PN1 POLAND, THE BALTICS & NORDIC EUROPE TOUR

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TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Torun, home of Copernicus; Warsaw: Old Town tour; Vibrant Gdansk; Well-preserved Krakow; Wieliczka salt mines tour; Vilnius walking tour; Hill of Crosses: compelling memorial; Cosmopolitan Riga; Tallinn: one of Europe's best preserved old towns; Helsinki: 'Daughter of the Baltic'; Stately Stockholm; Norway-in-a-Nutshell: scenic rail journey

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Wed 02 Sep 2015Fri 02 Oct 2015 $10480
Sun 22 May 2016Tue 21 Jun 2016 $10480
Wed 07 Sep 2016Fri 07 Oct 2016 $10480

Optional Single Supplement: $1800 (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $900, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.


Tour Overview



Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Krakow
Arrival in Krakow.

Krakow is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It was originally the home of the Polish royalty (between 1038 and 1596), before the capital was moved to Warsaw. The cobblestone streets, majestic churches (almost 100!), and old world charm make Krakow an unforgettable destination.

Overnight in Krakow.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Krakow: City Walking Tour
Krakow is very compact, and the whole central region with its cobblestone streets is full of well-preserved architecture, Gothic churches and splendid museums. On our sightseeing tour (largely on foot at a leisurely pace) we visit Wawel Hill with the Royal Castle, Market Square, and the 16th century Renaissance Cloth Hall. We continue onward to Jagiellonian University and St Mary's Church with the Wit Stwosz altar. This was designed in 1489 by Wit Stwosz of Nuremburg and is the finest sculptural work in Poland.

We then stroll down the hill from the castle complex and enter the Old Town, one of the most famous old districts in Poland and the center of Poland's political life from 1038 until King Sigismund III Vasa relocated his court to Warsaw in 1596. The entire medieval old town is among the first sites chosen for the UNESCO's World Heritage List. The district features the centrally located Rynek Glowny, or Main Square, the largest medieval town square of any European city. There is a number of historic landmarks in its vicinity, such as St. Mary's Basilica (Kosciol Mariacki), Church of St. Wojciech (St. Adalbert's), Church of St. Barbara, as well as other national treasures.

Overnight in Krakow.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Krakow: Wieliczka Salt Mines
This morning we visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines. On our 5km (3 mile) journey below the earth's surface we will see the salt-formed caves and grottoes, a subterranean lake and a chapel with statues carved from salt. The mines' 11 levels of galleries stretch 300km (186 miles), and some 20,000,000 tonnes (22,000,000 tons) of rock salt were extracted over 700 years. According to local legend, the deposits were discovered in the 13th century by a Hungarian princess named Kinga, whose lost ring was found in a block of salt extracted here.

We also visit the Oskar Schindler's Factory Museum. The story of Oskar Schindler and his employees is one which has been well-known since the book and film by Thomas Keneally and Steven Spielberg (whose film Schindler's List was shot almost entirely in Krakow). Individual histories of Krakow's wartime inhabitants guide visitors through the exhibit which covers the war of 1939, everyday life under occupation, the fate of the Jews and the city's underground resistance using vast archival documents, photos, radio and film recordings, period artefacts and multimedia installations.

Balance of the day at leisure. During your free time in Krakow, we suggest a visit to the Czartoryski Museum / Muzeum Czartoryskich, world-famous for Leonardo's painting Lady with an Ermine, the museum has other old masters' splendid works as well, a dramatic landscape by Rembrandt among them.

Overnight in Krakow.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Krakow - Oswiecim (Auschwitz) - Czestochowa - Lodz
Our first stop today is the Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and Brzezinka (Birkenau) Nazi concentration camps preserved as memorials to the 1.5 million people of 28 nationalities who perished here, the overwhelming majority of whom were Jewish. Our guided walking tour of the site reveals the compelling history of this region and the very human aspect of this particular historic location.

We continue to Czestochowa, the "spiritual home" of Poland, where pilgrims from every corner of the country come to Jasna Gora (Luminous Mountain) Monastery to revere the image of the Black Madonna, Poland's most important icon. Legend says that the icon was painted by St Luke the Evangelist on a piece of cypress wood from the table used by Mary in Nazareth. The icon was brought from Jerusalem and installed in the monastery around 1384.

We finish our day in Lodz (pronounced: Wooj). A small settlement, that in 1423 was granted civic rights, was thriving at the beginning of the 19th century. Lodz became one of the Europe's biggest and fastest growing textile industry centre. At that time, a new identity of the city - "a promised land" and "a city of many cultures" was created. In Lodz people of different nationalities and religions shared the same dream of a success. Despite the differences they were able to build the city together.

We arrive in time for dinner.

