The Baltic states, a term that was coined for geopolitical reasons, comprise a region of northern Europe on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea which include Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. These three places are all incredible in their own right but are almost always overlooked by travelers heading on their European holidays. This is such a shame because one could argue that they represent the best kept secret of the entire continent.
Lithuania is the southernmost state and is home to unspoiled beaches, green countryside and medieval towns. Latvia is a small nation sitting between Lithuania and Estonia, and boasts one of the most stunning capitals in the world: Riga. Estonia is the northernmost state which endured 50 years of Soviet rule, only to emerge out the other side as a distinctly European country in alliances, attitude and culture.
While some have visited Estonia as part of their trip to Finland, two countries which share a unique bond, or Lithuania after touring Poland – there is no doubt that these Baltic states deserve to be explored on their own. You could spend weeks immersing yourself in the region’s rich history and wandering the cosmopolitan capitals, and not have to worry about the swarms of crowds which plague other hotspots like Barcelona or Venice.
A bonus to spending your vacation in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is the fact that it won’t break the bank. All three are more affordable than say France or Germany, and you will be able to relax without eating into your savings or racking up debt. Summers are warm with plenty of sunshine to fill up your days and the range of outdoor activities means you can balance the city with nature. What’s not to love about the Baltic states?!
Multi-Day Tours in Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia with Private Baltics
Since Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are well off the beaten path – not much information surrounds these destinations on social media channels, travel blogs or guide books. That is why we recommend booking with the amazing team at Private Baltics, a fantastic tour operator based in Vilnius (the capital city of Lithuania). They have over 15 years of experience running successful tours in this part of the world and can show you the real Baltics.
Friendly guides lead multi-day tours throughout the region, offering a local insight and passion that is truly unmatched. Each itinerary is updated on a regular basis to reflect the changing nature of the attractions. The tours are private and a consultation process takes place prior to the booking to ensure customer preferences have been taken into account. Points of interest or events can be added, depending on the dates of the tour.
For example, the Cosy Baltic Capitals Tour spans seven days and stops at all three Baltic states. Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn are included and in between these charming capitals lies many surprises such as the romantic Trakai Castle, the 2022 European Capital of Culture – Kaunas, the hauntingly beautiful Hill Of Crosses and the unbelievably picturesque Gauja National Park. In many ways, this is the perfect introduction to the Baltics.
If Lithuania is your priority, Private Baltics can certainly accommodate you. The Unforgettable Lithuania Tour is a seven day journey through the heart of this spellbinding nation. It kicks off in Vilnius followed by the Trakai Castle, spa town of Druskininkai, road trip to Klaipeda, boat tour on the Curonian Lagoon, visit to Nida and the Cold War Museum, before returning to Vilnius. You would be hard pressed to spend a better week in Lithuania!
Day Tours to Compliment your Independent Trip
An alternative to the multi-day tours are the day trips with Private Baltics. These are great options for those traveling independently through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia because they allow you to add on experiences as you go, while still enjoying the freedom and flexibility of a self-determined holiday. Of particular interest might be the Vilnius and Riga tours – two breathtaking Baltic capitals brimming with culture and history.
The Undiscovered Vilnius Tour lasts for three hours and takes you to some of the most popular spots in town and a few hidden gems. Vilnius is an old city, with around 700 years of history, but it also has a new side where subculture and modernity thrive. You can discover both the old and the new from a local’s perspective, as you wander through the UNESCO-listed Old Town and try Lithuanian craft beer and specialties at a favorite cafe.
The Historic Center of Vilnius is a melting pot of influences stemming from the Jewish, Polish, Russian and Lithuanian cultures. The food and architecture reflects this. Beyond the Old Town, you will also get the opportunity to see a bohemian neighborhood where art, music and free-spirits reside. The Undiscovered Riga Tour is similar to the Vilnius one by revealing this magnificent blend of historical and contemporary trends.
This walking tour of Riga plunges you into the Old Town and Art Nouveau district, as well as the Moscow district with its Ghetto museum and Spikeri neighborhood. The Riga Central Market is a feature of this tour because it engrosses you in the daily life of the locals. The finale is accessed by taking a 10 minute bus and it’s known as the most “hipster” area – bookshops, art galleries, cafes, bars, and the Laima chocolate factory greet you here.
Best Places to Visit in Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia
Whether you book tours with Private Baltics or venture solo, there is no shortage of extraordinary places to visit in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Every traveler can be catered for in these destinations as they offer a mixture of captivating old cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, pristine national parks and delicious cuisine. Some of the spots have already been mentioned above, nonetheless let us finish with an overview of them all:
- Druskininkai: A wellness springs resort set on the Nemunas River in southern Lithuania that offers a relaxing little escape for domestic and international travelers alike. The primary reason to visit Druskininkai is to soak in a hot tub, recover in a sauna, enjoy a massage or get a facial.
- Kaunas: The European Capital of Culture 2022 is a playground for art, culture and history lovers. There are so many things to do in Kanaus that one day is never enough. Start your trip with a coffee at a boho roaster, head up the Aleksotas Observation Deck and visit the Kaunas Castle.
- Trakai: In addition to its picture-perfect island castle that always draws a crowd, Trakai is also a resort area surrounded by delightful nature. Green forests and still lakes define this destination and make it an ideal setting for a walk or hike with the purest air invigorating you along the way.
- Vilnius: The Old Town is one of the most well preserved of its kind in Europe – period buildings house cafes, boutiques and guesthouses. You can walk the alleys for hours and never tire. The Lithuanian capital is also a resilient place, having lived through World War II and the Soviet Union.
- Gauja National Park: Latvia’s largest national park is a joy to explore – be it on a road trip with Private Baltics or by walking one of the trails. Not only does it have diverse landscapes, natural springs and sandstone outcrops but there are some interesting cultural monuments to check out too.
- Jurmala: If you are heading to Latvia in the middle of summer then you can’t go past Jurmala, just a 30-40 minute drive from Riga. Inviting white sands are backed by Prussian-style villas and green forests. Be sure to visit the towns of Majori and Dzintari where most of the action can be found.
- Riga: The most populous of the three Baltic state capitals is famous for its architectural style with Gothic spires and Art Nouveau defining the city. At first glance, it might seem sleepy from the outside but on the inside its art galleries, restaurants and bars foster a world of creative energy.
- Sabile: A gorgeous and romantic town where visitors can admire the Old Town, the Abava River and the Sabile Wine Hill. The Guinness Book of Records even recognized the wine hill as being the northernmost vineyard in the world. That should be the only reason you need to visit Sabile!
- Lahemaa National Park: Not too far from the Estonian capital is the awesome national park, Lahemaa. Hikers and wildlife enthusiasts will be in heaven as they roam across sandy shorelines, pine and cliff forests and eerily beautiful bogs searching for birds, bears, boars, moose and foxes.
- Parnu: The fourth largest Estonian city is a summer getaway through and through. It’s situated on the Baltic Sea and has a nice beach where you can go swimming, stand-up paddle boarding or just sunbathing. Other must-see places in Parnu include the impressive mud baths and museum.
- Saaremaa: It might be a hidden gem for most tourists but for the locals of Estonia Saaremaa is definitely no secret. A place this epic was never going to be hidden for a long time anyway. This island has a peaceful, laid-back vibe with plenty of superb beaches and traditional villages to discover.
- Tallinn: Seductive is the only way to describe this city. As you stroll past its ancient walls, exquisite churches, cobblestone paths and merchant houses you will be fully entranced under its spell. It offers much more than just historical sites – the food is sublime and the culture is vibrantly modern.