- Explore the cultural highlights of Tallinn & Riga
- Join a traditional Russian Old Believers tea ceremony at Lake Peipus
- Hike through the biodiverse boglands of Lahemaa National Park
- Kayak along the sandstone cliffs of the Gauja River
- Cycle past Baltic beaches on Latvia's Northern Riviera
|Day 1||Arrive in Tallinn||Tallinn|
|Day 2||Walking Tour of Tallinn||Tallinn|
|Day 3||Drive to Sagadi, Hiking Tour of Lahemaa National Park||Sagadi|
|Day 4||Drive to Tartu, via Lake Peipus||Tartu|
|Day 5||Walking Tour of Tartu||Turku|
|Day 6||Drive to Cēsis, Town & Castles Tour||Cēsis|
|Day 7||Kayak the Gauja River, Drive to Sigulda, via Līgatne||Sigulda|
|Day 8||Hiking Tour of Gauja National Park||Sigulda|
|Day 9||Drive to Kuldīga, via Rundāle Palace||Kuldiga|
|Day 10||Walking Tour of Kuldīga||Kuldiga|
|Day 11||Drive to Jūrmala, Latvia's Northern Riviera||Jurmala|
|Day 12||Drive to Riga, City Walking Tour||Riga|
|Day 13||Depart Riga|
Day 1: Arrive in Tallinn
Welcome to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia!
Located on the Baltic Sea, Tallinn is home to one of the region's best-preserved medieval centers, but there's also a modern edge that you can discover in its lively dining and nightlife scenes. Its waterfront promenades and nearby beaches offer great views of the city and coast and are perfect spots for a romantic stroll at any time of year.
Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. After check-in, you can spend the remainder of the day relaxing or head out and explore the city on your own.
Day 2: Walking Tour of Tallinn
Tallinn showcases a charming blend of medieval history and modern urban life. You'll see these contrasts up close this morning as you embark on a walking tour of the city's Old Town. In the warmer months, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is abuzz with visitors and locals hitting the streets and taking advantage of the many shops, galleries, souvenir markets, outdoor cafés, and restaurants.
Today's sightseeing tour will take you within the Walls of Tallinn (defensive fortifications dating to 1265) and into the heart of Old Town. You'll visit many historic gems, including Toompea Castle, a stately Baroque castle now home to Estonia's parliament; the 13th century Dome Church (St. Mary's Cathedral); the Russian Revival-style Alexander Nevsky Cathedral; and the Great Guild Hall, which was a guild for merchants in the 14th century and is now the Estonian History Museum.
Later in the afternoon, you can take an optional excursion to Kadriorg Park, a 172-acre (70-hectare) green space home to gardens, ponds, promenades, and museums. Nearby you'll find KUMU, the award-winning Estonian Art Museum, which houses collections of classic and contemporary fine art. In the evening, get into the historic spirit of things by heading to Town Hall Square, in Old Town, to enjoy a traditional Estonian meal at a restaurant in a medieval setting.
Day 3: Drive to Sagadi, Hiking Tour of Lahemaa National Park
After breakfast, a 45-minute drive east takes you to Lahemaa National Park. Located on the north coast of the country, Lahemaa sits on 1,877 square miles (725 square km) and has many hiking trails that will take you through bogs, forests, and up to the largest natural waterfall in Estonia. There's also incredible biodiversity here, and it's home to many species of birds and animals like wolves, red deer, wild boars, and even lynxes. Lahemaa National Park is considered one of the last unspoiled regions of the Baltic coastline.
Head to the village and historic estate of Sagadi, where you'll join a guide for a 4 mile (7 km) hiking tour through the park to the Kasmu Peninsula. Admire the natural rock formations and beautiful seaside village at Kasmu, then return to Sagadi, where you'll stay at a local hotel for the evening.
Day 4: Drive to Tartu, via Lake Peipus
Straddling the border between Estonia and Russia is Lake Peipus, the fifth-largest lake in Europe. In the morning, you'll take a drive to the lakeside village of Kolkja. Beyond its natural beauty, this area has its own cultural and religious legacy. The Estonian side of the lake is home to one of the biggest Russian Orthodox Old Believers communities in Europe. These are religious refugees and strict adherents to Eastern Christian Orthodoxy as it was practiced before the Russian reforms of the 17th century.
You'll learn more about this culture with a visit to the Kolkja Museum of Old Believers, where a traditional tea ceremony awaits. Exhibits feature traditional clothes, household items, handicrafts, tools, photos, and other items associated with the Old Believers. These displays cover a long period of history, as the Old Believers have been practicing their religious traditions for more than 1,000 years.
After visiting the museum and taking a stroll along the lakeshore, you'll hop back in the car and continue inland a short way to Tartu, a small city in southeastern Estonia. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and enjoy the evening at your leisure.
Day 5: Walking Tour of Tartu
Tartu may be a small city, but it has a rich historical legacy. It was a site of great importance right after the Estonian War of Independence, which ended in 1920 and resulted in a peace treaty signed in Tartu granting Estonia its statehood. This morning, you'll learn more about the city's cultural and religious legacy when you embark on a walking tour of Old Town.