Overnight in Lodz.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Lodz - Warsaw: City Tour
This morning we travel to Warsaw, arriving in time to embark upon a full city tour.

After WWII, a reconstruction campaign by its citizens resulted in today's meticulous restoration of Warsaw's Old Town with its churches, palaces and market-place. It is an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century. Warsaw has shrugged off its dour Eastern Bloc image, and is finally showing its true colours. The vibrant heart of the largest country in "New Europe", Warsaw is now poised to make is presence felt as a business and cultural hub.

We begin our sightseeing with a drive along the Royal Route and a brief orientation drive around the city before beginning our walking tour of the Old Town, a UNESCO protected site. We visit Castle Square, the Uprising Monument, and then drive over to the Praga area for a view of the river. From there go to the Jewish Ghetto area and to Umschlag Platz where we visit the Museum of History of Polish Jews. The museum features a multimedia narrative exhibition about the vibrant Jewish community that flourished in Poland for a thousand years

A highlight of our day will be a visit to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The museum sponsors research into the history of the Uprising, and the history and possessions of the Polish Underground State. It collects and maintains hundreds of artefacts, ranging from weapons used by the insurgents to love letters, in order to present a full picture of the people involved. The museum's stated goals include the creation of an archive of historical information on the Uprising and the recording of the stories and memories of the still living Uprising participants.

Overnight in Warsaw.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Warsaw - Zelazowa Wola - Torun
We continue our journey to the picturesque medieval town of Torun, a beautiful medieval city in northwestern Poland, situated on the Vistula River. En route we stop at Chopin's family house in Zelazowa Wola, now a museum.

Torun's architecture managed to escape bombing, and as such represents one of the only examples of true gothic architecture in Poland. At warm times of year Torun's old town is full of street cafes and restaurants where you can eat or drink outdoors and enjoy the medieval atmosphere.

Overnight in Torun.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Torun: Nicolaus Copernicus Museum - Gdansk
This morning we enjoy the sights of Torun. Its Old Town has been included in UNESCO's list for its impressive 13th century Town Hall, superb churches and historic streets preserving Torun's past glory. A highlight of our tour today will be the Nicolaus Copernicus Museum, Copernicus House. The museum collects materials about the life and work of Copernicus: a library, old prints and books from the time of Copernicus, various editions of his work, "Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres," and models of the astronomical instruments he used.

We continue to Gdansk, an absolutely charming place with its tall, narrow buildings, peaked roofs and decorative facades that combine perfectly with the cobblestone streets. The famous Gdansk Shipyards are visible from most parts of the city. During our time in Gdansk we'll visit the marvellous Old Town and its main street -- Dlugi Targ (Long Market).

Overnight in Gdansk.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Gdansk Area Tour
Its position on the Baltic has historically made Gdansk one of the most important port cities in Northern Europe, and tragically also the scene of a rather disturbing past. World War II was ignited by a dispute over the control of the city. By the end of the war the city lay almost completely in ruins. The German population was expelled and replaced by Poles as the city came under Polish rule and changed its name to Gdansk. However, the impact of its former German
ties is still evident. Although most of the old buildings were damaged or destroyed in WWII, they have been painstakingly restored or rebuilt.

This morning we head out of town a short distance to visit the Oliwa Cathedral. This Holy Trinity, Blessed Virgin Mary, and St Bernard's Church was first erected as a Cistercian shrine back in the 13th century. Reconstructed in 1350 after a great fire, it re-emerged in the Gothic style, but many of the new fixtures were to be relatively short lived. The Gothic interior was extremely damaged in a 1577 fire and was replaced with the Baroque fixtures we admire today for their beauty and intensity.

The Oliwa Cathedral is perhaps best known for its massive, splendid organ. The organ is comprised of over 7,000 pipes and is decorated with movable angels and brightly painted stars. When built, the instrument was the largest in Europe. The main alter is also very impressive, and if the organ is in use, you're sure to be riveted by its magnificent sound!

We return to Gdansk for a free afternoon of independent exploration. Gdansk is sometimes called the Amber Capital of the World. The surrounding area is the richest known source of this semi-precious stone, and the product can be found in many of the city's shops.

Overnight in Gdansk.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Gdansk - Malbork - Olsztyn
After breakfast, we drive to Olsztyn. En route, we stop at the Teutonic Knights Castle in Malbork. It is the largest brick building in Europe and one of Poland's greatest tourist attractions. In the
afternoon, we continue to Olsztyn, a town located in a region of lakes and forests. The most attractive part of the city is the old town, encircled by a set of fortified walls.

