Rich culture and unspoiled nature are the stars of the show on this unforgettable 15-day journey through the Baltic States. Traveling through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, you'll explore cultural highlights with tours of medieval cities, ancient castles, and fascinating museums. In between, the great outdoors beckons with kayaking, biking, and hiking excursions into a paradise of lakes, forests, and national parks.        

Highlights

  • Stroll the medieval centers of Tallinn, Riga & Vilnius
  • Join a Russian Old Believers tea ceremony at the shore of Lake Peipus
  • Hike through the unspoiled nature of Lahemaa National Park
  • Kayak past sandstone cliffs on the Gauja River
  • Bike along the Baltic sea beaches of the Curonian Spit 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
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 Drive to Cēsis, Town & Castles Tour Cēsis
Day 6 Kayak the Gauja River, Continue to Riga Riga
Day 7 Walking Tour of Riga Riga
Day 8 Drive to Jūrmala, Latvia's Northern Riviera Jūrmala
Day 9 Drive to Kuldīga, Latvia's Most Romantic Town Kuldīga
Day 10 Drive to Klaipėda, Ferry to the Curonian Spit Nida
Day 11 Explore the Curonian Spit by Bike Nida
Day 12 Drive to Kaunas, City Walking Tour Kaunas
Day 13 Trakai Castle & Kayaking, Continue to Vilnius Vilnius
Day 14 Walking Tour of Vilnius Vilnius
Day 15 Depart Vilnius  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tallinn

Tallinn Old Town
View's across Tallinn's beautiful Old Town

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, 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

Photo Tallinna Linnamuuseum. Kiek in de Kok tower,
Tallinn's Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

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

Lahemaa Nature park
Unspoiled beauty in 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

The shores of 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: Drive to Cēsis, Town & Castles Tour

The ruins of  Cēsis Castle

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 6: Kayak the Gauja River, Continue to Riga

Kayak along the Gauja River

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. 

Back on the road, you'll make a stop at the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, located in a lovely pine-tree forest next to Juglas Lake. Here you'll experience a meditative musical experience, with a concert of ancient sounds from the Latvian traditional string instrument known as a kokle. Relax and enjoy the show, then continue your drive to Riga for the evening. 

Day 7: Walking Tour of Riga

Riga's Old Town
Riga's Old Town

Explore the many charms of Riga, the largest city in the Baltics and Latvia's capital. Head straight to Old Town this morning 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 the 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 8: Drive to Jūrmala, Latvia's Northern Riviera

Cycle along Jūrmala's sweeping beaches

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 9: Drive to Kuldīga, Latvia's Most Romantic Town

Kuldīga's bridge over the Venta River

In the morning, embark on a picturesque drive through the rolling hills of Courland to reach the 14th-century Kuldīga—considered Latvia's "most romantic town." Join a guided walking tour to see the evocative 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. As night falls, 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: Drive to Klaipėda, Ferry to the Curonian Spit

Klaipeda harbor
Klaipėda's bustling harbor

This morning you'll say your goodbyes to Latvia and cross the border into Lithuania to visit the port city of Klaipėda and embark on a guided walking tour. Begin in Klaipėda's Old Town, known for its old cobblestone streets lined with medieval guild houses. You'll then visit landmarks like Theater Square and the Ann from Tharau Fountain, which is dedicated to Simon Dach, a famous German poet born in Klaipėda and which features a sculpture of his muse, Ann.

Afterward, you'll catch a ferry to the Curonian Spit, a long, thin sandspit that runs 62 miles (100 km) between the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon. Dotting this narrow strip of land are sleepy fishing villages, isolated pine forests, and endless sand dunes. Get settled into your hotel in the tranquil village of Nida, and rest up for a day of exploration tomorrow.

Day 11: Explore the Curonian Spit by Bike

Curonian Spit beach
Cycle past beaches and sand dunes on the Curonian Spit

Enjoy the sea air this morning with a self-guided bike ride from Nida to the lagoon-side village of Juodkrantė and back. Along the way, you'll pass a scenery of windswept dunes and stop for a visit at the Hill of Witches. Despite the spooky name, this landmark is actually a collection of wooden sculptures atop a forested sand dune. There are over 80 sculptures made by local artists that depict themes of paganism and Lithuanian folklore. After a day of cycling, return to Nida for a stroll around the town and a dinner of the local smoked fish and seafood specialties.             

Day 12: Drive to Kaunas, City Walking Tour

Street in Kaunas
A street in Kaunas' Old Town

Today you'll head back to the mainland and continue to Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city. Upon arrival, you can take a walk around Old Town and visit landmarks like Town Hall Square and the House of Perkūnas, a Gothic merchant house that dates to the 15th century. You'll of course also visit Kaunas Castle, a Gothic fortress built on a hill overlooking the Nemunas River and which dates to the middle of the 14th century.

After touring the town, you'll head to your hotel and have the evening free.

Day 13: Trakai Castle & Kayaking, Continue to Vilnius

Kayaking at the Lake Galve in Trakai
Kayaking past Trakai Castle on Lake Galvė

After breakfast, you'll hit the road again towards Trakai. Situated on a peninsula on Lake Galvė, this village, home to about 5,000 people, is as much a scenic national park as it is a town. Here, amid the unspoiled woodlands and lake islands, rises medieval Trakai Castle, the star landmark of the area.

Start by heading to the water's edge for a guided kayak tour. You'll paddle through tranquil waters around islands while enjoying great views of the castle, the Užutrakis Tyszkiewicz Mansion, and the ruins of Peninsular Castle, a fortification located on the south end of the lake and commissioned by the Duke of Trakai in the 14th century. After returning to dry land, see Trakai Castle up close with a tour of the historic fortification, built in the latter half of the 14th century from red brick and stone. 

In the afternoon, you'll continue to Vilnius. The Lithuanian capital sits on the Neris River, dates to the 14th century, and in its heyday was a melting pot of cultures. People flocked here from as near as Poland and as far as Eurasia, many coming to attend Vilnius University. Founded in the 16th century, this was one of the premier learning institutions in Europe. Over the next few centuries, Lithuania was conquered by everyone from Napoleon to Hitler, and it fell under Russian rule after WWII until it seceded from the Soviet Union in 1990. 

Day 14: Explore Vilnius Walking Tour

The grand Cathedral Square in Vilnius

Spend this morning on a guided walking tour of Old Town, the medieval heart of Vilnius, and home to Vilnius Cathedral. Consecrated in 1783 and sitting on the expansive Cathedral Square, this is Lithuania's premier Roman-Catholic church. Moreover, its mausoleum is the final resting place of some notable figures throughout history, including several grand dukes of Lithuania and even King Alexander of Poland. 

Other stops include Gediminas Tower, a 15th-century defensive castle on the banks of the river; the Church of St. Peter and Paul, a 17th-century Lithuanian Baroque cathedral; the 15th-century St. Anne's Church, another Baroque gem; Vilnius University, which, having been founded in 1579, is the oldest university in the Baltics; and the Gate of Dawn, the city's medieval defensive fortification, which was built around a chapel that remains a major catholic pilgrimage site in Lithuania.  

The rest of the day is at your leisure. Head back to the Old Town for dinner, where you can toast your final evening in Lithuania with one of the country's famous craft beers.                

Day 15: Depart Vilnius

Vilnius at Sunset
Vilnius at Sunset

Enjoy a final morning in Vilnius before transferring to the airport for your departing flight. Safe travels!

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