Journey Through The Baltic States8 days & 7 nights, Escorted Discovery Group
Escorted Discovery Group
Tallinn, Riga & Vilnius
Since regaining independence in 1991 and joining the EU in 2004, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are flourishing. The countries' rich and colorful histories can be best appreciated in their capital cities, which all possess beautiful architecture, while the surrounding countryside features lakes, forests and wetlands, dotted with manor houses, medieval castles and splendid rococo churches.
Day 1Arrive Tallinn
On arrival, you will be met and taken to your hotel.Radisson Blu Sky Hotel - 3 Nights
Take a walking tour of Tallinn's medieval old town (please wear comfortable walking shoes for this tour). Raekoja Plats is the main town square and focal point of the city, and is surrounded by an impressive collection of pastel-colored medieval houses and the 15th-century gothic town hall. You will visit Toompea, site of Tallinn's fort and castle where Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Estonia's parliament, can be found. Also visit the imposing St. Nicholas Church, the House of the Blackheads, Oleviste Church, Niguliste Church, the medieval town hall and the atmospheric streets and alleyways.
Afternoon at leisure or take an optional excursion.Radisson Blu Sky Hotel (B)
Optional Excursion: Afternoon visit to the Estonian Open Air Museum (payable locally).
This visit takes you a few miles outside the center of Tallinn to the Estonian Open Air Museum, located in Rocca al Mare. 11 farm complexes with 72 buildings are open to visitors, in addition to single buildings that have played an important role in Estonian village life such as an inn, a school, a chapel, a fire shed and windmills. There are approximately 60,000 objects in the museum's collections and over 100,000 people visit the museum every year.
Day at leisure.Radisson Blu Sky Hotel (B)
We suggest that you purchase a Tallinn Card, offering free entry to over 40 of Tallinn's best attractions, museums and tours, unlimited free use of public transport and over 30 bonus and discount offers. You can purchase your card online before your trip and have it sent to your hotel or the Tourist Information center for collection.
For your day at leisure we recommend a visit to either Kadriorg Palace (A. Weizenbergi 37), the Lennusadam seaplane harbour (Vesilennuki 6) or the Kumu art museum (Weizenbergi 34 / Valge 1).
A few miles outside the center of Tallinn lies Kadriorg Palace and park. This lavishly decorated baroque palace was designed and built by Peter the Great. After conquering Estonia, he built the palace in 1711 as a gift to his mistress Marta Skavronskaya, a serving girl of Lithuanian origin. The parkland is planted to Peter's own specifications and was always intended to be open to the public. As such, it has always been an essential fixture in Tallinn's social life.
Housed in a converted seaplane hangar, the Lennusadam seaplane harbor is part of the Estonian Maritime Museum. The museum presents the history of the old maritime trade of Estonia and features attractions spread over three levels: in the air, on the sea and below the sea. The principal attraction is a Lembit submarine, a second world war Kalev-class submarine.
The Kumu art museum is one of the largest art museums in northern Europe and displays an impressive collection of art over four floors. The first floor houses temporary exhibitions; the second floor is dedicated to classics of Estonian art, from the 18th century until the end of the second world war; the third floor houses an excellent collection of Estonian art from 1945 to 1991; and the fourth floor displays artwork after 1991.
Day 4To Riga, Latvia
Drive from Tallinn to Riga via Sigulda, Turaida and Parnu, a total journey of approximately 423 miles and taking up to 6 hours, excluding stops.Astor Riga Hotel - 2 Nights (B)
The first leg of the journey from Tallinn to Sigulda is a distance of 187 miles and a journey time of about 4 hours.
Visit Sigulda, Turaida and Parnu. Sigulda is located on the south bank of the River Gauja and is close to some of the most beautiful stretches of the Gauja valley. North of the town lie the ruins of Sigulda castle, a 13th-century Livonian Order stronghold built from rough-hewn blocks of honey-colored stone. Nearby Turaida castle was the bishop of Riga's stronghold from 1214 onwards. It was attacked in the 18th century and then re-built in the 1960s. Parnu is Estonia's 'summer capital' and has a 4-mile beach, avenues lined with lime trees and an appealing mixture of traditional wooden houses and modern villas.
Continue from Parnu to Riga, a total distance of 120 miles and a journey time of about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
This half-day tour of Riga takes in the sights of the Old Town, which is a compact web of narrow cobbled streets, medieval merchants' houses and brick-built churches. These include Cathedral Square; Riga's red brick Romanesque cathedral, the largest in the Baltics; Riga Castle, which dates from the 13th century and is now home to Latvia's president and three museums; the Three Brothers, which are three adjacent houses that form the oldest complex of houses in Riga; St. Peter's Church; and the House of the Blackheads, the former meeting place of Riga's guild of unmarried merchants who took the name of "The Blackheads".Astor Riga Hotel (B)
Day 6Vilnius, Lithuania
Drive from Riga to Vilnius via Rundale Palace and the Hill of Crosses.Novotel Vilnius Centre - 2 Nights (B)
This morning, leave Riga to travel to Vilnius via Rundale Palace and the Hill of Crosses. The distance between Riga and Vilnius is 234 miles and takes approximately 7 hours.
The first leg of the journey from Riga to Rundale is a total distance of 49 miles, and a journey time of 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Covering an area of 72 hectares and designed by the renowned architect Francesco Rastrelli, who also designed Catherine the Great's Summer Palace at Pushkin, Rundale Palace is considered to be the most important historical garden in the Baltics.
The landscaped gardens cover 10 hectares and feature various ornate pavilions, including a memorial in honor of the victims of the Franco-Russian war of 1812 and the first world war.
Continue to the Hill of Crosses, a total distance of 47 miles and a journey time of 1 hour.
Enjoy an excursion to Hill of Crosses. The Hill of Crosses is a unique and strange sight: a mound that was associated with ancestor worship in the pre-Christian era has been covered with crosses of remembrance. Today, thousands of crosses create a sight that reflects the Lithuanian character, combining profound Catholic piety with an appreciation for simple forms of folk art.
Continue from the Hill of Crosses to Vilnius, a total distance of 137 miles and a journey time of 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Take a half-day city tour of Vilnius. See Cathedral Square, where the cathedral itself is located, described as a cross between a Greek temple and Polish civic theater. The tour will also include St. Casmir's Church, dating from the early 17th century, St. Anne's Church, St. Peter & Paul's Church, and Gedimas Tower, the only remnant of Vilnius's castle which overlooks the city from the brow of a hill. A visit will then be made to the Museum of Genocide Victims. Housed in the old KGB headquarters in Vilnius, across from Lukiskes Square, the museum is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting documents relating to the repression of Lithuanians during occupation by the Nazis and the Soviet Union. The museum also tells the story of the Lithuanian resistance, the victims of the arrests and deportations, and the executions that took place during this period. The most important parts of the exhibition include part of the KGB inner prison, preserved as it was when it was abandoned by the Soviet Union in 1991, and the former KGB execution cell.
Afternoon at leisure or take an optional excursion.Novotel Vilnius Centre (B)
Optional excursion: Afternoon visit to Trakai Castle (payable locally).
This afternoon tour visits Trakai, 15 miles west of Vilnius which once rivalled Vilnius as a key center of political and military power. The town's imposing island castle, built during the reign of Vytautas the Great, is Lithuania's best known monument. The castle sits on an island in the center of Lake Galve, a romantic cluster of red brick watch towers and round turrets, grouped around a central tall keep. The castle was a ruin until 1962 when the Lithuanian government decide to restore and rebuild the castle as it would have stood in medieval days.
Day 8Depart Vilnius
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport.(B)