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Baltic Capitals – Tallinn, Riga & Vilnius

8days from
£1,170*per person

Overview

CULTURAL DELIGHTS ON EUROPE’S NORTHERN COAST

Long-held traditions and breath-taking sights await in Eastern Europe’s most intriguing areas, from forested coastlines and river valleys to the historic cities of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.  Diversity is at the heart of the Baltics’ most beloved cities with historic landmarks and charming old towns meeting rapidly developing modern metropolises. With stops in each of the Baltic nations, discover a trio of cultures, histories and languages which differ from region to region. From the legacy left behind by Estonia’s Hanseatic rulers in Tallinn’s former guild houses to Latvia’s widely celebrated pagan traditions and Lithuania’s Russian heritage, each Baltic state offers rewarding exploration amongst truly unique locales.  Take to coastal Tallinn where you’ll observe the city’s distinct civic influences with a walking tour of its UNESCO-listed old town and Toompea. Immerse yourself in authentic Estonian culture in Tartu, home to one of Europe’s most renowned universities, and experience the Baltics’ natural beauty with scenic drives through Gauja’s river valley and national park. Relive the region’s stately past with visits to the Kadriorg and Rundāle Palaces before taking to vibrant Riga and historic Vilnius. 

Itinerary

  • Arrive in Tallin, Estonia’s capital on the Baltic Sea, where you’ll be met by your tour manager and driven to your centrally located hotel. Once you’ve checked in, you’re free to relax or perhaps venture out into the city’s walled old town to explore.
  • Following breakfast, you’ll venture on a guided walking tour of Tallin, starting with the lower town, which was a thriving commercial hub throughout the medieval period. You’ll learn about its trading history as you walk past the guild houses and warehouses to Raekoja Plats, the town’s main square. Here, you’ll come across Tallinn’s impressive Gothic town hall, the oldest of its kind in Europe, adorned with intricate wood carvings and murals. Continue to Tallinn’s upper town which sits atop Toompea, a limestone hill. Witness Toompea castle, formerly the seat of the city’s ruling German nobles and now repurposed to house the Estonian government. You can also see the Pikk Hermann Tower before a visit to the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Tallinn’s largest Eastern Orthodox church. Still actively used today, the cathedral boasts an extravagant gothic design and onion domed roofs symbolic of Russia’s historic influence over Estonia throughout the 19th century. This grand building also has a collection of ornate family crests belonging to German nobility that once resided here. Before making your way back down Toompea, you can take in the spectacular views of the city skyline from any of the area’s three viewing platforms You’ll head to the park and the seafront area with a visit to Kadriorg Palace, an 18th-century landmark founded by Tsar Peter the Great and ringed by beautiful gardens. Having been repurposed as a cultural centre, this majestic baroque palace now houses a vast collection of foreign artworks. The neighbouring Kadriorg Park often hosts festivals in its huge outdoor arena dating back to the 19th century. The afternoon will then be free for exploration before returning to the hotel this evening.
  • Once you’ve had breakfast, you’ll travel through the forested Estonian countryside to Tartu, home to the nation’s most renowned university and recently voted one of 2024’s European Capital of Culture. One of the country’s oldest cities, Tartu has earned the nickname ‘Athens-upon-Emajogi’, owing to its elegant, pillared buildings which emulate ancient Greek architecture. This academic hub has drawn tourists and students alike since the 17th century with its university ranking amongst the oldest and most renowned on the continent. You’ll be led to the old town, which is constructed around the university’s neoclassic main building, and the Town Hall Square. Here, you’ll see a grand 18th-century town hall and the well-known Suudelvag Tudenig (Kissing Students) statue. Also of interest is a museum of the university’s history, set in the ruins of the former Dome church, as well as Estonia’s National Museum which highlights Estonian culture and folk art. During this excursion, you’ll take a short walk up to Toomemäe Hill Park and view the university and city from above, too. Return this evening to the hotel.
  • Have breakfast before journeying south to Latvia’s dramatic alpine landscapes. On the way, you’ll call at the expansive Gauja National Park, with its striking rock formations and biodiverse ecosystems. You can admire Latvia’s natural beauty as you pass through the park’s lush greenery and keep an eye out for the native elk, European bison, and brown bears. You’ll then continue through Gauja River Valley and stop at Sigulda, surrounded by wilderness for lunch at a local restaurant. On the edge of this town, a 13th-century castle can also be seen, which was originally the home of warrior monks and Gutmanala, the largest sandstone grotto in the Baltic region. The day will conclude in Riga, Latvia’s metropolitan capital, where you’ll check into the next hotel.
  • Once you’ve had breakfast, you’ll head off on a guided tour of the city's cobblestone streets, set on the banks of the Daugava River. Start by walking to the Romanesque-style Riga Cathedral with its domed roof, the biggest medieval church and one of the oldest religious buildings in Latvia. Observe its gilded red-brick design and enjoy the views from the tower’s galleries. Continue on to the Church of St. Peter, which was recreated after World War II and features an ornate façade, intricate interiors, and a baroque tower. Riga Castle, which has dominated the Daugava riverfront since the 15th century and now houses the Latvian government, will be your penultimate stop today before you draw the morning’s walking tour to a close at the city’s Swedish Gate. Built during the Swedish empire’s century-long rule of the city, this gate is the only original building in the city’s old quarter still intact after numerous restoration projects. Having explored Riga’s old town this morning, you’ll now explore its modern attractions as you board a coach for a driving tour of its central boulevards. Enjoy the incredible art nouveau architecture that characterises the Latvian capital, with over one-third of all buildings designed in the style, as you cruise along Alberta Street and witness the widespread restoration of the city’s most famous avenues. After a busy morning’s exploration of Riga, spend time under your own steam before finding dinner in the city this evening.
  • Have breakfast and depart for the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. On the way, you’ll call at the exquisite 18th-century Rundāle Palace, Latvia’s most famous baroque landmark. An extravagant stately home, Rundāle was originally the summer residence of the region’s Duke, Ernst Johann Biron but has since been repurposed as a public museum. From here, you’ll join a tour of the palace complex, created by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli who would go on to design St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace, with an expert local guide. With its regal main building, inner courtyards and a canal-side formal park, Rundāle Palace offers truly rewarding exploration. You can also visit the palace’s museum which offers a glimpse into the lives of the dukes and duchesses that used to rule Courland, from 18th-century fashion and a rich collection of tapestries to archaeological finds in the basement. You’ll then stop at Siauliai’s Hill of Crosses, a sacred landmark, which sees millions of crosses and rosaries placed on two hills by native Lithuanians and visiting pilgrims. A symbol of sacrifice and Lithuania’s enduring religious faith in the face of persecution, this sobering monument has remained one of the most widely recognised sites in the country often accompanied by the haunting sound of rosaries being blown in the wind. Despite its eerie atmosphere, the site has previously been blessed by Pope John Paul II and is still visited by thousands of pilgrims each day. Later in the day, you’ll arrive in Vilnius before checking into your hotel.
  • Spend your final day in elegant Vilnius, a city with a rich religious heritage. First on your list will be the intricately designed Vilnius Cathedral, famous for its imposing columned cloisters and a separate tower. You’ll then continue to Pilies Street, the oldest of its kind in the city, which is flanked by an impressive collection of 14th-century buildings. As you pass along Pilies Street, you can browse the charming nearby stores for authentic Lithuanian trinkets and treats. The next stops on your tour today will be a collection of churches, St. Anne’s, St. Bernadine’s, and St. Michael, which provide stunning views of the city ahead of a brief stop at the 16th-century Gates of Dawn, part of the city’s original fortifications. You’ll then visit the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit, a symbol of historic Russian influence in Lithuania, which houses the bodies of three martyred saints, Anthony, Ivan and Eustacius. Take a moment to appreciate the building’s vibrant interiors, and its equally colourful history, before reconvening in Vilnius’ town centre which remains a lively hub for Vilnian locals. Lastly, you’ll call at Vilnius University, a leading research centre featuring 13 courtyards and lush botanical gardens. Round out today’s excursion with a stop at Trakai Castle, an island fortress on an island in the middle of Lake Galvé. Located just a short distance from Vilnius’ city centre, the castle held immense strategic importance throughout its history as both a military fortress and later a diplomatic residence for Lithuania’s reigning dukes. You’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in Lithuania’s archaeological treasures and the region’s history with a tour of the castle’s museum and expansive grounds. This evening, bring your final day in the Baltics to a close with time at leisure to spend under your steam.
  • Have breakfast before you travel to Vilnius airport for your morning flight back to the UK.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Discover the rich cultural heritage of Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, with visits to its Hanseatic old town, Alexander Nevski Cathedral and the grand Kadriorg Palace
  • Experience authentic Estonian culture during a tour of the country’s oldest city Tartu and its renowned university
  • Immerse yourself in Latvia’s scenic beauty with stops in Sigulda and the Gauja National Park
  • Witness Latvia’s most famed sights with a guided excursion around lively Riga
  • Call at the exquisite Rundale Palace, an 18th-century baroque treasure, and the Hill of Crosses, a sacred Lithuanian pilgrimage site
  • Visit Vilnius, a city of contrasts, and learn about the diverse cultural heritage of the Lithuanian capital alongside a specialist local guide

