Immerse yourself in the unspoiled nature of Baltic Europe on this adventurous 20-day itinerary. Spanning Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, you'll explore medieval capitals, ancient forests, and windswept coastlines as you kayak, canoe, cycle, and hike your way through the spectacular and shifting scenery. Unforgettable excursions include exploring the sand dunes of the Curonian Spit by bike, bobsledding down the rugged slopes of Sigulda, and paddling along the pristine rivers of Soomaa National Park.

Highlights

  • Kayak around the island castle of Trakai
  • Cycle across the beaches & sand dunes of the Curonian Spit
  • Try your hand at bobsledding in Latvia's "Little Switzerland"
  • Explore the boardwalks & bogs of Soomaa National Park
  • Hop between the unspoiled islands of Saaremaa & Hiiumaa
  • Tour the atmospheric medieval centers of Vilnius, Riga & Tallinn

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vilnius Vilnius
Day 2 Vilnius City Tour, Sunset Kayaking in Trakai Vilnius
Day 3 Transfer to Klaipėda via Palanga Klaipeda
Day 4 Cycle the Curonian Spit  Klaipeda
Day 5 "Fish Trail" Culinary Cruise Klaipeda
Day 6 Transfer to Liepāja  Liepaja
Day 7 Transfer to Riga via Rundāle Palace & Jumpravmuiza Riga
Day 8 Explore Riga by Segway Riga
Day 9 Day Trip to Sigulda: Cable Car & Bobsledding  Riga
Day 10 Explore the Latvian Countryside by 4x4 Riga
Day 11 Day Trip to Kuldīga Riga
Day 12 Transfer to Viljandi via Līgatne's Soviet Bunker & Nature Trails Viljandi
Day 13 Transfer to Soomaa National Park Soomaa
Day 14 Bogshoeing in Soomaa National Park Soomaa
Day 15 Canoe on Soomaa's Rivers, Transfer to Saaremaa Island Saaremaa
Day 16 Explore Saaremaa Island Saaremaa
Day 17 Transfer to Hiiumaa, Hike the Kõpu Peninsula Hiiumaa
Day 18 Transfer to Tallinn via Haapsalu Tallinn
Day 19 Tour Tallinn's Medieval Old Town Tallinn
Day 20 Depart Tallinn  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vilnius

An aerial view of the Lithuanian capital

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 center known as Senamiestis.

Once you've settled in, stretch your legs with a 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: Vilnius City Tour, Sunset Kayaking in Trakai

Take a sunset paddle around Lake Galvė

Discover more of Vilnius today with a guided tour of the unique European capital. You'll start with a stroll down the historic streets of Vilnius' Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where characterful medieval buildings date back to the city's founding in 1323 CE. 

Continue to Gediminas Avenue, where most of Lithuania's governmental institutions are located. This street is also a popular shopping district and is home to many great restaurants. Stop for a coffee break in Lukiškių Square before discovering Vilnius' quirky soul in the form of the monument to Frank Zappa located on Kalinausko Street. Despite having no official relationship with Lithuania, the iconoclastic rocker is beloved by people in this country.

Finish the tour with a visit to Užupis, one of Vilnius's oldest neighborhoods. Today it operates as a semi-autonomous artists' republic with its own constitution and national anthem. It's a fun bohemian district in which to spend an afternoon, and there's no shortage of great dining and drinking options here.

As evening falls, you can opt for a sunset kayak tour in nearby 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. Go for a tranquil paddle as the setting sun drenches the castles and islands with golden light, then stop for a traditional Karaim pie and coffee/tea break on of the islands. 

Day 3: Transfer to Klaipėda via Palanga

The Baltic coastline at Klaipėda

After breakfast, you'll bid Vilnius farewell and head towards the seaside. Your first stop is the popular resort town of Palanga, known for its wide beaches, Botanical Gardens, and Amber Museum. Located in the 19th-century Tiskevicius Palace, this fascinating museum features a collection of about 28,000 amber pieces, many of which contain insects, spiders, and plants.

Continuing south, you'll reach the port city of Klaipėda and your base for the next three nights. Get your bearings with a sightseeing tour of the city's Old Town, known for its historic cobblestone streets lined with medieval guild houses. You'll then visit landmarks like Theatre Square and the Ann from Tharau Fountain, featuring the muse of Simon Dach, a famous German poet born in the town.

