Visit Baltics, consisting of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, are three small countries located in northeastern Europe. Despite their size, these countries offer a wealth of cultural, historical, and natural attractions that make them a must-visit destination for any traveller. From the medieval old town of Tallinn to the stunning dunes of the Curonian Spit, the Baltics have something to offer for everyone.
One of the main attractions of the Baltics is their rich history and culture. The old towns of Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and are home to some of the best-preserved medieval architecture in Europe. The Baltics also have a rich cultural heritage, with traditional music, dance, and crafts still alive and well in many parts of the region. Visitors can experience this culture firsthand at local festivals and events throughout the year.
Another draw of the Baltics is their unspoilt natural beauty. The region is home to numerous national parks, nature reserves, and protected areas, where visitors can explore pristine forests, lakes, and wetlands. The Curonian Spit, a narrow strip of land that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea, is a particularly stunning natural wonder. With its towering sand dunes, picturesque fishing villages, and unique flora and fauna, it is a must-visit destination for any nature lover.
Overview of the Baltics
The Baltics, also known as the Baltic States or Baltic Countries, are a group of three countries located in Northern Europe. These countries are Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and they are situated on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The region is also sometimes referred to as the Baltic Region or the Baltic States.
The Baltics are known for their rich history, unique culture, and beautiful landscapes. The region has been inhabited for thousands of years, and it has been influenced by a variety of different cultures and civilizations throughout its history. Today, the Baltics are a popular destination for tourists who are interested in exploring the region’s history, culture, and natural beauty.
The Baltics are part of Eastern Europe, and they are located in the northern part of the region. The region is also sometimes considered to be part of Central Europe, due to its proximity to other Central European countries. The Baltic Sea, which the region is named after, is a large body of water that is located between Northern Europe and Eastern Europe.
The three Baltic countries are each unique in their own way, but they share many similarities as well. They all have a rich cultural heritage, and they are known for their beautiful architecture, delicious cuisine, and friendly people. The region is also home to many natural wonders, including forests, lakes, and beaches.
Overall, the Baltics are a fascinating and beautiful region that is well worth exploring. Whether you are interested in history, culture, or nature, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the Baltics.
Travelling to the Baltics is relatively easy, with a range of transport options available to suit different budgets and preferences. Here are some of the most common ways to get to the Baltics:
Flying is the most popular way to reach the Baltics, with several airlines offering direct flights from major European cities. The main airports in the region are Riga International Airport in Latvia, Tallinn Airport in Estonia, and Vilnius International Airport in Lithuania. Airlines that fly to the Baltics include Ryanair, Wizz Air, and Air Baltic.
Another option for getting to the Baltics is by ferry. There are several ferry companies that operate services from Scandinavia to the Baltics, with routes from Helsinki, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. The most popular ferry companies include Tallink and Viking Line.
Travelling by bus is a cheap and convenient way to get around the Baltics, with several international bus companies operating services between the major cities. Eurolines and Lux Express are two of the most popular bus companies in the region.
Rail travel in the Baltics is limited, but there are some train services available between the major cities. The Rail Baltica project aims to connect Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by rail, with completion expected in 2026. In the meantime, travellers can take advantage of the existing train services, such as the Vilnius to Kaunas route in Lithuania.
Travelling by car is a great way to explore the Baltics at your own pace, with several car rental companies operating in the region. It’s worth noting that driving in the Baltics can be challenging, particularly in rural areas where roads can be narrow and poorly maintained.
For those who prefer to drive, renting a car is a convenient option. Several international car rental companies operate in the Baltics, including Avis, Hertz, and Europcar. It’s worth checking the terms and conditions of your rental agreement, as some companies may have restrictions on where you can take the car.
Visa and Legal Requirements
Travelling to the Baltic States is generally straightforward, but visitors should be aware of the visa and legal requirements for the region.
The Baltic States are part of the Schengen Area, which is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and other types of border control at their mutual borders. This means that visitors can travel freely between these countries without having to show their passports at the border. However, visitors should note that they may still be subject to random checks by border officials.
