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If you’re the kind of holiday-maker who likes to eat their way around a destination, then you’re in luck when it comes to a Baltic and Scandinavian cruise. These countries are packed full with delicious cuisine, rich foodie traditions and some of the finest restaurants in Europe (can you guess in which city you’ll find the best restaurant in the world?).
A northern European or Baltic cruise is the perfect opportunity to taste all that these regions have to offer. To whet your appetite, here’s our guide to eating in the Baltics and Scandinavia.
The Baltic nations take their inspiration from Slavic cuisine, meaning you can expect plenty of hearty meats and creamy dairy products. A Sprat sandwich is a common Estonian dish, involving a fillet of fish served on dark rye bread alongside a boiled egg (we promise that it tastes more delicious than it looks!).
Other options to look out for include blood sausage and sauerkraut. Dense rye bread is such a core element of the modern Estonian diet that sometimes meals are begun by saying "jätku leiba" – which roughly translates to "may your bread last."
If you’re looking for somewhere to go out for dinner in the Baltics, then you’re spoilt for choice. In Tallinn, try Rataskaevu 16 – it’s situated in the city’s atmospheric Old Town (the entirety of which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site). Expect traditional favourites like fried herring, alongside plenty of vegetarian options.
Moving onto Scandinavia now, where the culinary delights of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway are waiting to tempt you. During your time in Scandinavia, make sure to try an open sandwich – also known as smörgås. The history of this seemingly simple dish dates back to the 1400s and involves many slices of bread layered with shrimp, mayonnaise, cucumber and roast beef. It has to be tasted to be believed!
Food in Scandinavia typically centres around local fresh fish and seafood, which is plentiful and easy to get. Expect generous servings of crayfish, herring, and salmon when you go out to eat. In Stockholm, sushi has taken the city by storm – for some of the best, head to Sushi Sho, where you can sit at the bar and watch the chefs work their magic.
Noma, in Copenhagen, has been voted the world’s best restaurant numerous times since opening in 2003, and for good reason. This restaurant usually books up months in advance, so keep that in mind if you’re planning on eating here.
For those who have a sweet tooth, there’s plenty for you to enjoy, too – think buttery pastries and fruity lingonberry jam. In Finland, the cuisine takes on a slightly sharper finish. The tart cloudberry jam is a common occurrence in desserts, and it's likely you'll also often find Bilberry pie with cream or ice cream on the menu. To try some authentic Finnish fare for yourself, try Grön in the lively seaside city of Helsinki. The restaurant uses locally foraged ingredients to create innovative dishes.
Russian cuisine is perhaps best known for its summer vegetable soups, hearty pancakes, and traditional boiled meats. Its diversity is thanks to a mixed menu of influences, from European to Asian. One of its most famous dishes is Borscht – a beetroot-based soup packed full of vegetables and meats, completed with a spoonful of sour cream.
Another must-try delicacy is pirozhki; a dense kind of fried bun, which contains meat, eggs, and usually sautéed onions. Other common favourites include Russian pancakes – normally served with smoked salmon, mushrooms or condensed milk – and stroganoff – a rich and creamy mushroom and tarragon dish that can also be combined with various different meats for an even heartier flavour.
And while in Russia, you must, of course, try some of the country's finest – and probably most famous – export – vodka. The word "vodka" comes from "voda" – the Russian word for water, and in fact, the spirit was considered so essential to morale that during WWII, that each soldier was even given a vodka ration.
During your time in the magnificent St Petersburg, make sure to pay a visit to Severyanin, which specialises in a glamorous, traditional atmosphere and classic Russian cuisine. Art Lovers should try Blok, which is situated on the top floor of the Leningrad Centre and offers striking art installations and impressive chandelier.
Ready to start your culinary tour around Scandinavia and the Baltics? Browse our Northern European cruises for some more inspiration.
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