This page contains affiliate links. This means that I get a commission if you purchase through my links, at no cost to you.
To be completely honest, I've never really considered the idea of visiting the Baltic countries before. I'm not entirely sure why that is. In my home country, these destinations aren't particularly popular for vacations. Given that our typical summer days are often cloudy or rainy, people tend to gravitate towards warmer spots down south, I suppose. However, my interest in these three countries was sparked after watching some captivating YouTube videos showcasing the beauty and uniqueness of the Baltics.
As a solo traveler, it is important to stay safe. Since I had no idea what to expect from these countries or how safe they are, I made the decision to book an organized group trip instead. This way, I could have the comfort and security of traveling with a group and an experienced tour guide who could assist if anything were to go wrong.
The journey began in Tallinn, which is just a 2 hour flight away from Amsterdam. I woke up at 4:45 AM and my dad picked me up at 5:45 AM to take me to the train station. I arrived at Schiphol Airport around 7:00 AM where I grabbed some breakfast and waited for the slightly delayed flight.
I arrived in Tallinn around 13:15 PM and was warmly welcomed by our tour guide who happened to be on the same flight. We met the rest of the group and were transported to our hotel in a Sprinter van, which was perfectly sized for our group and luggage.
Our accommodation was IBIS Tallinn Centre, located about a half hour walk away from the charming Old Town of Tallinn. After some introductions from our tour guide, we all walked together to explore the Old Town. Initially, we had some free time but decided to have dinner together at Olde Hansa, an amazing medieval themed restaurant. That was an unforgettable experience.
The following day, I made the decision to get up early and explore the charming old town of Tallinn. My goal was to capture some photos before the crowds arrived and also visit a few museums alongside a fellow traveler from my group. I woke up at 7:00 AM, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and stepped out into the peaceful streets by 8:15 AM. The quiet streets allowed me to capture some great shots. If you're keen on photography without too many people in your frame, I highly recommend this approach.
Having wandered around for a while, I met with my group member to start our museum visits together. We had arrived a little too early, so we decided to shop for souvenirs first. Given the touristy nature of Tallinn's old town, finding souvenirs proved quite easy. Soon enough, it was time for the museums to open their doors. Our first stop was the KGB museum; though our expectations were high, we were mildly disappointed as we only got access to a small portion of its basement area. Next up was Kiek in de Kök—an ancient defense tower and bastion passages utilized during World War II to safeguard Tallinn's residents from bombings. It was immensely captivating if you have an interest in history.
After visiting the Estonian History Museum, which showcased the rich history of Estonia, we decided to be mindful of our limited time in Tallinn and not spend too much of it exploring museums. Although audio guides are usually provided at most museums, they can be time consuming and I personally didn't use it much. Consequently, this particular museum felt more like a collection of artifacts rather than something exceptionally captivating. Nevertheless, it is still a remarkable museum that could offer a great experience if you choose to use the audio guide.
Later in the afternoon at 2;30 PM, we had a guided walking tour with a local expert who showed us hidden gems in Tallinn that we wouldn't have discovered on our own. These included the oldest pharmacy in the city, picturesque alleyways and an intriguing hidden church.
The following morning, we set off at 9:00 AM for Saaremaa, the largest island in Estonia. Our timely departure was crucial as we needed to catch a ferry to reach our destination without any delays. Fortunately, the entire group arrived punctually and we departed right on schedule. The journey to the ferry took us a couple of hours, but the crossing itself lasted just 30 minutes, providing us with a great opportunity to stretch our legs.
Upon reaching Saaremaa, we had plans to visit an old medieval church; unfortunately, it was closed at that time. Undeterred by this setback, our next destinations were a collection of ancient windmills and the Kaali Crater—a meteorite crater whose age remains a mystery.
