Baltic Explorer - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Baltic Explorer - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 14 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Day 1 – Helsinki

Arrive in Helsinki and transfer to your hotel. Depending on when you arrive there may be some time for you to explore the city or you may wish to just relax after your journey. The tour briefing will either take place this evening or tomorrow morning at breakfast by your local Helsinki guide. Overnight at Hotel Scandic Kaisaniemi or similar.

Day 2 – Helsinki - Tallinn

This morning starting at around 08:45am we explore some of the key sights of Helsinki. We visit the Market Square and Market Hall, the Uspenski Orthodox Church, Senate Square and Cathedral, the Church in the Rock and Sibelius Park. This afternoon will be at leisure until you are transferred to the port for the ferry to Tallinn. Your Estonian guide will be accompanying you on the ferry to answer any questions you may have. On arrival in Tallinn you will be transferred to the hotel. Overnight at Hotel Bern or similar (B)

Note – We recommend today that you have your evening meal on the ferry between Helsinki and Tallinn. Your luggage will be taken care of on the ferry so you can take the journey just with your essentials and enjoy the ferry journey.

Day 3 – Tallinn

Meet the guide at 08:45am. This morning we explore the city of Tallinn. Visits include Pirita with St. Briggita’s convent ruins, Kadriorg Park and Palace and Russalka Monument. We take a guided walk of the old town and see the medieval city walls of the upper city of Toompea with Toompea Castle, Aleksander Nevsky Orthodox Church, Dome Cathedral and the lower city including the Town Hall Square, the Black Head’s House, Fat Margarita Tower and Viru Gates. The sightseeing will finish around 1pm and you then have the rest of the day to enjoy Tallinn at leisure. Overnight at Hotel Bern or similar (B)

Day 4 – Tallinn – Lahemaa National Park – Tallinn – 3 hours driving approximate

Meet the guide at 08:45am. Today we visit Lahemaa National Park and Palmse Manor. We take a walk on Viru Bog on a marked 4km boardwalk trail which passes through a forest and marsh environment typical of Lahemaa National Park. On the walk we learn about the flora and fauna of the area. We can climb a viewing tower which affords a scenic view of the landscape. We also visit the manorial estate of Palmse dating back to the 18th Century containing remarkable pieces of period furniture and clothing. Both the manor itself and the grounds are a delight. Lunch will be taken here and afterwards it will be possible to take a walk in the grounds. Finally today we visit Altja fishing village, first mentioned in the mid-15th Century and containing many reconstructed traditional buildings. Later return to Tallinn. Overnight Hotel Bern or similar (BL)

Day 5 – Tallinn – Parnu - Saulkrasti – Riga – 4 hours driving time approximate

This morning we depart early at 07:45am and transfer to Parnu, a coastal city of Estonia famous for its beautiful coastal scenery and white sand beaches. After a short stop in Parnu we continue south along the coast of the Baltic Sea towards Latvia. We visit Munchausen’s museum, located in the picturesque seaside town of Vidzeme in Dunte, 55km from Riga and take one of the short walking trails to learn about the history of the place. Continue to Saulkrasti and take a walk on the fine stretch of beach and admire the natural dunes. Continue to Riga and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at Hotel Semarah Metropole or similar (BL)

Day 6 - Riga

Meet your guide this morning at 08:45am. We start by visiting the art nouveau district and visit the fascinating museum. Later this morning visit the old town including the National Opera House, the Freedom Monument, the big and small guildhalls, the Dome Cathedral, Riga Castle, Three Brothers’, St Jacobs’s church, the renovated house of the Brotherhood of the Black Heads and St Peter’s church. The tour will finish around 1pm and then lunch and the afternoon are at your leisure for you to further explore Riga. You may wish to visit stroll in the old town or take a river trip on Daugava River for nice views of Riga city. Overnight Hotel Semarah Metropole or similar (B)

Day 7 – Riga – Gauja National Park – Riga – 3 hours driving time approximate

Meet your guide this morning at 08:45am. Our first stop today is the busting central market of Riga where fresh produce and arts and crafts are for sale in one of the most notable structures in Latvia, constructed using old German Zeppelin hangars. The structure is UNESCO listed and is a fascinating and atmospheric place to wander around. Continue inland to the picturesque green valleys of the National Park of Gauja River, also known as North Switzerland. We make a special visit to the workshop of a master Amber craftsman who will explain to us how to distinguish real amber from fake, teach us about different amber crafts and show you his unique family collection of different coloured amber stones. Visit Sigulda city and take a tour around the authentic medieval castle of Turaida, Gutman’s Cave and Sigulda Castle ruins. Later we return to Riga. Overnight Semarah Metropole Hotel or similar (BL)

Day 8 – Riga – Ragaciems - Lapme˛ciems – Jurmala – 2 hours driving time approximate

