Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – three Baltic States visited in one holiday!
Estonia, the most northern of the three Baltic States, is bordered by the Gulf of Finland, the Baltic Sea, Latvia and Russia. Tallinn its capital with its medieval old town listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, has charming twisting cobblestone lanes, gothic spires and medieval markets.
Latvia’s capital Riga also has medieval architecture and cobblestone streets. The Cathedral (Rigos Doms) is the largest house of worship in the Baltics. Latvia boasts beaches overlooking the Baltic Sea and its central market that is one of the largest and most modern marketplaces on the European continent.
Lithuania’s capital Vilnius is the largest medieval old town of the three states. Here we see gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical, side by side. One of the most impressive buildings being Vilnius University with its beautifully painted library containing 600,000 historic and cartographic items.
Day 1 Monday 18 September Late afternoon flight from London Stansted to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania we have our transfer to our centrally located hotel. Direct flight also available from Liverpool (early morning) and indirect flights from Heathrow.
Day 2 Tuesday 19 September (B, D) Today there will be a tour of the Old Town, partly by coach and partly walking. The Old Town is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. During our tour we will see the main churches, historical and architectural monuments, the Gates of Dawn with a splendid icon of the Virgin Mary, Vilnius University and Cathedral Square. This evening we have our Welcome Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight in Vilnius.
Day 3 Wednesday 20 September (B,L) After breakfast we depart by train to Trakia (28 km from Vilnius). The former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, with its beautiful 14th century castle that stands on the island in the middle of Lake Galve. The lake serves as a moat around the castle. We will have a lake cruise to appreciate the castle from a different viewpoint. Afterwards we have lunch overlooking the castle. We then transfer by coach to Lentvaris Railway Station for our train to Kaunas. Here we visit the church and monastery of Pazaislis. One of the most wonderful Baroque architectural masterpieces in north-eastern Europe. The monastery is located on the picturesque bank of the Kaunus Lagoon. After our visit we take the train back to Vilnius. Overnight in Vilnius.
Day 4 Thursday 21 September (B,L) Today we travel to Anyksciai to visit the railway museum and experience the narrow gauge railway of Aukstaitija. This is a unique heritage line that runs between Panevezys – Anyksciai – Rubikiai, it was built in 1899. This was a time of steam locomotives and wooden carriages. At the beginning of the 20th century Siaurukas was the main mechanical means of transport in the region of Aukstaitija (north eastern Lithuania) for carrying people and goods such as flax, bacon, sugar-beet, flour, butter, flaxseed, wood and sand. Since 2001 the narrow gauge railway has only been used for passenger transport. During our trip we will have a barbecue lunch at a small café located right on the banks of Lake Rubikiai, before we travel onto Riga. Overnight in Riga.
Day 5 Friday 22 September (B,L) This morning we have a Riga highlights tour including a visit to the biggest indoor market in the Baltic States. During our tour we will also see numerous places of cultural and historical importance, such as the Dome Cathedral, St. Peters Church, Parliament Buildings and Swedish Gate. You will experience the atmosphere of Riga Market perhaps chat with the friendly local people and taste Latvian specialties. After lunch in a local restaurant we travel by train to Jurmala. Jurmala is a summer resort on the Baltic Sea. It built itself a reputation as a Spa Resort in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is also known for its beautiful wooden houses built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We will have a walking tour of Jurmala and some free time before we return to Riga. Overnight in Riga.
Day 6 Saturday 23 September (B,L) We depart by train to Gauja National Park where we visit Turaida Castle in Sigulda. The Switzerland of Latvia, set on the banks of the River Gauja. The town and surrounding areas offer magnificent views. Turaida Castle was built in the 13th century under the direction of Albert, the Bishop of Riga. After lunch in Gauja National Park we will continue to Tartu. Tartu is referred to as the intellectual capital of Estonia because of its university. The University of Tartu was founded in 1632 by the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. It was initially called Academia Dorpatensis. Some say that the main building of the University of Tartu is one of the pearls of the city – it is one of the most outstanding examples of classicistic architecture in Estonia, built from 1804 to 1809. Once we have checked into our hotel we will have a walking tour of this fine city. Visit the Kissing Students Fountain in the centre of Town Hall Square that was erected in 1998. This has since become the most popular meeting place. Overnight inTartu.
Day 7 Sunday 24 September (B,D) An early start today as we depart by train to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, which is the most northern of the Baltic States. We arrive in good time for our mid-morning tour of Tallinn. One of the most completely preserved medieval towns in Europe. Tallinn’s medieval Old Town is known around the world for its well preserved completeness and authentic Hanseatic architecture. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy and explore these wonderful streets before we meet in the evening for our Farewell Dinner. Overnight in Tallinn.
Day 8 Monday 25 September (B) There will be free time today for your own relaxation before our departure to the airport for our evening flights back to the UK. For those wanting to fly back to Manchester you have an extra night in Tallinn before you flight back the on Monday afternoon.