Following these explorations, we made our way to the hotel—a sports themed establishment situated near a sports field. My room was on the side of the sports fields, but thankfully weren't any ongoing events disrupting the peace. Since it was mid afternoon when we arrived, my fellow travelers and I decided to venture into the nearby town known as Kuressaare for some further exploration. Despite its small size, we quickly finished exploring and decided to visit Kuressaare Castle—which was very interesting. My experience with castles is that you only get to see a small part, but in this castle we were able to go into every single room. I would strongly suggest visiting this place if you have children or if you have a personal interest in medieval castles.
The following day, we made the decision to explore the Sõrve Peninsula, situated just southwest of Kuressaare. Saaremaa used to serve as a military base for the Soviet Union and was off limits to non local civilians. As you can imagine, there are plenty of remnants from the war era to discover.
One of our stops was at the Sõrve Lighthouse, which happens to be the largest lighthouse I've ever seen. It stands proudly on Sõrve säär, the tip of the Sõrve Peninsula, where we enjoyed a leisurely walk. The contrast between this peaceful place and the bustling old town of Tallinn was remarkable.
We then ventured onto an old road that remained unchanged since the 1950s. Not exactly a comfortable ride. We took a break at a bird watching spot before returning to our hotel, where we had some free time. Later on, we had lunch in Kuressaare and returned to our hotel for relaxation before heading out for dinner in Kuressaare in the evening.
The following morning, we departed Saaremaa on schedule as we needed to catch the ferry back to the mainland. At around midday, we made a stop in Pärnu, which is said to be a popular vacation spot for Estonians. However, it turned out to be quite dull and deserted.
By 5:00 PM, we reached Tartu and had dinner with a small group. We managed to squeeze in a short stroll through the city before calling it a night. It was slightly disappointing that our stay in Tartu was only for one night because the city seemed promising.
We departed from Tartu at 9:00 AM to reach Riga, which is the capital city of the second country we are visiting on this trip, Latvia. During our journey to Riga, we took a lunch break in Cēsis, a charming town located in Gauja National Park. We also made a stop in Sigulda to explore Turaida Castle. However, due to the warm weather there, we decided to leave earlier than originally planned.
Finally, around 5:00 PM, we arrived in Riga. I had great expectations for this city and was eagerly looking forward to exploring it. Riga is often referred to as "The Pearl of the Baltics," and it certainly lives up to that title.
Later in the evening, we had dinner with a small group and then visited the observation deck of the Latvian Academy of Science.
The following morning, I woke up early with the same plan I had in Tallinn – capturing photos while the tourists were still fast asleep. Although my time was limited as we had a guided walking tour scheduled at 9:00 AM, I managed to snap some beautiful pictures. There were quite a few locals heading to work, though.
The walking tour itself wasn't particularly interesting. It had a slow pace and I felt relieved when it finally ended. We ended our excursion at Līvu Square, a beautiful square located in the heart of Old Town. This square has plenty of restaurants where we could grab some lunch. I had some delicious risotto, before deciding to explore the Latvian War Museum alongside my companion from earlier adventures in Tallinn and Saaremaa.
After our museum visit, we parted ways as we each wanted to explore different destinations – considering that we only had one full day in Riga, making choices was essential. Personally, I opted to visit the House of the Blackheads – a historical building owned by the Brotherhood of Blackheads; an esteemed guild for unmarried merchants, ship owners and foreigners residing in Riga.
Another must visit location on my list was the Riga Central Market – consisting of five colossal zeppelin hangars transformed into Europe's largest indoor market. It was an amazing experience because this is a spot where the locals come. Along with the abundance of local products, it creates the perfect atmosphere to immerse yourself in Latvian culture.
At 4:00 PM, I still had time for one more museum visit. I opted for the Museum of Occupation and it turned out to be a fantastic choice. I gained extensive knowledge about Latvia's history, as well as insights into the Soviet Union era.
After a long day exploring Riga, I headed back to the hotel to rest. In the hotel lobby, I unexpectedly bumped into my fellow group member again and we decided to have dinner together. We ended up at a restaurant specializing in Latvian cuisine, which was fascinating (and I got to try Riga Black Balsam – a popular local black liqueur).
