Tour Book (incl UK P&P): £199
Duration: 14 nights / 15 days
Mileage: 875 miles
This tour of the Baltic States takes you on an amazing journey through, historical, cultural and scenic delights, visiting the beautiful capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the less explored countryside of these fascinating, former Eastern bloc countries. The journey to and from the Baltics includes driving through part of Germany, and very short visit to Finland as well. Start in Germany, taking an overnight ferry from Kiel across the Baltic Sea to Klaipeda in Lithuania. Visit the Curonian Spit before crossing the country to visit the capital, the beautiful Baroque city of Vilnius, for two nights. Travel north to Latvia and Riga for two nights. Then continue to Sigulda and the Gauja National Park, and north to Estonia and the pretty beach resort of Parnu for one night. Continue onto Virtsu where you will take a ferry to the islands of Saaremaa and Muhu for a two night stay at a truly stunning hotel. Back to the mainland and onto the capital, Tallinn for two nights. Your return journey will be by ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki, with a few hours in Helsinki, then another (overnight) ferry from Helsinki to Travemunde on Germany’s Baltic coast. After a final night in Germany, the tour finishes and depart for home.
May be subject to change.
The tour starts in Kiel, Germany on the Baltic coast. Catch an evening ferry from Kiel (18.00), which will take you across the Baltic Sea to Lithuania. The ferry journey is 21 hours so plenty of time to relax and read a great book.
Arrive at 4.30pm in the coastal resort of Klaipeda, just at the top of the beautiful Curonian Spit – the most exotic natural wonderland in the Baltics. The Spit is a National Park and has fabulous long beaches. Stay for two nights in a lovely hotel in Klaipeda, with secure parking.
Spend the day exploring Klaipeda and the pretty Curonian Spit, which borders Kaliningrad. Enjoy a day relaxing in the sleepy town of Nida or getting some sun on the idyllic white sandy beaches.
Drive along the border with Kaliningrad, heading east for Vilnius. Visit the Rumsiskes open-air museum, which has 150 original buildings from all over the country – well worth a few hours of your day.Then visit Trakai, a major medieval fortress, surrounded by a lake, just to the west of Vilnius. Stay in Vilnius for two nights in a gorgeous boutique hotel, with a gated courtyard for parking.
Explore the beautiful baroque city of Vilnius and its Old Town; an inviting warren of cobbled alleyways and Byzantine churches. The city has a laidback charm and atmosphere that draws you in and it is easily explored on foot. Vilnius can, and quite rightly does, claim to contain the finest examples of baroque architecture north of Rome, and this alone is reason enough to visit. But if that isn’t enough, there are parks and there are rivers and there are museums that rival the best in western Europe. Other surprises to be found are a few remaining Soviet curiosities, a miracle or two, occasional naked monks and an angel on skates.
Head north into Latvia. Just to the south of Riga take time to visit one of Latvia’s architectural wonders, the stupendous 18th-century Rundale Palace, a huge baroque palace of aristocratic excess, and veritable ‘Versailles of the north’. Continue on to Riga, capital of Latvia. Stay for two nights in a wonderful, historic, luxury hotel with secure courtyard parking.
Explore Riga, a boisterous, mercantile city, that was once part of the Hanseatic League. The city has a rich collection of Art Nouveau architecture, Baroque churches, cobbled squares and idiosyncratic museums. The Old Town is a compact network of narrow streets and medieval merchant houses, dotted with Gothic spires and fairytale turrets. Most of the buildings are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Museum of Latvian Occupation is extremely interesting. There is also a motor museum featuring Latvian and Soviet transport history.
Drive up to the Gauja National Park, a wonderfully unspoilt and forested area where the river carves through steep cliffs. Explore the Gauja River area, including Turaida Castle and the nineteenth-century aristocratic seat of Krimulda, both sitting on the cliff top above the river. Then head north along the coast and into Estonia. Arrive in the beach-side resort of Parnu, which is blessed with a glorious white-sand beach, and has a really charming old centre with delightful wooden houses. Stay in a century-old merchant’s grand villa, now a truly exquisite and stylish, Russian Art Noveau hotel, restored to the highest quality.
Leave Parnu behind and drive across lovely countryside to the coast. From here take the ferry to the island of Muhu. Stay for the next two nights on the southern tip of the island in one of Estonia’s most charming manor houses, now an exquisite, five-star hotel situated at the sea edge. There is a spa, private cinema, and renowned restaurant, as well as a number of activities to keep you amused.
Take the opportunity to explore Muhu and the neighbouring, larger island of Saaremaa, reached by a causeway. For Estonians, these islands epitomise the nation’s natural beauty more than any other place. See the Bishop’s Castle in Kuressaare, or the Angla windmills, or the meteor crater. Or, if you prefer, spend the day relaxing at the manor. Boat rental, mountain bikes, water skiing, fishing, and riding can all be arranged, or pamper yourself in the spa.
Leave Muhu and take the ferry back to the mainland. It is only about two hours drive to Tallinn, the capital. Tallinn is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in northern Europe and is a really beautiful place. The Old Town’s maze of paved alleys, turrets, slender steeples, and proud merchant houses look like they are from a fairy tale. Stay for two nights in one of Tallinn’s best hotels, a fabulous five star hotel that used to be the Estonian Telegraph exchange, in the heart of the Old Town, with a spa, pool – and secure courtyard/underground parking.
Spend the day discovering the delights of Tallinn; a fascinating combination of quaint medieval old town, and gleaming, glass-fronted new metropolis. Visit Kadriorg, a leafy park laid out by Peter the Great, with a palace at its centre, and home of the finest art museum in the Baltics. There will be a private guided tour for about 90 minutes in the morning, to really discover the city and its quirks. There are many restaurants in Tallinn to sample.
Leave Tallinn and Estonia by ferry on the short crossing (2 hours) to Helsinki, Finland. Spend a couple of hours exploring Helsinki, and then take the overnight ferry to Travemunde, Germany at 17.30.
The day will be spent crossing the Baltic Sea, so enjoy time to relax. Arrive in Travemunde, Germany at 9pm and stay in a nearby luxury hotel.
Depart at your leisure after a fabulous breakfast (akin to being in the Harrods food hall!). It’s worth spending an hour or so in Travemunde before driving home.
On this tour you will stay in some of the most glorious hotels, including sumptuous former palaces, castles and villas.
All the hotels are individual and unique and, overall, are of an extremely high standard, often in stunning buildings and locations. Due to the nature and age of these hotels the rooms vary from charmingly comfortable to the utmost luxury. We have hand-picked the accommodation for their unique atmosphere and style.
Suitable parking is, of course, a feature of each hotel, but it is not always undercover.
Tour Book (incl UK P&P): £199