Overnight in Olsztyn.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Olsztyn - Olsztynek - Warsaw
After breakfast, we return to Warsaw. On the way, we visit the Ethnographic Park in Olsztynek, site of the Museum of Folk Architecture, one of the oldest open-air museums in Europe. The museum contains many interesting examples of folk architecture, including houses, barns, windmills and other traditional buildings. A particular attraction of the park are the interiors of old houses, the evangelical church, a blacksmith, a pottery stand, a windmill as well as various temporary displays representing items of traditional craftsmanship and modern folk art and handicraft from the region.

Overnight in Warsaw.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 Warsaw, Poland - Vilnius, Lithuania
Today we fly* from Warsaw to Vilnius and transfer to our hotel.

"Narrow cobblestone streets and an orgy of Baroque: almost like a Jesuit city somewhere in the middle of Latin America," wrote the author Czeslaw Milosz of pre-war Vilnius. Soviet-era satellite suburbs aside, it's a description which still rings true today. Despite being the capital of the medieval Lithuanian state, Vilnius was occupied by Poland between the wars and was inhabited mainly by Poles and Jews who played such a prominent role in the city's life that it was known as the "Northern Jerusalem". Vilnius is still a cosmopolitan place -- around twenty percent of its population is Polish and another twenty percent is Russian -- though with just 543,000 inhabitants it has an almost village-like atmosphere, making it an easy place to get to know.

* NOTE: Depending on final group size and flight schedules (which can be erratic), this journey may take place overland (by private bus). If so, we apologize for the backtracking and inconvenience.

Overnight in Vilnius.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 Vilnius & Trakai
This morning we travel to Trakai, a former capital of Lithuania. The town, situated on the shores of several lakes, has two prominent castles built to fend off German knights in the 14th century. Trakai is famous for its population of Kara-Kalpak people. Brought to Trakai from the Crimean Peninsula by the Grand Duke Vytautas in the late 14th century, the Kara-Kalpak still hold their Jewish religious services in the yellow Kinessa, built in 1812. Our tour here includes a visit to the Trakai Historical Museum, housed within the main rooms of Trakai's island castle.

We return to Vilnius for a lunch break and town tour.

Sweden, Poland, France and Russia have all ruled Vilnius in the past, and this afternoon we will witness the influences that this has had on this beautiful city. The Old Town is one of the largest in Europe, with nearly 1,500 historic buildings of note built over several centuries creating a splendid blend of many different architectural styles.

Our walking tour will take us to Cathedral Square in the heart of the city. Inside the cathedral we see the famous chapel of Saint Kazimieras, considered an architectural gem. Rising in the distance behind Cathedral Square is the Gedimino Tower, once part of the 14th century defense system. We will also see the baroque Peter and Paul Church, originally built in the 14th century. The Gates of Dawn, on the eastern side of the Old Town, were one of the original nine gates into the city. The original Gothic defensive wall was once over 2 km (1.5 miles) long. From this
remaining gate we will walk down through the streets of the old town. Nearby is the Jewish Quarter, with its cobblestone lanes and hidden courtyards.

Overnight in Vilnius.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Vilnius - Kaunas - Siauliai, Lithuania - Riga, Latvia
Today we travel to Riga via Kaunas to see the Castle and Old Town at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris. We see the Town Hall Square, lined with 15th-16th century merchants' houses, and the 17th century baroque Town Hall dominating its center. Nearby Kaunas Cathedral and Gothic Vytautas Church dominate the riverbank. After our visit we continue north to Riga.

En route we stop at the Hill of Crosses, located just north of the small industrial city of Siauliai. Siauliai is the Lithuanian national pilgrimage center, and a city of famous cultural traditions and legends. On a small hill stand thousands of crosses that represent Christian devotion and act as a compelling resistance memorial to the German and Soviet occupation. Today newlyweds often come here after their wedding ceremony to ask for God's blessing.

After our stop we will proceed to the border and continue on to Riga.

Overnight in Riga.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 14 Riga: City Tour
Riga, founded in 1201 by the German bishop Albert, is the largest of the three Baltic capitals and boasts an impressive kaleidoscope of various architectural styles.

We start with a panoramic drive taking in some of the most famous sights of Riga. Our route along the embankment of the River Daugava provides us with wonderful views of the city. Our route takes us to the center of town to the Jugendstil District and Alberta Street, an open-air architectural museum and one of the best collections of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe. We then drive through the modern part of the city, observing the university building, National Opera, Academy of Arts and central train station. We will then leave our bus at the entrance to the Old Town.

Our walking tour of the Old Town will include Riga Castle, Dome Cathedral, St. Peter's Church, Swedish Gates, Large and Small Guild Houses, and the Freedom Monument. During your free time, we recommend a visit to the Museum of the Occupation, dedicated to information about Latvia and its people under two occupying totalitarian regimes from 1940 to 1991 (entrance by donation).

