17-DAY SELF-DRIVE TOUR IN BALTICS
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN TALLINN
Arrival in Tallinn. Optional private transfer from the airport to the hotel. Check in to the hotel.
DAY 2: DISCOVER TALLINN
Dedicate this day to discovering Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Tallinn offers a thrilling blend of romantic medieval streets, breathtaking modern architecture, an alternative vibe, and a leisurely seaside atmosphere. Tallinn is most famous for its stunningly photogenic medieval Old Town, which is considered to be one of the best-preserved Hanseatic town centers in the world. Stroll around the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old Town and let it cast a spell on you: noble merchants’ houses, gothic churches, curvy paths, medieval fortification walls, red tile roofs, and lovely cafes in secret yards will charm you. Visit the most famous sights of the Old Town, such as Toompea Castle, Tallinn Town Hall, Great Guild, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Masters’ Courtyard, St. Catherine’s Passage, as well as Patkuli viewing platform or Kohtuotsa viewing platform from where you can see a great panorama of the Old Town.
To experience the colorful diversity of Tallinn, visit other districts too. Telliskivi Creative City, located in a former industrial complex, offers a vibrant alternative culture scene. It has lively bars and cafes, cozy designer stores, amazing street art, and art galleries. Noblessner is known for its fancy-lifestyle vibe. It offers to enjoy a great meal with a view of yachts swaying on the waves in the harbor, as well as to explore some of the most exciting museums in Tallinn. Kadriorg invites you to go on a peaceful walk along elegant summer mansions and wooden villas and visit Kadriorg Palace. Kalamaja, once the main fishing port of Tallinn, today has turned into a hipster area featuring colorful wooden architecture and many alternative bars.
DAY 3: TALLINN – LAHEMAA NATIONAL PARK
In the morning, drive to Lahemaa National Park, the oldest and largest national park in Estonia that offers a great diversity of landscape: vast wetlands, deep forests, picturesque fishermen’s villages, as well as sandy and rocky beaches. To feel the real spirit of Lahemaa National Park, choose one of the hiking trails, for example, Viru Bog Study Trail or Kasmu Peninsula Hiking Trail.
One of the most unique things to do in Lahemaa National Park is visiting old fishermen’s villages that are scattered along the coastline of the Baltic Sea. Stop by Kasmu “captains’’ village or Altja fishing village and discover the life of local fishermen, explore the rural architecture and fishing net sheds, as well as stroll along the beach. If you want a more modern maritime vibe, stop by Vergi Harbor or Vosu Port. Military heritage lovers will appreciate visiting Hara Harbour and the former submarine base where you can carefully walk around and explore the ruins of the base.
Lahemaa National Park is also known for several beautiful manors. The most popular of them is Palmse Manor and Open-Air Museum, an impressive baroque mansion that provides a great overview of the Estonian manor lifestyle and offers wonderful parks, gardens, and historical buildings. Another beautiful manor is located just a few kilometers away – Sagadi Manor Complex.
Overnight: Sagadi or Vihula
DAY 5: DISCOVER TARTU
Keep discovering Tartu. Dedicate this day to exploring museums and visiting wooden architecture and alternative districts. Tartu is proud to have one of the greatest museums in the country – the Estonian National Museum. It offers to explore the history of Estonia in a very modern and appealing way, as well as invites to visit an amazing exposition dedicated to different people speaking Finno-Ugric languages – Echo of the Urals. The Estonian National Museum is a must-visit place not only due to its interactive and exciting expositions but also for its architecture and design – the museum is built on an old runway perfectly blending with the surroundings. You can easily spend half a day in this museum. If you feel like visiting some other museums, consider going to the Science Centre AHHAA, Printing and Paper Art Center TYPA, Tartu Art Museum, or Tartu Toy Museum.
Later go to enjoy lovely wooden architecture in Karlova, a district known for its bohemian atmosphere with alternative bars and cafes hiding in the most unexpected places, secret yards, and a lot of greenery all around. Karlova is a very popular place among locals, so if you would like to meet some artistic Estonians, you should head straight to Karlova and go to the very heart of the district – Barlova Bar.