Then we realized that an ice hockey game between Latvia and Sweden was taking place. Intrigued by this opportunity, we made our way to one of Riga's spacious squares where large screens were set up for people to watch the game together. We spent some time enjoying ourselves there until around 10:00 PM when it started getting colder. Ultimately, we decided to return to our hotel where I watched Latvia secure victory in the game from the comfort of the hotel bar!
The following morning, we had plans to depart again at 9:00 AM. However, I decided to take one final stroll through Riga before leaving. Eventually, I ended up in front of the Freedom Monument. The experience of seeing this monument felt incredibly different after my visit to the Museum of Occupation.
As we said googbye to Riga, I couldn't help but feel a mix of emotions. On one hand, I was happy that I had the opportunity to see the city I had been eagerly anticipating. On the other hand, there was a hint of sadness because I wished I could have spent more time there. There were so many other places that I missed out on—I definitely need to return someday!
Our next destination was Klaipėda, a city located in western Lithuania. But before reaching our final stop for the day, we made a detour to Rundāle Palace—a magnificent palace situated just an hour south of Riga. We took some time to wander around and appreciate both the palace and its gardens before continuing our journey towards Lithuania. And then came our visit to the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania.
Back in 1831, there was an unsuccessful rebellion by Lithuanians and Poles against Russian authorities. It is believed that placing crosses on this site became a tradition as a way to commemorate those who lost their lives during the rebellion—especially since many families couldn't locate or properly bury fallen rebels bodies. Despite multiple attempts by Russians to remove them, people continued adding crosses atop the hill.
By late afternoon, we finally arrived in Klaipėda. The hotel was about a 45 minute walk away from the center, where we had dinner with a small group. We did some exploring, but there wasn't really anything noteworthy to see. Afterwards, we walked back to the hotel, enjoyed a drink and then called it a night.
The following morning, I woke up early once again. I stepped outside to do some exploring, but there wasn't much to see near the hotel. We were situated quite far from the city, surrounded by concrete apartment buildings and a harbor.
Today's plan was to visit the Curonian Spit, a peninsula stretching from Klaipėda to Kaliningrad. We embarked on a ferry and drove all the way down south until we reached a charming little town called Nida. Our hike up Parnidis Dune led us to an observation deck that offered a breathtaking view of the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon.
After enjoying lunch in Nida, we made our way back to the ferry and drove towards Kaunas. Upon arriving in Kaunas, we found that the city was bustling with activity. As it turned out, there was a festival commemorating Lithuania's independence, although I couldn't find any prior information about it. Since we were only staying for one night again, our time was limited to dinner and a short stroll through the city.
On our way towards Vilnius, we made a stop in Trakai – a beautiful little town surrounded by lakes and featuring a stunning castle on a small island. We had some time here to explore the castle which unexpectedly had free admission before continuing on our way to Vilnius.
Since Kaunas is relatively close to Vilnius, we reached our destination around noon. It was a Sunday afternoon and we were informed that most of the museums would be closed on Mondays. Since the KGB Museum in Vilnius is considered the best among the three in Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn, it was essential for us to visit it. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to explore the one in Riga, so I cannot compare them directly. However, I can confidently say that the Vilnius museum surpasses its counterpart in Tallinn. For dinner, we opted for a restaurant called Etno Dvaras – renowned for its traditional Lithuanian cuisine; these restaurants can be found all across Lithuania.
The following morning, we embarked on a 3 hour walking tour led by a local city guide. Although enjoyable, it didn't quite match up to the exceptional experience we had in Tallinn. The weather in Vilnius was also quite warm, which made the hours of walking a bit challenging.
In the afternoon, we explored the Gediminas Castle Tower situated atop a hill at the heart of the city. At the end of the afternoon, feeling exhausted and with most museums closed, I retreated to my hotel room to give my feet some well deserved rest. For dinner, we decided to go to Etno Dvaras once again but chose a different location as they have multiple restaurants in Vilnius.
