BS1 Baltic States & Helsinki Tour

Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Vilnius walking tour; Hill of Crosses: compelling memorial; Cosmopolitan Riga; Tallinn: one of Europe's best preserved old towns; Helsinki: 'Daughter of the Baltic'

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices below are per person, twin-sharing costs in US Dollars (USD). Pricing does not include airfare to/from the tour and any applicable taxes. For single supplement rates and taxes (if any), please refer to the entries under the blue box below.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Sat 30 May 2020Sun 07 Jun 2020 $2880 USD
Sat 25 Jul 2020Sun 02 Aug 2020 $2880 USD
Sat 12 Sep 2020Sun 20 Sep 2020 $2880 USD

Optional Single Supplement: $485 USD (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


Embark on this Baltic States tour that packs an incredible array of distinct culture and tradition into a remarkably compact geography. The capitals of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are study in contrasts with towering cathedrals, art-nouveau architecture and medieval monuments among the treats in store. Combined with the unique landscapes, languages and temperaments of each region, this 9-day excursion is perfect for anyone seeking a truly memorable experience.

Begin in the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius. Small in population (at just over half a million residents) this capital is cosmopolitan but never stuffy and features nearly 1,500 historic buildings in its Old Town centre. A former site of Gestapo headquarters; in Vilnius tour the KGB Museum and marvel at towers and church structures that date from the 14th century. The nearby town of Trakai has its own charms including a picturesque lakeside location and two historic castles.

En route to Riga stop, in what was briefly Latvia's capital during the interwar period, Kaunas. Truly stunning for its architectural marvels from another era, and located at the confluence of Lithuania’s largest rivers, the town features a 17th century Baroque Town Hall in its centre. Then it's on to the Hill of Crosses, a stirring testament to devout Christians and their sacrifice during German and Soviet occupation.

Modern culture aficionados will find much to digest in Riga, the largest of the three Baltic capitals, and a highlight of our Baltic States tour. Restoration to pristine condition of its many faded art-nouveau buildings makes for a truly exhilarating experience. In fact there's an art-nouveau museum located in a painstakingly restored apartment.

That, alongside a thriving culinary and arts scene with plenty to offer discerning travellers, marks Riga as a particularly delightful city. History buffs to will be satisfied with a number of attractions including St. Peter's Church (with an elevator to the top) and the impressive Riga Cathedral in Dome Square.

Outside town, time is allotted for a visit to an enormous traditional market as well as sightseeing along the embankments that tower over the town, with excellent views and a stop at the Latvian Ethnographic Museum included in the itinerary.

Estonia beckons and on the way stop in the resort town of Parmu before arrival in the Black Sea, harbour capital, Tallinn. With a UNESCO-listed Old Town, ancient churches and medieval streetscapes the city is ridiculously photogenic. Among attractions during a guided walking tour are Alexander Nesvsky Cathedral, the 13th century Toompea Castle site and Dominican Monastery.

Departure for this Baltic States tour is via Helsinki, with a walking tour of the vibrant Finnish city included. Vacationers wishing to extend their time in Helsinki can inquire with us about rates at the hotel used on tour.

Regions visited: Central And Eastern Europe and Western Europe
Countries visited: Lithuania; Latvia; Estonia and Finland


Testimonials


(Atlanta, GA, US)

We've been traveling with Adventures Abroad since the mid-1990s. We like your guides and itineraries, and your tours seem to attract interesting people whose interests and travel habits are compatible with ours. The small group size is definitely a plus - much easier to navigate around than a large group. We enjoyed Riga and Helsinki immensely, especially the walking tours highlighting the architecture and character of the cities. The excursion to Rundale Palace was fascinating, and we loved the visit to the Hill of Crosses. Our local guides were very good. Very comfortable bus, good bus driver. Loved the ferry to Helsinki - comfortable and efficient, providing wonderful views of Tallinn and Helsinki. Our tour leader wass a wonderful asset to Adventures Abroad. We actually had him as our guide in the Czech Republic over a decade ago, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to travel with him again. He has excellent judgment in working with people, and his in-depth knowledge and personal insights really enrich the travel experience. We can't wait to travel with him again! You've got a great company, offering insightful, high-quality tours at reasonable prices. Keep up the good work, and we'll keep coming back year after year!