Overnight in Riga.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 15 Riga: Rundale Palace
This morning we travel about 90 minutes to a region known as Bauska, where we visit Rundale Palace, an architectural pearl created by architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, designer of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. Construction of the palace was completed only in 1768 and now it is a magnificent sample of baroque style with elements of classicism, with crystal chandeliers, rich stucco moulding, silk wallpaper, collection of paintings, and frescoes by Italian artists. This is the place where leaders of the state, wishing to receive high guests with really regal honours, hosted the royal couple from Denmark when they visited in Latvia.

The balance of the day is yours to further explore this beautiful, compact city on your own.

Overnight in Riga.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 16 Riga, Latvia - Parnu - Tallinn, Estonia
This morning we depart Riga for Tallinn, visiting Parnu en route. There was a trading settlement in Parnu before the German crusaders arrived, but recorded history of the city dates back to the 13th century. From the middle of the 19th century, Parnu developed as a resort town with its good beaches and relatively good weather. During the Soviet era, Parnu's guesthouses, inns and hotels were converted to sanatoria. We will do a stroll through parts of the Old Town, including the town's oldest building, the Red Tower.

We continue to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

Historically, Tallinn has been attacked, sacked, razed and pillaged on numerous occasions. Although extensively bombed by Soviet air forces during the latter stages of World War II, much of the medieval Old Town still retains its charm. The Tallinn Old Town became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

Overnight in Tallinn.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 17 Tallinn: City Tour
Today we have a guided WALKING tour of this important Baltic Sea harbour city. We begin with a visit to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built in the nineteenth century. The cathedral dominates the Lossi Plats, and is an imposing testament to the Russian imperialist influence. We also visit the Dominican Monastery, which played an important role in bringing Christianity to Estonia. We have the opportunity to visit the Toompea Castle site, a 13th century castle where the current parliament of Estonia holds its sessions. In the immediate area we will also visit the Toomkirik Lutheran cathedral, founded in 1233, with its impressive carved tombs inside.

This afternoon you will have some free time to stroll through the picturesque Old Town with its jumble of medieval buildings, turrets and walls.

Overnight in Tallinn.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 18 Tallinn, Estonia - Helsinki, Finland
This morning we take a fast ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki (HAVE YOUR PASSPORTS HANDY!) and embark upon a tour of this sophisticated capital. Affectionately known as the 'Daughter of the Baltic', Helsinki is sited at the arrowhead of a peninsula, surrounded by an archipelago of 315 islands, perfectly placed between its two great trading cousins, Stockholm and Moscow. From a European perspective, Helsinki is relatively young (450 years), yet it is Finland's sixth-oldest town. The Swedes, who extended their empire into Finland in 1155, founded the city of 'Helsingfors' (the name still used by the Swedes) in 1550 when King Gustav Vasa needed a site for a strategic, competitively placed trading port. It languished as a coastal backwater until Imperialist Russia invaded in 1809.

We will enjoy a comprehensive walking tour taking in the most important and interesting parts of Helsinki, such as the historical centre and the diplomatic quarters, the Presidential Palace, City Hall, the Parliament building, Finlandia Hall and the Opera House. We stop at Senate Square, and, if possible, Temppeliaukio Church. During the afternoon you can explore the busy market place or the many souvenir shops close to the harbour.

Overnight in Helsinki.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 19 Free time in Helsinki / Ferry to Sweden
Today you will have a free day to explore Helsinki. Helsinki is small and intimate; lively but not bustling. Its size makes it easy to walk around and cafes, markets, and the nearby islands are just a few of its summer delights.

This evening we will board our overnight ferry to Stockholm.

Overnight ferry.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 20 Stockholm: City Tour
After our morning arrival we check into our hotel before commencing with our walking tour of the Old City. With its location on the east coast of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Malaren, by the Stockholm archipelago, it is widely renowned for its beauty. Three islands make up the oldest part of Stockholm -- Riddarholmen, Staden and Helgeandsholmen -- the whole history-riddled mass a cluster of seventeenth- and eighteen-century Renaissance buildings backed by narrow medieval alleys.

It takes only a matter of seconds to cross the bridge onto Riddarholm, where the Riddarholmskyrkan Church is located. Originally a Franciscan monastery, for over six centuries the church has been the burial place of Swedish royalty.

Our walk around the island will take us to the back of the church for stunning views of Stadshuset, the City Hall and Lake Malaren. Nearby is the island Langholmen where in the winter people skate and even take their dogs for walks on the ice, as the water freezes solid right up to the bridges and beyond.