After settling into your hotel, you can continue exploring Klaipėda on your own or take a stroll along its beach. In the evening, head into the city and find a cozy bistro for dinner.

Day 4: Cycle the Curonian Spit 

Cycle through pine forests and sand dunes on the Curonian Spit

Today's day trip takes you south along 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.

Spend the day enjoying fresh sea air as you explore this spectacular landscape by bike. Pay a visit to the summer house of the Nobel Prize-winning author Thomas Mann, where you can take in sweeping views over the thin stretch of land. Continue your cycle to the Hill of Witches, located at the lagoonside resort village of Juodkrantė. Despite the spooky name, this landmark is actually a collection of wooden sculptures atop a forested sand dune. There are over 80 sculptures here done by local artists that depict themes of paganism and Lithuanian folklore. After some downtime to enjoy the area's many pristine beaches, you'll head back to Klaipėda for the evening and a well-earned dinner.

Day 5: "Fish Trail" Culinary Cruise

Sample local coastal cuisine on a "Fish Tail" cruise

Today, you'll enjoy an exceptional gastronomic experience on a "Fish Trail" culinary cruise that begins at Jonas Gižas Ethnographic Farmstead. You'll learn about shipbuilding, the history of fishing in the Curonian Lagoon, and other traditions related to the industry. Later, you will taste a unique local fish soup and learn about fish farming in closed systems.

Then, you'll take a boat from Dreverna towards Ventainė, where you will enjoy more of the gastronomy of the Pamarys region and Lithuanian Minor. Continue the journey by bus towards Ventė Horn. There, you will visit an ornithology station established in 1929, do a bit of bird watching, and see the Ventė Lighthouse. Then it's on to Minija Village, the so-called Lithuanian Venice, where instead of streets you'll find the Minija River.

The adventure continues by boat as you transit to Kniaupas Bay and the Curonian Lagoon, eventually reaching Uostadvaris. Climb the lighthouse, and visit the water pumping station and museum. Cruise towards Dreverna, your final destination, before returning to Klaipėda.

Day 6: Transfer to Liepāja 

The ruins of Karosta at Liepāja

This morning's drive takes you across the Latvian border to Liepāja, a port city on the country's west coast. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and then head out on a walking tour of the city center. Among other places, you'll visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral, a Lutheran church that was founded in 1742. Inside, the church is painted white with elegant Rococo designs. It's also home to one of the largest organs in Europe, which features over 7,000 pipes. You'll then stop to explore Karosta, the ruins of seaside defensive fortifications built by Tsar Alexander III in 1890.

Next up is a visit to the only military prison in Europe open to tourists. You'll tour its cells and torture chambers plus visit the prison museum for an exhibit on WWII and the Soviet era. After some free time to while away some hours at Liepāja Beach—a popular swimming location near town with calm water—you'll return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening on your own. You can discover Liepāja's thriving music scene, which is famous for its many rock bars and discos.

Day 7: Transfer to Riga via Rundāle Palace & Jumpravmuiza

The Baroque palace of Rundāle

Today you'll continue east towards the Latvian capital, stopping en route at the magnificent Rundāle Palace. This expansive Baroque complex is situated on 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 through its grand halls and lavish gardens. 

Continue to Jumpravmuiza, where the adventurous can stop for a horseback riding excursion into the beautiful surrounding parkland. During the ride, your guide will share the history of this charming spot, where the remains of a 200-year-old castle are set amid idyllic grounds that include a small river, ponds, an artificial island, and a waterfall. 

Back on the road, you'll continue to Riga for the evening and get checked into your hotel.

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Day 8: Explore Riga by Segway

Explore the beautiful Latvian capital by Segway

Get to know Riga today with a fun and fascinating Segway sightseeing tour. You'll cover lots of ground in an easy way as you explore the medieval landmarks of Old Town, home to 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 pass 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 9: Day Trip to Sigulda: Cable Car & Bobsledding 

Views over Sigulda Bridge and cable car

Head 33 miles (53 km) northeast of Riga today to visit the village of Sigulda. 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.    

Upon arrival, you'll board a cable car for a fun and scenic journey above the unspoiled Gauja Valley. Enjoy the views of the forest, countryside castles, and the area's famous bobsled track, which is the only one left in the former USSR. It was built by Soviet Russia decades ago and is still used as a training base by bobsled teams and skeleton racers from all over Europe.

