This 9-day tour provides the ultimate off-the-beaten-path adventure in Europe. Starting in Lithuania's historic capital, you'll travel west to the Baltic coast to bike and relax on sand dunes and pretty beaches. Then, continue to Latvia's capital where you'll explore medieval buildings and exquisite Art Nouveau architecture. Finish with some day-trips to impressive palaces and castles—as well as a gorgeous national park—before returning to cobblestoned Riga for a range of restaurants and cafes.

Highlights

  • Explore Baroque and Gothic architecture in one of Europe's largest Old Towns
  • Bike and hit the beach at a UNESCO World Heritage site along the Baltic Sea
  • Take a tram to Riga’s Central Market inside five former Zeppelin airship hangars
  • Ride a cable car over a beautiful river in Latvia's Gauja National Park
  • Check out some Rococo interiors and a working organ with 7,000+ pipes

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vilnius - Explore the City Vilnius
Day 2 Transfer to Nida, via Kaunas & Klaipeda Nida
Day 3 Bike Tour on the Curonian Spit Nida
Day 4 Transfer to Liepāja - Beach Time Liepaja
Day 5 Transfer to Riga, via Kolka Cape  Riga
Day 6 Riga City Tour  Riga
Day 7 Tour of Latvia's Castles & Palaces Riga
Day 8 Explore Gauja National Park Riga
Day 9 Depart Riga  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vilnius - Explore the City

Aerial view of Vilnius

Welcome to Vilnius! Upon arrival in Lithuania's capital, you'll transfer to your hotel in the city center. Vilnius is renowned for historic buildings in a range of architectural styles including Baroque and Gothic, especially in its well-preserved Old Town called Senamiestis

Once you're settled, get out and walk around the cobblestoned streets. Some must-sees include the neoclassical Vilnius Cathedral, St. Anne's Church, and the 16th-century Gate of Dawn containing a Virgin Mary shrine that once guarded an entrance to the original city. You can also head up to the medieval Gediminas Castle Tower for city views or walk around Vilnius University, which dates back to the 16th century.

In the evening, browse the city's small shops on narrow streets selling amber jewelry, wood carvings, and Lithuanian cheese, where international eateries and nightlife are also found.

Day 2: Transfer to Nida, via Kaunas & Klaipeda

A street cafe in Klaipeda's Old Town

This morning, after breakfast, you'll depart Vilnius and drive 186 miles (300 km) across the country to reach Nida for your overnight. Along the way, you'll make a stop in Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania to see the castle ruins and the city's Old Town.

A bit further, you'll reach Klaipeda, a town that first became a part of Lithuania in 1923 and had a long history as a German town called Memel. A short sightseeing tour takes you to yet another Old Town with narrow, cobblestone streets and old guild houses where you'll visit the Theatre Square and the Aennchen von Tharau Fountain.

From Klaipeda, you'll take a ferry to get to the beautiful Curonian Spit, a narrow 61 mile-long (98 km) strip of sand that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site divided around the halfway mark between Lithuania and Russia.

Once you arrive on ferry, you'll make your way to your hotel a scenic fishing village called Nida, the biggest town on the spit, popular with nature lovers and international travelers. 

Day 3: Bike Tour on the Curonian Spit

A scenic stop on the Curonian Spit

Today, after breakfast, you'll join a full-day biking tour of the Curonian Spit along the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon with several sand dunes and fisherman's villages to explore.

First, you'll cycle to the summer house of Thomass Mann, the famous German writer, who was a Nobel Prize laureate in 1929 in literature. Walk around and check out the property as the house opens up to a spectacular view on the thin stretch of land. 

You'll then cycle to the 170-foot (52 m) high Parnidžio Dune followed by stops in the village of Juodkrante and the wooden sculpture park called Hill of Witches. The art pieces depict characters from Lithuanian folklore and pagan traditions. 

In the afternoon, you will have some leisure time to enjoy the beach before cycling back to Nida for the rest of the evening. 

Day 4: Transfer to Liepāja - Beach Time

Liepaja Beach

This morning, you'll catch the return ferry and then transfer to Liepaja a port city on Latvia’s west coast. Upon arrival, you'll have time to stroll the streets over lunchtime. Liepāja is known for its rock music and as the city where "the wind was born". In the city center, you can visit the Holy Trinity Church to see the splendid Rococo interior and to hear one of the largest organs in Europe with over 7,000 pipes. 