The most famous place for experiencing vibrant alternative culture is Aparaaditehas Creative City built in an old factory complex. Open-air cinema nights, music concerts, crafts markets and flea markets, designer stores, restaurants, bars, and cafes – you can find this all at the Aparaaditehas. Enjoy a fun and exciting evening.
DAY 6: TARTU – CESIS
Say goodbye to Estonia and drive to Latvia. This day brings you to Gauja National Park, the largest and oldest national park in Latvia that encompasses not only vast areas of nature but also cultural heritage and several towns. Start exploring Gauja National Park by going to Cesis, a medieval gemstone of Latvia, and spend the whole day there. Cesis is one of the oldest towns in Latvia, and it features a small, but very charming Old Town, perfect for going on a romantic walk or sitting at a cafe and enjoying a cup of coffee and some delicious pastries while observing the town life.
After visiting the Old Town, head to Cesis Medieval Castle, the best preserved medieval castle in Latvia that invites you to explore medieval history by walking around the castle ruins in candlelight. To dive even deeper into the history, visit Cesis New Castle too. If not for the history, then at least for the wonderful panorama from its tower. Nearby, you can visit Cesis Exhibition Hall, located in the former stables of the manor and showcasing various art exhibitions. To get to know more about local herbal practices and the Latvian bond with nature, visit the Nordic Nature Medicine Museum.
Cesis is surrounded by picturesque landscapes and many nature wonders: the Gauja River valley, sandstone outcrops, and several hiking trails. One of the most impressive sandstone outcrops located near Cesis is Eagle Cliffs. Smaller in size but equally beautiful is Red Cliffs. Hiking enthusiasts can choose one of the hiking trails, for example, Cirulisi Nature Trail, Forest Trail, Camino Latvia, or other, and enjoy a wonderful afternoon in nature.
DAY 7: CESIS – LIGATNE – SIGULDA
Keep exploring Gauja National Park by driving to the nearby historical paper mill village Ligatne which allows you to experience the 19th-century vibe. Once, the Ligatne paper mill produced such high-quality paper that it was used for the most important documents of the Russian Empire. Today, Ligatne is a peaceful and calm village, perfect for nature and history lovers. Walk around the historical village, explore its sandstone caves, used as cellars for storing different food products, or stop by the local winery to buy some fruit wine. If you are looking for a wild hiking adventure, follow the Ligatne River until it flows into the Gauja River.
Later drive to Sigulda, one of the most popular places in Gauja National Park where you can enjoy truly scenic views of the Gauja River valley and countless hiking trails that go up and down along the river. To see the most beautiful landscapes of Sigulda, make sure to visit Emperor’s View and Paradise Hill, or enjoy a fun ride in the cable car that brings you across the river valley. Choose one of the hiking trails or even combine several of them, so you can experience the best of what Gauja National Park offers.
If you are interested in medieval architecture and history, pay a visit to Sigulda Medieval Castle or Turaida Museum Reserve. If you prefer 19th and 20th-century history, national romanticism interiors, and art exhibitions, leave some time for exploring Sigulda New Castle. Don’t forget to climb the tower as it offers a magnificent view of the Gauja River valley and both of the other castles.
DAY 8: SIGULDA – RIGA
In the morning, drive to the capital of Latvia – Riga. On your way, stop at the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia, one of the oldest and largest open-air museums in Europe, which is located in a very picturesque pine forest next to Lake Jugla. Walk around the huge territory of the museum and discover traditional homesteads of Latvian farmers, fishermen, and craftsmen. Take a look at 19th-century interiors, working tools, and household items that tell a story of how life was in the past.
Later, head to Riga city center. Founded in 1201 by German bishop Albert, Riga is the largest of the three Baltic capitals and offers a great combination of various architectural styles, cultural events, and exciting museums. Go for a leisurely walk and discover the wonderful jewels of Riga Old Town: House of the Blackheads, City Hall Square, Riga Cathedral, St. Pether’s Church, Riga Castle, the oldest dwellings in the city – Three Brothers, and others. Let your intuition guide you through the magical cobblestone streets of the Old Town.
