So, what's the deal with the Baltic states? Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania are tucked into the northeast corner of Europe and offer unspoiled nature, rich history, and vibrant culture. But its rare I've met others that have ventured that way on their summer Euro Trip.
To be honest, before going to the Baltic's I had no idea what to expect. I looked at a map and pointed to somewhere completely new. Plus, being so centrally located in Prague, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to stray off-the-beaten-path.
I checked out the three capital cities: Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia), and Vilnius (Lithuania). I was absolutely stunned by how much these countries had to offer but how little I knew about them before visiting! Here are a few of the many reasons you should check out the Baltic states before they get too popular:
1. They're loaded with historical charm and natural beauty
Once you look past the soviet block style buildings, you'll find much of each city's history preserved in the old towns. You'll find palaces, cathedrals, scenic overlooks, and old city walls to rival the charm of any Western European city. Not to mention, from all three cities you can easily reach beautiful beaches on the Baltic sea. I hopped a train 30 minutes outside of Riga to Jūrmala (and it only cost me 1 euro to get there!).
2. They each have their own flavor & quirkiness
Did you know Skype was created in Tallinn? Or that Vilnius is the only capital in the world you can fly directly over in a hot air balloon? Each city boasts its own unique character and eclectic energy. They are all extremely technologically advanced and you can find free wifi virtually everywhere. I loved how each city had a knack for repurposing old spaces. In Tallinn, I browsed street art and sipped craft beer in Telliskivi Creative City, a converted factory complex. In Riga, I was psyched to find a bagel shop in an old cigar factory. Vilnius had its cool quirkiness as well. Be sure to venture into Uzupis - an area of artists and freethinkers that declared itself independent. It was really interesting to read their constitution, visit their parliament (which is a pub, by the way), and take in the street art scene.
3. They aren't overrun by tourists
As I mentioned earlier, the Baltic capitals have history and charm to rival the rest of Europe. So why are they still so undiscovered? As was my case, I just simply didn't know much about this region. Take the chance to head there now, for an authentic experience without the hoards of tourists. It's a nice break from masses of stag parties and bus tours unloading in Prague each day. Although, the Brits are starting to discover the party potential here as well, so act quickly!
4. You can easily visit on a backpacker's budget
I found the Baltic capitals very reasonable when it came to paying for hostels, eating, and drinking. Hostels ran anywhere from 10-18 Euro/night for a basic dorm- some of the best prices in Europe! I was able to eat in casual restaurants or cafes for as little as 3-5 Euro and dinner restaurants tended to be anywhere between 10-15 Euro (including drinks). Plus, they're all on the Euro so you don't have to worry about withdrawing a bunch of different currencies. Did I mention I found a bus ticket from Riga to Vilnius for only 9 Euro!
5. Traveling between each city is comfortable and simple!
Speaking of travel, getting between the Baltic capitals is a breeze! It's most economical (and fastest) to take buses between each city. Compare prices between LuxExpress and Eurolines, as they often have incredible promotions going on! I used LuxExpress (a bit nicer) and it had entertainment systems and plugs at each seat, free wifi, and free coffee/tea/hot chocolate the entire way. With just an average of four hours between the capitals (Tallin<-->Riga, Riga<-->Vilnius), the journeys were quick and comfortable!
6. They are great destinations for both solo & group travel
Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius are great cities if you want to travel independently or even in a group of friends. There are plenty of things to do on your own and ways to meet other travelers (free tours, pub crawls, meet ups) and group friendly accommodations (restaurants/bars/hostels/Airbnb). You won't have to spend a fortune and have an excellent mix of nature & culture to fit everyones preferences.
Now's the time- discover the Baltics for yourself before so many other do too! Send me a message to get started planning your custom adventure in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia!
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