Our Price Includes

  • Seven nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation in Tallinn (2 nights), Tartu (1), Riga (2) and Vilnius (2)
  • Seven breakfasts and two lunches
  • Escorted tours of Tallinn, Tartu, Riga and Vilnius with a local guide
  • Excursion to Gauja National Park and Sigulda
  • Visit to Rundāle Palace
  • Visit to the Hill of Crosses in Siauliai
  • Visit to Trakai Castle with an expert guide
  • Return flights to Tallinn and from Vilnius
  • Comfortable, air-conditioned coach travel and transfers throughout
  • Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager
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Other Information

Hotel transfer times

The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately 10 minutes

Itinerary changes

Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.

Special requirements

If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.

Disabled access

The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Foreign Office Travel Advice

Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.

Travelling to Europe

Rules may have changed since you last travelled to European Union countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The following are useful guidelines which will help you prepare for your next adventure. You do require government issued passport to travel. Names - It is very important that all passenger names are exactly as per your passport although we do not require middle names. Passport - Your passport must meet two requirements to travel to an EU country and to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. It must be: Less than 10 years old on the day you return home (please check the "date of issue") and valid for at least 3 months after the day you return home (please check the "expiry date"). Visa - You do not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any rolling 180-day period. European Travel Information & Authorisation System (ETIAS) - Commencing in late 2023 or 2024, all citizens of the United Kingdom will require a ETIAS electronic form completed prior to their arrival into the EU and Schengen member countries. The cost for this travel authorisation will be €7.00 per person with exceptions for under 18’s and over 70’s. The latest information and further details can be found at www.etias.com.

Holiday code

N2699

Holiday provided by Newmarket Holidays

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: fully flexible booking policy, covid-19 cancellation cover insurance as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Newmarket Holidays (ABTOT 5509, ATOL 2325, ABTA V7812), you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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