When you feel hungry, dive into the rich and colorful aisles of the Riga Central Market, one of the largest covered markets in Europe. Riga Central Market was opened in 1930, and it consists of five former Zeppelin airship hangars. Riga Central Market is a perfect place for tasting local products, such as smoked meat and fish, pickled vegetables, rye bread, Latvian craft beer, various dairy products, and seasonal treats. Right next to the market, you can find the Latvian Academy of Sciences which offers to see the best panorama of Riga from its observation platform.
DAY 9: DISCOVER RIGA
Spend the whole day in the capital of Latvia. Riga is famous for its sophisticated Art Nouveau architecture – about 40% of the city center consists of Art Nouveau buildings, more than in any other city in the world. Walk around the city center and explore the most famous Art Nouveau buildings on Alberta Street and Elizabetes Street, as well as visit the Riga Art Nouveau Center. This lovely museum creates an atmosphere of the era and educates about Art Nouveau.
Later, visit the Latvian National Museum of Art. The impressive 20th-century building is home to the richest collection of national art in Latvia showcasing the development of local art from the middle of the 18th century until the present day. As Riga was once known as the little Paris, the museum exhibits such high-quality art that you will feel like visiting one of the art museums in Paris. Don’t miss out on the panoramic view from the two roof terraces!
Riga is also proud to have wonderful wooden architecture. Cross the Daugava River to find the best wooden architecture examples in Kalnciema Quarter, Agenskalns, or Kipsala. These lovely wooden architecture districts are great places for leisurely walks and looking for photogenic spots.
To see a bit of an alternative scene, head to Tallina Street Quarter which is full of colorful street art, many cafes and bars, and often hosts concerts and various events. Another hotspot of alternative culture is K.K. fon Stricka Villa Quarter.
DAY 10: RIGA – JURMALA – KEMERI NATIONAL PARK – KULDIGA
In the morning, drive to Jurmala, a popular seaside resort that is famous for its wonderful wooden architecture from the 20th century and fancy lifestyle. Go for a walk along the beach or follow one of many architectural routes. When you start to feel hungry, go to Joma Street, a very lively pedestrian street full of restaurants, bars, and cafes. To discover the development of Jurmala as a seaside resort and learn about bathing traditions throughout history, visit the Jurmala City Museum. Art lovers are warmly welcomed at Art Station Dubulti, the only contemporary art exhibition space in Europe that is located in a functioning railway station. Aspazija’s House offers time traveling to the 1930s and peeking inside the life of one of the most influential female figures in the history of Latvia – poetess Aspazija.
Later drive to Kemeri National Park. Make a short stop at Kemeri village, a former sulfur water and mud resort. Explore the center of the village: Kemeri water tower, sulfur water spring Kirzacina, Love Island, and Kemeri Hotel. Afterward, head to the Great Kemeri Bog, a must-visit sight in Kemeri National Park. The bog is a magical place with an inexplicable beauty at any time of the year. Follow the boardwalk and enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the bog – vast landscapes, tiny pine trees, mysterious mist, dark lakes, and the dizzying smell of marsh Labrador tea.
In the evening arrive in Kuldiga.
DAY 11: DISCOVER KULDIGA
Spend the whole day in Kuldiga, one of the most romantic and charming towns in Latvia which is often compared to Venice. Kuldiga is a very popular weekend getaway destination thanks to its lovely blend of cobblestone streets, historical 16th to 18th-century architecture, small canal meandering through the town, and the widest waterfall in Europe – Ventas Rumba. Discover Kuldiga at a slow pace – wander around the Old Town, enjoy some good food and drinks, and look inside art galleries, designer stores, and museums.
Next to the Old Brick Bridge, you can find a lovely exhibition space Kuldiga Artists’ Residence which offers contemporary art exhibitions. The art gallery is located in the same building with a cozy cafe with a view of the Ventas Rumba, allowing you to enjoy art first, and then – some delicious drinks with a fantastic panorama. To feel the 20th-century atmosphere, see how wealthy families used to live a century ago, and learn more about the history of Kuldiga, head to the Kuldiga District Museum. If you are a big fan of cycling, go to the retro bicycle museum Ciskdrill, listen to the stories of the owner, and explore the world of bicycles.
