Northern Explorer - 18 Days

Explore 10 countries across Scandinavia, Eastern & Central Europe as you absorb the culture, beautiful landscapes and hip cities

The Old City of Tallinn, Estonia

Explore Northern Europe and experience everything it has to offer in 18 inspiring days! Covering 10 countries across Scandinavia, Eastern and Central Europe, you will absorb the culture, beautiful landscapes and hip cities from Amsterdam through to Russia and back. Highlights include a canal cruise of Amsterdam, tours of Copenhagen, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Riga, Vilnius & Berlin. You will also have free time in Stockholm, St Petersburg, Vilnius, Warsaw & Berlin to further explore so plan ahead or ask Tim for his recommendations!

Includes

17 nights' accommodation in twin rooms.
Single travellers have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure a private room.
17 breakfasts, 7 dinners.
14 Experiences (including guided walking tours, orientation walks, driving tours of cities plus other exciting experiences).
Free Wi-fi in all hotels.
Modern air conditioned coach with reclining seats, TV for showing DVDs, and toilet.
Services of your Expat tour leader, who will be on hand with advice and tips to ensure that you get the most from your trip-You can also book any of the optional excursions available during your tour with your tour leader.
All taxes and fees.
Any public transport used as part of the tour (excludes free days).
Free Expat Explore tour souvenir – a memorable gift of your once in a lifetime trip.

Full itinerary

DAY 1: Arrive in Amsterdam
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 passed. Tonight, we'll experience the unique ambiance of the Red Light District with a walking tour. Learn about the history of this picturesque city. 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 city!

DAY 2: Dutch countryside tour - Hamburg - Northern Germany
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.

DAY 3: Northern Germany - Copenhagen
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!

DAY 4: Helsingør - Stockholm
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.

DAY 5: Stockholm free morning - Helsinki (Overnight Ferry)
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!

DAY 6: Helsinki
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! If you want to escape the city, there is the option to explore the nearby Nuuksio National Park.

DAY 7: Helsinki - St Petersburg
This morning, we'll depart Helsinki and make our way to the Russian border; get your passport at the ready for a new stamp that will be a real talking point! We then continue on to the Russian city of St Petersburg! On arrival, we'll enjoy a comprehensive city tour with our local guide, spotting some of the more notable buildings and sights. Built by Italian architects and sporting neoclassical and baroque architecture that overlooks its many canals, this city stands in stark contrast to the red brick and onion domes of Moscow.

Alternatively, if you do not have the necessary visa to travel to Russia, you can elect to stay on for two extra nights in Helsinki before ferry transportation to Estonia for an extra night in Tallinn, where you will meet up with the group when they arrive from St Petersburg. There is a small charge for this amendment - please see our visas page for more information.

DAY 8: St Petersburg - Free day
Today is all yours to explore St Petersburg! Why not visit some of the great sights you saw on last nights tour? Alternatively, join our day trip excursion to the Russian capital, Moscow - an expert local guide will take you on a tour of the Kremlin grounds and the orthodox churches of the Tsar (entrance is included in the excursion price). After some free time for lunch, your guide will take you on a Moscow city tour, followed by some free time to explore Red Square. We then take the high-speed train back to St. Petersburg. This is a full day trip, with approximately 6-7 hours to enjoy Moscow accompanied by an English-speaking guide. Please note: this excursion must be pre-booked; contact us for more information.

DAY 9: St Petersburg - Free day
Another free day in St Petersburg! Use your time to explore this fascinating city. Perhaps join us on our optional tour of the world-famous Hermitage Museum, which also includes a visit to the Church of the Saviour on Blood, one of St Petersburg's most famous attractions. The church was built on the very spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated, and is dedicated to his memory. The Hermitage Museum, founded by Catherine the Great and now one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. Some three million items make up its collections, and it also boasts the largest collection of paintings in the world! This evening, an optional traditional Russian folk show is not be missed! Your tour leader will organise everything for you, including vodka and canapés!

DAY 10: St Petersburg - Tallinn
Bidding farewell to St Petersburg, we travel once again to the Russian border, and then on to the capital of Estonia. Tallinn is one of Europe's most enchanting cities, with a strong medieval influence contrasting with its more modern buildings. Explore the winding cobbled lanes overlooked by medieval church spires, and investigate cafés, bars and boutiques lying hidden in the carved stone walls. 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. After dinner this evening, be sure to check out the alternative nightlife that Tallinn has to offer - from medieval taverns to hip bars and clubs. For those who stayed on in Helsinki and skipped out Russia, you will have an extra night in Tallinn before the rest of the group arrives from St Petersburg.

DAY 11: Tallinn - Riga
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. This evening you will have the option to take a relaxing canal cruise around the city centre, and tonight don't forget to visit the skyline bar for incredible panoramic views of Riga.

DAY 12: Hill of Crosses - Vilnius
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.

DAY 13: Trakai - Warsaw
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.

DAY 14: Warsaw - Free day
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!

DAY 15: Poznan - Berlin
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. On our way we will stop for an optional tour of the Lech Brewery, Poland's largest brewery and part of the SABMiller family. We then cross into Germany and continue to the city of Berlin! Having prospered under the rule of the Nazis leading up to the Second World War and then enduring division of the cold war, symbolized in the infamous Berlin Wall. This is a fascinating city with a firm understanding of what it takes to rebuild and regenerate - over and over again; the very essence of creativity. Reminders of the past are everywhere, but Berlin has a vibrant culture to enjoy, too. On arrival, we'll take a driving tour through the city and see some of the city's more famous landmarks, before heading to our hotel.

DAY 16: Berlin - Free day
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.

DAY 17: Hannover - Amsterdam
After breakfast, we say goodbye to Berlin and head to Hannover for lunch. The centre of town was reconstructed in a medieval style after WWII; it's compact size makes for the perfect destination to explore during your lunch stop! 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.

DAY 18: Amsterdam
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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