Visitors from outside the Schengen Area may require a visa to enter the Baltic States. The exact visa requirements will depend on the visitor’s nationality and the length and purpose of their stay. Visitors are advised to check the visa requirements well in advance of their trip to ensure that they have the necessary documentation.
Visa requirements for the Baltic States are subject to change, so visitors should check with the relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information. In general, visitors who require a visa will need to apply for one at the nearest embassy or consulate of the country they plan to visit.
From 2022/3, visitors to the Baltic States who are citizens of countries that do not require a visa to enter the Schengen Area may need to obtain an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) visa waiver. The ETIAS is a new system that is being introduced to improve security and prevent illegal immigration. Visitors will need to apply for an ETIAS online before their trip.
Other Legal Requirements
Visitors to the Baltic States should also be aware of other legal requirements, such as the need to carry identification at all times and to register with the local authorities if staying for more than a certain period. Visitors should also be aware of local laws and customs, such as the requirement to carry a warning triangle and reflective vest in their vehicle when driving in some countries.
Overall, visitors to the Baltic States should ensure that they have all the necessary documentation and comply with all legal requirements to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.
Getting around the Baltics is relatively easy, with several transportation options available to visitors.
Bus service is the most popular mode of transportation in the Baltics, with several bus companies offering both domestic and international routes. Bus travel is relatively affordable and comfortable, with many buses equipped with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. Visitors can purchase tickets online or at bus stations.
Renting a car is another popular option for visitors who want to explore the Baltics at their own pace. The road network in the Baltics is well-maintained, and driving is relatively easy. Visitors can rent a car at major airports or in city centres. It is important to note that some rural areas may have unpaved roads, so visitors should check their route beforehand.
Train travel is less common in the Baltics, but it is still an option for visitors. The rail network connects major cities, and trains are generally comfortable and affordable. However, train travel can be slower than other modes of transportation, and some routes may require a transfer.
Ferries are a popular mode of transportation for visitors who want to explore the Baltic Sea. Several ferry companies offer routes between the Baltics and neighbouring countries such as Finland, Sweden, and Germany. Ferry travel is generally comfortable and affordable, and visitors can enjoy scenic views of the Baltic Sea.
Routes and Maps
Visitors can easily plan their routes using online maps and transportation websites. Most transportation companies have websites in English, and visitors can purchase tickets and plan their routes online. Additionally, many cities have public transportation systems such as buses and trams, which are easy to use and affordable.
In summary, visitors to the Baltics have several transportation options available to them, including bus service, car rental, train travel, and ferry service. With well-maintained roads, affordable prices, and comfortable transportation options, visitors can easily explore the Baltics and enjoy all that the region has to offer.
When to Visit
The best time to visit the Baltics is during the off-season, which is from October to April. During this time, the weather can be quite cold, with temperatures ranging from -5°C to 5°C, but this is also when you can experience the Christmas markets and related events, which are a highlight of the season.
Spring and autumn are beautiful times to visit these three countries. The weather is mild, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 15°C, and the landscape is stunning, with colourful foliage and blooming flowers.
Summer is the peak tourist season in the Baltics, and for good reason. The weather is warm, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C, and the days are long, with up to 19 hours of daylight in some areas. This is the perfect time to explore the region’s beaches, national parks, and outdoor activities.
However, keep in mind that during the summer months, the crowds can be overwhelming, and prices for accommodation and tours can be higher than usual. If you’re planning to visit during this time, it’s best to book your accommodation and tours well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Overall, the best time to visit the Baltics depends on your preferences and interests. If you’re looking for a winter wonderland experience, visit during the off-season. If you want to enjoy the region’s natural beauty, visit in the spring or autumn. And if you’re looking for a fun-filled summer holiday, visit during the peak season.