(Chicago, US)

Excellent tour. We have travelled extensively throughout the world and this was our first organized group tour.Local guide in Vilnius was excellent. She had a good technique of re-emphasizing points to make sure information was absorbed. Bus transportation was great - comfortable and efficient - always on time. The tour operated without a hitch and no one noticed the great amount of organization and timing involved - a tribute to our Tour leader's skill.

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Vilnius
Arrival in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania.

In 1994 the Old Town of Vilnius was included on UNESCO's World Heritage list. With its diverse architecture and colourful history, Vilnius is a cosmopolitan place, though with just 543,000 inhabitants, it has an almost village-like atmosphere, making it an easy place to get to know.

Overnight in Vilnius.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Vilnius & Trakai
This morning we have a walking tour of Vilnius.

Sweden, Poland, France and Russia have all ruled Vilnius in the past, and today we will witness the influences that this has had on this beautiful city. The Old Town is one of the largest in Europe, with nearly 1,500 historic buildings of note built over several centuries creating a splendid blend of many different architectural styles.

Our walking tour will take us to Cathedral Square in the heart of the city. Inside the cathedral we see the famous chapel of Saint Kazimieras, considered an architectural gem. Rising in the distance behind Cathedral Square is the Gedimino Tower, once part of the 14th century defense system. We will also see the baroque Peter and Paul Church, originally built in the 14th century. The Gates of Dawn, on the eastern side of the Old Town, were one of the original nine gates into the city. The original Gothic defensive wall was once over 2 km (1.5 miles) long. From this remaining gate we will walk down through the streets of the old town. Nearby is the Jewish Quarter, with its cobblestone lanes and hidden courtyards.

While in Vilnius we'll also visit the KGB Museum (the Museum of Genocide Victims). For Lithuanians, the KGB Museum symbolises the 50-year-long Soviet occupation. During World War II it was the site of Gestapo headquarters and later of the KGB. The museum building is as intact as it was in 1991, when the KGB left the premises. You will see KGB rooms authentically furnished and secret KGB spying equipment.

After a full morning and a break for lunch, we we'll travel to Trakai, a former capital of Lithuania. The town, situated on the shores of several lakes, has two prominent castles built to fend off German knights in the 14th century. Trakai is famous for its population of Kara-Kalpak people. Brought to Trakai from the Crimean Peninsula by the Grand Duke Vytautas in the late 14th century, the Kara-Kalpak still hold their Jewish religious services in the yellow Kinessa, built in 1812. Our tour here includes a visit to the Trakai Historical Museum, housed within the main rooms of Trakai's island castle.

Overnight in Vilnius.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Vilnius - Kaunas - Siauliai, Lithuania - Riga, Latvia
Today we travel to Riga via Kaunas to see the Castle and Old Town at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris. We see the Town Hall Square, lined with 15th-16th century merchants' houses, and the 17th century baroque Town Hall dominating its center. Nearby Kaunas Cathedral and Gothic Vytautas Church dominate the riverbank. After our visit we continue north to Riga.

En route we stop at the Hill of Crosses, located just north of the small industrial city of Siauliai. Siauliai is the Lithuanian national pilgrimage center, and a city of famous cultural traditions and legends. On a small hill stand thousands of crosses that represent Christian devotion and act as a compelling resistance memorial to the German and Soviet occupation. Today newlyweds often come here after their wedding ceremony to ask for God's blessing.

After our stop we will proceed to the border and continue on to Riga.

Overnight in Riga.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Riga: City Tour
Today we will enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town of Riga, getting us to some of the top sights and giving us a real feel for the city.

Over the last decade Riga has been going through a restoration phase, revitalizing many of its faded art nouveau buildings into pristine gems. While these buildings can be found throughout the central downtown area, the best place to see them is in a neighbourhood of streets centered around Alberta Street. Riga literally has hundreds of buildings in this flamboyant style as it experienced a period of unprecedented wealth at the beginning of the 20th century when art nouveau was all the rage in Europe.

While exploring this part of the city we will visit the Art Nouveau Museum, which is a completely restored art nouveau apartment. Our walk will include a stop at the mighty Freedom Monument, dedicated to those who fought for Latvia’s independence. We will pass by the Latvian National Opera House as well as the Powder Tower. Kalku Street is the main 'semi-pedestrian' thoroughfare, and it slices straight through Old Town leading us to Livu Square, created after the destruction caused by World War II. Today this is one of the Old Town’s most bright and cheerful corners. Bastion Hill Park runs along the northeastern edge of the city. Once the old city’s fortifications, Bastion Hill was replaced with this romantic park full of gardens, canals, and ornate bridges. The park makes a great transition space between downtown Riga and the historic center.

