Had a day and a half here, prior to cruise. Great dinner at La Esquina, Spanish Tapas Bar and Restaurant on Oxford Street. You'll need a reservation as it is packed with locals. They make their own Sangria as it's ordered and food is great! Also highly recommend the Titanic exhibit at the City Hall Museum. Spent 2 hours there. The Titanic sailed from Southampton and the history, displays etc are all top notch. Most noteworthy is the room with the historical city map on the floor: indicating every addrress on each street -- with a red dot at each address that lost someone in the Titanic. Huge percentage of city was affected. Glad we got here in advance - quiet, calm and nice stay at Novotel: free wi-fi in lobby and very good hotel restaurant.
Took the excursion to Lubeck and Wismar, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Excellent! Tour guide was super. Drove from Warnemunde (in former East Germany) to Lubeck (former West Germany), through villages, forests and former checkpoints. Walking with tour guide to see many medieval buildings, city gates, and so much history. Highly recommend this tour!
Excellent tour of the city with stops to see highlights. Time on our own to have lunch and shop for Dhala horse - a folk art wooden horse that is very Swedish! Seeing the Vasa, 17th century ship that sunk after 20 minutes on its maiden voyage, was amazing. The Old Town was fun to explore. We wanted the overall city tour as we plan to get back to the city and spend more time there on a future vacation. Excellent tour guide.
We mainly wanted to see the Rock Church and the Sibelius monument and would be unable to do this on our own. We booked just a 3 hour tour that included these two. Well worth it. Rock Church is beautiful and amazing to see. Church is actually built into the rock and walls inside are the natural rocks. Made it back to ship for lunch on board and a quiet afternoon on a quiet ship.
I researched private company tours. Cost is basically now the same for the Celebrity 2-day excursion and the private company's 2 day tours. Our bus was not full so about 25 people. Granted, private tour companies would have smaller groups -- but I went with peace-of-mind to get back to ship on time etc. Julia our tour guide was amazing and must be a senior person among tour guides from all companies as she often was directing others to go somewhere else, gesturing to them to hold back etc. Also, she must have a degree in art history. We booked early and were one of the first groups to leave the ship. Julia reversed the order of the tour and we did Day 2 first: Peterhof, Russian lunch at a former palace, and then the Hermitage. Peterhof was incredible....only 2 groups went in before us and there was no que. Absolutely beautiful rooms and grounds. We had time on our own to explore the grounds and saw the start of the Waterfall Cascades -- turning on of all the fountains while the National Anthem was played. Quite stunning. Lunch was excellent back in the city in a former palace: beautiful china place settings: a shot of vodka, water goblet for bottled water, and a white wine in wine glass. First course was delicious squash soup; second course a very tasty and creamy potato salad; third course beef strogonoff with potato; all topped off with scrumptious apple tart and a great cup of coffee. Hermitage in the afternoon was amazing and again, Julia had us in where there were no crowds. Often we were the only ones in a room, gazing at original Rembrandts, Renoirs, da Vinci, Van Gogh, etc masterpieces. We could take photos without flash. No airconditioning but we were fine. Going in the summer? Dress light and bring a tissue or hankie to mop your brow as it will be warm! Since we were often the only ones in a room, with much time to explore and see the artwork and artifacts, Julia went into excellent detail. It was just an outstanding tour!
Found at Smithsonian.com A Walking Tour of Tallinn and printed it off to take with us. Very easy to walk from ship right into heart of this old town. The Smithsonian tour was fabulous: easy to follow, talked about each stop, told which were worth going into or not, took us to some not often seen sites too. Just a wonderful town to wander in -- much history, great architecture. The Russian Orthodox Church has amazing iconography. Tallinn is famous for its wool and yarn -- passed by some superb yarn shops --- if only I'd had my pattern needs with me! The town square is fun to see, surrounded by shops and cafes with tables outside. Just a superb town to explore on your own!
We took the Celebrity shuttle into town -- could have walked it and did walk back to the ship. Explored side streets with statues and monuments in green triangles at street intersections. Especially enjoyed having coffee and pastry by the Nyhaven canal....sweet outdoor cafe. It was a national holiday so most shops were closed - which was fine because we're not shoppers - and the streets were not crowded at all. After coffee we took an hour long canal tour -- very inexpensive and wonderful to do. Saw all the architecture etc. Walking back to ship we happened on the St Alban's Anglican Church, built in 1887. The simplicity and beauty of this was a welcome change from the grandeur of the previous cathedrals and palaces -- so serene in a beautiful green setting near the water. We walked on toward the ship....many lilac bushes in bloom with that intoxicating smell. We saw the Little Mermaid that is really little....and quite innocently beautiful. Sad to see it is not fenced off in any way and on rocks near to the shore so people were climbing and hanging on to her. But still, she is quite beautiful and the iconinc figure of Copenhagen. Just a great city to explore --and easy to do from the ship.