Nature and Culture
Worldwide, forest bathing is fast becoming a trend with companies targeting overwhelmed city dwellers and cashing in on the promise of recharging your batteries and restoring your inner balance. In the Baltics, we’ve never really lost touch with nature. In fact, “we’re heading outdoors” may well be the most common answer when inquiring about someone’s weekend plans.
White water rafting in spring, wild swimming and cycling in summer, foraging in autumn and cross-country skiing in winter aren’t just special interest activities, they’re what Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians love to do and share with their visitors. We can help plan your perfect route, combining active adventure with visits to ancient castles, artisan workshops and farms.
Naturally, some of the most popular spots to indulge in outdoor pursuits and get a feel for rural living and local history sit within the Baltics’ lusciously green and richly forested national parks.
National parks in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – protecting our nature and heritage
National parks in the Baltics are key areas for the preservation of nature, but also encompass historical towns and villages, sites and attractions. Hiking trails and cycle routes snake through the parks, and many can be discovered through their waterways by canoe or raft. In autumn, the forests become foraging grounds. If you see a local armed with a knife and basket, don’t run! They’ll be out looking for berries and mushrooms such as the prized chanterelle. What else can you expect at the parks?
Gauja National Park
Latvia’s largest national park is easily accessible by public transport through the towns of Sigulda, Cesis and Valmiera – excellent bases from which to explore, with a wide choice of accommodation and restaurants. Major historical attractions include Turaida Museum Reserve, the medieval Cesis Castle, the Secret Soviet Bunker in Ligatne and Valmiermuiza Brewery.
Lahemaa National Park
On the shores of the Gulf of Finland, Estonia’s largest national park is known for its stony and sandy beaches, bogs and dense forests – home to wild animals including lynx and bears. The manor estates of Palmse, Sagadi and Vihula are popular stopovers. In the town of Hara, a major draw is the former Soviet submarine base.
Dzukija National Park
Lithuania’s most forested area with 85% forest coverage! The park’s 30 waterways make it a top choice for boating. Here, wooden architecture dominates with quaint villages such as Zervynos and Musteika providing a glimpse of what life used to be like in the area. The 18th century Baroque churches in Liskiava and Merkine are highlights.
There are many more national parks in the Baltics. We’re happy to recommend the best option for you based on your interests!
Artisan workshops in the Baltics - keeping tradition alive
In spite of industrialisation and globalisation, Baltic peoples have not only managed to maintain their natural surroundings, but also to keep tradition alive. Heavily inspired by nature, many locals devote themselves to the ancient crafts and skills, which are typical of the region.
To help ensure a future for their craft and to pass down interest to younger generations, numerous craftsmen now welcome visitors into their homes and workshops for tours and hands-on masterclasses. You could find yourself shaping a loaf of hearty rye bread before sliding it into a wood-fired oven and later devouring a thick slice slathered in hemp spread or honey. You might prefer a guided walk through the fields and forests with a herbalist to explain the properties of local flora, which are used in herbal tea blends and traditional medicine. Or perhaps you’d rather get your hands dirty in a pottery studio?
Local wine tasting is a sophisticated option. Though some winemakers have been experimenting with grapes, most Baltic wines are fruit-based. Sparkling rhubarb is a great one to start with.
Whatever your choice of activity, Baltic Nature Travel can put together an itinerary to include a mix of outdoor and indoor time with a natural or historical angle depending on your preferences.
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