Discover the capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia on this whirlwind 8-day trip through the Baltic states. As you travel north from Vilnius to Riga to Tallinn, you'll learn about each city's rich cultural, historic, and culinary traditions. Visit churches in Vilnius, indulge in a food tour in Riga, and explore the creative hub of Tallinn on this Northern European adventure.
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The best time to visit the Baltic States is late spring or summer. Spring begins in late April and the countryside takes on a green lushness, drawing horses out from their winter barns. Summers are relatively short (mid-June through August). You may experience a string of hot, dry days during this time, but showers and chilly nights can also be expected.
Temperatures cool down rapidly from September onwards. Autumn can be a beautiful season, as the golden leaves of deciduous trees begin to contrast with dark green pines. The first snowfalls can come as early as mid-November, and by December winter sets in with a vengeance. Average daytime temperatures can remain below freezing until March. That said, winter can also be a magical time, with lakes, rivers and large expanses of the Baltic Sea freezing over, crunchy snow cover adding an air of enchantment to medieval city centers, and plenty of skating rinks and saunas to keep you warm.
Where should you go?
With its strong German influence and tall historic buildings, Riga feels different than other Baltic capitals. You'll love strolling the web of narrow Old Town streets, with no shortage of sidewalk cafes. From Riga, head to Jurmala, a resort town where the ice-blue waters of the Baltic Sea might be the prettiest of anywhere in the region. There's plenty of entertainment to be found, but unspoiled nature is the main attraction here—come for the sea, white sandy beaches, and shady pine forests. Latvia's other draws include the Baroque style Basilica of the Assumption in Aglona, and the Medieval town of Cesis (home to the oldest brewery in the country).
How many days do you need?
Travelers with 7 days will have enough time to tour Latvia or check out the highlights of the three Baltic capitals—Riga, Tallinn (Estonia), and Vilnius (Lithuania). With 10 days, you can combine an in-depth Latvia tour with stops in Tallinn and Vilnius, and two weeks is enough to see all three countries, including rural places and hidden gems.
Explore the medieval towns and castle-filled countrysides of Latvia and Estonia on this nine-day itinerary. From the 13th through 16th centuries, the two countries were a unified political entity known as Livonia, and you can explore their shared culture as you travel through the historic cities, ancient river valleys, islands, and Hanseatic towns of the Baltic region.
Go back in time on this guided tour of three of Latvia's castles and palaces. Learn about the long history of this Baltic nation through the grand buildings erected by its leaders. You'll visit the medieval Bauska Castle, the Baroque Jelgava Palace, and the extravagant Rundale Palace — all just a short drive from Riga.
Put on your best walking shoes and discover the Baltic region's largest city on this comprehensive guided tour of Riga. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Latvia's capital as you take in the fascinating blend of Gothic, medieval, and Art Nouveau architecture. You'll also test Riga's reputation as an up-and-coming foodie destination with a visit to the Central Market, where you'll sample local delicacies.
Despite its cold weather, Riga is the perfect city break in the winter months thanks to its incredible history and festive Christmas markets. Explore the historic old town with a guided walking tour, then peruse the spirited Christmas markets with sweet-smelling mulled wine, roasted almonds, glazed gingerbread, deletable food, and locally-handcrafted goods. Enjoy a change of scenery with an optional day trip to the seaside town of Jūrmala and stroll its 20-mile, white-sand beach while admiring traditional wooden houses.
Discover Latvia beyond Riga by exploring its unique countryside in scenic Gauja National Park with its dense forests, the quaint city of Kuldīga with its wide waterfall and sand-stone caves, and Jūrmala with its 21-mile stretch of sandy beach. Enjoy tours of Riga's "quiet center" with Art Nouveau architecture, as well as the palaces of Rundale and Jelgava and medieval castle ruins in Sigulda and Turaida. Then explore Latvia's art scene with a visit to an open-air museum with over 150 works of art, plus craft your own creations in a unique candle-making class.
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