We will continue to the City Hall, where we will view both the controversial Blue Hall and the Golden Chamber with its 18 million mosaic tiles, known to the entire world from the annual traditional Nobel Prize banquets. Our tour will take us to Djurgaarden and a visit to the Vasa Ship Museum. The Vasa warship left the pier by the Old Town in 1628 for her maiden voyage, but sank right in the harbour of Stockholm after just a few minutes of sailing. In 1961, after 333 years at the bottom of the sea the ship was salvaged, and the museum was established.

Overnight in Stockholm.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 21 Stockholm: Boat Tour
This morning we enjoy a sightseeing tour by boat, taking us around some of Stockholm's 14 islands. The boat passes through the narrow and picturesque canals. We will see the island of Djurgarden -- a huge park area originally intended as royal hunting grounds. The canal leads to the sea, offering us a glimpse of some of the islands in Stockholm's inner archipelago -- the Fjaderholm islands. On the way back, the boat passes a number of beautiful villas and museums, as well as the Old Town with the Royal Palace. The tour also passes the world's first National City Park, "Ekoparken", founded in 1995.

The balance of your day is free day in Stockholm. Stockholm is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful national capitals in the world. The Old Town is particularly spectacular, and walking around the city's waterways and parks is a glorious way to spend your afternoon.

Overnight in Stockholm.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 22 Stockholm, Sweden - Copenhagen, Denmark
Today we fly to Copenhagen. Depending on flight schedules, you'll have free time in either Stockholm or Copenhagen.

Overnight in Copenhagen.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 23 Copenhagen: City Tour
Today we take a walking tour the historical Copenhagen. We will start with a one-hour canal boat tour that provides an excellent introduction to our day. The trip includes a visit to the statue of the Little Mermaid on the Angelina promenade. The 1913 statue commemorates Hans Christian Anderson's lovelorn creation, and is the subject of hundreds of travel posters. Donated to the city by Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of Carlsberg Breweries, the innocent waif has also been the subject of some cruel practical jokes, including decapitation and the loss of an arm, but she is currently in one piece.

After the boat tour we will continue our walking tour to the National Museum. After a brief orientation provided by our guide, you will be free to explore this excellent museum, with its permanent collections pertaining to Danish history as well as several very good ethnological rooms.

After lunch we continue to Christianborg Castle. Surrounded by canals on three sides, the massive granite castle is where the queen officially received guests. Even though the first two castles on the site were burned, Christiansborg remains an impressive Baroque compound, even by European standards.

This evening we visit the famous Tivoli Gardens. This is much more than a mere fair; among its attractions are a pantomime theatre, open-air stage, elegant restaurants (24 in all), and frequent classical, jazz, and rock concerts. Fantastic flower exhibits colour the lush gardens and float on the swan-filled ponds. At night 100,000 coloured lanterns illuminate the Chinese pagoda and the main fountain. The park was established in the 1840s, when Danish architect George Carstensen persuaded a worried King Christian VIII to let him build an amusement park on the edge of the city's limits.

NOTE: The order of Copenhagen sightseeing may depending on weather and other logistical considerations.

Overnight in Copenhagen.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 24 Copenhagen: City Tour - Overnight Ferry
Today we will continue with our city tour, starting with a walk to the City Cathedral, also called the Lady's Church, with its impressive collection of statues of the apostles in classical style. The building in the square that faces the side of the cathedral is part of the university.

We continue our walk to Rosenborg Castle, the home of the builder-king Christian the Fourth. We pass through some beautiful gardens en route and see a statue of Hans Christian Anderson. At Rosenborg Castle there are three floors to visit, as well as a basement vault where the Danish Crown Jewels are kept. After our visit here and a break for lunch, we walk to the Carlsberg Glyptotek Art Museum.

This is one of Copenhagen's most important museums, thanks to its exquisite antiquities, Gauguins and Rodins. Surrounding its lush indoor garden, a series of nooks and chambers houses works by Degas and other Impressionists, plus an extensive assemblage of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and French sculpture, not to mention the best collection of Etruscan art outside Italy and Europe's finest collection of Roman portraits.

After a brief orientation (floor plans on the wall in the entrance atrium), you will be free to explore on your own.

This evening we board our evening ferry for the overnight journey to Oslo.

Our route takes us along the coast of Denmark and the body of water that separates the North Sea from the Baltic and into Norwegian waters. Our cabins are small but comfortable with en suite facilities. These vessels are large and well appointed with amenities that include restaurants, shops, maybe even a cinema and swimming pool.

Overnight ferry.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 25 Arrival in Oslo
In the early morning we will enter the Oslo fjord and the last 1.5 hours before arrival should be enjoyed on deck with cameras ready to go. The scenery is enchanting, with the old fortress at Droebak and the scattered islands full of summer homes enjoyed by the Norwegians. The ship will dock right down town and a short transfer will bring us to our hotel.*

* Please note that our Oslo hotel rooms may NOT be ready for us this early in the day. Your large baggage will be securely stored; you might want to prepare your daypack ahead of time.

