Baltic road trip

Last updated 01.11.2016

Source: Mart Vares

Baltic road trip

Source: Mart Vares

The Baltic states are an offbeat region tucked into the Northeastern corner of Europe. Locals debate which of their capitals is finest: Vilnius, Riga or Tallinn. The best way to find out is to hit the road and decide for yourself! Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are all members the Schengen agreement, European Union and use the Euro (€) currency, which means no waiting at borders or exchanging money. Discover the unique charm of each country and visit villages, beaches and unique attractions along the way. 

Estonia

The smallest Baltic state by land area and population, with a quaint 1.34 million residents. Estonian is a unique, Finno-Urgic language closely related to Finnish. Holding the title of least religious country in the world, Estonia still boasts amazing, centuries-old churches as well as some of the purest nature in Europe. 

Supeluse street, Pärnu

In the summer, beachy vibes fill this seaside town. Restore by the shore or at a spa, like the luxurious Hedon Spa & Hotel pictured here. 

Photo by: Danel Rinaldo

Begin your road trip in Tallinn, capital of Estonia. Well connected by plane, boat, bus or train, arriving is easy. Marvel at one of the best preserved medieval city centres in Northern Europe and take in the contemporary art scene before heading South. Winding countryside roads will lead you to Pärnu, a small seaside town, known as Estonia's summer capital. The shallow waters in the Bay of Pärnu are lined by sandy beaches, making for great swimming and sunbathing. World class cafes and restaurants await you in the cozy town centre or along the sea, and lavish spas offer a relaxing escape no matter the season. In search of Estonian flora and fauna? Escape to Nätsi-Võlla Nature Reserve, just West of Pärnu. This series of bogs is home to numerous bird species as well as wild cloudberries and cranberries. 

Latvia

The second largest Baltic country with 2.1 million residents. The Latvian language belongs to the same Balto-Slavic family as Lithuanian. Along with Estonia, Latvia is one of the most forested countries in the EU, covered by over 50% forest. 

The House of Blackheads, Riga

Riga is the biggest city of the Baltics and while full of traditional culture, was named European Capital of Free Wifi in 2014. 

Photo by: Bryan Ledgard

Riga, Latvia's capital, is famous for having the highest concentration of Art Nouveau style buildings in the world as well as an old town on the  UNESCO World Heritage list. If your timing is right you can catch one of Latvia's many large-scale cultural events, like Cēsis Art Festival. After getting your fill of the city, depart for Jūrmala, a seaside resort with wooden buildings and a white sand beach stretching over 25km. Explore Jūrmala's 16 districts, the most popular of which is Majori. Next pay Ķemeru National Park a visit, which wraps around Jurmala to the West. A final stop in Latvia: stunning baroque Rundāle Palace, near the border with Lithuania. 

Lithuania 

The largest Baltic state by land area and population with roughly 3 million residents, Lithuania is home to amber, curative mineral waters and some of the best basketball players in the world. 

Vilnius Panorama

The city's skyline juxtaposes old against new.

Photo by: Papooga

Shortly after crossing into Lithuania, the last and most Southern country on your Baltic road trip, you will encounter the mysterious Hill of Crosses. 100,000 crosses of different styles and sizes create an unusual spectacle and monument to Lithuanian independence, religion and cultural identity. Continuing South, spend a day or two in Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania and a historical centre of culture, academics and trade. Your final destination is Vilnius, capital of Lithuania. Here the Vilnius Castle complex looks over the city at the place where the Vilnia and Neris rivers converge. You will have travelled over 600km through three countries and experienced the characteristic cultures of the Baltic region. 

Last updated 01.11.2016
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