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Tallinn in Estonia (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

What to Pack for a Baltic Cruise

Tallinn in Estonia (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)
Executive Editor, U.S.
Chris Gray Faust

Last updated
Mar 22, 2024

Read time
3 min read

You've finally signed up for that bucket list trip to Scandinavia and Northern Europe . But, what should be on your packing list for this Baltic cruise, where the temperatures can fluctuate, the nights are long and you're often in port every single day.

As with any trip, you'll want your phone and appropriate cords (don't forget European adaptors for any pre or post trip!), your favorite toiletries and necessary medication, and layers of clothing that allow you to mix and match.

A Baltic cruise does have a few other specialty items you'll want to pack. Here are our top recommendations of what you'll need for your trip.

On This Page

Layers are a Must in Scandinavia and Northern Europe

Tourists on the street in Helsinki, Finland (Photo: Don Faust)

Delightfully, Scandinavia and Northern Europe are not as hot as the southern Mediterranean countries in summer. You are more likely to find yourself wearing jeans than shorts, and might even need a sweater, sweatshirt or fleece jacket.

You can certainly buy yourself a locally made wool sweater as a souvenir, but they don't come cheap; you're better off packing warm layers you can put on as needed.

Pack Both Rain Gear and Sunglasses

Pack rain gear for Scandinavian cruises (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Weather in Scandinavia and northern Europe can be unpredictable, and you're bound to experience some rainy days. Bring a small umbrella that you can easily carry in your day pack and a waterproof jacket (bonus if it packs small and can be worn over your warm layers), so you're prepared when the skies open in the middle of your tour.

Conversely, you can have endless sunny days -- and when we say endless, remember that in June, Stockholm gets 18 hours of daylight. Make sure you pack sunglasses and have some sunscreen at the ready.

Walking Shoes are a Must For Touring

City hall in Hamburg, Germany (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Many of the Baltic cruise ports are perfect for independent exploration and walking tours. This is not the trip to experiment with those adorable shoes that pinch your feet after a few hours. Invest in a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers so you can pound the pavement all day without pain.

Tennis Shoes and Swimsuit are Great for Outdoor Excursions

Biking in Bornholm Denmark (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Yes, cities such as Tallinn, Stockholm or Helsinki are great for walking. But Baltic cruises often stop at smaller ports where you can take advantage of more active pursuits. Biking is big in the Baltics, and you'll want proper footwear if you want to take advantage.

Don't let the latitude scare you away from bringing a swimsuit either. Finland, in particular, is known for its sauna culture. Bring a swimsuit if you plan on public bathing.

The Baltics Use Multiple Currencies - But a Credit Card Without International Fees is Your Best Bet

Ostermalm Market in Stockholm, Sweden (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

If you're used to Mediterranean cruises where every country takes the euro, you'll need to change your mindset for a Baltic sailing.

Sure, Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Germany all use the Euro. But Sweden, Norway and Denmark all use different currencies -- all called kroner -- while Poland has the zloty and some cruises sail from England, where you'll pay in pounds.

Luckily, many Scandinavian countries are considered cashless and you can use a chip-enabled credit card to "tap" for most purchases. Make sure you bring a card that doesn't carry any fees for international purchases because they can add up fast.

Most tour guides, regardless of country, will accept Euros as tips.Try to use bills rather than coins.

Eye Masks Can Help You Sleep in Endless Daylight

Midnight sun in Estonia (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Remember what we said about those long summer days? If you're exhausted after sightseeing, the midnight sun is not going to help you sleep. Most cruise ships have blackout curtains, but if you're especially sensitive to light at night, throw an eye mask in your suitcase.

You might get one free on your flight over, but they're typically flimsy and not that comfortable, so choose your own for a better night's sleep. It's also not a bad idea to bring any of your other sleep aids with you, such as melatonin -- just remember that cruise ships do not allow CBD products onboard.

A Theft-Proof Travel Bag is Always a Good Idea for Tourist Cities

Central market Riga (Photo Chris Gray Faust)

While most Baltic cruise destinations tend to be safe, pickpockets can lurk anywhere in touristed cities or markets.

As a precaution, invest in a theft-proof bag for your day pack. Look for a purse or backpack with slash-resistant straps, secret or locking pockets and even RFID-blocking compartments.

Publish date January 17, 2020
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