Marine environments and the ecosystem services they provide are threatened throughout the world. Marine policy, including the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive, can be informed by public perceptions of the importance of the state of the marine environment. Using an extensive data set obtained from a coordinated survey across all nine littoral countries, we examine the recreational use and perceptions towards the Baltic Sea. Our findings suggest that the Baltic Sea is an important recreation area for residents of the littoral states, as the majority of people spend leisure time there. Swedes, Danes and Finns use the sea the most, and the most common activities are beach recreation and swimming. People are concerned over the state of the Baltic Sea, especially in Finland, Russia and Sweden. Poles, Danes and Finns have the most positive attitude towards contributing financially to improving the state of the Baltic Sea. For future research, we propose a similar large-scale, coordinated study across all nine littoral countries using state-of-the art valuation methods to assess the monetary benefits of improving the state of the Baltic Sea.