From here, you'll have the option to while away some hours at Liepaja Beach—a popular swimming location near town with calm water. The beach is spacious—about 150 to 200 feet wide—and has fine white sand ideal for sunbathing and long walks.

In the evening, you can visit the music venue Fontaine Palace located in the city center along the canal. The club presents live events almost every night of the year with bands from all over the world come and play.

Day 5: Transfer to Riga, via Kolka Cape & Jurmala

The resort town of Jurmala

Today, after breakfast, you'll drive along the Baltic Sea until you reach the Kolka Cape where the sea meets the Riga Bay. In a nearby fisherman's house, you will be served lunch where you can sample different types of smoked fish.

In the afternoon, you'll make your way through several more fisherman's villages before making a stop at the most famous resort town in Latvia: Jurmala. The town's reputation as a spa destination began in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and today, some of the most expensive properties in the country are located here.

After a walk around town, you'll continue driving to Riga, your home base for the rest of the trip. Latvia’s capital is set on the Baltic Sea and is considered a cultural center, home to many museums and concert halls. The city is also known for its wooden buildings, art nouveau architecture, and medieval Old Town.

Day 6: Riga City Tour

Riga at sunset

Today's itinerary starts with a morning tour of Riga starting in the Old Town, where you'll see Riga Castle on the banks of the River Daugava and the Three Brothers' Houses, which were built between the late 1400s and mid-1600s (the oldest dwellings in the city). You'll also stop at St. Peter's Church, where you can enjoy a view of the city from the tower, the ornate House of the Blackheads, and the medieval Dome Cathedral, originally built in the early 1200s.

After exploring Riga's beginnings, you'll move to the Central District where you'll see Latvia's grand National Opera & Ballet Theater. While here, stop by the Freedom Monument, which honors the soldiers who fell in Latvia's War of Independence from Soviet Russia from 1918 to 1920. Then take a stroll down Alberta, Antonijas and Elizabetes Streets to see the most magnificent Art Nouveau buildings in the city.

Heading into more modern times, you'll then take a tram to the Central Market, which opened in 1930. The massive attraction is set inside five former Zeppelin airship hangars and is one of the largest covered markets in Europe. Your guide will point out the best local foods to try, such as smoked meats, pickled vegetables, Latvian bread, seasonal treats, and more. End your tour at one of the market's eateries for lunch.

From here, you'll have the rest of the day to spend as you please. 

Day 7: Tour of Latvia's Castles & Palaces

Palace Rundale
Palace Rundale

Today, get ready to immerse yourself in Latvia's past on this full-day tour of some of its most fascinating castles and palaces. The first stop is the medieval Bauska Castle, built as a 15th-century fortress with a royal residence for the Dukes of Courland and Semigallia added on in the late 16th century. Bauska is an excellent example of the defensive stone castles erected during the Middle Ages to protect Latvia's territory from attacks by Christian crusaders. See the cannons and other defenses used by medieval Latvians, and learn about the social customs and fashion sense of the royal court.

The two palaces you'll tour today were built in the 18th century for the same family, the Dukes of Courland and Semigallia, by Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who also created Russia's ornate Winter Palace and Tsarskoye Selo Palace for the tsars.

First is Rundale Palace, practically a time capsule of 18th-century royal Latvian life, with beautifully preserved and restored Baroque architecture and Rococo art. Don't miss a stroll through the massive French-style gardens outside the palace!

You'll then make a final stop at Jelgava Palace, which was burned down during the War of Independence in 1919 and heavily shelled during World War II. The Baroque-style palace was reconstructed in 1961 and is currently home to the Latvian University of Agriculture. Make sure to visit the crypt for members of the royal family who once lived here, which houses their ornate sarcophagi, before heading back to Riga for the evening.

Day 8: Explore Gauja National Park

Gauja National Park

This morning, your day-trip includes a stop at Sigulda to visit the Episcopal Castle ruins followed by a visit at Gauja National Park in northeast Latvia. Covering a large swath of the Gauja Valley, the park is known for its many historic structures surrounding the town of Cēsis and its 13th-century castle. You can also see the medieval Turaida Castle, with its tall tower, which anchors the Turaida Museum-Reserve

To cross the ancient River Valley of Gauja River, you'll ride the cable car a .75 mile (1.2 km) journey across the valley providing views of castles, the bobsleigh track, and the charming scenery.

Day 9: Depart Riga

One more walk through Riga before departure

It's time to say goodbye to Latvia! At the designated time, you'll depart Riga and either head to the airport for your flight home—or, better yet, continue the journey onward to Estonia. Safe travels!