Places to Visit
The Baltic States are a treasure trove of stunning natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and fascinating history. Here are some must-visit places to explore in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Estonia is a country of contrasts, with a mix of medieval and modern architecture, pristine nature, and a vibrant cultural scene. Here are some of the top places to visit in Estonia:
- Tallinn: The capital city of Estonia is a charming blend of old town and modern city. The UNESCO-listed Old Town is a must-visit, with its cobbled streets, Gothic spires, and colourful buildings.
- Tartu: Estonia’s second-largest city is a student town with a youthful vibe. It’s home to the country’s oldest university, as well as a vibrant cultural scene and numerous museums.
- Lahemaa: This national park is a nature lover’s paradise, with forests, lakes, and rugged coastline. It’s also home to several manor houses and traditional fishing villages.
- Kalamaja: This trendy neighbourhood in Tallinn is known for its colourful wooden houses, street art, and hip cafes and restaurants.
- Saaremaa: This island off the west coast of Estonia is a peaceful retreat with unspoilt nature, windmills, and a medieval castle.
- Muhu: This small island off the west coast of Lithuania is a peaceful retreat with unspoilt nature, traditional windmills, and a medieval church.
Latvia is a country of diverse landscapes, from sandy beaches to dense forests and rolling hills. Here are some of the top places to visit in Latvia:
- Riga: The capital city of Latvia is a vibrant cultural hub, with a mix of Art Nouveau and medieval architecture. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its narrow streets, historic churches, and lively market.
- Sigulda: This town is known as the “Switzerland of Latvia” for its hilly terrain and stunning scenery. It’s home to a medieval castle, a bobsleigh track, and several hiking trails.
- Liepupe Manor: This 18th-century manor house is a hidden gem in the Latvian countryside. It’s surrounded by a beautiful park and offers guided tours and cultural events.
- Rundale Palace: This stunning Baroque palace is one of the most impressive buildings in Latvia. It’s surrounded by manicured gardens and is a popular venue for concerts and events.
Lithuania is a country of contrasts, with a mix of medieval and modern architecture, pristine nature, and a vibrant cultural scene. Here are some of the top places to visit in Lithuania:
- Vilnius: The capital city of Lithuania is a charming blend of old town and modern city. The UNESCO-listed Old Town is a must-visit, with its cobbled streets, Gothic spires, and colourful buildings.
- Kaunas: This city is known as the “cultural capital” of Lithuania, with a rich history and a thriving arts scene. It’s home to several museums, galleries, and theatres.
- Curonian Spit: This narrow strip of land is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a nature lover’s paradise. It’s home to sand dunes, pine forests, and traditional fishing villages.
- Hill of Crosses: This pilgrimage site is a symbol of defiance and a must-visit for anyone interested in Lithuanian history and culture.
Off the Beaten Path
For those who want to get off the beaten path and explore the lesser-known corners of the Baltic States, here are some suggestions:
- Countryside: The Baltic States are home to numerous picturesque villages and rural landscapes, where visitors can experience traditional life and customs.
- Forests and Lakes: The Baltic States are known for their pristine forests and crystal-clear lakes, which offer opportunities for hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching.
- Islands: The Baltic Sea coastline is dotted with numerous islands, each with its own unique character and charm.
- Sand Dunes: The Curonian Spit is not the only place to find sand dunes in the Baltic States. There are also dunes in Pärnu and on the Lithuanian coast.
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Baltic States are home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Old Towns of Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius, as well as the Curonian Spit and Rundale Palace.
The Baltic region is known for its rich cultural heritage, which is reflected in its art, architecture, language, and customs. Visitors to the Baltics can experience the region’s unique culture through a variety of activities and events.
Art and Architecture
The architecture of the Baltic region is a blend of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Nouveau styles, with many buildings dating back to the medieval period. The Art Nouveau architecture of Alberta iela in Riga, Latvia, is a must-see for art and architecture enthusiasts. The region is also home to many museums and galleries showcasing the works of local artists.