Meet your guide this morning at 08:45am. Firstly take a drive on the left bank of Daugava River to see the old wooden style houses and visit Kipsala Island. From Riga we drive a short distance to Ragaciems, a fishing village situated on the Baltic Sea gulf after the Jurmala border. You will have the opportunity to see authentic and modern fishermen houses. You may get the chance to chat with one of the local fishermen. Continue to Kaniera Lake where we take a stroll on the boardwalk and for those that have an interest in ornithology there is a bird watching tower to observe species from. For lunch we visit a traditional smokehouse and enjoy a tasting experience. Continue to Jurmala, a summer resort town with a lovely white sand beach and authentic wooden houses which are included in UNESCOs heritage list. This afternoon is at your leisure to stroll along the fine stretch of beach or relax at the hotel which has good spa facilities. Overnight at Jurmala Spa Hotel or similar (BL)

Please kindly advise us at the time of booking if you have any fish or seafood allergies for the visit to the smokehouse.

Day 9 – Jurmala – Klaipeda – 4 – 5 hours driving time approximate

Meet your guide this morning at 08:30. This morning we depart for Klaipeda. En route we stop at the Hill of Crosses where pilgrims over the years have left crosses on the hill. The number of crosses is estimated to be over 100,000 and it is a quite remarkable sight to behold. After a picnic lunch, continue to Klaipeda and on arrival transfer to the hotel. We should arrive in Klaipeda by mid-afternoon. Check in to the hotel and then later this afternoon take a city tour and visit the old town with its ‘Fachwerk’ and interesting neo-gothic buildings. If time allows we can visit the Blacksmith Museum which has a particularly interesting local story.  Overnight Old Mill Hotel or similar (BL)

Day 10 – Klaipeda – Nida Curonian Spit (UNESCO) – Klaipeda – 2 hours driving time approximate

Meet your guide today at 08:00 as we depart to explore the Curonian Spit. A short distance from the centre of Klaipeda we take the short car ferry over to the Spit. Once on this wonder of nature we will take in a number of places of interest. Firstly we will stop to admire the fabulous stretch of Baltic Sea coast and take a short stroll on the sands. Visit the ‘Hill of Witches’ where your guide will regal some of the local fairy tales of this region. Stop to observe a remarkable site where a huge colony of black cormorants has taken residence of a stretch of the pine forest. Continue to the Parnida dune with its spectacular views of the lagoon to one side and the Baltic Sea to the other across the forest. Visit the Thomas Mann Museum, a former residence of the famous German writer and winner of the Nobel Prize. His former summer residence has magnificent views over the lagoon. Continue to Nida close to the Russia border to explore the town and take a short boat tour to admire the dunes from the Curonian lagoon. Finally visit the Great Dune for stunning panoramic views over an amazing landscape. For those that wish, it is possible to take a scenic 40 minute walk from the Great Dune back to Nida where you can meet up with your transport.   Later return to Klaipeda once again taking the short car ferry journey across from the Curonian Spit. Overnight Old Mill Hotel or similar (BL)

Day 11 – Klaipeda – Palanga – Vilnius – 5 hours driving time approximate

Meet your guide at 08:45am. This morning we travel to Palanga where we will visit the Botanical Garden and tour the magnificent Amber museum which is particularly notable specimens with inclusions of fossils such as mosquitos, insects and even lizards! After a picnic lunch, continue to Vilnius and on arrival transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at Hotel City Gate or similar (BL)

Day 12 - Vilnius

Meet your guide at 08:45am. This morning we explore the city of Vilnius including a visit to Peter and Paul Church, the old town and Cathedral Square, Vilnius Cathedral, Gediminas Castle and Tower, Gediminas Statue and St. Anne’s Church. We also visit Subacius Hill where you get a panoramic view of Vilnius (note that this involves walking up a hill and up some steps to the top). Finally we visit the Dawn Gate, one of the most important symbols of Vilnius City. The tour finishes around 1pm and this afternoon is at leisure time and those who wish to do more sightseeing may like to visit the KGB museum (own expense) or continue to wander at a slow pace through the atmospheric old streets. Overnight at Hotel City Gate or similar (B)

Day 13 – Vilnius – Trakai – Vilnius – 1 hour driving approximate

Meet your guide at 08:45am. Take the short journey from Vilnius to Trakai Castle, a picture-postcard medieval castle located on an island on Lake Galve. After crossing the drawbridge and moat, take a tour of the castle which has been painstakingly restored. Explore the many halls and rooms which chart the history of the castle. After the tour, drive back to Vilnius where you will have some leisure time this afternoon to do some final exploring or search for souvenirs in the many charming shops and boutiques of the old town. Overnight at Hotel City Gate or similar (B) 

Day 14 – Vilnius Departure

Time at leisure until your transfer to the airport for your onward flight (B)