Working our way through the backstreets of the Old Town we come to a fixture of Riga’s skyline, St. Peter’s Church. The tallest church in the city, this large Gothic church dates back to 1209, although little of the original church is actually left. We can take the elevator to the top of the 130 meter high tower for great views down upon the rooftops of the city.

Another of Riga’s enchanting city squares is the Dome Square which sits out below the impressive Riga Cathedral. Throughout the city of Riga there are a lot of exceptionally well-preserved buildings, but the Three Brothers are quite unique in that they are the oldest residential buildings in the city. These three adjoining buildings date from between the 15th to 17th centuries and are home to local craftsmen. We will pass by Riga Castle, which today houses the offices of the Latvian president.

One of the last remaining segments of the city’s defenses is the Swedish Gate, a small gateway through what looks like a row of traditional residences. We will stop at the Town Hall Square to see the iconic House of the Blackheads where we admire the stunning design of its facade. Built for members of a merchant guild known as the Blackheads in the 14th Century, this is one of Riga’s most picturesque landmarks.

This afternoon is yours free to explore.

Overnight in Riga.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Riga: City Touring
Today we will get to some of the landmarks which lie outside the city’s Old Town, including a drive through modern Riga.

We will start with a visit to the massive Central Market. This visit will help to give you a sense of what local life is like in today's Riga. This bustling indoor & outdoor market focuses on several large 1920s pavilions and the area around them. Here we discover plenty of local Latvian goods, from meats and fish to loads of other locally grown produce.

We continue with a panoramic drive around Riga that will take in some of the most famous sights. Our route along the embankment of the River Daugava provides us with wonderful views of the city, and we will drive through the modern part of the city where we see the University Building, the Academy of Arts and the central train station. Along Riga’s riverfront we will come to the Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum which details the city’s history of the Holocaust. Set inside an outdoor courtyard, this museum details what happened to the local Jewish population during the city’s Nazi occupation. The exhibits here focus on individuals' stories and photographs.

Built during Latvia’s period under Soviet rule, the towering figure of the Latvian Academy of Sciences is hard to miss. Here we will take the elevator up to its observation deck for great views of Riga with the church tower visible amongst the skyline. A short trip from the city center brings us to the Latvian Ethnographic Museum. Here we will see what rural Latvian life was like over 100 years ago as dozens of original farm buildings, houses and even a church were transported to this picturesque lakeshore to preserve them for posterity.

Once back in the center you will have some free time this afternoon. Perhaps make a visit to the rooftop terrace of the Galleria Riga shopping centre for a cold drink and some incredible views.

Overnight in Riga.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Riga, Latvia - Parnu - Tallinn, Estonia
This morning we depart Riga for Tallinn, visiting Parnu en route. There was a trading settlement in Parnu before the German crusaders arrived, but recorded history of the city dates back to the 13th century. From the middle of the 19th century, Parnu developed as a resort town with its good beaches and relatively good weather. During the Soviet era, Parnu's guesthouses, inns and hotels were converted to sanatoria. We will do a stroll through parts of the Old Town, including the town's oldest building, the Red Tower.

We continue to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

Historically, Tallinn has been attacked, sacked, razed and pillaged on numerous occasions. Although extensively bombed by Soviet air forces during the latter stages of World War II, much of the medieval Old Town still retains its charm. The Tallinn Old Town became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

Overnight in Tallinn.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Tallinn: City Tour
Today we have a guided WALKING tour of this important Baltic Sea harbour city. We begin with a visit to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built in the nineteenth century. The cathedral dominates the Lossi Plats, and is an imposing testament to the Russian imperialist influence. We also visit the Dominican Monastery, which played an important role in bringing Christianity to Estonia. We have the opportunity to visit the Toompea Castle site, a 13th century castle where the current parliament of Estonia holds its sessions. In the immediate area we will also visit the Toomkirik Lutheran cathedral, founded in 1233, with its impressive carved tombs inside.

This afternoon you will have some free time to stroll through the picturesque Old Town with its jumble of medieval buildings, turrets and walls. For passengers ending their journey in Helsinki (ie not continuing to St Petersburg or our Nordic tour), we will be enjoying a farewell dinner.