Festivals and Holidays
The Baltic region is home to many festivals and holidays that celebrate the region’s culture and history. Christmas markets are a popular attraction during the holiday season, with many cities hosting markets featuring local crafts and traditional foods. The Singing Revolution, which took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is celebrated annually in Estonia and Latvia.
Language and Customs
The Baltic region is home to a rich folk culture, with many traditional crafts and customs still practiced today. Visitors can learn about traditional Baltic crafts such as weaving, pottery, and woodcarving at museums and workshops throughout the region. The region’s languages, which include Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian, are also an important part of its cultural heritage.
Overall, the Baltic region offers a unique cultural experience that is sure to delight visitors. From its medieval architecture to its traditional crafts and customs, the region’s rich cultural heritage is a testament to its history and resilience in the face of events such as World War I and the Soviet occupation.
Food and Drink
The cuisine of the Baltics has similarities with that of Russia, with dishes like beetroot soup, hearty stews, and various types of dumplings. However, the region has its own unique twists on traditional dishes.
One must-try dish is cepelinai or didžkukuliai, which are potato dumplings filled with minced meat. Another popular dish is žemaičių blynai, which are potato pancakes filled with minced meat. For those who prefer something lighter, there are shallow-fried potato pancakes called bulviniai blynai.
Fish is also a staple in the Baltic diet, with smoked and salted fish being popular choices. Smoked eel is a delicacy in the region, and smoked salmon is a must-try for seafood lovers.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in the Baltics that serve traditional dishes alongside international cuisine. For a fine dining experience, visitors can head to the 14th-floor restaurant Skybar in Riga, Latvia, which offers stunning views of the city skyline. In Tallinn, Estonia, Olde Hansa is a medieval-themed restaurant that serves traditional Estonian fare in a historic setting.
For a more casual dining experience, visitors can head to any of the numerous cafes and pubs in the region. Cafe Miera in Riga is a popular spot for brunch and coffee, while Pagaripoisid in Tallinn is known for its freshly baked pastries and bread.
Overall, visitors to the Baltics will find a diverse range of food and drink options that cater to all tastes and budgets.
Shopping and Markets
The Baltic region is home to a variety of unique shopping experiences, from traditional markets to modern shopping centres. Visitors can find everything from handmade crafts and souvenirs to high-end fashion and luxury goods.
One of the most popular markets in the region is Riga’s Central Market, housed in what was originally designed as Zeppelin hangars. The market is close to the main bus station and the Moscow District and was once Europe’s largest market in the 1930s. Today, visitors can find a wide range of local produce, including fresh fish, meat, and vegetables, as well as handmade crafts and souvenirs.
Another must-visit market is the Kalnciema Quarter Market in Riga, which takes place every Saturday. This market offers a unique shopping experience, with a focus on traditional Latvian crafts and products. Visitors can find everything from handmade jewellery and clothing to local honey and cheese.
For those looking for a more modern shopping experience, the region is home to several large shopping centres, including the Akropolis Shopping Centre in Vilnius and the Alfa Shopping Centre in Riga. These centres offer a wide range of international and local brands, as well as restaurants and entertainment options.
Amber is a popular souvenir to buy in the Baltic region, and visitors can find a variety of amber products, including jewellery and decorative items, in many of the markets and shops throughout the region. However, it’s important to be aware of fake amber products, so visitors should purchase from reputable sellers and look for authentic certification.
Overall, the Baltic region offers a diverse range of shopping experiences, from traditional markets to modern shopping centres, and visitors are sure to find something to suit their tastes and interests.
Travellers to the Baltics have a wide range of accommodation options to choose from, depending on their budget and preferences. From budget hostels and guesthouses to luxury hotels and resorts, the Baltics have something for everyone.
The Baltics have a good selection of hotels, ranging from budget to luxury. Most hotels offer comfortable rooms, modern amenities, and friendly service. Some of the top hotel chains in the region include Radisson Blu, Hilton, and Marriott. Prices for hotels vary depending on the location and season, but generally, they are affordable compared to other European destinations.
