NORTHERN EUROPE’S BALTIC COAST SERVES UP A TREASURE TROVE OF DELIGHTS. OUR SHORE EXPERIENCE PARTNERS REVEAL WHAT THEY LOVE MOST ABOUT THEIR CHARMING HOME PORTS
KLAIPĖDA, LITHUANIA BY MONIKA STIRNAITE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DENEESTI, KLAIPĖDA Klaipėda is a dream travel destination for the summer with more than 10km of white-sand beaches. Head south from the city to the sliver of land that forms Curonion Spit National Park and you’ll find a string of stunning white-sand beaches flanked by fragrant pine trees and dunes. It’s truly refreshing to walk through them to the beach and take a dip into the blue water. There are lots of long walking trails, which are great for cycling too. Klaipėda Old Town is a delight to explore. Be sure to take some time to stroll along the narrow streets where craftsmen used to live. Don’t miss our beautiful Theatre Square, in the heart of the town: it’s the favourite meeting place for locals and is a venue for concerts and celebrations. It’s also a perfect spot for brunch. For drinks and a lively scene, try the pretty waterside bars along the port and watch the world go by.The Old Town is full of 19th-century fachwerk (German-style architecture) buildings and many are still in their original condition. Find out about the city’s fascinating history at Klaipėda Castle museum. The exhibits are spread across different areas of the castle and follow the city’s fortunes from the 13th to the 17th centuries.
COASTBY PETER OTTESEN LUNDQVIST, DIRECTOR, DBP CRUISE When asked what I like best about Bornholm, I have to say, all of it! This little gem of an island has so much to offer – so many opposites that complement each other. On the northern side, the coastline is rocky and rugged; on the southern side, you’ll find some of the smoothest and whitest sand beaches in Europe. On the food scene, you’ve everything from Michelin-starred restaurant Kadeau to the cosy and informal eateries at the rocky harbour of Gudhjem. My personal favourite here is Provianten, a place for a coffee, wine or beer while watching harbour life. The island has many niche foodie specialities. Smokehouses are dotted all over the island, producing traditional smoked herring amongst other treats. A couple of weeks ago I visited the couple who run Höestet buckthorn farm near Svaneke. They’re so passionate about their produce. Of course, I had a chance to both taste and buy some of it, including homemade jams, juice and liquors.
And, of course, summer is the time for ice cream. Head for IS-Kalaset in a unique location in Sandvig, right on the rocks by the Baltic Sea. Bornholm is known as the Island of Sunshine for good reason – we have more sunshine than many other places in Denmark. And this makes the island perfect for a bike ride through the beautiful scenery. One of the most spectacular places to visit is Hammershus Castle ruin, the largest medieval fortress ruin in Northern Europe. Located on a hilltop with steep rocky slopes heading directly into the sea, it’s not hard to imagine how difficult it must have been to conquer this amazing fortress. And for those who don’t fancy walking too far, the brand-new visitor centre gives spectacular views. Look out for our four Round Churches, too – so called because of their shape. They are different from most other churches and well worth a visit. Bornholm is one of my favourite Danish islands – and apparently, I am not the only fan. More than 600,000 readers of Condé Nast Traveller magazine voted the island the second best in Europe in 2019 – amazing!
BY IAN ELS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, EUROPEAN LAND EXCURSIONS SERVICES Once part of East Germany, this little fishermen’s village has kept much of its old charm, and the waterfront is lined with old fishing boats that still go out to sea for their daily catch. Locals will go to collect their dinner in the early morning hours when the vessels arrive back. Saturdays are particularly special as there is also a market bursting with fresh produce to complement the catch of the day. Some trawlers have been converted to floating fast-food outlets with tourists and seagulls all vying for the tastiest fish and chips. We also love running or walking along the beach promenade that leads to the beech forest, where the wind-bent trees overlook the small cliffs. Spend time looking for goodies in the little shops that adorn the quaint fishermen’s houses. And a little word of warning when you do get to the coast: Warnemünde, like other former East German beaches, is well known for its nudism, so don’t be surprised.
Another fun thing to do is tuck into local speciality broiler – traditional roasted chicken and chips – at the ground-floor restaurant of the Neptune Hotel. It was in this hotel that Fidel Castro and other politicians congregated to talk shop during former East German times. Though no longer active, it is said that the walls still have listening devices placed there by the Stasi (East German secret police). It’s fun to explore the side streets and find traditional half-timbered homes nestled away from the hustle and bustle. One such home is decorated with garlands of ‘chicken gods’. These pieces of flintstone are found scattered on Warnemünde’s wide sandy beaches, each with a hole in it caused by thousands of years of water erosion. When you find one, pick it up, look through the hole and make a wish to the chicken god. Legend has it that if you’re the first person to do so with that stone, your wish will come true.
BY PETER OTTESEN LUNDQVIST, DIRECTOR, DBP CRUISE When younger, I lived in Aarhus and totally fell in love with the place. Today, I keep coming back to visit this wonderful city. One of my favourite areas is the Latin Quarter with its narrow cobbled streets lined with crooked houses and small one-of-a-kind shops. Find one of the small bakery stores or cafés, grab a coffee and tuck into a homemade cake. If you’re looking for more than a snack, feast on open sandwiches presented on Royal Copenhagen tableware at the traditional Teater Bodegaen, served along with a local Ceres beer. Den Gamle By, an urban open-air museum, is a must-see. You’ll find 300 to 400-year-old houses with shops and stores, brought alive by locals dressed upin costumes. Recently added is a 1974 streets section, with urban housing – you’re sure to find some interiors from your younger years!
Close to the city centre, make time to see Marselisborg Forest, named after the royal summer residence located here. This area is perfect for biking. Take a break at Skovmøllen, a historic watermill turned restaurant. It’s the perfect spot to rest under the lush canopy. You can’t talk about Aarhus without mentioning Vikings. The city’s origin was a Viking settlement by the estuary of the Aarhus river (the Aros river back then). Next to the cathedral is the underground museum of the Viking settlement, and just south of the city, the newly opened Moesgaard Museum. Both have excellent exhibitions. The Viking legacy is still alive and well: the internationally acclaimed AROS art museum has been named after the Viking settlement. It’s well worth a visit.
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