Tour Date: 8 to 17 August 2024Location: Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania

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 inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, has charming twisting cobblestone lanes, gothic spires and medieval markets.

Latvia boasts beaches looking over the Baltic, and its capital Riga has medieval architecture, cobblestone streets and a Cathedral (Rigos Doms) which is the largest house of worship in the Baltic states. Riga’s central market 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 and here we see Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical architecture side by side. One of the most impressive buildings is Vilnius University with its beautifully painted library containing 600,000 historic and cartographic items.

All three Baltic States now use the Euro and are much cheaper to eat out in (and drinks of course!) than their fellow Eurozone members.

BIG NEWS: A new train service will be running in 2024 that will connect Vilnius in Lithuania with Riga in Latvia. The first through train for many years. Once we have the timetable, we will add this to our itinerary so we can do this international crossing by rail rather than coach.

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • Medieval old town of fairytale Tallinn
  • Gauja National Park
  • Trakai, with its beautiful castle on the lake
  • Narrow gauge Aukštaitija railway
  • Hill of Crosses
  • Medieval centres of Riga and Vilnius
  • Turaida Castle, set in the “Switzerland of Latvia”
  • Accompanied throughout by tour bus so no luggage on trains
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Thursday 8 August, 2024

Direct flights from Stansted, Luton and London City – indirect flights from Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh – to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Transfer to our centrally located hotel. It is also possible to go by rail from St Pancras but is quite complicated on the outward. Return is by ferry to Stockholm for rail back to St Pancras.

Day 2 Friday 9 August (B)

A free day for your own relaxation and exploration of Vilnius.

For rail fans there is the option of a day out by rail. Two trips are possible, either Marijampole or Visaginas. We would recommend Marijampole with the train departing Vilnius at 09:10 arriving Marijampole at 11:43. You can return at 12:30 (arriving back 15:42) or stay and have lunch and free time. The town itself is charming with several points of interest that will make your visit enjoyable. It’s a culturally rich city with an intriguing history and the architectural and other evidence to prove it! Return train at 15:39 (arriving back at 17:34). For Visaginas you leave Vilnuis at 11:18 and get back at 18:27. Return fare, first class is only £20.

Vilnius
Vilnius. View Of Bell Tower And Facade Of Cathedral Basilica Of St. Stanislaus. (Shutterstock)
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Riga Cathedral, St Anne’s Church (Shutterstock)

Day 3 Saturday 10 August (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, historic and architectural monuments, the Gate of Dawn with a splendid icon of the Virgin Mary, Vilnius university and Cathedral square. At midday we depart by train to Trakai which is 28 km from Vilnius. This is the former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and has a beautiful 14th century castle that stands on an island in the middle of Lake Galve. The lake serves as a moat around the castle. A cruise on the lake allows us to view the castle from a different perspective. This evening we have our welcome dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight in Vilnius.

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Trakai Castle

Day 4 Sunday 11 August (B, L)

We transfer by coach to Lentvaris railway station for our train to Kaunas. The Kaunas city tour includes the funiculars in Kaunas, the only* city in Lithuania with this type of transport, in service since 1931. In the residential districts of Žaliakalnis and Aleksotas these “climbing cars” serve both as a means of transport and entertainment. The Aleksotas funicular links the old part of the city with the slopes of Aleksotas hill, offering a marvellous panoramic view of the city. The Žaliakalnis funicular provides an easy way of reaching the Resurrection church from the city centre. We visit Lord Jesus Christ’s Resurrection Basilica in Kaunas before we have lunch in a traditional Lithuanian restaurant. If you would like to do your own thing in Kaunas, and are interested in classical music or art, we recommend a visit to the M K Čiurlionis Gallery in Kaunas. Čiurlionis (22 September 1875 – 10 April 1911) was Lithuania’s foremost composer and painter. There is a fascinating gallery featuring his music and paintings in an attractive modern building built onto the back of a traditional military museum. There are also a number of other art galleries in Kaunas. Return by train to Vilnius. Overnight in Vilnius. * Vilnius also has a funicular up one side of the Gediminas Castle mound. It was opened in 2003, though it is currently out of order.

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Vilnius local train (Shutterstock)
LR Lyduvenai Railway Bridge Lithuania Shutterstock
Lyduvenai Railway Bridge, the longest bridge in Lithuania (Shutterstock)
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Kaunas Funicular
LR Kaunas HF4NXR
Kaunas (Alamy Image)

Day 5 Monday 12 August (B, L)

Today we travel to Anykščiai to visit the Siaurukas railway museum and travel on the narrow-gauge railway. This unique heritage line, built in 1899, runs between Panevėžys, Anykščiai and Rubikiai and dates from a time of steam locomotives and wooden carriages. At the beginning of the 20th century the railway 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 silica-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 on the banks of Lake Rubikiai, before travelling on to Riga. On the way, we stop at the Panevėžys narrow gauge railway museum and at the Hill of Crosses. Overnight in Riga.

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Anyksciai Station (Shutterstock)
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Riga (Shutterstock Image)

Day 6 Tuesday 13 August (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 historic importance, such as the Dome Cathedral, St. Peters Church, the Parliament Buildings and the 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 Jūrmala, a summer resort on the Baltic Sea which built itself a reputation as a Spa resort in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and also known for its beautiful wooden houses built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We will have a walking tour of Jūrmala and some free time before we return to Riga by train. Overnight in Riga.