This morning we visit the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, the Vigelands Park and Edward Munch's Museum. Our tour will take us up in to the hills of Oslo, and past the lovely homes to Oslo's most famous landmark--Holmenkollen Ski jump arena. The fantastic view of the Oslo fjord and the harbour of Oslo is at its best from here. The ski jump has been a landmark since 1892, rebuilt for the 1952 Olympics and the arena for an annual International Ski Festival every February. We are at the gateway to Oslo ‘s backyard -- the expanse of hiking and cross-country ski trails, greatly loved by the locals at all seasons of the year. We will return down the hill to the green expanse of Frognerparken (Frogner Park) incorporating one of Oslo's most celebrated and popular cultural targets, the Vigelandsparken, an open-air sculpture park which, along with the Vigeland Museum, commemorates a modern Norwegian sculptor of world renown, Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943).

This afternoon is yours to spend at leisure, strolling down the main street of Carl Johan, enjoying the activities in a city that comes alive during the summer months.

Overnight in Oslo.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 26 Oslo: City Tour
On today's tour we will walk through the center of Oslo, visit Akershus Castle/Fortress, still today protecting the harbour of Oslo. King Haakon V Magnusson built one of the oldest historical monuments in Oslo, Akershus Castle in 1300. It was a fortress and a royal residence for several centuries. A fire in 1527 devastated the northern wing, and the castle was rebuilt and transformed into a royal Renaissance palace under the Danish-Norwegian king, Christian IV. It is open to the public for a stroll around the grounds, and we will also find the Resistance Museum located within its grounds.

We continue past the impressive City Hall with its twin red brick towers, to the Norwegian Folk Museum, where a collection of city homes, farm buildings, one of the famous Stave Churches gives you a birds eye view of Norway and its history.

A short stroll takes us to the Viking Museum, housing the 3 ships found buried along the Oslo fjord, all of them nearly 1200 years old. We continue our stroll (downhill) to Kon-Tike and Fram Museum that houses the balsa raft used by Thor Heyerdal and his international crew in 1962. They sailed from Peru to Polynesia to confirm his theory that the first Polynesians originally came from Peru.

We return to the city by ferry.

Overnight in Oslo.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 27 Oslo - Flam - Gudvangen - Stalheim
An early departure takes us to Oslo's train station where we will catch an +/- 08:00 departure to Flam via Myrdal where we connect to the Famous Flamsbana, the Flam Railway, one of the world's most spectacular rail journeys.

In 1923 work was started on the separate railway line from Myrdal down sheer cliffs to Flam. Since the tunnels were done by hand, the first of the track wasn't put down until autumn 1936. By 1940 the line was opened and run first by steam engines. Electric engines took over in 1944. It takes about an hour to cover 20 km (12 miles) of track on the Flamsbana train. Eighteen of the 20 tunnels were chiseled out by hand which took one month of hard labour for each meter excavated. To avoid risk from avalanches, the railway criss-crosses the river and the bottom of the valley three times. Then, instead of building bridges, the river was routed through a tunnel under the railway line. Nowhere else in the world do adhesion rail cars on normal tracks have a steeper journey. Almost 80% of the railway line has a gradient of 5.5% (1:18).

At the bottom, we will enjoy the scenic landscape of the Flam valley and admire the lovely Aurlandfjord, an offshoot of the Sognefjord, the longest in the world.

We will enjoy a break for lunch in Flam and then board a leisurely 2-hour cruise along the narrowest arm of the Sognefjord and Aurland Fjord. Here we are surrounded by the dramatic West Coast fjord landscape of steep snow-capped mountains (up to 1800 m / 6,000 ft) and tumbling waterfalls, sheltered hamlets and high mountain farms. After this journey we will catch a bus at Gudvangen and continue on to Stalheim, located at the very heart of Western Norway's beautiful fjord region.

Overnight in Stalheim.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 28 Stalheim - Bergen
This morning we will visit the Stalheim Folk Museum for a glimpse of everyday life on a Norwegian farm and manor house, from the Middle Ages to today. Departing Stalheim, we travel by windy mountain road to the train station at Voss. From Voss we journey by rail once again via the famous Bergen/Oslo railway line arriving in Bergen followed by a bus transfer to our hotel.

Bergen is widely regarded as one of the more beautiful cities of Norway, and is an ancient city that looms large in Viking sagas. Until the 14th century, it was the seat of the medieval kingdom of Norway. Later the Hanseatic merchants established a major trading post here, holding sway until the 18th century, when the locals reclaimed their trading rights. Bergen has survived many disasters, including several fires and the explosion of a Nazi ship during World War II. It is a town with important traditions in shipping, banking, and insurance, and its modern industries are expanding rapidly.

