Tours

baltic-Riga_82211450
baltic-Riga_82211450

Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia: Along the Baltic Shores

A preconception that the adjoining Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are essentially similar could not be wider of the mark. While one common characteristic may be their relatively modest size, in key respects – culture, language, tradition, temperament – each has its own identity and spotting the differences can definitely add to the enjoyment of our tour.

 

Jun 4 – 17 2019 (14 days)
Price TBC
Deposit $500

BOOK NOW!

Tour Description

Their three ancient coastal capitals – Vilnius (Lithuania), Riga (Latvia) and Tallinn (Estonia) – are steeped in history and offer a feast of architectural eye-appeal. Tallinn is the smallest, its picturesque medieval Lower Town a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Riga the largest and especially notable for its array of Art Nouveau buildings; while the Baroque is pre-eminent in Vilnius (which also claims Europe’s oldest and most extensive medieval town). In all three labyrinths of old town lanes, cobbled stone squares and lofty church spires have been restored to new life in today’s post-Soviet era.

The Baltic States’ turbulent past of conquest and partition over the centuries is also explored on our tour through a balanced program of museum visits ranging from Vilnius’ important Amber Museum to the Archaeological Institute Museum and Araisi Archaeological Park in Tallinn. The Baltic also majors on medieval castles (both fairytale and ghostly) – and castle connoisseurs will appreciate the many examples featured in our itinerary!

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore Lithuania’s Kernavė Medieval Complex where hillforts, settlements and burial sites show activity from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages
  • Visit the enchanting medieval lake castle of Trakai, whose island setting hides a long and violent history
  • Trace the story of the Amber trade, so important to the Baltic economies

  • Look in at Grobinia medieval castle, hillfort and settlement ijn Latvia
  • Compare the Baltic’s three great cathedrals in Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn
  • Discover Latvia’s picture-book little medieval town of Kuldiga and its castle

WHAT TO EXPECT

.

LED BY

Jun 4 – 17 with John Hines

2019 Itinerary

June 4th: Vilnius
We arrive into Vilnius and make a transfer to our first hotel. We take the remainder of the day to just relax after traveling, and come together for an introductory lecture and welcome dinner later on.

June 5th: Vilnius
Our day begins with a walking tour of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and we make our first stop at the university campus. From here, we go to the Amber Museum Gallery, which is a 17th century Baroque building that tells the history of the region’s amber. At the National Museum, we view collections from Prehistoric to post-Medieval times. Next, we visit the Ducal Palace, built in the 15th century for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and we also visit several Orthodox and Catholic churches.

June 6th: Vilnius
This morning, we leave our hotel and drive to Trakai. Upon arrival, we visit the Karaite Ethnographic Museum, which houses an array of interesting artefacts in exhibitions that showcase the life, culture and history and the Karaite communities in the Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland. Next, we walk out to the picturesque Trakai Island Castle for a tour. If the weather is kind to us, we will enjoy an optional lake cruise in the afternoon, which lasts around an hour. Afterwards, we make our return to Vilnius.

June 7th: Klaipeda
This morning, we leave our hotel and drive to Trakai. Upon arrival, we visit the Karaite Ethnographic Museum, which houses an array of interesting artefacts in exhibitions that showcase the life, culture and history and the Karaite communities in the Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland. Next, we walk out to the picturesque Trakai Island Castle for a tour. If the weather is kind to us, we will enjoy an optional lake cruise in the afternoon, which lasts around an hour. Afterwards, we make our return to Vilnius.

June 8th: Klaipeda
In Klaipeda, we explore Memel Castle. Built by the Teutonic Knights, this has been the focus of extensive excavations, which may still be in progress during our visit. We also see the theatre balcony where Hitler gave his famous speech in 1939 when the Memel Land was annexed to Nazi Germany. From here, we pay a visit to the Fisherman’s Ethnographic Homestead in the quaint fishing village of Nida. This village is dramatically located on the amazing sliver of white sand that marks the westernmost point of Lithuania and, while we’re here, we also tour the Neringa Museum of History and Thomas Mann’s House before returning to Klaipeda. The latter is an interesting place to visit as Mann spent three family summers there.