DAY 12: KULDIGA – KLAIPEDA – CURONIAN SPIT
Say goodbye to Latvia and drive to Lithuania. Start your day by heading to Klaipeda, a lively and colorful port town full of fishing boats, yachts, and ships. Klaipeda has a very distinctive architectural style strongly influenced by Germans, and that makes Klaipeda very different from any other Lithuanian town. Go for a walk around Klaipeda Old Town and fall in love with cozy architecture, cobblestone streets, and countless sculptures that hide in the most unexpected places: on the rooftops, on the street corners, and on the walls. Later enjoy the promenade along the Dane River. It is a lovely place for leisurely walks that offers a romantic port-town atmosphere with sailing boats in the river, countless cafes and restaurants, and old warehouses standing on the shores. If you feel like exploring the history of the town, visit the Klaipeda Castle Museum.
Later take a ferry that will bring you to the Curonian Spit, a long and narrow sandspit stretching for almost a hundred kilometres between the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea. Stop by Juodkrante and go for a walk along the promenade, as well as explore beautiful wooden villas, hiding in this lovely village. If you are interested in wooden sculptures and Lithuanian mythology, visit the Hill of Witches, one of the most popular tourist attractions on the Curonian Spit.
On your way to Nida, stop by the spooky Grey Heron and Cormorant Colony. In the evening, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Nida.
DAY 13: DISCOVER CURONIAN SPIT
The Curonian Spit offers a unique and diverse natural and cultural landscape: magnificent sand dunes, peaceful fishermen’s villages with lovely wooden architecture, vast pine forests, and endless beaches. Enjoy a slow morning in Nida: walk around and explore the colorful architecture and weather vanes traditional to the Curonian Lagoon, enjoy the promenade, peek inside the Fishermen’s Ethnographic Homestead, discover the surprising world of ambers at Mizgiris Amber Museum, and take a look at the Curonian Spit from the heights of Nida Lighthouse. If you are interested in literature, pay a visit to the summer house of the world-famous writer Thomas Mann. When you feel hungry, look for some smoked fish and enjoy the local flavor.
Undoubtedly, one of the most spectacular places on the Curonian Spit is Parnidis Dune. Go to the observation deck right next to the Nida Sundial to enjoy the best panorama of the dune. Later, follow a small footpath and explore the beauty of Parnidis Dune by walking on it.
Another wonderful place for discovering the magical charm of dunes is Naglia Nature Reserve and its dead dunes that once buried several villages under sand. As this is a strictly protected area, you should follow the Nagliai Cognitive Trail to visit the dead dunes and feel like in a real desert.
DAY 14: NIDA – KAUNAS
Take a ferry back to the mainland and drive to Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania known for its Interwar architecture, mostly Art Deco, amazing pieces of street art, as well as the only invisible and inaccessible square in the world that was inspired by the Fluxus art movement – George Maciunas Square. To see the greatest examples of Art Deco and other Interwar architecture, it is best to follow one of the walking routes. An exciting walking route is also created for street art lovers, but one of the must-see places is the Yard Gallery.
Later, stroll around the Kaunas Old Town. Walk along Vilniaus Street, a lively pedestrian avenue full of cozy shops and lovely stores, and visit the Town Hall Square and House of Perkunas, as well as other sights in the Old Town. Afterward, go to the Kaunas Castle built right at the confluence of the Nemunas River and the Neris River. It is one of the first stone castles in Lithuania, but today it serves as a museum telling the history of Kaunas and even offering to meet the ghost of the castle.
If you are an art lover, spend some time at M.K.Ciurlionis National Museum of Art, one of the oldest and largest art museums in Lithuania that allows you to see the development of Lithuanian art throughout the centuries. The museum is especially proud of a great artwork collection of M.K.Ciurlionis, the most famous Lithuanian artist. You can also choose some of the other popular museums: Kaunas City Museum Folk Music Branch, Kaunas Picture Gallery, or Kaunas Photography Gallery. To get the best panorama of the city, go to the Aleksotas Hill either on foot or by the Aleksotas Funicular.
DAY 15: KAUNAS – KERNAVE – TRAKAI – VILNIUS
In the morning, drive to Kernave where the first capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania once stood. Today, the Kernave Archaeological Site offers time travel through history starting from the late Paleolithic Period to the Middle Ages. In Kernave, you can see the remains of five picturesque hillforts, a reconstructed 13th – 14th-century settlement, as well as interactive expositions at the Kernave Archaeological Site Museum.