LR Riga Vintage Tram DNR61E
Riga Vintage Tram (Alamy Image)

Day 7 Wednesday 14 August (B, L)

We depart by train to Gauja National Park where we visit Turaida Castle in Sigulda (sometimes called “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 our visit to Gauja National Park we will continue to Tartu stopping at the Valmiermuiza Brewery for lunch. Tartu is referred to as the intellectual capital of Estonia because of its famous University founded in 1632 by the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus and was initially called Academia Dorpatensis. Some say that the main building of the University of Tartu is one of the pearls of the city – certainly 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 including a visit to 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 in the city. Overnight in Tartu.

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Turaida Castle
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Tartu University (Shutterstock)

Day 8 Thursday 15 August (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 which is one of the most completely preserved medieval towns in Europe. The 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.

Tallinn
Tallinn Old Walled City (Shutterstock)

Day 9 Friday 16 August (B)

There will be free time today for your own relaxation and appreciation of this wonderful city. For train and tram enthusiasts our local guide will be able to advise of local trips you can do for very little cost. Those flying back to Luton leave this evening on the direct flight at 21:55 (it is also possible to fly back to Stansted tonight, if you prefer, departing at 20:25)

For rail fans there is the option of a day out by rail. Three trips are possible; Viljandi, Riisipere or Paldiski (the line to Parnu is closed). Rail fares are only around £8 in each direction (£10 where first class available). For Viljandi we recommend the 11:50 departure which gives you 1 or 4 hours in Viljandi. For those desperate to do more than one of these lines it is possible by doing the 07:35 train to Viljandi which gets you back into Tallinn at 12:50 there are then roughly hourly departures to Riisipere or Paldiski each of which take on hour in each direction.

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Tallinn Tram (Alamy Image)

Viljandi – This adorable little town hidden deep within southern Estonian forests boasts impressive castle ruins and a former home of the ruling Livonian Order. The scenic views of the nearby lake and wooden architecture makes Viljandi a place of interest to both nature and culture lovers.

Day 10 Saturday 17 August (B)

Road transfer to the airport for our flights back to the UK. There is a direct flight to Gatwick at 15:55 today, with Air Baltic. As the flight to Stansted is late evening (22:30) there is time to go by rail to Vilhandi and back – if you did not do it yesterday.

Return Overland

It is possible to return to the UK by rail and sea. First you do the night ferry across the Baltic Sea to Stockholm and then back to London by rail. Book early as the ferry tends to sell out. If you have not visited Stockholm before we highly recommend a few nights there as there is lots of wonderful things to see. You also have a night (or more if you wish) in Hamburg – and if you have plenty of time maybe a couple of nights in Cologne. You have a choice to leave Tallinn by ferry (The Baltic Queen) on Friday 16 August or Sunday 18 August – both at 18:00 arriving into Stockholm (which is almost directly west from Tallinn) at 10:30 the next morning.

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • From Stansted or Gatwick*: £1,825
  • From Luton*: £1,775
  • From London Heathrow*, via Helsinki: £1,950
  • From Birmingham, via Amsterdam: £1,925
  • From Manchester, via Helsinki: £1,925
  • Overland from St Pancras: POA
  • Join in Vilnius, leave in Tallinn: £1,550

*It is possible to fly back direct to Gatwick if you prefer.

Options

  • Single use room add: £245
  • Return via Stockholm: add approx. £600 to with flight prices
  • Flight price might increase for late bookings

Deposit

  • Travelling by air: £600
  • Own travel: £300

Online Booking

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Flight Options from the UK (Baltics are 2 hours ahead of UK)

FR0543 16:55 Stansted to Vilnius (arr 21:30)
FR2224 22:30 Tallinn to Stansted (arr 23:20)

W2-1902 17:55 Luton to Vilnius (arr 22:35)
* W2-5446 21:55 Tallinn to Luton (arr 22:55) – on 16th

Norw 10:00 Gatwick, via Stockholm#, to Vilnius (arr 17:05)
BT871 15:55 Tallinn to Gatwick (arr. 17:00) direct

LOT274 18:40 London City to Vilnius (arr 23:20)
BT871 15:55 Tallinn to Gatwick (arr. 17:00)

KL1040/2845 06:00 BHX – Amsterdam – Vilnius (arr 13:40)
* SK1787/2535 15:45 Tallinn – Copenhagen – BHX (arr. 20:35) – on 18th

AY1362/1105 10:05 Manchester – Helsinki – Vilnius (arr 17:40)
AY1020/1365 15:40 Tallinn – Helsinki – Manchester (arr. 18:45)

# it is possible to break your journey in Stockholm for a night or two if you prefer.

Return to UK by Ferry and Rail

Ferry 18:00 Tallinn to Stockholm (arr 10:30 next day)
Overnight(s) in Stockholm
Train at 09:22 Stockholm – Copenhagen – Hamburg (arr 20:02)
Overnight(s) in Hamburg
Train 10:45 Hamburg – Koln – Brussels Midi
Eurostar 18:51 Brussels Midi to London St Pancras (arr 19:47)