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Travel in the Baltic States

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Guide to travelling in the Baltic States

A trip to the Baltic States will give visitors a chance to explore three unique and fascinating countries; Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Surrounded by the Baltic Sea to the North and the West and Russia to the East, as well as Poland and Belarus, these three countries are an unusual holiday for those looking to soak up some culture in one of the continent’s best kept secrets. Explore long stretches of white sand beaches before visiting bustling cities, ancient historical and religious sites and getting to know local customs and traditions.

The sheer number of attractions that you will find during in the Baltics can be overwhelming for visitors organising their own tours, so anyone planning on visiting should benefit from the knowledge of a local expert based on-the-ground. Planning a trip to the Baltic Coast with one of Evaneos’ carefully-selected local travel agents will give you an insider’s perspective on the climate and the best time of the year to visit particular areas, giving you the most useful insights for planning your perfect tour around the Baltic Coast. Above all, they can be your on-the-ground support for everything, whether you need a translator, tips on the best local restaurants, or you’re experiencing a problem. With so much to see and do in the Baltics, from exploring historical sites in Lithuania to relaxing by the Latvian sea-side, a local agent is a sure-fire way to pinpoint what interests you most and to ensure that you don’t miss it.

Best things to see and do in the Baltic States

What to see in the Baltic States

The Baltic States offer no shortage of incredibly and varied sites to admire during your time here as you enjoy activities and sightseeing that has something for everyone. No matter whether you’re visiting with family, friends or someone special, there will always be something to suit you. Here are a few things to ensure that you cover most bases during a one or two week trip to The Baltic States.

  • Castles and palaces: with such a rich history, the castles and palaces of The Baltic States are not to be missed. Rundale Palace in Latvia is a great example of beautiful architecture and history all in one place. Jelgava Palace is yet another stunning site and should definitely be high up on your list of places to visit in Latvia. Trankai Island Castle in Lithuania is a fairytale-worthy castle and is sure to go down well with all ages.
  • Cities and villages: with three different countries to choose from, there is a huge range of incredible cities in the Baltic states to explore. Any visit here should start with a trip to Riga, capital of Latvia, where you can explore art, culture, history, architecture and cityscape adventure for a day or two as you take in all the sites. Taste traditional food in some of Riga’s top spots. Make sure that you don’t miss out on trying Kūpināta Zivs, which is traditional smoked fish. Next, visit Kaunas, a city in southern Lithuania complete with a medieval fortress, historical museums, a beautiful old town and a basilica cathedral. Kuressaare, the westernmost town in Estonia is a great option for travellers looking to get off-the-beaten-track and explore a local town without the crowds of the city. See a medieval fortress, museum, parks and gardens and so much more.
  • Islands and beaches: for all the best bits about the seaside, without having to travel to far, visit the port town of Ventspils in Latvia. Here you can explore this beautiful port town before heading down to the town’s very own beach and enjoying the sand, sea and great atmosphere. Saaremaa is an Estonian Island well-known for its traditional charm and certainly a contender for the best of the Baltic islands. What’s more, the beaches here are stunning and there are a whole range of hotels, spas, restaurants and more to indulge yourself should you choose on a luxury Estonia trip. Lithuania’s resort town of Palanga is the country’s top beach spot, with pier, lively bars, restaurants and cafés, a stunning Tiskeviciai palace and interesting museums.
  • UNESCO sites: the Baltic States are known as some of the most beautiful countries in the world. Half-way between Scandinavia and Europe, they are an interesting mix of traditions, cultures, terrain and architecture, making them a fascinating trip for anyone looking for the best UNESCO sites around. Latvia’s capital, Riga, and particularly its historic centre, is a site that has been granted the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Riga is well-known particularly for its collection of the most beautiful art-nouveau houses in Europe. The Old Town of Estonia’s capital, Tallinn is also a UNESCO site, recognised for its importance at various stages throughout history and the impact that this kind of importance had on the place itself. Tallinn is covered in magnificent buildings which are testament to its wealth in the 13th Century and beyond.
  • Churches and cathedrals: Estonia’s most beautiful cathedral can be found in Tallinn’s Old Town, where it stands imposing over the city as one of the most interesting tourist attractions here. The orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is truly a sight to behold and often reminds visitors of The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. The Cathedral Basilica of St James is Riga, Latvia’s own answer to the stunning offerings of religious architecture in the Baltic States, and is certainly worth a visit during your time here. In Vilnius, Lithuania, you can find the Vilnius Church of The Holy Spirit, a late baroque church which can be seen over the rooftops of the city and which only gets more beautiful once you walk through the entrance.

What to do in the Baltic States

The Baltic States, as a relatively large area, is the perfect place for visitors who just can’t sit still. You’ll be able to roam around three different countries, each with its own unique and unforgettable range of activities and things to do. Luxury holiday seekers can enjoy a relaxing week or two basking in culture in style, and family travellers will be able to enjoy enough adventure for a lifetime, with wildlife tours, adrenaline kicks, and more.

