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.

Highlights

  • Explore the beautifully-preserved medieval Old Towns in each city
  • See some of the most sacred religious sites in Lithuania
  • Go on a food tour in Riga's famous Central Market
  • Hike to historic castle ruins in Latvia's Gauja National Park
  • Wander around Tallinn's super trendy Telliskivi Creative City

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vilnius Vilnius
Day 2 Vilnius Vilnius
Day 3 Vilnius - Riga Riga
Day 4 Riga Riga
Day 5 Day Trip to Gauja National Park  Riga
Day 6 Riga - Tallinn Tallinn
Day 7 Tallinn Tallinn
Day 8 Departure   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius
St. Anne's and Bernadine Churches in Vilnius

Your adventure begins in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania. After settling into your lodgings, head out to explore this compact city. In addition to having the largest preserved medieval Old Town in eastern Europe, Vilnius has a fascinating and sometimes brutal history. It was a long-time center of Jewish life in Europe until World War II, and then came under decades-long Soviet occupation, gaining independence in 1991.

You'll find plenty of trendy bars and interesting museums as you walk around. You might want to check out the artists' commune on the other side of the river, called Užupis, where you're sure to stumble upon plenty of galleries, boutiques, and hearty street food.

Day 2: Vilnius's Old Town

Vilnius
Roam around Vilnius's Old Town

Today you'll wander around Vilnius's Old Town, which is home to over 1,200 medieval structures and 48 churches. You'll see the Vilnius Cathedral, Gediminas Tower perched high above the town on Castle Hill, the baroque Church of St. Peter and St. Paul,  and the gothic St. Anne's Church. Continue on to tour the 16th-century Vilnius University and the shrine at the Gate of Dawn. The chapel there contains an icon of the Virgin Mary, which is said to have miraculous healing powers.

In the afternoon, drive half an hour outside of the city to the Trakai Peninsula Castle in the 14th-century capital of Lithuania. This beautifully-preserved castle is set on an island in Lake Galve. Head back into the city and spend the evening at leisure.

Day 3: Vilnius - Riga

The Hill of Crosses is sacred to Catholics in Lithuania
The Hill of Crosses is sacred to Catholics in Lithuania

Wake up early this morning and head toward Riga, Latvia. Your first stop on the way will be the small rural town of Šiauliai to visit the Hill of Crosses, one of the holiest sites for Lithuanian Catholics. You'll also go on a guided tour of the magnificent Rundale Palace, the former summer residence of the Duke of Courland. Then continue traveling through the rolling hills of southern Latvia to reach Riga in the late afternoon. 

Riga is the Baltic region's largest city and features an eclectic blend of Gothic, medieval, and Art Nouveau architecture. It also has a reputation as an up-and-coming foodie destination, so take advantage of one of its many delicious restaurants for dinner. 

Plan your trip to Latvia
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 4: Riga

Riga's picturesque Old Town
Riga's picturesque Old Town

Join your local guide for an exciting walking tour of charming Riga. Start 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 and are the oldest dwellings in the city. You'll also stop at St. Peter's Church, the ornate House of the Blackheads, and the medieval Dome Cathedral.

After exploring Riga's beginnings, you'll move on to the Central District. Here you'll see Latvia's grand National Opera & Ballet Theater and 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.

Next, take the tram to the Central Market, which 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.

Day 5: Day Trip to Gauja National Park 

Gauja
The ruins of a medieval castle in Gauja National Park

After getting acquainted with Riga, head out on an excursion to Gauja National Park to discover medieval Latvia just one hour away. Here, you'll go on a scenic hike through the park. You'll see a massive cave as well as the ruins of the early 13th-century Turaida Episcopal Castle and Castle of the Knights of the Sword in Sigulda. Then take a cable car ride across the River Gauja to see the picturesque valley from above. 

Return to Riga in the late afternoon.

Hiking distance: 6 miles (10 km)

Day 6: Riga - Tallinn

Tallinn
A view of Tallinn's Old Town from the tower of St. Olaf's Church

Drive along the coastal highway from Riga to the Estonian summer resort of Parnu. Enjoy a short tour of this charming beach town before continuing through the forests to get to Estonia's capital city, Tallinn, in the afternoon.

This 1,000-year-old city has one of the best-preserved medieval walled Old Towns in Europe, and its more modern attractions offer a quirky, youthful vibe. 

Day 7: Tallinn

Tallinn
St. Catherine's Passage in the Old Town is an excellent place for souvenir shopping

This captivating city is oozing with charm. Go back in time today with a walk around the cobblestoned Old Town, where the historic houses are enveloped by towers and medieval walls. Up on Toompea Hill, you'll see Toompea Castle up on a cliff towering over the city (which today houses the Estonian Parliament), St. Mary's Cathedral, the oldest church in mainland Estonia, and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Then visit the 15th-century Town Hall Square and Europe's oldest continuously operating apothecary, which has a little museum attached. 

After all that walking, relax in Tallinn's oldest cafe and dig into a traditional Estonian meal. For dessert, head to the Kalev Marzipan Museum Room, where you can pick up sweet snacks and meet an artist who decorates marzipan figures. Later in the afternoon, continue your tour with a visit to the elegant Kadriorg Park and Kadriorg Palace, the Presidential Palace, and the Kumu Art Museum, which houses both Estonia's national gallery and contemporary art.

Day 8: Departure 

Check out the seaplane hangar at the Maritime Museum
Check out the seaplane hangar at the Maritime Museum

On your last day in Tallinn, head to the seaplane hangar at the Estonian Maritime Museum. This 100-year-old hangar was built for the Tsar's navy in 1916 and restored to display World War I-era planes, as well as boats and submarines from throughout the 20th century set amid dramatic lighting.

Then take a stroll through the Telliskivi Creative City, where you can have lunch and do some last minute souvenir shopping. This edgy, industrial complex is the city's bohemian hub and plays host to art exhibits, flea markets, vintage boutiques, and trendy cafes.

When you're ready, make your way to the airport or train station to get to your onward destination.

 

Map

Map of Highlights of the Baltic Capital Cities - 8 Days
Map of Highlights of the Baltic Capital Cities - 8 Days