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Depart Helsinki on Day 7 and drive on to St Petersburg, Russia, where you'll enjoy two full free days to explore (with optional Moscow day trip), before continuing on to Tallinn in Estonia.
Enjoy an extra 2 night stay in Helsinki, Finland on Day 7 & 8, before taking a ferry across the Gulf of Finland to Tallinn, Estonia on Day 9, where you'll meet up with the rest of the tour on Day 10 and continue with the tour. Please note for this portion of the tour (Day 7-9) you will be unescorted.
Cover 9 countries across Scandinavia, eastern and central Europe. Start in the Netherlands and learn about Dutch 'klompen'(clogs) and cheese. Head for Denmark and saunter about Copenhagen with a local guide. See the seaside village of Helsingor (the setting for Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'). Meander of the stunning scenery of Sweden. Catch a ferry to Finland, experience the buzz of Helsinki. Discover Tallinn, Estonia - a gem in its own right. Set foot in a self-proclaimed Republic in Vilnius, Lithuania. Pass through Poland and get charmed by Warsaw. Want to travel Scandinavia? This tour will more than scratch the surface!
We use a variety of hotels in each destination, so you may stay in a hotel different to that listed here. Hotels are selected closer to departure date; you will receive a confirmed list one week prior to your departure date.
Welcome to the start of your tour! Your tour leader will be waiting for you at our accommodation during the afternoon. After everyone's checked in, we'll take a canal cruise of the city - one of the best ways to see this amazing city and its sights! We'll also enjoy dinner on-board as the city drifts by. Afterwards, your time is yours to spend as you like. Stroll around the canals (don't forget to keep an eye out for the bicycles!) as you explore this fascinating and picturesque city!
We depart Amsterdam this morning and make our way to Germany, stopping along the way at a local Dutch farm to see how clogs (traditional Dutch footwear) and local cheeses are produced in the traditional way. After sampling some delicious cheese (this is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir of your time in the Netherlands), we'll make our way onward to a photo stop at a nearby windmill - a common sight in the Dutch countryside! We then travel through northern Germany, arriving in Hamburg for a quick comfort stop late afternoon. We'll then make our way to our accommodation in the north of Germany.
This morning after breakfast we'll cross the border and make our way to the Danish capital of Copenhagen. Welcome to Scandinavia! As we cross the border onto Danish soil, the drive towards Copenhagen offers fantastic views, and we will cross Europe's longest bridge. On arrival in the Danish capital, you'll enjoy a tour of the city, where your tour leader will introduce you to highlights of the city, including the parliament house, Tivoli, town hall, Rosenborg, and the little mermaid statue. The city's prosperity and confidence are hard to miss, and it'll soon be evident why this charming city has been voted one of the world's most liveable so many years in a row. It's clean, safe, and very easy to get around - and blessed with cosy cafés and world-famous restaurants!
This morning we'll leave Copenhagen and take a short drive north to the port town of Helsingør. This town is home to Kronborg Castle, known to many as 'Elsinore' and the setting for Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. We'll see the castle from the water as we take a short ferry ride to Sweden. It's then a long drive from the port of Helsingborg through the stunning rural Swedish scenery as we head toward the capital, Stockholm. Look out for lakes, forests and rolling fields as we drive! On arrival in Stockholm, we'll enjoy an evening walking tour of the city centre, seeing famous sights such as the Royal Palace, the narrowest alley and the AF Chapman ship.
Spend time this morning exploring the city of Stockholm! Gamla Stan is the old town, comprised of red, orange and terracotta-coloured buildings overlooking narrow cobblestone streets. The numerous islands that make up the town offer fascinating walks, especially through the Djurgården, where you can visit Skansen, the open-air Swedish history museum. Otherwise, spot beautiful old ships in the harbour and visit some of the many world-class museums and art galleries. This afternoon we take an overnight ferry to Helsinki in Finland, another of the world's most liveable cities!
Arriving in the late morning, you'll have the whole afternoon to explore the Finnish capital at your own pace. An effortlessly cool city, Helsinki prides itself on being slightly off-the-wall, playing with decor and design traditions to humorous effect. Elegant cafés, magnificent museums and impressive Art Nouveau architecture all combine to create a city that is certain to leave an impression!
Enjoy a free day to explore Helsinki. The SkyWheel offers amazing views over the quayside, surrounding forested islands and beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. The bustling harbourside area of Kauppatori (market square) is a great place to snack on delicious Finnish food like wild berries or smoked salmon soup. The National Museum of Finland gives a perfect introduction to one of Europe's youngest capitals. Temppeliaukio Church is a Lutheran church built directly into solid rock. Whatever you plan to see today, you'll quickly realise Helsinki is full of delights! Please note, from this point the tour is unescorted, until you meet back up with your Expat Explore tour leader and those travellers who visited Russia, on the afternoon of Day 10 in Tallinn.
Enjoy another full day free to explore Helsinki and catch up on anything you missed out on yesterday. The city is surrounded on all sides by picturesque natural scenery, so we recommend a boat trip around the archipelago's islands, a relaxing day on the beach or a hike through the forests. You can also take a trip to visit Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage site sea fortress built across six islands.