June 9th: Liepaja
An exploration of the Baltic resort of Palanga is on the cards this morning. Once the start of the amber trail, small pieces of this fossilized resin still regularly wash ashore here. Visit the hillfort and walk through the Botanic Garden to reach the Amber Museum, which is housed within a former palace. The museum boasts an impressive collection of amber – around 28,000 pieces – and 15,000 of these contain fragments of insects and plants. Artwork and jewelry are also on display here. Following a stop for lunch, we cross into Latvia and spend time exploring Grobina Medieval castle, which was destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout history. We also see the hillfort and the accompanying settlement area. Later on, we visit the nearby barrow cemetery.

June 10th: Riga
Our day begins at the Liepaja Museum, where we spend an hour or so admiring the collections that showcase the history of this area. Archaeological artifacts and cultural objects can also be seen here. Afterwards, we drive to Kuldiga, an early member of the powerful Hanseatic League and an architectural gem whose historic buildings secured it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate list. Here, we walk the narrow streets lined with well-preserved wooden buildings and visit the District Museum. In the afternoon, we continue on to the town of Kandava and view the foundations of a 13th century castle and 14th century watchtower.

June 11th: Riga
Get to know the town of Riga with an informative and scenic walking tour this morning. We view the old town, museum, cathedral and Lutheran churches in Latvia’s charming capital. The foundation stone of Riga cathedral was laid in 1211 and the tower stands at around 140 meters. Founded in 1201, the old town is a World Heritage Site. After lunch, we explore Riga Castle and then our day comes to an end at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, which was established in 1993 and details the rich history of the Soviet occupation.

June 12th: Tallinn
A fascinating morning awaits us today as we drive to the archaeological park located at Araisi. Upon our arrival here, we spend some time exploring this fantastic site, which is home to an authentic replica of a 9th-10th century fortified dwelling site of the Latgallians as well as reconstructions of Stone and Bronze Age houses. We also discover the Medieval castle before making the drive to Estonia’s vibrant and surprising capital of Tallinn, which will be our next overnight destination on this adventure. This exciting European hub manages to remain peaceful, but feels lively as you wander its streets.

June 13th: Tallinn
The chance to get better acquainted with beautiful Tallinn is ours and we begin our first full day here with a walking tour of the city. This vibrant UNESCO World Heritage Site is a wonderfully preserved Medieval city and we visit St. Nicholas Church, the Town Hall, the cathedral, and also the House of the Blackheads as we walk around. Later on, we take a tour of the Archaeological Institute Museum as well as Estonia’s State Maritime Museum, which was founded in 1935 and showcases the country’s strong maritime heritage and culture.

June 14th: Tallinn
In the morning, we head to the Estonia History Museum, which is housed within an old Great Guild Hall. Exhibits here share the stories of Estonia’s past and themes include wars and Medieval trade, for example. Later, we pay a visit to Toompea Castle, a sturdy structure that sits on a hill in a central part of the city. Today, this castle houses the Parliament of Estonia and is considered the origin of the city.

June 15th: Tallinn
Varbola, a native Estonian hillfort built on the local fashion of drystone and earth, is where we travel to this morning. Its huge banks remain impressive and once defended a Prehistoric and early Medieval settlement. Next, we make our way to Koluvere Castle, a further 13th century ecclesiastical fortress that was later an imperial Russian possession, built on its own artificial island. The chequered history of Lihula, which we visit next, involves the major players in Estonia’s history and it was a major centre of the Teutonic Knights. After a break to eat lunch, we tour its castle and urban settlement.

June 16th: Tallinn
Today, we travel to the Padise Cistercian Monastery, which was founded after 1283 and whose turbulent history mirrors that of Estonia. Created after inventions by the Teutonic Knights, and encouraged by Christianising Danish kings, it survived the native revolt of St. George’s Night and became a fortified manor following the Swedish conquest. Next, it’s on to Haapsalu, with its Medieval castle of the Bishopric of Osel-Wiek, for a brief visit. Afterwards, we return to Tallinn, stopping at the atmospheric 13th century church of Ridala en route. There will be a little free time to pack before we sit down to our final group dinner.

June 17th: Home
This morning, we transfer back to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.

Additional Information

Calendar Year

2019

Reservation Form