A ‘world city’ in every sense, London makes a grand first stop on your luxury tour of Northern Europe. This tireless innovator of art and culture is one of the most visited cities in the world, and its buildings – both old and new – are striking milestones in a compelling biography. Plus, with more lush parkland than any other capital city, you can easily find ways to escape the hustle and bustle. Upon arrival at London Heathrow airport, meet an A&K representative and enjoy private transfer to Brown’s Hotel, set in the heart of elegant Mayfair.
Your first destination today is the historic Churchill War Rooms. On an out-of-hours private tour, explore where Winston Churchill and his war cabinet toiled away during World War II. Afterwards, ferry across the Thames by public riverboat to ascend the Shard, one of the tallest buildings in Europe, where you can admire sweeping views over the city as you tuck into a three-course lunch. This afternoon, discover the secrets and delights of Borough Market, London's oldest and most renowned food market, with your expert food guide.
This morning, enjoy the splendour of the Crown Jewels away from the crowds with a private, out-of-hours viewing. Explore the Tower of London, the medieval palace and the Treasury – where you can feast your eyes on dazzling coronation regalia. Afterwards, cross town to tour Mayfair on foot; this luxurious part of London is known for its high-end boutiques, art galleries and historic shops such as Saville Row. End your walking tour with afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason, or lunch at The Guinea Grill – the choice is yours. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Arrive in Reykjavík, Iceland’s hip capital city, for the next leg of your adventure. Your first port of call is Friðheimar geothermal farm; using greenhouses to defy the country’s inclement winters, owners Knútur and Helena cultivate a variety of fruits and vegetables here – but the star of the show is the tomato. Enjoy a private visit, and sample some of the fresh, homegrown produce during a greenhouse dining experience. Then it’s off to your hotel, the Torfhus Retreat, with its rustic-chic, turf-topped houses.
Begin today by admiring the natural wonders of the Thjórsárdalur valley. Visit the gushing waterfalls of Hjálparfoss and drive past the imposing volcano of Hekla. Then stop at a small sheep farm to tour the man-made Caves of Hella, reputed to have been carved into the sandstone by Irish monks more than a thousand years ago. Here, amid a landscape rich in history, you’ll be treated to a private, three-course gourmet lunch. Afterwards, transfer along the south shore to your hotel for the night: The Retreat at Blue Lagoon.
Wellness is the order of the day, as you indulge in the geothermal delights of the Blue Lagoon. Enjoy a tranquil morning with a spot of yoga, or head straight to the Retreat’s secluded, private lagoon. Treat yourself to the signature spa journey, which is rounded off in true Icelandic fashion with the Blue Lagoon Ritual; cover your body with the three treasures of these volcanic waters: silica, algae and minerals – each claimed to possess a restorative effect. Suitably rejuvenated, depart this afternoon by private charter to Bergen, Norway.
Welcome to Bergen, the capital of Norway’s west coast. Learn the lay of the land with a private walking tour, beginning at the colourful fish market. Stroll along the Bryggen – the city’s old wharf and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – to the Bergen Fortress. Gain insight into medieval-era sea trading at Bryggens Museum, and admire the stately 12th-century church of St Mary’s. This afternoon, ride the Fløibanen funicular to a panoramic lookout point, with the option of a leisurely guided hike afterwards. Dine tonight at one of Bergen’s top restaurants, where you’ll be introduced to the local shellfish.
Cruise by private boat to a family farm set on the pretty shoreline of Bjørnafjorden. Tour the farm’s fruit garden and meet its small animals. Then, join a chef to forage in the nearby forest and wild surrounds for the fresh ingredients needed for your hands-on cooking class. Enjoy a wine tasting led by a sommelier, before lending the chef a hand in preparing savoury local dishes. This evening, return to Bergen by road for a good night’s rest.
After arrival, enjoy a guided introduction to this vibrant city, which has re-invented itself following the tumult of the 20th century. Begin at Potsdamer Platz, a bustling cross-section of the city’s past. Carry on to the nearby Checkpoint Charlie, the famous crossing point between East and West Berlin. Finish at the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a dramatic reminder of World War II. Later, privately transfer to the Reichstag parliament building – with its stunning Norman Foster-designed dome – for a guided tour. End the day at Kafer, the Reichstag’s restaurant, for a seven-course dinner.
Head out of Berlin today to visit Potsdam, the opulent former residence of the Prussian kings and German Kaiser. Begin at the Cecilienhof Palace, where Attlee, Stalin and Truman signed the historic Potsdam Agreement in 1945. Discover the Dutch Quarter with its distinctive architecture, and then enjoy lunch at your leisure – there are numerous restaurants from which to choose. Afterwards, stroll through the sprawling Sanssouci Gardens, where you can visit a Dutch mill, a Greek temple, a Chinese teahouse and even Roman ruins.
After a morning at leisure, fly by private charter to Russia’s vibrant capital of culture, St Petersburg. Check in to your hotel, the Four Seasons Lion Palace; this restored 19th-century royal residence is situated in the historic Admiralteysky District, just a couple of blocks away from the Hermitage Museum. There’s time enough today for a boat cruise on the city’s canals, with welcome drinks and canapés on board. Round off the evening with a caviar tasting; this delicacy is a favourite among St Petersburg’s socialites.
Beat the crowds with special early entry to the world-famous Hermitage Museum. This is your chance to marvel at its spectacular art collections and cultural artefacts in peace and quiet. Cross the Neva river to explore the magnificent Peter and Paul Fortress – a floating citadel established by Peter the Great – before visiting the grand St Isaac’s Cathedral. Finish your day of cultural highs with a flourish; attend an evening performance in one of the city’s historic theatres.
Travel just outside the city to the Peterhof Palace, the sprawling summer retreat of Peter the Great. Explore its manicured grounds, adorned with lavish sculptures and water features, imagining how the Tsar might have spent his time here. Weather permitting, a hydrofoil will ferry you back to St Petersburg, where you will enjoy a traditional Russian afternoon tea with one of the country’s most notable artists. Next, tour the dazzling Fabergé Museum, before heading back to your hotel.
You have been on quite the journey – admiring hidden jewels, grand palaces, volcanic plains and twinkling fjords – but all good things must come to an end. Return home brimming with treasured memories of Northern Europe’s many wonders.