Journey beginning at Vilnius, Lithuania and ending at Tallinn, Estonia
Available: 2018-01-01 to 2018-12-31 starting from $5837 AUD
This independent tour showcases the rich history and beautiful nature of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Explore the medieval sites, nature reserves, and the famous, carefully restored manors. While enjoying the spa culture and nature, also take time to learn a little about these countries’ fascination history and their transition from times under the Russian monarchy to independence and their acceptance to the European Union. History is alive here, and it is no wonder that each of the Old Towns of the Baltic capital cities have been granted the status of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Highlights include: 4* – 5* hand-picked accommodations, private transfers by car, many included activities, private guides and walking tours.
Consider timing your visit to Estonia with the 2019 Song and Dance Festival here. This event only happens every 5 years.
Day 1 – Arrive in Vilnius and transfer to the hotel
Arrive in Vilnius and take your private transfer to the hotel. Once you have settled in, head out on a city tour with your private guide. Vilnius is known for its more than 1.200 medieval buildings and 48 churches. The Old Town consists of the areas of the three castles (Upper, Lower and Curved) as well as another area encircled by a wall in the Middle Ages. The historic buildings are a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical styles, laid out in medieval style, thus giving the city its distinct appearance.
Visit the most impressive sites of the old town: Vilnius Cathedral Basilica; the oldest street in the old town, Pilies street with its original buildings dating from between the 14th and 19th centuries; the Gothic architecture ensemble of St. Anne’s, Bernardine’s and St. Michael’s churches; and the 16th century Gates of Dawn, which originally formed part of the town fortifications and house a holy image of the Virgin Mary that is famous in the religious community because of the legendary miracles that it helped perform.
Continue further to the Orthodox church of the Holy Spirit, built in the 17th century and now home to the preserved bodies of the three martyred saints Anthony, Ivan and Eustachius. Then stop at the town hall and town hall square, the former marketplace and place of public executions, and visit Vilnius University with its 13 courtyards and a variety of architectural styles, which dates back to 1579.
You guide will return you to your hotel and offer suggestions for your evening meal.
Day 2 – Half day private excursion to Trakai Castle
After breakfast at the hotel restaurant, head off on a half day tour to Trakai Castle, 25 kms from Vilnius. The reconstructed 14th century castle stands on an island in the middle of a large lake, in very picturesque surroundings. It currently houses a museum of archaeology and medieval life.
Day 3 – Free day in Vilnius
Relax as you wander the cobblestone streets of Vilnius – perhaps visit Rudninku Knygynas, one of Vilnius’ Old Town’s most interesting and valuable antique shops. It is full of old novels, creative books on art, fashion, and design, and old vinyl records. This shop also sells local craftsmen’s works and unique postcards. It is a perfect place to visit if you are interested in Lithuanian antiques and less typical souvenirs, or if you are simply in love with art or books.
If you want to stretch your legs, hike to the Hill of Three crosses to appreciate the vast Lithuanian flora, explore one of the most famous monuments in the country’s history, and admire Vilnius’ panorama at its best. The Hill of Three Crosses, located in the middle of the city and near the Vilnia River, is a part of the Kalnų Park and home to the Three Crosses artwork by Antoni Wiwulski from 1916, which alludes to a similar wooden work which has stood here since the early 17th century. During the summer, the Kalnų Park and the hill host many music and street festivals.
Day 4 – Head to Latvia, stopping enroute at the Hill of Crosses
After breakfast at the hotel restaurant, check out and depart for Latvia.
En route stop at the Hill of Crosses (no guide), a unique place in Lithuania where millions of crosses and rosaries are put on two hills by Lithuanians and others from all over the world in an expression of spontaneous faith, and as a symbol not of grief and death but of Faith, Love and Sacrifice. From here the Pope blessed all the people of Lithuania and all of Christian Europe. When the wind blows, rosaries swing on the crosses and make a haunting sound, a strange music that strengthens the impression that you are in a truly exceptional place.
On the way to Riga, you will visit the splendid 18th century Rundale Palace with local museum guide. Rundale Palace, built between 1736 and 1740 as a summer residence for the Duke of Courland Ernst Johann Biron, is the most outstanding monument of Baroque and Rococo art in Latvia. The palace is an important example of the early work of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The palace complex consists of the palace with its inner courtyard, the semicircular stables with a large household yard, and a formal park surrounded by a canal.
Arrive around 18.00-19.00 and check-in to the hotel.
Day 5 – Riga – private city tour by car and foot
Today is your day to discover the centre of Riga. The capital city of Latvia, and the largest of the three Baltic capitals, is a beautiful, ancient Hanseatic city with its Old Town full of picturesque cobble-stone streets dating back to the 13th-15th centuries. Since the 19th century, the medieval core has been expanded with the construction of imposing wooden buildings in neoclassical style, and later the construction of elaborate Art Nouveau style stone buildings. In fact, the quantity and quality of Riga’s amazing Art Nouveau architecture remains unparalleled anywhere in the world even to this very day. It is no wonder that Riga is often called ‘the Paris of the Baltics’.
The Old Town of Riga can be seen as a beautiful open-air museum in itself; it is a living illustration of European history. Our walking tour encompasses the most significant sights of Riga. Visit the Dome Cathedral, the Church of St. Peter, the old Guild-Houses, Riga Castle, and the Swedish gate, and view the many wonderfully restored houses. This tour also includes a tour by vehicle. Enjoy the elegance of the Art Nouveau buildings on Alberta Street and take a drive along the central boulevards and avenues of Riga.