Later, drive to Trakai and visit Trakai Island Castle, one of the main tourist attractions in the country and the symbol of Lithuanian statehood. Being built on an island on Lake Galve, one of the deepest lakes in Lithuania, the red brick medieval castle looks just like out of a fairytale. You can easily reach the castle by crossing a bridge, however, renting a boat and sailing around the castle is a very nice activity too. Trakai Island Castle used to be a residence of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, and you can learn more about them by visiting the Trakai History Museum located in the castle. Historically, Trakai has been a very diverse town where many ethnic and religious groups have been coexisting for centuries. One of the most distinctive communities is the Karaite people, a Turkic ethnic group. Go for a walk along Karaimu Street and enjoy Karaite wooden architecture.
In the evening arrive in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.
DAY 16: DISCOVER VILNIUS
Vilnius is a lively and vibrant city that offers a great contrast – the Old Town charms you with wonderful gothic, renaissance, baroque, and neoclassical architecture gems, while other parts of the city are known for a buzzing alternative culture scene. Lithuania is very proud of its history as the Grand Duchy, and many cultural monuments in Vilnius still speak of these times. One is Gediminas Tower, a very distinctive landmark of Vilnius that offers a wonderful panorama of the Old Town. Another important monument is Vilnius Cathedral, an impressive neoclassical building that once served as the coronation place of the Grand Dukes, but today is the main Catholic cathedral in Lithuania. Vilnius is especially famous for its sophisticated baroque architecture. To see the most outstanding examples of this richly decorated style, visit the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Church of St. Catherine, the Church of St. Archangel Raphael, the Church of St. John, the Church of St. Theresa, and wander around the Old Town.
Right next to the Old Town lies the self-declared artists’ republic Uzupis, a very charming bohemian district with its own “constitution”, “president”, “flag” and even “money”. One EurUzas, the local currency, is worth one pint of beer. Uzupis is full of art pieces on the streets and secret artists’ yards, and it offers many exciting discoveries that reveal themselves only to the most attentive observers. Go for a leisurely walk around the Uzupis, sit at a cafe, and enjoy the creative atmosphere of the artists’ republic.
DAY 17: DEPARTURE FROM VILNIUS
Departure day. Check out from the hotel. Optional private transfer from the hotel to the airport.
- Tallinn Old Town and medieval architecture
- Lahemaa National Park
- Old Believers’ villages along Lake Peipus
- Tartu Old Town
- Gauja National Park
- Riga Old Town and Art Nouveau architecture
- Kemeri National Park
- Kuldiga Old Town
- Ventas Rumba
- Klaipeda Old Town
- Curonian Spit and dead dunes
- Art Deco architecture in Kaunas
- Trakai Island Castle
- Vilnius Old Town and baroque architecture
The price for two people in a double room:
- 3-star hotels: 1560.00 EUR per person
- 4-star hotels: 1940.00 EUR per person
Single supplement: 510.00 EUR
- Rental car Toyota Auris or similar per program for 13 days
- Rental car delivery on Day 3 and drop off on Day 15 at the hotel
- Accommodation per program
- Well planned itinerary
- Support during the trip
- Roadbook (sightseeing objects, hiking routes, and other recommendations)
- 3h walking tour in Tallinn, Tartu, Haapsalu, Tartu, Cesis, Riga, Kuldiga, Klaipeda, Kaunas, or Vilnius: price for each tour is 120.00 EUR
- 1h tea ceremony at Old Believers’ house near Lake Peipus: price per person is 30.00 EUR
- 5h hiking tour in Lahemaa National Park, Gauja National Park, Neris Nature Park & Kernave: price for each tour is 200.00 EUR
- 4 h Bog Shoeing tour in Kemeri National Park: price per person is 90.00 EUR
- Ride with a summer bob in Sigulda: price per person is 40.00 EUR
- Traditional Lithuanian Cepelinai cooking class: price for group is 200.00 EUR
- Kayaking tour in Trakai: price for group is 220.00 EUR (1-2 persons)
- Hot air balloon flight over Vilnius or Trakai: price per person 240.00 EUR
- Private transfer from/to the airport: 55 EUR for private car (1 – 3 persons)
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