On your way down, hop in a bobsled and zip downhill on the track on a thrilling, adrenaline-filled ride. The track is also where Latvian skeleton hero Martins Dukurs trains— if you're lucky he may even be the man to pilot your bobsled!

After lunch, you'll return to Riga and spend the rest of the day in the city at your leisure.

Day 10: Explore the Latvian Countryside by 4x4 

Cross rugged sand dunes on today's off-road adventure

Discover some of Latvia's most remote and wild corners on today's exhilarating off-road adventure. The journey starts right from your hotel lobby, where you'll meet your instructor and guide and head out into the scenic countryside. Traveling along some of the country's most rugged roads, you'll learn the basic principles of off-road driving while crossing challenging terrains like muddy forests, steep hills, sandy dunes, and occasional rivers. Along the way, you'll have the chance to spot remarkable wildlife amidst the country's most unspoiled and untouched corners—experiencing a side of Latvia that most visitors miss. 

As the adventure winds down in the afternoon, you'll return to Riga and have the rest of the day at your leisure.

Day 11: Day Trip to Kuldīga

Kuldīga's bridge over the Venta River

This morning takes you two hours west of Riga to 14th-century Kuldīga—considered Latvia's "most romantic town."

Here you'll join a guided walking tour to discover the charming 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 delights at a relaxed pace, you'll stop for a memorable lunch in Jekaba Sēta, where a meal of locally sourced, organic ingredients highlights the culinary specialties of the Kurzeme region. Return to Riga for the afternoon, where you can enjoy your final day in the city at your own pace.

Day 12: Transfer to Viljandi via Līgatne's Soviet Bunker & Nature Trails

Tour a secret Soviet bunker
Tour a secret Soviet bunker

Step back in time today as you travel 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Riga to the country town of Līgatne and its Secret Soviet Time Bunker. Located 30 feet (9 m) underground, this former fallout shelter takes up 21,500 square feet (2,000 m2) and was built in 1982 as a refuge for the Soviet political elite in the event of nuclear war.

The bunker was unknown to the outside world until 2003 when its secrecy classification was downgraded. Today it's open to visitors, and guided tours showcase all the bunker's original equipment and furnishings, which are still intact, seemingly untouched by time.

The eighties Cold War theme continues when, after touring the bunker, you'll visit the canteen and sit down for a meal. Feast on traditional Russian dishes served on a wax tablecloth and drink from vintage granyonka table glasses. It's the exact type of meal Soviet officers would have enjoyed 40 years ago if they found themselves stuck in the bunker.

After lunch, you'll leave the bunker and visit the Līgatne Nature Trails. This section of Gauja National Park is a wildlife preserve that has been filled with a variety of animals that were injured, trapped, or otherwise damaged and taken here for rehabilitation. There are 3 miles (5 km) of nature trails, and hiking them you'll likely witness a variety of animals, including deer, wild boars, bears, foxes, elk, lynx, owls, and more. 

As afternoon falls, it's time to say goodbye to Latvia as you cross the border to the Estonian town of Viljandi. Located on a lake of the same name. Viljandi has a unique history, as it became part of the German Hanseatic League in the early 14th century. Today it's a charming town nestled in the woods and featuring well-preserved medieval buildings. These include the iconic St. John's Church, a 17th-century Baptist church with a tall steeple and long spire.

After settling into your hotel, you can visit Viljandi Castle Hill to tour the ruins of a 13th-century castle. In the evening, take a stroll down Tartu Street to find many different eateries, bars, and pubs.

Day 13: Transfer to Soomaa National Park

Boardwalks wind through Soomaa National Park

Today takes you deep into the natural wonders of Soomaa National Park, a 150-square-mile (390-km2) section of protected wetlands in southwestern Estonia. If you visit during the summer months, you'll use wooden paths to traverse the park as you pass through bogs, wooded meadows, and forests.

Throughout the visit, you'll learn a bit about the geological history of the region. “Soomaa” literally means “land of bogs” in Estonian. The Estonian swamplands started to develop after the last ice age about 12,000 years ago, with the largest covering over 24,000 acres (10,000 ha). There are countless hiking routes to choose from, the most popular being the nature trails to the Riisa and Kuuraniidu areas. Many opt to travel along the Ingatsi boardwalk, which leads to the highest bog in Europe. Birders take note: you can also trek to watchtowers and suspension bridges, which offer great vantage points to observe the avian varieties in the park. If you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a rare species like the golden eagle.

