Text by Valdis Čeičs
Hiking routes in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are unknown to many hikers from Europe and overseas. In this article, I explain how to find the best hiking paths in the Baltics as well as share with you my favorite ones.
What do you need to know before planning a hike in the Baltics?
The best about hiking in the Baltics – it is quite easy and doesn’t require almost any extra physical preparation beforehand. The average elevation is 86 m above sea-level, which means no ascending routes of an extensive length, but you might experience a lot of small uphills and downhills, depending on the route you choose.
The most challenging part is maneuvering through the dense forests and avoiding making your feet wet on the marshlands. 60% of the whole territory of the Baltic States is covered by forests, but more than 20% – by swamps.
A combination of natural and man-made attractions
The population density in the Baltics is one of the lowest in Europe – 36 people per km2, but all three countries offer a rich variety of cultural sites that can be easily combined with hiking in the wilderness. Most of the cities, towns, and villages in the Baltics are built next to a river, lake or the sea. A great way how to start planning your hiking route is finding a body of water you would like to visit and connecting it with the nearest town. Many national parks offer large territories of beautiful nature, marked hiking trails, rivers, lakes, and cultural monuments.
My favorite hiking routes in the Baltics
Kernave Archaeological Site&the Neris River in Lithuania
Kernave is only 35 km from Vilnius, situated in the valley of the Neris River. There you can find a starting point of an easy 5 km hiking trail that brings you through the archaeological site, dated back to 9000 B.C. and along the scenic Neris River.
If you are looking for a longer hiking route, I recommend starting in the village Vievis, located on the left bank of the Neris River, 38 km to the West from Vilnius. This is a circular 25 km long hiking trail in a fine pine tree forest. On this trail, you can find an observation tower, mythological stones, and springs.
Read more on the Neris Nature Park & Kernave Hiking tour page!
Bogs and forests in the Kemeri National Parkin Latvia
The village Ķemeri is located 41 km from Riga and it is known for the therapeutic mineral waters and mud that once were used in health resorts. Kemeri health resort, once so famous, nowadays is only an empty shell, but nevertheless it is worth going to Kemeri, as the National Park offers the most beautiful bogs in Latvia. Usually, marshlands are hard to access, but the Great Kemeri Bog has a 3,7 km long boardwalk which makes it easy and safe to walk there and enjoy the picturesque bog with small birch and pine trees and water. An observation tower, located in the middle of the trail, provides an amazing view over the area. The Great Kemeri Bog looks magnificent in each season and any time of the day, but it is especially beautiful early in the morning during the sunrise.
The Ķemeri National Park encompasses several bogs. If you are looking for a longer hiking route, I recommend to hike the Green Dune trail and visit Swamp of the Witches on your way back to Kemeri. The recommended time for the hike is from April till October. The total length of the hike is 14 km.
The wild Amata River in Latvia
Amata River is one of the fastest rivers in Latvia. It is located in the middle of the Gauja National Park, approximately 70 km from Riga. The hiking route along the Amata River is 21,5 km. The marked hiking trail leads you along the river, offering a hilly hike and beautiful sandstone outcrops.
After the hike, I recommend to visit the nearby town called Ligatne and its Secret Soviet Bunker, which provides a unique Soviet experience, 9 m underground. For more information read here!
Read more on the Hike Along the Wild River tour page!
“Captains’ Village” Kasmu in the Lahemaa National Parkin Estonia
The coastal village Kasmu is located approximately 100 km from Tallinn in the Lahemaa National park. It is also known as “Captains’ Village” as it hosted a famous naval school once. The Kasmu trail offers a 15 km long hike around the peninsula where you can see unique boulders and romantic rock formations.
For long-distance hikers, I recommend hiking through the National Park starting from Oandu to Kalmeoja. This 40 km long two-day hiking trail is one of the most diverse hiking trails in the Baltics. On your way, you can enjoy the beautiful coastline, pass through marshlands, discover hidden waterfalls, rivers, as well as see settlements, established already four to five thousand years ago. On the hiking trail, you can find several camping sites and cozy guest houses to stay overnight (the reservation is mandatory!).
Read more on the Lahemaa National Park tour page!