  • Soak up the culture: Enjoying the fascinating and distinct culture of these three countries is something that you won’t forget in a hurry. Opera is one form of high culture that is prized above all others in the Baltic States and a trip to Riga, Tallinn or Sigulda to see one of the opera festivals, or even to catch a performance will be a highlight of the trip for any culture lover. Estonia’s prestige in medieval times has made is a centre for a fascinating mix of cultures and this is combination with the country’s lively music scene makes it one of the best culture destinations in the Baltics. Visit Vijandi to admire the artisan crafts centres where some of Estonia’s traditional and more modern exports are made. Take a class here and learn a new skill as a lasting memento from Estonia.
  • Travel around by train: hopping on a train in the Baltics is one of the best ways to get from A to B since it allows you to admire the incredibly scenic routes along the way. See the sites of the more authentic towns and cities such as Tartu, Valmiera and Plungé on a rail route that can be designed around you and what you want to see during your time in the Baltics. 
  • Go on a wildlife or birding tour: tracking down wildlife in Lithuania is a unique and interesting way to see the country, with hundreds of species to admire. See the bison paddock at Pasiliai, where the once believed extinct Lithuanian auroch can be found. For visitors particularly interested in observing the famous Baltic bird populations then bird-watching in Latvia is another great way to explore and to see some remarkably rare species. Lake Kanieris and the surrounding wetlands are just one place where you can see a vast array of birdlife. Birdwatching in Estonia is also a popular choice for amateurs and seasoned bird watchers alike, who look forward to admiring the animals in such a beautiful backdrop of natural habitat. Finally, the protected area of Matsalu should be on your list of top bird watching sites in the Baltic States.
  • Go trekking: trekking and hiking tours are a great way to feel as though you’ve really achieved something during your time away. Challenge yourself or simply stretch your legs with The Baltic States’ range of hiking opportunities and locations fit for all abilities. Trekking in the Baltics should start with a visit to Latvia’s Gauja National Park, where you can walk and explore as well as admiring ruins, museum exhibitions and specific scenic spots. Lahemaa National Park is one of Estonia’s top sites for active visitors, offering a vast area of walkable land as well as several manors within the parks boundaries. Visitors looking for a smaller area, complete with a sense of escape as you venture away from civilisation should visit Neris Regional Park in Lithuania, where brooks and streams run through scenic forestland and hiking paths cover a range of different terrains.
  • Adventure activities: outdoor adventures in the Baltics can range from anything from kayaking to cycling and even bobsledding. Visit the Curonian Split for some fantastic cycling routes and unbeatable scenery. Any of the lakes in the Baltics are perfect for windsurfing and you can try your hand at this adventurous sport before heading off-shore to see if you have what it takes to surf the sea instead. Sigulda is home to a bobsledding track which allows visitors to give it a try for a very low price. Feel the adrenaline as you hurtle down the track alongside real professionals. Go sea kayaking around Mohni Island before taking a dip and admiring this top dive spot from an underwater perspective.

For the best tips, information, and inspiration to plan your holiday to the Baltic States, ask the experts: Evaneos' hand-picked local travel agencies based there. As well as providing unparalleled local knowledge including access to hidden gems and advice on how to avoid tourist-traps, they'll organise the trip of a lifetime for you based around your needs and interests. 

Best time to visit the Baltic States

The best time to visit the Baltic States is generally considered to be the summer months of June and July. Summer in the Baltic States promises a luscious green escape, complete with sunny beaches, colourful towns and cities, and blooming national parks. This is also the busiest time of the year to visit, however, so choosing when to go to the Baltic States will mean deciding whether or not you mind bumping in to a lot of other tourists. The Baltic States in winter can become very cold, but if you’re planning on visiting the cities, then this only adds to the charm of the winding streets. 

Tips and advice for travelling to the Baltic States

Visa regulations for the Baltic States

Visitors to the Baltic States from EU countries do not need visas to enter The Baltic States. If you are visiting from outside of the EU, you will need to check the visa regulations of this area to see if you need to arrange a visa.

Travelling around the Baltic States

Travelling around the Baltic States is easy and straightforward, with good public transport networks and a good infrastructure of roads. A trip to the Baltic States is the perfect excuse for a road trip, meaning that you’ll be able to travel to the beat of your own drum and visit places that are more off-the-beaten-track. 

When to go in the Baltic States?

Many travellers prefer to head to the Baltic countries when the weather is fine in order to make the most of the longer days and the fact that there are more hours of sunshine than in winter You do still need to be aware of the possibility of showers, however. It is essential to always have a rainproof coat with you, despite the fact that it can be hot and sultry in summer. That said, a visit in winter can still offer a good experience if you want to see these countries in a different light.
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Traveller reviews of their trip to Baltic States

4.85 reviews
On the whole it was a very nice trip all hotels guides drivers and transfers were good and in time.
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Craig and Sandy in Poland, the Baltic States, and Helsinki
This 3-week, multi-destination trip through Warsaw and Krakow, the Baltic States, and Helsinki was a prelude to joining a Viking River Cruise from St. Peterburg to Moscow, in which Eddie and his agency were not involved. We wanted to visit Poland and the Baltics because we'd never been there and were interested in learning more about them. The trip that Eddie planned for us did not disappoint. The personal experiences, tours, and other activities Eddie arranged helped us come away much better informed about the history, the culture, and, yes, even the politics, of the region, and we have a much better appreciation now for those countries.
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