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Gdańsk is the historical capital of Pomerania and is Poland's fourth largest city. It is close to the former late medieval/modern boundary between West Slavic and Germanic lands and consequently the city has a complex political history with periods of Polish rule, periods of German rule, and extensive period of self-rule (it was twice a free city). Historically an important seaport and shipbuilding center, Gdańsk was a member of the Hanseatic League. The city was also the birthplace of the Solidarity movement which, under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa, played a major role in bringing an end to Communist rule across Central Europe.
One of Germany's most famous seaside resorts, Heiligendamm is also known as the "White Town by the Sea" due to the classicist white buildings lining the beach promenade. This small cluster of structures are reminders of days gone by when this part of the Baltic Sea was one of the playgrounds of Europe's aristocracy. It is the oldest seaside spa in Germany being founded in 1793. However, if you intend to treat yourself to a night at the exclusive Grand Hotel, you should have a generous travel budget.
Oulu is renowned as the world's winter cycling capital. 600km of bike and walking paths are maintained throughout the year, keeping cycling's modal share at 20% despite temperatures averaging -15°C. Photo CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Anders Swanson
The Tallinn cityscape is punctuated by its many medieval towers and city wall dating back to the 13th Century. Go up to Toompea Hill, a fortified enclave of the city that feels like a separate town. It is synonymous with Estonian rule and nowadays is home to the national parliament. While you’re up there, make sure to see the gorgeous St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Estonia’s main Russian Orthodox cathedral. Photo by Rémi Lanvin (Flickr)
If you’re going through Latvia, make sure to stop for sunset in Saulkrasti. Facing west onto the Latvian sea, this small town and its hinterland is made up of five villages, four rivers and is famous for its sunset. It is also a renowned kite surfing hotspot and hosts a jazz festival during the month of July. We like it because its bicycle museum is home to over 800 beauties.
Troense is a fairytale village: timbered houses with thatched roofs and beautiful gardens. From Troense you continue a few hundred metres down the tree-lined road to Valdemar Slot. The castle is open to the public. The grand renaissance building was built in 1639-44 by the Danish king Christian IV to his son, Valdemar. With its park, museums, restaurants, beach etc, the castle makes an ideal place to stop on your route. Photo UdviklingFyn
This Russian enclave separated from the rest of its territory is a fascinating place. If exploring the particularities of the place itself, the people, the culture, there are many layers of history to peel through. The Prussian heritage can still be seen, and tasted. The city itself is complete with some beautiful gates and impressive cultural sites including the Immanuel Kant Museum. Photo by Dima Bushkov
Latvia’s capital is the largest city of the Balkans and is home to a third of Latvia’s population. Don’t let that intimidate you as the UNESCO protected city centre is full of quaint little cobbled street framed by proud old town houses. The city is home to some of the finest examples of Art Nouveau in Europe; look out for the obelisks, sphinxes, lions, vases and flowers in the building facades as you go through the city. Photo by nemomemini (flickr).
This curious geographical phenomenon consists of a long sand dune separating the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea. It is 98km long and its width varies between 400m and 3.8km and includes an international border between Russia and Lithuania. Its landscape is quite varied, with dunes on its sea side and contains wetlands, meadows and forest. Wildlife rules these parts, both the Russian and Lithuanian parts are national parks and it is a major stopover for migratory birds. Photo by Thomas Hill.