This afternoon you are free to do your own discoveries. Perhaps have a look at the Central Market and see the buildings that house it: five pavilions built upon old German Zeppelin hangars in Art Nouveau style. It’s the largest market in Europe so there’s a good chance you can hunt for and find unexpected treasures there. Watch the locals who buy their groceries and everyday products there.
Day 6 – Private transfer to Pärnu, via Sigulda National Park
After breakfast departure to Pärnu via Sigulda. You will again travel back to the romance of the Middle Ages, a time of castles and chivalrous heroes. Drive through gently undulating farmland to the beautiful Gauja River valley. On the outskirts of the old town of Sigulda stand the ruins of a 13th century Crusader Castle, and fabled sandstone caves guarded by statuesque birch trees. The wild beauty of the Turaida Nature Reserve stretches out below you as you gaze down from the tower of Turaida Castle.
After the visit continue to Pärnu. This private transfer to Pärnu is without a guide (just your driver).
Day 7 – Spend the morning on the beach or at the spa before transferring to Tallinn
After breakfast at the hotel restaurant, meet the guide in the hotel lobby for Pärnu walking tour for approximately 1,5-2 hrs. The summer capital, Pärnu is a town full of parks, alleys, beaches, warm shallow waters and health spas offering various curative treatments including local mud-baths.
Free time for lunch – if you wish to enjoy one of the treatments on offer, please let your guide know.
When you are ready, transfer from the hotel into Estonia’s capital, Tallinn.
Day 8 – Day tour of Tallinn by car and by foot
After breakfast at the hotel restaurant, join a sightseeing tour around Tallinn’s Old Town – a charming blend of medieval tranquillity and modern urban life. The town was founded in the 13th century and still retains its medieval urban plan of narrow winding streets and impressive public and private buildings. This is a busy place, especially in the summer, with its many shops, galleries, souvenier markets, outdoor cafes and restaurants.
The 1.5-2 hour walking tour goes through the two sharply contrasting parts of the Old Town: the Lower Town, once a free trading town and member of the Hanseatic League with its guild houses, warehouses, a unique Gothic Town Hall, merchant dwellings, and churches with charming slender towers; and Toompea or the Upper Town, the seat of German landlords and their houses from the 18th-19th centuries. You also visit the biggest churches: the Alexander Nevski cathedral, an active Russian orthodox church, built just over 100 years ago, and the Dome church, the church of the local German nobility for centuries, which contains a valuable collection of their family coats of arms. The church itself is one of the oldest in Estonia and is built in the Gothic style. From the viewing platform you can see a panoramic view of not only the Old Town but also the rest of the city.
A car tour takes you to the park and the seaside area of Kadriorg and Pirita, and visit the Kadriorg palace.
The Kadriorg park was laid out by Peter the Great in 1718. The park is also home to the Song Festival Grounds and the Song Festival Stage, a huge outdoor arena that has been the venue for Estonian´s main national cultural festivals since the 19th century.
Our last stop will be at the Pirita marina, where Tallinn hosted the Olympic Sailing Regatta in 1980, and where the best beach in Tallinn can be found. The dramatic ruins of the gothic St. Brigitte’s convent still stand in the centre of this lovely residential area, next to the new convent for 15 nuns opened in 2001.
The tour ends at your hotel and you can collapse on a sofa or head out to explore some more this afternoon.
Day 9 – Visit Lahemaa National park including beaver trail as well as manor house visits
After breakfast, depart to Lahemaa National park for a return day trip. This is an opportunity to learn more about Estonia’s diverse cultural and natural history and see the Lahemaa nature preserve, situated at the Gulf of Finland and east of Tallinn. The most attractive part of Lahemaa is indeed its nature: the bays, forests, bogs, limestone cliffs and huge boulders.
Enjoy a short walk at Oandu along the ‘beaver trail’. It passes through the Altja River valley, in which you will see a diversity of plant and animal life. You will spy beaver activity in the valley too: the dams they build, their dens on the banks of the river and the trees whose trunks they gnaw through. We will visit beautiful manor houses of German landlord families dating back to the 18th centuries (Palmse or Sagadi manor). At the idyllic captain’s village of Käsmu we introduce you to Estonian seafaring past. The village was home to a maritime school, and virtually every family had its captain or coxswain.
Day 10 – Departure day
After breakfast, transfer to your hotel or port. It is an easy ferry ride across to Helsinki.
- All accommodation in shared double/twin room, unique 4* – 5* hotels
- Daily breakfast
- Private transfers by car, Vilnius airport – Vilnius hotel, Vilnius – Riga, Riga – Pärnu, Pärnu – Tallinn, Tallinn hotel – airport/port
- Guided walk in Tallinn Old Town, Pärnu, Riga and Vilnius
- Trakai tour half day including entrance to the castle
- Private guide for Sigulda National park tour and Turaida castle tour, including Turaida castle entrance fee
- Private guide and entrance fee in Rundale palace
- Lahemaa National Park Private tour with guide
- 24-hour emergency service
- Taxes and service fees
Flight tickets, any airport taxes, travel insurance, visas, gratitudes and any items of personal nature.
To find out more or to book this incredible tour, contact Globetrotter Lifestyle today!