The oldest part of town overlooks the busy harbour; along the harbour's edge are myriad shops, boutiques and the famous open-air fish market. We enjoy three nights in this lovely Norwegian city by the sea; your afternoon is at leisure.

Overnight in Bergen.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 29 Bergen: City Tour
Our tour starts in the center of town at Torget, also called Fisketorget or the fish Market, where fishermen and farmers deal their goods. Next we walk over to Bryggen, the wharf on the northeast side of Bergen's harbour. The gabled wood warehouses lining the docks mark the site of the city's original settlement. We take time to walk the narrow passageways between buildings; shops and galleries are hidden among the wooden facades.

Our walk continues down the wharf, past the historic buildings to the end of the Holmen promontory and to Bergenhus festning (Bergenhus Fort), which dates from the 13th century; the nearby Rosenkrantztarnet is a 16th century tower residence. Bergen's oldest cathedral is located behind the fort, the 12th century church called Mariakirken. Walking around the back of the church down four blocks to Floybanen, the funicular that runs up and down Floyen, one of the city's most popular hiking mountains -- the view is like no other. At the base of the funicular is an area of crooked streets and hodgepodge architecture where you'll find most of Bergen's antiques shops.

A midday stop at the Fish Market where you can enjoy fresh caught prawns right of the fishing boats, sit down on the quay and enjoy them like the locals do -- peel and load them onto fresh bread, add a bit of lemon and locally made mayonnaise.

In the afternoon we travel to the suburbs of Bergen by coach to Troldhaugen, beloved local composer Edward Grieg's home, before returning to town.

Overnight in Bergen.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 30 Bergen: At Leisure
Today is yours free in Bergen. What has made Bergen known around the world is its charm and atmosphere. Bergen is worth exploring on your own. Just to browse around the old streets and alleyways is an experience. Bergen looks its best from the seaside, so you may want to join a guided boat tour through Bergen's harbour area.

Overnight in Bergen.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 31 Depart
Today we depart from Bergen.

BON VOYAGE!

Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Hotel Ascot

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Krakow
Country: Poland

The modern hotel is located in the heart of Krakow. Standard room equipment includes: Cable TV and radio, free wireless
... telephone, safe, bathroom with shower, hairdryer, air- conditioning.



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Radisson SAS Warsaw

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Warsaw
Country: Poland

Conveniently located in the heart of the business district and tourist quarter of Warsaw, Radisson SAS Centrum Hotel welcomes both
... and leisure travellers. The hotel is close to the Palace of Science and Culture and the Warsaw Central Station, and just a 20-minute drive from the airport.


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Mercure Helios Torun

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Torun
Country: Poland

The Mercure Helios Torun is located in the city centre, very close to the old town and the birthplace of
... Copernicus. Hotel offers 105 modern single and double rooms and 5 suites. All rooms are equipped with SAT TV, pay TV, radio, telephone, minibar and fast Internet access.


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Mercure Hevelius Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Gdansk
Country: Poland

The Hotel Mercure Gdansk Hevelius is just a stone's throw away from the Old Town. The hotel also offers a
... view of the picturesque Old Town or the historic Gdansk Shipyard.


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Hotel Congress

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Vilnius
Country: Lithuania

The hotel Congress, situated in the very centre of Vilnius, is the ideal place for business travellers and tourists. As
... of the oldest hotels of Vilnius, it was constructed on the banks of the Neris river, next to the legendary Bridge Zaliasis ("Green Bridge") dating back to the 16th century. The hotel is contiguous to the Old Town which can be admired through the bedrooms windows.




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Hotel Vecriga

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Riga
Country: Latvia

With only 14 rooms, this hotel is suitable for our smaller groups. In the very centre of Old City is
... one of the coziest Riga hotels – Vecriga (in translation: Old Riga). Construction of the building began in the 15th century. Every room has a mini bar, telephone, TV.

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Reval Central

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Tallinn
Country: Estonia

All Hotel Central's guestrooms offer multi-channel and pay TV, free WiFi Internet and blackout curtains. Each room has a minibar,
... and direct-dial telephone. Modern decor with the comforts of home.


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Radisson Blu Helsinki

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Helsinki
Country: Finland

This stunning hotel in Helsinki sits in the city’s heart, where its striking exterior serves as an architectural landmark in
... skyline. With proximity to transport and attractions, the city centre hotel allows guests to easily explore sites like Tennispalatsi Culture Centre and Ateneum Art Museum. The 262 rooms are both comfortable and stylish, and delectable on-site dining options are also available. The hotel houses the city’s most renowned event facilities, which include 13 conference and banquet rooms for up to 300 guests. A special Brain Box breakout room is designed to elevate efficiency and encourage creativity.