Take an included transfer to the port and board a ferry over to Tallinn, Estonia. On arrival you will take an included transfer to your hotel for check in, and then have the rest of the day free to explore. Tallinn is one of Europe's most enchanting cities, with a strong medieval influence contrasting with its more modern buildings. Listed as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, Tallinn offers intriguing history while also managing to be a shopper's paradise. Ancient practices such as glass-blowing and pottery share the attention with Estonia's hippest young fashion designers.
Enjoy the morning and early afternoon free to explore Tallinn. Later this afternoon you'll meet back up with your tour leader and those travellers who went to Russia, and a local guide will take us all on a walking tour, as we explore the winding cobbled lanes overlooked by medieval church spires. After the included dinner this evening, be sure to check out the alternative nightlife that Tallinn has to offer - from medieval taverns to hip bars and clubs.
Leaving Estonia, we enter Latvia and make for Riga, possibly the most vibrant of the Baltic cities and blessed with a culture that you'll find irresistible. In contrast to its smaller neighbours, Riga goes all out with a buzzing atmosphere and impressive Art-Nouveau architecture. On arrival, your tour leader will take you on a walking tour of this impressive city and you can explore some of its famous landmarks and sights, including the famous central markets and many beautiful churches. Don't forget to visit the skyline bar this evening for incredible panoramic views of Riga.
Making our way into Lithuania, we stop first at the Hill of Crosses, a famous site of pilgrimage in northern Lithuania. Loaded with around 100,000 crosses, they were first placed here back in 1831 by the relatives of those who fell during the local rebellion. Once we arrive in Vilnius, we enjoy an orientation tour of the city before enjoying some free time. A seductive city, Lithuania's capital exudes Old Town charm - so much so that it's been added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. This is also where you'll find the world's only statue of musician and composer Frank Zappa, and a self-proclaimed - though unofficial - independent republic of Uzupis, inhabited almost solely by artists and bohemians. In contrast to the medieval history, there are also reminders of Vilnius' more recent and darker past, including remnants of the ghettos where the Jewish community lived during Nazi occupation, and the influence of the Soviet Union.
Our final destination in Lithuania is a comfort stop at Europe's only historic national park, the town of Trakai. The main attraction is undoubtedly a view of the iconic brick-built castle at its centre, which lies on an island surrounded by crystal clear water. Arriving before the crowds of tourists, your pictures will be unspoiled! Back on the road, we head towards the Polish border. The cultural hub of Poland, Warsaw is a city of energy and action, racing to replace what was lost after being utterly destroyed in World War II. With classical music festivals, exciting and forward-thinking art exhibitions and relics of its Communist past, there's certainly no shortage of culture here. On arrival, a local guide will take you on a city tour, focusing on the faithfully reconstructed Old Town, before going for a traditional Polish dinner.
Today is yours to spend as you wish! Visit some of the highly regarded museums, such as the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the Chopin Museum, or the extensive collections of the National Museum. Being Sunday, you can enjoy free entry to the Royal Palace, and the occasional free music concert in Łazienki Park. Alternatively, you can further explore the Old Town, or join us on an exhilarating optional Communist tour of Warsaw. You will be driven around in Communist-era Nysa vans, with eccentric drivers and an expert local guide!
Heading west through Poland, today's morning stop is in Poznan, famous for it's historic old town and as a coronation city of the early Polish kings. Enjoy your free time to have lunch and admire the colourful buildings and beautiful architecture of the Old Market Square. We then cross into Germany and continue to the city of Berlin! The German capital prospered under the rule of the Nazis leading up to the Second World War, but then endured division during the Cold War, symbolised in the infamous Berlin Wall. Reminders of the past are everywhere, but Berlin has a vibrant culture to enjoy. On arrival, we'll take a driving tour through the city and see some of the city's more famous landmarks, including Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie.
Today is a free day in Berlin, so take time to investigate some of the sights you would have seen yesterday on the driving tour, or strike out on your own to discover more of the city for yourself - the choice is yours! For an incredible bird's eye view of the city, head up the Berlin TV tower - located close to Alexanderplatz, it has become an icon of the capital. Fancy some museum action? Then head over to the museum island, a collection of five world-famous museums on an island in the heart of Berlin’s city centre. After a day of exploring you may wish to relax or party; Berlin has you covered, with an incredibly vibrant nightlife offering plenty of bars, clubs and shows - from theatre to cabaret.
After breakfast, we say goodbye to Berlin and head to the Lower Saxony region, where we'll make a stop with free time for lunch. We then leave Germany and cross into the Netherlands, arriving back at our Amsterdam hotel tonight - say farewell to your tour leader, driver and fellow passengers and celebrate your last night on tour together.
Today, our tour concludes after breakfast. Be sure to share your contact details with your fellow travellers. We hope you've enjoyed your Northern Explorer Tour as much as we have! Ideally located close to the airport, there is a free shuttle service from the hotel for those who are flying home today. Alternatively, you can extend your stay in Amsterdam and explore more of this incredible city.
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