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      our holidays > Journeys in SlowMotion > Denmark > Nordic Cities Explorer

Nordic Cities Explorer

Copenhagen, Stockholm & Helsinki
Holiday information
Nights: 7
Accommodation: two 4-star hotels; one 3-star hotel; one overnight cruise ship
Meals: 7 breakfasts
Included extras: 24-hour city card in each city
Extend your stay
You could easily add in a two-night stay in gastronomic Gothenburg between Copenhagen and Stockholm. See our 9-night holiday, Nordic Cities Explorer with Gothenburg, for details.
Starting point:

Your holiday begins with two nights in colourful Copenhagen, where your hotel – the Strand – is ideally located close to the waterfront, just a short wander away from some of the city’s most renowned restaurants.

Day 1

There’s an enormous variety of things to choose from during your full day in the Danish capital: world-class galleries and museums, some of Europe’s best shopping along Strøget, and Tivoli Gardens – perhaps the world’s most tasteful amusement park.

'Cool Copenhagen'

Given that Copenhagen is regularly rated the world’s happiest city, you might forgive its residents for being a tiny bit smug. But not a bit of it: modesty and understatement are important here, as is the idea of hygge – a kind of untranslatable cosy contentment that’s as laid-back as it is gratifying. Spend a morning pedalling around the world’s most cyclable city, then pull up at a quayside café alongside the Nyhavn canal, and you will see what we mean. With its cultural kudos and cutting-edge style, the Danish capital might be the coolest kid on the Nordic block, but there’s no need for them to Bang & Olufsen on about it.

Day 2

Today's rail journey (5h30) starts across the Øresund Bridge from Copenhagen to Malmö, then continues across the heart of southern Sweden to reach the capital, Stockholm. You stay for two nights at the Hotel Riddargatan, tucked away on a quiet street in a central location.

'That' bridge

The Bridge (Broen) that connects Copenhagen with Malmö across the Øresund strait has gained a certain notoriety, thanks to the engrossing Nordic Noir  TV series of the same name; but did you know that, in a marvel of Scandinavian engineering, half of it disappears underwater to allow ships to pass into the Baltic Sea?

Day 3

Stockholm is a delight to explore on foot. Wander the medieval lanes of Gamla Stan, relax amid the wide-open green space of Djurgården, and take in the equally fascinating museums, Skansen and Vasamuseet. The former was the world’s first open-air museum when it opened in 1891, while the latter is home to Sweden’s most famous – and fatally top-heavy – warship, Vasa.

Stockholm the sublime

The Swedish capital, a waterborne beauty spread over 14 islands, is sovereign queen among the world’s cities. Her stately charm, extending from the historic heart of Gamla Stan to a sublime archipelago of 24,000 islands, is simply breathtaking. But amid such rarified splendour there is one kitsch and shiny glitter-ball of an attraction you really shouldn’t miss: the ABBA Museum. It is rather oddball and a whole lot of fun. And once you’ve indulged your inner Agnetha (or Björn), you can leave the Super Trouper  spotlights behind and return to ‘normal’ in this abnormally agreeable city.

Day 4

See more of Stockholm, perhaps taking to the canals on a boat tour or visiting the island of Fjäderholmarna, before boarding the Tallink Silja cruise ship for an early-evening departure to Helsinki.

The Baltic Sea

One of the easiest ways to experience the Baltic is to take the overnight ferry between the Swedish and Finnish capitals: watch the Stockholm archipelago recede into the setting sun, then wake up revitalised, as you glide through the narrow gap between the islands of Suomenlinna, the remarkable, 18th-century sea fortress in the Bay of Helsinki.

Day 5

You arrive in Helsinki soon after breakfast, ready for your first day’s discovery of the Finnish capital. Wander the Design District to admire the work of iconic producers like Iittala, Marimekko and Artek; and browse a traditional kauppahalli (market hall) or two to sample some local specialities. Your last two nights are spent at the remarkable Hotel Katajanokka, a converted prison that allows you, unlike its former ‘guests’, to come and go as you please, and explore this underrated and fabulous capital at will.

Hip Helsinki

If Copenhagen is trendy, and Stockholm is smart and sleek, then Finland’s capital is too cool for school. Helsinki’s Design District – bursting with boutiques, workshops and galleries – is the focal point of one of the world’s most electrifying design scenes; while foodies will love an ever-increasing array of hip eateries, craft-beer bars, contemporary cafés and micro-distilleries. But this is also a place where cultures collide: Uspenski Cathedral, the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe, wouldn’t look out of place in central Moscow, and it’s perhaps this combination of enduring icons and modern, quirky charms that defines Helsinki’s unique allure.

Day 6

Continue to explore Helsinki, perhaps enjoying the acoustics at the incredible, excavated Temppeliaukio (‘Rock Church’), ambling along the waterfront trail that begins by lovely Hietniemi Bay, or indulging (if that’s the right word) in a typical Finnish sauna. (While clothes are surplus to requirements, towels are  allowed!)

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