Arrive in Copenhagen, and after checking in to your hotel, start exploring your surroundings. There's the picturesque old harbor Nyhavn, transformed into one of the coziest Christmas markets in Copenhagen. At the Nyhavn Christmas market, you will find entertainment, delicious Christmas foods and brews, mulled wine and much more. All along the water in the old harbor, stalls are set up and decorated, offering traditional Danish Christmas specialties and Christmas presents.
This morning, use your pass for entrance to Tivoli Gardens. Founded in 1843, it's a national treasure as well as an international attraction. Fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen visited many times, as did Walt Disney who even found the inspiration to his own Disney World. Christmas in Tivoli Gardens is a cherished tradition among Copenhageners and without doubt the city's number one Christmas market. There are 27 fun rides and a Christmas market with traditional wares, decorations, snacks, cookies, and hot drinks.
The historic gardens will be full of decorated wooden houses, and snow-covered trees, creating a true Nordic Christmas atmosphere.
At 2:30pm, meet your guide at the designated location for your Christmas Foodie Walk. The tour will be approximately 2.5 hours, walking about 2 km's at a very leisurely pace. With a local food-expert guide by your side, learn about the Dane's Christmas culinary heritage and explore the food scene in and around the city's trendiest culinary market, Torvehallerne. As you walk, hear how much of the Danes' celebration of Jul (Christmas) is linked to food and festive favorites. You'll sit down to eat at Nørrebro Bryghus, to sample risengrød (Danish rice pudding), a main course*, accompanied by water/soda and a tasting of Christmas beers (10cl each). Also included in the tour will be Christmas candy, a chocolate treat, and a taste of their traditional Gløgg
* Unfortunately it is not possible to do a gluten free version.
After breakfast, take the 5 hour train ride to Stockholm. After arriving at your centrally located hotel, the remainder of the day is free for exploring on your own. Stroll through the historic quarter of Gamla Stan, perhaps stopping to have a fika (coffee & pastry) in some of the best known coffee shops. Marvel at the tallest Christmas tree in the world, perched on the edge of the water at Skeppsbron. Decorated with some 5,000 lights, it's one of many public Christmas trees scattered around the city's squares, and parks.
After breakfast, meet your guide at the appointed location (11am) for your 2 hour Christmas Food Tour. You'll start at Ostermalms Saluhal, the most traditional of the market halls, and your guide will explain the many Christmas traditions of Stockholm. Discover the out of the way places in the historical downtown, while tasting the most nostalgic of sweets*. You'll learn about their history and origins, then sample glögg, ginger snaps, and saffron buns. Just remember that glögg is not like mulled wine in other countries; it's stewed with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, dried Seville orange, and cloves, and sipped slowly from tiny little cups.
* Unfortunately it is not possible to have a gluten free tour.
After breakfast, you'll check out, leaving your luggage stored at the hotel. Then a visit to the Skansen Open-Air Museum is on the agenda. Beautifully situated on Royal Djurgården, it offers spectacular views over all of Stockholm. You'll also find a Sweden in "miniature"; 150 farms and dwellings from different parts of the country have been disassembled and transported here. You'll discover Sweden's history and find out how Swedes once lived according to the changing seasons, their celebrations of everyday life, including traditions such as Midsummer, Walpurgis Night, and Lucia. This is also a place where festive occasions are celebrated throughout the year. The lively program of activities year round with Christmas markets in the winter and concerts at Seglora Church.
This evening, board the overnight ferry to Tallinn. Your accommodations will include a private outside cabin. On board, you'll find all the amenities including a restaurant, bar, sauna. and duty-free shop.
Arrive refreshed into the Estonian capital city, Tallinn. After checking into your hotel, explore this pedestrian friendly city. The Soviet occupation of Estonia was not that long ago, and most people still remember this difficult period. However Tallinn has thrown off that yoke and is now bursting with wonderful sights, including ancient churches, medieval streets and inventive cuisine. Tallinn's bohemian Kalamaja district, now houses the Telliskivi Creative City complex, where textile design studios mix with vintage stores. There's even a Russian flea market nearby where you can pick up portraits of Lenin, Soviet toys or a fur hat. Another interesting district to visit is Kadriorg; an upmarket residential district split in two by attractive parklands. Peter the Great set up a summer estate here after conquering Estonia, and the surrounding streets and villas evoke St Petersburg's Italian-like elegance.
Today, meet your guide for a Private Walking Tour. The best way to get around is by foot and all the sights in the walled city are within walking distance. Make sure you're equipped with a sturdy pair of shoes when walking through the cobbled streets. This photogenic city retains its walled, cobblestoned Old Town, as well as Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. Its Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century and with a 64m-high tower, sits in historic Tallinn's main square. St. Nicholas Church is a 13th-century landmark exhibiting ecclesiastical art. Later, we'll stop at the Christmas market, held on Tallinn's medieval Town Hall Square. According to Forbes Magazine, it's one of 10 most beautiful Christmas Markets in Europe. Your guide will explain the legend of the of the first Christmas tree, brought to Tallinn in 1441 by the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, a Livonian merchants' association. Shop for handmade Christmas gifts from local artisans not sold in shops during the rest of the year like intricate knit socks, and wooden decorations. Many of their seasonal foods will be on display like blood pudding, gingerbread cookies and hot mulled wine.
After breakfast, time to explore more of this country or move onward to your next Avanti destination!