PEARLS OF THE BALTIC: from Vilnius to Tallinn, via Riga
THE TRIP OVERALL
Three countries of north-eastern Europe - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia situated on the Baltic Sea, and three capitals - Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn, four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, seven National Parks and much more in our thirteen-day adventure. Come and explore these three Pearls of the Baltic, each with a long, vibrant history and distinct regional cultures. We will be departing from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and heading north via Riga, the Latvian capital, and ending up in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. During our trip we will stop at the most interesting sights, hike in the oldest and largest national parks known for their biological diversity, see natural and historical monuments, and enjoy unforgettable and breathtaking sceneries.
Date: June 27 - July 9, 2018
* Price per double occupancy and minimum of six travellers.
Single supplement: $660
Day 1. In the morning we will explore the baroque beauty of the Baltic, Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. Vilnius is a UNESCO city of small size but great historical heritage. We will stroll through its picturesque streets and cobbled alleys, and enjoy majestic hilltop views. In the afternoon we will visit an amazing red-brick Trakai, a fairytale castle within striking distance of the capital. We will relish these experiences over a welcome dinner in one of the local restaurants, providing a nice ending of Day 1, and a warm opening of our adventure.
Day 2. This morning we will transfer to Aukštaitija National Park for our first hike in a natural paradise of deep, whispering forests and more than 126 blue lakes. In the afternoon we will transfer to Anyksciai where we will spend a night in a bungalow with a fireplace, and enjoy an evening barbecue.
Day 3. While transferring from the east to the west of the country, we will stop for an unforgettable walk at one of the Lithuania’s most inspiring sights - the legendary Hill of Crosses, a magical place where thousands of crosses were placed for more than 200 years. After lunch we will continue our journey to Klaipeda, Lithuania’s third largest city, situated on the west coast of the country near the Curonian Spit. We will stay in a hotel in the Old Town.
Day 4. Short transfer to Nida, the largest settlement on the Curonian Spit. This former fishing village, where remnants of pretty wooden cottages and fishing vessels still can be seen, was an inspiration for many famous artists and philosophers such as Thomas Mann and J. P. Sartre. This area is known particularly for the natural beauty of its white sandy beaches, its most impressive 52 metre high Parnidis Dune, and the hazy pine forests of the Curonian Spit National Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will take a hike here and have a unique opportunity to explore this wonderful countryside. After lunch we will drive back to Klaipeda where you spend an afternoon on your own with enough time to walk around the city. We will stay at the same hotel for the night.
Day 5. Morning transfer to Plateliai, the gate to the magical and mysterious landscape of forests and lakes of the Zemaitija National Park for our hike. After lunch we will continue moving north-east, crossing the border into Latvia and arriving to its capital, the city of Riga, where we stay for three nights.
Day 6. This day we slow down a bit as we are in the middle of our adventure. In the morning we will have a guided tour in the UNESCO city Riga, which is the largest of all three Baltic capitals. After lunch you will spend the afternoon on your own, having enough time to explore more of the city, stroll its streets, or just relax and enjoy a nice cup of coffee in one of the cafes in the Town Hall square.
Day 7. For our hike on this day, we will have a short transfer west from Riga to Kemeru National Park, one of Latvia’s most impressive natural treasures, with hundreds of swamps, raised bogs and lakes. The area of the current national park was created more than 8,000 years ago. For lunch we will go to the nearby city of Jurmala, sometimes referred to as the Baltic’s version of the French Riviera. A perfect location in the Gulf of Riga, with stunning white-sand beaches, gorgeous sea dunes and Prussian-style villas make this area a must-see destination.
Day 8. Heading north-east, after an eighty-minute transfer, we will arrive at the oldest and largest national park in Latvia, the Gauja National Park. This stunning place offers picturesque views, natural springs, colorful sandstone outcrops, caves, cliffs, as well as natural and historical monuments and great biological diversity. Another one of our amazing hikes will take place here. After lunch we will transfer further north, arriving to the “summer capital” of Estonia, Parnu.
Day 9. On this day we will travel to the western coast of Estonia to a little town, Virtsu. From here we will transfer via ferry to Muhu and Saaremaa Islands. Saaremaa is the largest Estonian island widely covered not only in spruce, pine and juniper forests, but also windmills, lighthouses and tiny villages. On our way to Kuressaare, we will stop in Liiva to visit St Catherine’s Church from 1267 and in Koguva, the best preserved 19th century village in Estonia, where all the buildings are architectural landmarks. We will stay for two nights in Kuressaare. This city is especially popular for its leafy streets, a magnificent 13th century castle and healthy mud spas.
Day 10. Situated on the very west coast of the Saaremaa Island lies the Vilsandi National Park, the oldest natural protected area in the Baltics. This marine and coastal landscape is home for numerous bird species, abundant vegetation, and for the grey seal. It is only about a 30 min drive from Kuressaare. We will spend most of the day hiking here before we return to Kuressaare, where you will have the rest of the afternoon on your own.
Day 11. Leaving Kuressaare behind we will continue to drive north-east to our final destination, the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. An afternoon guided tour will introduce you to this charming European Capital of Culture, characterized by its Old Town church spires, baroque palaces, wooden houses alongside glass skyscrapers and shiny shopping malls.
Day 12. Morning transfer to Lahemaa National Park for our last hike. Estonia’s largest national park offers several peninsulas and bays, pine forests, rivers and lakes, stone fields and erratic boulders, brought from Scandinavia by glaciers. For the afternoon we will return to Tallinn to have some rest before we say goodbye at a farewell dinner in one of the local restaurants.
Day 13. Departure