Optional Extension 1 – Kaliningrad

Day 14 - Vilnius – Kaliningrad

After breakfast you will travel with a local English speaking guide to Kaliningrad crossing the border from Lithuania. On arrival in Kaliningrad transfer to the hotel. Please note that the driving today is 4.5 hours but delays can occur at the Russia border post so we cannot be certain of our arrival time today. Overnight Hotel Tschaika or similar (B)   

Day 15 - Kaliningrad and Baltijsk

This morning take a city tour including a visit to the remains of the city walls, the tomb of Immanuel Kant, the Amber Museum, and the Luisen Church. We also visit the Oceanographic Museum founded in 1992 and situated on the Pregel River. A fishing quay in the 14th century, this location is now known as the Embankment of Peter the Great. The main museum exposition is housed on board the German-built ship «Mars», which helped thousands of Germans flee East Prussia. In the 20th century the ship took part in expeditions all over the world attracting thousands of visitors for whom the chance to meet a Soviet citizen and to see a Soviet ship was a very rare experience. A Navy submarine docked nearby is another attraction of the museum. After lunch we travel to Baltijsk, home to the Baltic Fleet and closed to visitors without special permission. Several old structures which survive from German times give this small town its charm. The Citadel was built by the Swedish king, Gustav Adolf von Schweden during the brief Swedish domination of the area. The former court building houses the Baltic Fleet Museum which we will visit. If time allows we can also visit the 32 metre lighthouse built in the 19th Century which is the symbol of the town.  Overnight in Kaliningrad at Hotel Tschaika or similar (B)

Day 16 - Curonian Split – Kaliningrad

A full day exploring the beautiful Curonian Spit, a natural area with excellent opportunities for birdwatching. Also see and walk on the second highest sand dune in Europe and listen to the phenomenon known as the ‘singing sands’. Visit the Ornithology station and the museum which tells the history of the spits formation and the stories of its inhabitants. Overnight Hotel Tschaika or similar (B)

Day 17 - Kaliningrad – Zamland peninsular: Svetlogorsk and Yantarny

Today we explore the Zamland Peninsula on the Baltic coast. First we visit Yantarny where you will see the huge amber pit where 90% of the world’s amber is produced. Also visit an amber workshop to see how this stone becomes jewellery or art. We continue to Svetlogorsk where we enjoy the town’s tree lined streets, pine woods and beaches, and visit a former Catholic church where organ concerts are held daily during summer. We also visit Brakhert Sculpture Park, the 19th century Water Tower and an art nouveau bathhouse, and take a walk along the pleasant promenade. Return to Kalingrad. Overnight Hotel Tschaika or similar (B)

Day 18 - Kaliningrad – Gdansk (Poland)

After breakfast you will be transferred across the border into Poland and the extension will end in the city of Gdansk where there are more options for flights. If you wish to end your extension in Kaliningrad then please let us know. (B)

If you wish to book extra accomodation in Gdansk then this can be arranged. Please contact us for a quote

Optional Extension 2 – St. Petersburg - Russia

Day 14 - Vilnius – St. Petersburg

At a suitable time transfer to the airport for your flight to St. Petersburg (not included in the extension price). On arrival meet your local guide and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at Oktiabrskaya Hotel or similar (B)

Day 15 - St. Petersburg

Today we take a city tour to explore St. Petersburg, including Nevsky Prospect, Kazansky Cathedral, the Church of the Bleeding Saviour, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and Peter and Paul Fortress (entrance fee included). Later we visit the world famous Winter Palace of St. Petersburg, or Hermitage Art Museum, that is proud to house a large collection of around 3 million works of art and artefacts of world culture. Overnight at Oktiabrskaya Hotel or similar (B)

Day 16 - St. Petersburg

Today travel to Pushkin to visit Catherine Palace, one of the biggest palaces in the St. Petersburg neighbourhood. Catherine Palace, the best example of Russian Baroque, was constructed in 1717 by Catherine I, Empress of Russia. The palace is breathtaking, with gorgeous decorations, interiors and the mysterious Amber Room which was destroyed during WWII. It was recreated in 2003 for the 300-year anniversary of St. Petersburg. After visiting the palace explore the Palace Park. Return to St. Petersburg and take a boat trip on the canals and Neva River. Overnight at Oktiabrskaya Hotel or similar (B)

Day 17 - St. Petersburg

After the breakfast we visit the world famous Winter Palace, also known as Peterhof. The Peterhof Museum Complex is one of the most popular museums not only in Russia, but in the world. Spending just a few hours here is enough time to feel the spirit of history, which still lives on in this magnificent place. As a former residence of the Russian monarchs, Peterhof brings together the finest achievements in national and international culture. Return to St. Petersburg where we take a Metro tour and walk along Nevsky Prospect. Overnight at Oktiabrskaya Hotel or similar (B)

Day 18 - St. Petersburg

Transfer to the airport for your departure flight. (B)