gardens modelled from those in St Petersburg, and now home part of the Art Museum of Estonia. Overnight Tallinn. (B)
Day 13 | Monday August 27: Estonian Art and Culture
After a lecture, this morning we’ll be able to glimpse earlier eras and agricultural existence in the Baltic region with a guided tour of the Rocca Al Mare Open Air Museum. The afternoon is free to continue exploring or relaxing in Tallinn, with optional further touring with your tour leader around the city and to the amazing Estonian Maritime Museum and Seaplane Harbour. Overnight Tallinn. (B)
Day 14 | Tuesday August 28: Baltic Ferries and Fortresses
We say farewell to Estonia today and make a ferry crossing across the Gulf of Finland to Helsinki. In the remainder of the morning we’ll see some of the sights of the waterfront district, including the Uspenski Cathedral, the National Library and the Senate Square. In the afternoon, we take a ferry through Helsinki Harbor to the incredible island fortress complex of Suomenlinna, built by the Swedish Empire as part of their ongoing struggle for naval supremacy over the Russian tsars. Overnight Helsinki. (B)
Day 15 | Wednesday August 29: Finnish Music and Culture
Long a struggling outpost on the edge of the Baltic, Finland’s art and music is central to its national identity and its emergence as a cultural destination of Northern Europe. We venture out to the Finnish Lakeland today and the shores of Lake Tuusula, a place of inspiration for many great Finnish artists and composers. We visit three of their villas here – Ainola, home of composer Jean Sibelius, Halosenniemi, home of painter Pekka Halonen, and Kokkonen, an Alvar Aalto designed home for composer Joonas Kokkonen, where we’ll take in a traditional Finnish lunch and private concert. We return to Helsinki in the afternoon. Overnight Helsinki. (B, L)
Day 16 | Thursday August 30: Nordic Design and Architecture
The modern story of the Baltic region has been one of innovation and reinvention, and nowhere is this more prominent than in Helsinki, one of the world’s capitals of design. Today we explore some of the landmarks of architecture at the Aalto House, Finlandia Hall, and the Rock Church, and work our way through half a century of Finnish design in the design district and the Helsinki Design Museum. Tonight, we enjoy a farewell dinner in Helsinki. Overnight Helsinki. (B, D)
Day 17 | Friday August 31: Departures
It is the final day of summer and our tour, and we finish with a visit to the Ateneum Art Museum, housing some of Finland’s finest paintings and sculpture. Flights from Helsinki depart in the afternoon. (B)
Dr Matthew Laing
Is a historian and political scientist with a PhD from the ANU. Matthew leads tours to the United States and Scandinavia and lectures for Academy Travel.
In 2007 he spent six months in Washington as a congressional intern and has travelled extensively in the North East USA. He has lectured at the ANU’s Centre for Continuing Education and led tours in Australia and the USA.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.