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Sokos Presidentti

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Helsinki
Country: Finland

Recently completely refurbished, Sokos Hotel Presidentti is located next to the Kamppi mall, in the heart of Helsinki, next to
... wealth of culture attractions and the best shopping in town.The extensive refurbishing of rooms and restaurant facilities was completed in the spring of 2007.


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Scandik Hotel Alvik

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Stockholm
Country: Sweden

Feel at home in this bright and airy room in cool, calm tones with large windows and wood laminate flooring
... Catch up on your e-mail at the desk with high-speed Internet access(in most rooms) or sit back and relax in the easy chair.


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Copenhagen Island

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Copenhagen
Country: Denmark

With an unparalleled signature design by Utzon and a fantastic location on a man made island in Copenhagen's Harbour, the
... Copenhagen Island is the perfect starting point for a visit to Copenhagen. In addition to 326 air conditioned rooms with wireless internet and flat screen television, the hotel also offers a view of the harbour. Rooms: wireless internet, air-conditioning, flat screen TV, minibar.
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Radisson SAS Nydalen

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Oslo
Country: Norway

The Radisson SAS Hotel in Nydalen is close to the Oslo city centre and international airport. These fresh and new
... rooms are fully equipped to the highest standards. All rooms include minibar, TV, trousers press, electronic safe and high speed Internet.


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Rica Victoria Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Oslo
Country: Norway

Hotel Victoria is located in central Oslo, ideal for both business and pleasure.

With Karl Johans gate and Aker
... just around the corner, hotel Victoria is a great starting point for shopping, discovering the city and seeing the sights. The Royal Castle, the Parliament and the City Hall are all close by and if you take a short stroll, you will come to the harbour. At the harbour you can catch a ferry out to the Oslofjord and visit the famous Kon-Tiki museum.

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Stalheim Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Stalheim
Country: Norway

The beautiful view over the Nærøy Valley, from Stalheim Hotel, has for nearly 200 years been one of the highlights
... many a traveller's visit to Western Norway. Many artists, painters and poets, both famous and not so famous, have through the years found inspiration to great works of art in this dramatic but at the same time harmonic landscape, and it is our hope that also you will find inspiration to your own next work of art here at Stalheim.

The hospitality traditions at Stalheim are long and good; it had its beginning in 1647 when the Danish/Norwegian king decided to open up a mail route between Bergen and Oslo and the Stalheim farm became on of the many mail farms along route. These mail farms quite soon became places where travellers following the mail route would stop for a rest and something to eat. By 1750 there were so many travellers stopping at Stalheim asking for a bed and a meal that the farmer at Stalheim decided to build a separate inn to accommodate and dine the travellers – this inn is now one of attractions of the Stalheim Folk Museum.

The first hotel with about 20 beds at was opened on May 15th 1885, but obviously this was a hotel at the right place; after only 10 years in business the Stalheim Hotel could boast of 160 beds, nice restaurants and a reputation as one of the finest country hotels in the Norway.

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Clarion Hotel Admiral

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Bergen
Country: Norway

Clarion Hotel is a hotel with a personal approach, in the heart of Bergen. Located at the harbour's edge in
... Bergen, it has a fantastic view of Bryggen, which is listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site, and the beautiful Vagen bay.
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Grand Terminus Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Bergen
Country: Norway

Classical-style Hotel with homey atmosphere; located across from train station; near air terminal/bus depot. There are 116 rooms in this
... hotel, all equipped with the most up-to-date amenities. Included in all rooms are hair dryer, clock radio, tv, trouser press, a/c, non-smoking rooms, in-house movies, mini bar.


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Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (hotels & local restaurants) daily. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving / late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air taxes (if applicable), excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in late spring when temperatures are warm, rainfall less likely, and long daylight hours.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have a couple of full bus days there are plenty of stops of interest. Hydrofoil crossing to Finland. Overnight ferry crossings with twin berths and private bath facilities.

Important: past passengers have commented on the considerable amount of walking on this itinerary. Most of our town / city tours are conducted largely on foot. You must be able to walk at a leisurely pace (with breaks), possibly on uneven surfaces (steps and cobblestones), for several hours at a time.

Accommodation

Well-located, air- conditioned, mid-range hotels (3-star) throughout. Some are smaller properties (3-4 story) that may not have elevators. All hotels have en suite bath, though most have shower only. Porter service is rarely available; you MUST be independent with your luggage. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, driver, local step-on guides in various locales.

Group Size

10-21 plus Tour Leader