For backpackers and budget travellers, hostels are a popular choice. The Baltics have a good selection of hostels, especially in the major cities like Citybox Tallinn. Hostels offer dormitory-style accommodation, private rooms, and shared facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms. Hostels are a great way to meet other travellers and are usually very affordable.
Guesthouses are another popular accommodation option in the Baltics. They are usually smaller than hotels and offer a more personal touch. Guesthouses are often family-run and offer comfortable rooms, home-cooked meals, and local hospitality. Prices for guesthouses are generally lower than hotels but higher than hostels.
Apartments are a good option for travellers who want more space and privacy. Many apartments in the Baltics are located in historic buildings and offer a unique and authentic experience. Apartments are usually fully equipped with kitchens, living areas, and bedrooms. They are a good option for families or groups of friends travelling together.
For outdoor enthusiasts, camping is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the Baltics. There are many campsites located in national parks and along the coast. Camping is a cheap and fun way to travel, but it’s important to bring your own equipment and be prepared for the weather.
Overall, the Baltics offer a wide range of accommodation options for travellers of all budgets and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a luxury hotel or a budget hostel, there’s something for everyone.
Budgeting visit Baltics
Travelling to the Baltics can be an affordable option for those on a budget, with plenty of opportunities to save money without sacrificing quality. Here are a few tips for budgeting your trip to the Baltics:
Accommodation prices in the Baltics can vary depending on the type of accommodation you choose and the location. Hostels and guesthouses can be a great option for budget travellers, with prices ranging from €10€30 per night. Hotels and Airbnb’s can be more expensive, with prices ranging from €30-€100 per night depending on the location and level of luxury.
Transportation in the Baltics is relatively cheap, with buses and trains being the most popular options. A one-way bus ticket can cost as little as €2-€5, while a train ticket can cost between €5-€10. Taxis and Uber are also available, but they can be more expensive than public transportation.
Food prices in the Baltics are generally affordable, with plenty of options for budget travellers. Street food and local markets can be a great option for those looking to save money, with prices ranging from €2-€5 per meal. Restaurants can be more expensive, with prices ranging from €10-€20 per meal depending on the location and level of luxury.
There are plenty of free and low-cost activities to do in the Baltics, including visiting museums and historical sites, hiking, and exploring the local nature. Some attractions may have an entrance fee, but prices are generally affordable, ranging from €3-€10.
Overall, budget travellers can expect to spend around €30-€50 per day in the Baltics, depending on their travel style and preferences. With a little planning and research, it’s possible to have a great trip to the Baltics without breaking the bank.
Safety and Travel Tips
Travelling to the Baltics is generally safe, but visitors should still exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings. Here are some tips to help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip:
General Safety Tips
- Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas such as markets and public transportation.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and use ATMs located inside banks or shopping centres.
- Be wary of pickpockets and scammers who may try to distract you or create a diversion to steal your belongings.
- Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi, as it may not be secure and your personal information could be at risk.
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings, especially when travelling alone at night.
- Use licensed taxis or ride-sharing services, and avoid unmarked taxis or those that do not have a meter.
- Be cautious when crossing the street, as drivers may not always yield to pedestrians.
- When driving, be aware of the local traffic laws and road conditions, and avoid driving at night if possible.
Itinerary and Vacation Tips
- Plan your itinerary in advance and research the areas you will be visiting to ensure you are aware of any potential safety concerns.
- Stay in well-lit areas and reputable accommodations, and avoid staying in areas that are known for high crime rates.
- If travelling alone, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Take advantage of guided tours or local recommendations to ensure you are visiting safe and reputable establishments.
Relaxation and Leisure Tips
- Be respectful of local customs and traditions, and avoid engaging in activities that may be considered offensive or disrespectful.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, especially when travelling alone or in unfamiliar areas.
- Be aware of the risks associated with outdoor activities, such as hiking or swimming, and take appropriate safety precautions.
By following these tips, travellers can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to visit Baltics.