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Although you can visit one of the world’s best ship museums in Bremerhaven at the Schiffahrtsmuseum and head into nearby Bremen for a picnic in lovely Bürgerpark, Hamburg is the main attraction. View famed works of art at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, have a cup of coffee on one of the terraces of the Alsterarkaden, stroll through the historic warehouse district or enjoy the view from the top of 400-year-old St. Michaelis Church.
Enjoy a taste of the Highlands here in the rugged landscape and heathered moors, the ruined castles, steep cliffs and sea air. Drive through beautiful valleys and flower-filled meadows with romping Shetland ponies to quaint villages like Scalloway with its ruined castle, or explore the fascinating Jarlshof prehistoric site, occupied for more than 4,000 years.
This starkly beautiful island holds many ancient treasures like the enigmatic Standing Stones of Stenness and the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae, amazingly discovered with furniture and indoor drains preserved. Visit the imposing trio of St. Magnus Cathedral, the nearby ruins of the Earl’s Palace, and the earlier Bishop’s Palace.
Known as “Inverbreakie” until the early 18th century, Invergordon has long been recognized for its rich naval history and jewel of a harbor in the northern Highlands. Invergordon perches on the northern bank of the Cromarty Firth, a lengthy estuary that provides welcome sanctuary for a multitude of water birds and one of only two species of resident bottlenose dolphin in the British Isles. Venture into the Highlands, where the local clan castles perch on craggy hills and on the shores of lochs and firths. And there’s always the chance to see the mysterious Loch Ness Monster.
Savor the old town’s marvelous Georgian and Victorian architecture and impressive Edinburgh Castle, high on its volcanic crag with a fabulous view. Stroll along the medieval Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse to see the abbey and Queen Mary’s chambers. Visit St. Giles’ Cathedral where John Knox once preached.
A delightful blend of ancient and modern, Newcastle is one of the liveliest cities in northern England. Originally built in the 11th century, the Castle Keep was the “new castle” for which the city is named. Stroll along the River Tyne and marvel at the different bridges that have transformed the face of the city. Modern art is the main attraction at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, while the history of Newcastle unfolds at the Great North Museum.
Rotterdam holds the impressive title of Europe’s largest port and that vibrancy extends throughout the city. To get your bearings, go up the Euromast and Space Tower, the highest point in the Netherlands. Riding a small boat through the many channels and waterways provides another unique perspective. The only truly historic sections are the 17th-century Delfshaven and Oude Haven; the rest of Rotterdam boasts highly contemporary, often whimsical architecture. For a respite, enjoy the Arboretum Trompenburg, a garden oasis of more than 4,000 plants. Art from Dutch and Flemish masters such as Rembrandt can be seen in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
Step back in time to the 14th century as you meander along the narrow streets of this medieval gem past gabled buildings and through the bustling market. Take a boat ride along the city’s canals. Or spend the day exploring Brussels and its famed Grand Place or Antwerp, home of Rubens and Bruegel, seeing the verdant countryside along the way.
Take a trip up to London and get a bird’s eye view of the city from the London Eye. See sights like Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Piccadilly. Stroll along Lower Regent Street or visit the British Museum.
A centuries-old fishing village, Skagen is perched along the windswept sand dunes at the northernmost point of Denmark, where the North Sea and the Baltic merge in a frenzy of crashing currents. The town has long been depicted by painters because of its spectacular scenery, charming communities and the remarkable quality of its light, inspiring a group of artists known as the Skagen Painters. See their work at the Skagen Museum, and then learn the science behind the region’s natural wonders at the nature center, housed in a striking building designed by architect Jørn Utzon of Sydney Opera House fame.
The grand harbor and seaside promenade take center stage in this historical maritime city that’s the gateway to the famed Kiel Canal. Everywhere you go – the Kiel Fjord, the museums and memorials in the city center, the bustling waterfront known as Kiellinie – you’ll feel the seafaring and naval influences. Top choices include the maritime-focused Schifffahrtsmuseum, Aquarium GEOMAR, Botanical Gardens Kiel and of course, stopping at a café along the promenade to enjoy the ever-changing vista of the harbor. Just outside of Kiel in Laboe, you can explore a restored German submarine U-995 on Ostsee beach, a somber reminder of the city’s role as the main German submarine base during World War II.
Enjoy a scenic drive to the German capital and savor landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate and the glorious Charlottenburg Palace. Stroll down Unter den Linden, see the site of the Berlin Wall and take a boat ride along the city’s canals. Explore on your own and visit one of the many museums. Or discover charming Warnemünde and its lovely Gothic church, market square and seaside promenade.
Largely rebuilt after World War II, Rønne still feels historic because even the new buildings reflect the older architecture. As a result, walking from more modern areas into the charming Old Town (Gamle Stan) is less noticeable. Don’t miss the 14th-century St. Nicholas Church, one of the more historic buildings on Bornholm Island, or the massive round-tower castle and its fascinating military museum in the south of Rønne. To better understand the island’s seafaring and natural history, visit Bornholm Museum.
Enjoy the lovely countryside beyond the towered walls and take in the view of this former Hanseatic League town before exploring its narrow, winding lanes, marvelous ruined medieval churches and impressive St. Mary’s Cathedral. Or visit an intriguing Bronze Age burial in the midst of farmland and take in the cliff-top view of the precipitous coastline.
Spend a marvelous day discovering this lovely city and its beautiful buildings. Visit the charming Old Town, medieval Gamla Stan, the elegant royal palace, the wonderful parks and the impressive Vasa, the magnificently restored 17th century warship that sank in the harbor on her maiden voyage.
Established in 1680 when Sweden was a great military power, Karlskrona was founded as a naval port, and the city’s rich maritime and architectural heritage have earned it the designation of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many Baroque buildings remain intact, such as those on the grand main square, Stortorget. Having protected the harbor for more than three centuries, Kungsholm Fortress and Drottningskär Citadel reveal a remarkable history. In the fascinating Marine Museum, explore a Soviet submarine, inspect a World War II minesweeper, and observe an 18th century shipwreck through an underwater tunnel.
See another side of this lovely city with a cruise along its charming canals. Visit the quaint old harbor at Nyhavn and beautiful Rosenborg Castle and, of course, the famed statue of the Little Mermaid. Or venture into the countryside and enjoy its panoramic vistas, fairy tale castles and the village of Fredensborg.
Overlooking a gorgeous fjord, Norway’s capital and largest city simply radiates with natural beauty and sophistication. Oslo’s rich seafaring history is on display at the Viking Ships Museum, rivaled only by the Kon-Tiki Museum, which holds the balsawood raft that Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl used to sail from Peru to Polynesia. History aside, Oslo exudes a love of the outdoors in city parks like Vigeland, which is adorned with over 200 life-size sculptures by artist Gustav Vigeland. Much of Oslo is heavily forested with pines, making it one of Europe’s greenest cities.