Visit three of the Baltic states at your own pace with this self-drive itinerary. You'll make your way through both national parks and historic cities and towns as you explore Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, taking in the old town districts, Gothic cathedrals, natural scenery, and more.

Highlights

  • Stroll through medieval old towns in Vilnius and Tallinn
  • Sun on the dunes of the Curonian Spit and its nature reserve
  • Stop for the dramatic Hill of Crosses or scenic spa towns
  • Get a glimpse of village life in open-air ethnographic museums

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vilnius Vilnius
Day 2 Explore Vilnius & Trakai Vilnius
Day 3 Vilnius to Kaunas Kaunas
Day 4 Kaunas to Silute-Klaipeda Klaipeda
Day 5 Curonian Spit Klaipeda
Day 6 Klaipeda to Riga Riga
Day 7 Explore Riga Riga
Day 8 Riga to Tallinn Tallinn
Day 9 Tallinn Old Town Tallinn
Day 10 Depart Tallinn  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vilnius

Cathedral Square
Cathedral Square

Welcome to the Baltic region! Your journey starts in Lithuania, in its capital city of Vilnius. Your first evening is free for you to rest up or explore the city.

Day 2: Explore Vilnius & Trakai

Trakai castle
Trakai Castle

Start off exploring Vilnius, which has been the capital city for more than 600 years. Begin in the Cathedral Square, one of the city's main landmarks and home to a cathedral built in the Classicism style, complete with belfry. Visit the catacombs, where some of the greatest Lithuanian dukes are interred, then walk up the hill of Gediminas Castle for a panoramic view over the city. Other highlights include St. Peter and Paul's Church, a classic example of the city's baroque architecture; St. Anne's Gothic Chuch and Bernadine monastery; the Gates of Dawn, decorated with an image of the Virgin Mary; the Town Hall; and Vilnius University, featuring 13 picturesque courtyards.

As you walk the ancient narrow streets of the city's historic district, you'll find a wide variety of museums as well. Stop into the Amber Gallery or KGB Museum.

In the afternoon, you'll drive out to Trakai, the former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The 14th-century castle sits on a small island in Lake Galve and served as a defensive structure and ducal residence for centuries. Make sure you sample the national dish of the Karaite ethnic group, kibinai—stuffed meat and onion pastries—at one of the lakeside taverns.

Day 3: Vilnius to Kaunas

Kaunas Panoramic view
Kaunas from above
Drive towards Kaunas today, the se­cond lar­gest ci­ty of Lit­hu­a­nia and former temporary ca­pi­tal bet­we­en two World Wars. Stop at Birstonas resort on your way, which is famous for its mineral springs and jazz festival.
 
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Once you've arrived in Kaunas, walk around the old town and visit the 13th-century Kau­nas cast­le, the Town Hall of Kau­nas known lo­cal­ly as the “Whi­te Swan,” 14th-cen­tu­ry Church of Vy­tau­tas, or Per­kū­nas Hou­se. Continue with a stroll along the Laisves Aleja pedestrian avenue (the Avenue of Liberty), the main shopping and dining street of Kaunas. The Lithuanian Museum of War, the Art Museum of M.K. Ciurlionis, and the Museum of Devils are all located in Kaunas, or take a ride up the two still-operating retro-style funiculars to the Aleksotas or Zaliakalnis hills.

Day 4: Kaunas to Silute-Klaipeda

Sculpture of “Annchen von Tharau”
Sculpture of “Annchen von Tharau”

You have two roads to choose from to make your way from Kaunas to Klaipeda. If you take the highway, you should reach the port city within 2-2.5 hours. 

If you prefer a more leisurely pace, opt for a narrow scenic road along the valleys and bends of the Nemunas river, where you'll find the ancient castles of Raudondvaris, Raudone, and Velione. Pay a visit to the Nemunas River Delta Regional Park, with an ornithological station at Ventė Horn, 19th-century lighthouse, and the oldest water-lifting station in Lithuania.

Once you arrive in Klaipeda, take a tour of the castle museum or a walk around the old town. Look for Drama Theatre Square and its famous sculpture of “Annchen von Tharau," then continue your walk to experience the traditional medieval urban layout of the city.

Day 5: Curonian Spit

Curonian Beach
Curonian Beach

Take a day trip out to Neringa National Park on the Curonian Spit, easily reached by ferry from Klaipeda. The Curonian Spit separates the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon and is referred to as the Lithuanian Sahara due to its many tall sand dunes. Drive along the sandy peninsula through this nature reserve full of dunes, pine forests, and golden beaches.

In addition to the natural scenery, there are many other attractions on the spit. Check out the Hill of Witches, home to hundreds of fanciful wooden sculptures along a forest path, famous German writer Thomas Mann's house, or the Amber Gallery. Finish with a climb up the Parnidzio dune and take in the panoramic views before you return to Klaipeda.

Day 6: Klaipeda to Riga

Rundale Palace
Rundale Palace

Spend your day driving to Riga, the capital of Latvia. On the way, you can stop at the Hill of Crosses, which lives up to its name with thousands of crosses atop two small hills. Or stop in Rundale to visit the Rundale Palace, a late baroque Latvian palace built in the 18th century by famous Italian architect F. B. Rastrelli.

Day 7: Explore Riga

Riga Panoramic view
Panoramic city view

Take a combined walking-driving tour of Riga's most significant sights. You'll drive along the central boulevards of the city, taking in the views of the City Canal Parks, Bastion Hill, Latvian National Theatre, Fine Arts Museum, and many more. Take in the Art Nouveau-style buildings from the early 20th century, Freedom Monument, and the University of Latvia.

During the walking section of the tour, you'll head through the ancient Hanseatic section of the city, along with the Old Town, Dome Cathedral, old Guild Houses, and Swedish Gate. Stop at St. Jacob's Church and the Church of St. Peter, as well as the Old Riga Castle, before you end your tour in the city's market halls.

Day 8: Riga to Tallinn

Parnu Beach
Parnu Beach

Before you leave Riga, pay a visit to the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum on the outskirts of the city. The outdoor museum was founded in 1924 and offers a stroll through a pine forest to scope out 90 traditional buildings from Latvian history, including farmhouses, windmills, fishermen’s huts, and wooden churches.

Get on the road toward Tallinn, but don't miss a detour to Parnu, one of the largest seaside resorts in Estonia. The town has been known for its sandy beaches since the first health spas opened there in the 1830s. You can also stop at the Keila waterfall, with a nearly 10-foot (3 m) glauconitic layer at its foot distinguishing it from its neighbors within the park, also home to the neo-Gothic Keila manor house.

Day 9: Tallinn Old Town

Tallinn Old Town
Tallinn Old Town

Find your inner medievalist with a tour of Tallinn's Old Town. You'll visit various examples of regional Gothic architecture, including the fortifications of Toompea Castle, the Dome Church, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky, and St. Catherine's Passage, where artwork from the St. Catherine's guild is on display.

Day 10: Depart Tallinn

Rocca Al Mare ethnographical open-air museum
Rocca Al Mare museum

It's time to say goodbye to the Baltic, but before you go, sneak in a visit to the Rocca Al Mare ethnographical open-air museum.  The free museum has a wide variety of rural architecture from across Estonia on display, including farmhouses, a water mill, a chapel, and a sauna, set up in historic village settings to paint a picture of Estonian peasant life.

Map

Map of Self-Guided Baltic States Highlights - 10 Days
Map of Self-Guided Baltic States Highlights - 10 Days