Tour to the Baltic States
If you haven’t yet made up your mind to travel to the Baltic States, this is your quick guide to how to do it right. We answer your questions and give you tips that the guidebooks leave out. I’ll try to be brief and not exhaust you with too many details–a feat that’s not exactly easy for a tour guide who is used to entertaining groups for days on end with stories, anecdotes, and loads of cool info! Nevertheless, here’s my attempt to give you the juicy bits of a Tour to the Baltic States!
A Guided Program
Our Tour to the Baltic States is a full-guided program, designed to orient visitors to lovely Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. We learn about the heritage of these countries, enjoy sightseeing in nature, and feed your natural curiosity. Our multi-day tours also experience some light adventure, sample local food and beverages, and listen to local music and voices.
This is just a sprinkling of possible experiences you might enjoy on the tour. That’s the beauty of Travel — everyone finds what they’re looking for.
On our guided tour to the Baltic States, we feel responsible to portray each of the Baltic Republics equally and act as ambassadors. Our tour guides are eager to help every guest get the most of their visit.
Why see the Baltic States with a Guide?
Our local experts will give you buckets of legends, historical facts, tidbits, songs, folktales and more. One of the biggest advantages of hiring a local guide is that you can actually speak with a local who’s passionate about their country. Our guides are also interested in hearing your stories and your point of view.
Our Baltic tour usually starts in Lithuania, the southernmost Baltic country and continues north to Latvia and Estonia. From Estonia, you can take a flight back home or we can continue to Scandinavia, Russia, or any other country that we cover.
How to Get Here? There aren’t many direct flight options to the Baltics outside of Europe. The biggest airport is in Riga, the very center of the Baltic States.
If you don’t want to be bothered with a connecting flight, you’ll have to fly to Riga and make an eight-figure shape tour of the three Baltic Republics and then finish your tour in Riga.
Top Attractions in the Baltic States
I suggest planning a tour that includes a mix of city sightseeing and nature sites. In the Baltics, you can sort of alternate day by day: Vilnius, Trakai National Park, Kaunas and Klaipeda, Neringa National Park, Siauliai’s Hill of Crosses, Palanga seaside resort, Latvia’s capital Riga, Sigulda or “Latvian Switzerland,” Tartu the University City, Pernu resort town and friendly Tallinn.
These are the major attractions, but you can also be brave and go off the beaten path to the less touristic areas. The best part? The Baltic States are very safe, and it’s quite comfortable to travel to even the more remotest locations.
Hidden Corners in the Baltics
One of my favorite secret spots in Lithuania is Ignalina County, with its lakes and forests. You can kayak, hike, or take a break in the local farm-like accommodation. Or you can visit the noteworthy Mark Rotko Museum in Daugavpils, Latvia. Visit Liepaja the windy city, or take a detour to the Estonia Islands, Saaremaa and Muhu, to find untouched northern nature and calm locals.
Where to Stay? Travelers often wonder what kind of accommodation to stay in. Today’s technology supplies us with an unnecessary overload of choices and info about hotels or apartments that can often be confusing. In the Baltics, there is a high chance that the photos won’t match reality.
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – A. Huxley
I would say that 4-star hotels in the Baltic States are usually good quality, with delicious breakfasts and friendly staff. The 3-star hotels are usually not air-conditioned, but still can be a good option with a lower price. Lodges with 2 stars and hostels are quite popular among younger travelers, and can be quite cute. Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians like cleanliness and order, so even a simple place can be adequate and welcoming.
Now we come to the point! Food, Food, Food.
Some tours in the Baltics are focused on “Walking & Talking,” whereas others are “Walking & Eating.” As a traveler, you’re often concerned with what and where you’ll eat in a foreign country.
Lithuanian food is based on meat, fish, and local vegetables. Black bread, white cheese and potato dumplings are business cards of the so-called national cuisine. Historically, spices were quite expensive and national dishes may seem a little plain at first. However, there are many restaurants in the cities that aren’t afraid to experiment and serve fusion cuisine.
You can find some unusual drinks in Lithuania too. Locals love “Gira” – a bread-based fermented drink, known as kvass in Latvia. There are all kinds of fruit and vegetable juices and homemade compote. Lithuanian craft beers and traditional liquors, mead and vodka are popular too.
Don’t forget to taste Lithuanian herring, smoked meat and fish, Zeppelins, homemade jams, and honey. If you have a sweet tooth, any café will set you up with a plethora of pies, pastries and chocolates.
After Lithuanian cuisine, we’ll move onto Latvian foods. At first, foreigners may have the impression that the two are the same–but it couldn’t be more different. Latvian food has more of a German influence, I’d say.
The Latvian Palette
If you go to a traditional restaurant in Latvia, you might be amazed by the taste as well as the simplicity of the dishes. Start with Latvian boiled black peas with small snippets of bacon and wash it all down with a glass of Cesu Beer.
As in Lithuania, people also eat a lot of Wild Mushrooms in Latvia–but don’t forget that these are seasonal ingredients. Fresh mushrooms will be at their best from July until September. Excellent pairs with mushrooms are the royal catfish or venison.
Latvian beverages look to the forests for inspiration, so expect a lot of birch juice, sweet strawberries and sour cherries. Down a spoonful of honey with white cheese on a piece of black bread, and you can say that you eat like a real Latvian.
Apple and rhubarb cakes are very popular, as is the traditional dessert bread soup.
Now to our northern sister – Estonia, home of the best rye bread (in my opinion!) All the Baltic countries eat high-quality rye bread, and each claims that its recipe is the best and healthiest. Who’s to know?
Estonians love pickled everything, from cucumbers to herring, and smoked sprats. You’ll also find that aspic with meat is quite healthy and popular.
There are lots of tourist-oriented restaurants in Tallinn Old City, but if you’re with a guide, you’ll find many excellent chefs tucked away down a side street. Don’t be surprised by Estonian slow service. As they say, “Quality needs time.”