Overnight in Tallinn.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Tallinn, Estonia - Helsinki, Finland: City Walking Tour
Today we take a fast ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki (HAVE YOUR PASSPORTS HANDY!).

Helsinki is situated at the arrowhead of a peninsula, surrounded by an archipelago of 315 islands, perfectly placed between its two great trading cousins, Stockholm and Moscow. From a European perspective, Helsinki is relatively young (450 years), yet it is Finland's sixth-oldest town. The Swedes, who extended their empire into Finland in 1155, founded the city of 'Helsingfors' (the name still used by the Swedes) in 1550 when King Gustav Vasa needed a site for a strategic, competitively placed trading port. It languished as a coastal backwater until Imperialist Russia invaded in 1809.

On arrival we'll have a walking tour of Helsinki.*

* PLEASE NOTE: Your activities in Helsinki today will vary depending on what tour option you have chosen. Those travellers who are ending their trip here or continuing to St Petersburg tomorrow will enjoy a leisurely walking tour of Helsinki today. Travellers who are continuing on our Nordic Explorer itinerary will have their Helsinki touring tomorrow and an afternoon at leisure today (you are welcome to join today but some sightseeing will be repeated tomorrow).

Due to the leisurely nature of our afternoon and the possibility of an early departure for some travellers tomorrow, we do not include dinner this evening. Your Tour Leader will help you plan your afternoon/evening.

Overnight in Helsinki.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 9 Departure from Helsinki
Today we depart from Helsinki.

HYVAA MATKAA!!

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Hotel Congress

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Vilnius
Country: Lithuania

The hotel Congress, situated in the very centre of Vilnius, is the ideal place for business travellers and tourists. As
... of the oldest hotels of Vilnius, it was constructed on the banks of the Neris river, next to the legendary Bridge Zaliasis ("Green Bridge") dating back to the 16th century. The hotel is contiguous to the Old Town which can be admired through the bedrooms windows.




Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Hotel Vecriga

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Riga
Country: Latvia

With only 14 rooms, this hotel is suitable for our smaller groups. In the very centre of Old City is
... one of the coziest Riga hotels – Vecriga (in translation: Old Riga). Construction of the building began in the 15th century. Every room has a mini bar, telephone, TV.

Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Reval Central

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Tallinn
Country: Estonia

All Hotel Central's guestrooms offer multi-channel and pay TV, free WiFi Internet and blackout curtains. Each room has a minibar,
... and direct-dial telephone. Modern decor with the comforts of home.


Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Sokos Presidentti

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Helsinki
Country: Finland

Recently completely refurbished, Sokos Hotel Presidentti is located next to the Kamppi mall, in the heart of Helsinki, next to
... wealth of culture attractions and the best shopping in town.The extensive refurbishing of rooms and restaurant facilities was completed in the spring of 2007.


Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website


Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (hotels & local restaurants) daily. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving / late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.

Exclusions

International airfare to/from the tour. Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air taxes (if applicable), excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in spring, summer and fall the most popular of which is are spring and fall when temperatures are relatively mild and crowds thinner. Showers quite possible in spring and fall, somewhat less so in summer though can occur any time. Summers can be humid though long daylight hours maximize exploration.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have a couple of full bus days there are plenty of stops of interest. Hydrofoil crossing to Finland.

This trip is typical of most of our European tours, which are ambitious and involve full days of travel and sightseeing. While we don't have any actual strenuous activity (ie hiking) built into the program, you will do a lot of walking on this trip. These walks will mostly be in the form of walking tours of towns and cities and short walks to dinner. Being Europe, and a hilly/mountainous area, cobbles, uneven surfaces, and slopes/stairs are common. If you are accustomed to typical "bus tours," which rely heavily on vehicular transport for all sightseeing activities, you should be aware that this tour is considerably more active.

Am I suitable for this tour? Please refer to our self-assessment form.

Accommodation

Well-located, air- conditioned, mid-range hotels (3-star) throughout. Many are smaller properties (3-4 story) that may not have elevators. All hotels have en suite bath, though most have shower only. Porter service is rarely available; you MUST be independent with your luggage. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, driver, local step-on guides in various locales.

Group Size

10-18 (plus Tour Leader)

BS1 TRIP DETAILS

DURATION9 days

TOUR STARTVilnius

TOUR ENDHelsinki

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