After the hike, you'll head to an idyllic lodge in the park, where you'll spend the night surrounded by nature.

Day 14: Bogshoeing in Soomaa National Park

Special shoes for trekking through bogs
Special "bog shoes" allow you to explore Soomaa's biodiverse bogs

Discover more of Soomaa National Park today with a visit to Kuresoo, one of the largest bogs in Europe. Here you'll try your hand at "bogshoeing" as you traverse the spongy terrain wearing special snowshoe-like footwear. Dating back to the last ice age about 12,000 years ago, the park's raised bogs act like huge natural sponges, holding vast amounts of water. Once used as hiding places during wartime, today rare species like golden eagles and wolves find shelter among the secluded bog islands.

Walking through Kuresoo is like walking on floating soil, with rare plants, mosses, and bog pools in every direction. If you're feeling adventurous, stop for a swim in one of the pristine bog pools. Estonian legends say that a dip in the waters makes you seven years younger!

Day 15: Canoe on Soomaa's Rivers, Transfer to Saaremaa Island

Paddle along the gentle rivers of Soomaa National Park

Spend a final morning exploring Sooma as you canoe along its remarkable river system. You'll paddle past typical Soomaa forests, flooded meadows, and bogs, keeping an eye out for the park's active beaver population. 

Later in the afternoon, you'll hop aboard a ferry for the ride to Saaremaa, Estonia's largest island. People flock to this retreat in summer for the weather and gorgeous coastal scenery, while in winter there's no shortage of sumptuous spas in which to pamper yourself.

Upon arrival in the island's main town of Kuressaare, you'll transfer to your hotel for check-in and have the rest of the day free.

Day 16: Explore Saaremaa Island

Saaremaa Island's Kuressaare Castle

Head out in the morning for a full-day tour that begins in Kuressaare. The first stop is the Kuressaare Episcopal Castle, a 14th-century medieval fortification. It was built by crusaders looking to convert the island, and it remained a strategic stronghold until the early 19th century. You'll learn more about this history with a visit to the castle's museum followed by a hike up the towers for unforgettable views.

Later, you'll continue south to Sõrve Peninsula. There's a famous lighthouse here that stands an impressive 170 feet (52 m). Head up the stairs to the top and you can look out over Irbe Strait all the way to mainland Lativa. At lunchtime, make your way to the north end of the island and the village of Angla, where you'll tour Angla Windmill Park. The park complex exists to preserve the area's wooden trestle windmills, which were built in the early 20th century and are now part of the Angla Heritage Culture Center.

In the late afternoon, you'll continue to the north coast and Panga Cliffs. This unique geologic formation consists of bedrock outcroppings that start on the island of Gotland, in Sweden, then pass through the Baltic Sea and surface on Estonia's west coast. Along the way, they form part of Saaremaa Island's north coast. Here you can enjoy some leisure time, sitting at the cliffs' edge as you watch the sun dip below the horizon.

Day 17: Transfer to Hiiumaa, Hike the Kõpu Peninsula

Walking trails on the island of Hiiumaa

Early this morning you'll hop over to the neighboring island of Hiiumaa, for a day of scenic walking and hiking along the Kõpu Peninsula. Along the way, you'll explore several different areas and habitats, including old forests, dunes, coastal meadows, reedbeds, and bogs. After a visit to the ancient Kõpu Lighthouse (one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, it’s been in continuous use since its completion in 1531), you'll get settled into your accommodations on the island and fall asleep to the tranquil sounds of nature and the sea.

Day 18: Transfer to Tallinn via Haapsalu

The seaside resort town of Haapsalu

Rise early this morning to catch the ferry back to the mainland. From here the drive continues to the charming coastal resort town of Haapsalu. Beyond the romantic wooden houses and a seaside promenade, the town is most famous for its iconic Haapsalu Castle. This fortress dates to the 13th century and was used as a defensive stronghold until the end of the 17th century. Today visitors can explore the castle and tour its evocative battlements and watchtowers.

Back on the road, you'll continue to the Estonian capital of Tallinn. 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. Get settled into your hotel, then spend the remainder of the day relaxing or head out to explore at your own pace.

Day 19: Tour Tallinn's Medieval Old Town

Views across Tallinn's fairytale rooftops

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.

Day 20: Depart Tallinn

Tallinn's colorful skyline

It's time to say goodbye to Estonia! After your final morning in Tallinn, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the Tallinn Airport (TLL) for your flight home. Safe travels!

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