You'll start with a visit to the Supreme Court of Estonia and the Town Hall, which dates to 1782 and is located in the main square. The city's most famous building, however, is the neoclassical University of Tartu, which dates to 1632 and is the national university of Estonia. You'll also visit the remnants of the Tartu Dome Church and enjoy a walk along the riverfront.
In the afternoon, you'll return to your hotel to relax and enjoy the rest of the day at your own pace.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Drive to Cēsis, Town & Castles Tour
Today you'll bid Estonia farewell and hop over the border to neighboring Latvia. Your destination is the town of Cēsis, a medieval gem and the third-oldest town in the country. During a guided walking tour, you'll experience the 800-year-old history visible in its streets and ancient castle complex. Start with a visit to the charming ruins of its historic castle, learn about the area's rich history, and feel the medieval atmosphere by candlelight. Continue to the evocative Old Town to see highlights such as the Roze Square, Princess House, and St. John’s Church.
Your afternoon is free to get settled into your hotel, relax, and explore the town at your leisure.
Day 7: Kayak the Gauja River, Drive to Sigulda, via Līgatne
This morning takes you to Gauja National Park, the largest and oldest national park in Latvia. Here you'll spend the morning kayaking on the beautiful Gauja River, flanked by pine-covered sandstone cliffs.
After an active morning, drive to the forested village of Līgatne. This riverside village is famous for its network of 19th-century caves dug out of vertical sandstone banks. Take a break in the village to enjoy some local food and wine, then continue to the town of Sigulda for the night. Known locally as "Little Switzerland, Sigulda is located within the protected area of Gauja National Park and is famed for its winter sports and historic castles.
Day 8: Hiking Tour of Gauja National Park
Lace-up your walking boots this morning for a day of hiking in the Gauja National Park. Your guided trek will take you on a 10 mile (17 km) journey amid stunning scenery, past the biggest cave in the Baltics and the ruins of Sigulda Castle, built by crusaders in the year 1207 ACE, and Turaida Castle, commissioned by the Archbishop of Riga in 1214 ACE.
A meditative musical experience awaits you during the hike, with a demonstration of the ancient sounds of the kokle, Latvia's traditional string instrument. Relax and enjoy the concert, then return to Sigulda for the evening.
Day 9: Drive to Kuldīga, via Rundāle Palace
Today's drive takes you south, past Riga, to reach Rundāle Palace. This expansive Baroque palace and gardens complex is situated in the plains of southern Latvia and is a little bit of Versaille in the Baltics. It was commissioned by the Duke of Courland in 1736 to be used as his summer residence and was built by Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who also created Russia's ornate Winter Palace. Today it's a museum, and you can stroll its grand halls and lavish gardens.
In the afternoon, continue to 14th-century Kuldīga—considered Latvia's "most romantic town." Get settled into your hotel, then take a stroll through the historic center and grab dinner at one of the many bistros lining the main pedestrian street of Liepājas.
Day 10: Walking Tour of Kuldīga
Join a guided walking tour today to see the romantic blend of Kuldīga's medieval architecture, small winding streets, and natural wonders. One of the town's highlights is its riverside, where you'll see Europe's widest waterfall at 800 feet (249 m) across the Venta River. After exploring the town's charms at a relaxed pace, the rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure.
Day 11: Drive to Jūrmala, Latvia's Northern Riviera
Your destination today is the spectacular coastal resort town of Jūrmala. Located about 24 miles (40 km) west of the capital, this popular holiday destination on the Gulf of Riga is famous for its elegant wooden homes done in the Art Nouveau style as well as its long, white-sand beach.
You'll have the day free to explore the town, take a walk along the pine forest dunes, or go for a self-guided bike tour of the area. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant or café, and spend time at the beach, choosing from an endless selection of prime swimming spots. In the evening you can also enjoy a traditional Latvian dinner at a local restaurant before retiring to your hotel for the night.
Day 12: Drive to Riga, City Walking Tour
A short drive this morning takes you to Riga, the largest city in the Baltics and Latvia's capital. After settling into your hotel, head straight to Old Town for a guided walking tour. Medieval landmarks you'll visit include the 14th century Riga Castle; the Lutheran Dome Cathedral, which was built in 1211; the 15th-century St. Peter’s Church; and the Swedish Gate, a fortification built in 1698 as part of defensive city walls.
Other historic buildings you'll see include Three Brothers, a trio of homes dating to the 15th/16th/17th centuries, and the Large and Small Guild House, a merchant organization built in the 14th century and later redone in the English Gothic style. You'll also visit the Freedom Monument, which is located on the waterfront and memorializes soldiers killed in the Latvian War of Independence (1918-1920). There's also the Latvian National Opera, a unique architectural masterpiece that dates to 1863.
After the opera house, take a tram ride to the Central Market. This UNESCO World Heritage Site opened in 1930 and takes up 778,000 square feet (72,300 meters), which makes it the largest municipal market in Europe. Here you can wander through the former Zeppelin airship hangars and browse for smoked meats, pickled vegetables, sweets, and trinkets. End your tour at one of the market's many sit-down eateries for a relaxed lunch, then spend the afternoon exploring on your own.
Day 13: Depart Riga
Today you'll say a bittersweet farewell to Riga and the Baltics. If there's time in the schedule, enjoy one last stroll around Old Town. Then you'll transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. Until next time!
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