The following day marked our departure back home. With our flight scheduled for 1:00 PM, we had the entire morning to ourselves. Since the museums had reopened, we thought it would be worth visiting the Old Arsenal Building and the National Museum of Lithuania. However, both proved to be less captivating compared to previous museum visits on this trip. Perhaps it was because I had grown weary from exploring so many museums throughout our journey.
We departed from the hotel around 1:00 PM and reached the airport shortly after. Despite our flight being delayed, we managed to have a smooth journey to Riga with a 50 minute layover. It was quite a stressful flight, but everything turned out fine in the end and I arrived back in Amsterdam at 6:30 PM.
Overall, this trip was absolutely incredible and I had an amazing time. I didn't have any expectations for these countries beforehand, but they truly exceeded my imagination. Each of these three countries has a similar historical background yet possesses its own unique charm and culture. However, Riga left the most profound impact on me. From the lively atmosphere in the Old Town to exploring museums and savoring local cuisine, I completely fell in love with this city. Unfortunately, there was so much to see and do within such limited time that it's clear I'll need to make another visit.
|Djoser Baltics Trip (12 days)||€2,297.18||12 days|
|Tallinn - Lunch||Lunch||€12.00|
|Saaremaa - Lunch||Lunch||€21.40|
|Cēsis - Lunch||Lunch||€15.00|
|Riga - Lunch||Lunch||€25.00|
|Hill of Crosses - Lunch||Lunch||€8.00|
|Nida - Lunch||Lunch||€16.00|
|Vilnius - Drama Burger||Lunch||€16.47|
|Vilnius - Grey||Lunch||€13.10|
|Tallinn - Olde Hansa||Dinner||€52.00|
|Tallinn - Kaerajaan||Dinner||€42.00|
|Saaremaa - Dinner||Dinner||€28.50|
|Saaremaa - Dinner||Dinner||€25.00|
|Tartu - Dinner||Dinner||€35.00|
|Riga - Dinner||Dinner||€43.00|
|Riga - Dinner||Dinner||€36.00|
|Klaipėda - Dinner||Dinner||€22.00|
|Kaunas - Soul||Dinner||€16.00|
|Vilnius - Etno Dvaras||Dinner||€32.20|
|Vilnius - Etno Dvaras||Dinner||€25.00|
|Total Restaurants & Food||€483.67|
|Tallinn - IBIS Hotel Bar||Beer||€11.00||2 drinks|
|Tallinn - 50cl water||Water||€0.70||1 bottle|
|Saaremaa - Hotel||Beer||€6.00||2 drinks|
|Tartu - Hotel Bar||Beer||€5.00||1 drink|
|Riga - Hotel Bar||Beer||€12.00||3 drinks|
|Vilnius - Hotel Bar||Beer||€11.00||2 drinks|
|Total Drinks & Going Out||€45.70|
|Tallinn - History Museum||Museum||€6.00|
|Tallinn - KGB||Museum||€8.00|
|Tallinn - City Wall||Museum||€3.00|
|Tallinn - City Guide||Guide||€11.00|
|Tallinn - Kiek in de kök||Museum||€8.00|
|Saaremaa - Mills||Museum||€6.00|
|Latvia - Turaida Castle||Museum||€6.00|
|Latvian Academy of Science||Observation Deck||€6.00|
|Riga - Museum of the Occupation||Museum||€5.00|
|Riga - House of the Blackheads||Museum||€7.00|
|Riga - City Guide||Guide||€10.00|
|Latvia - Rundāle Palace||Museum||€11.00|
|Vilnius - KGB||Museum||€6.00|
|Vilnius - City Guide||Guide||€15.00|
|Vilnius - Old Arsenal Building||Museum||€5.00|
|Vilnius - National Museum of Lithuania||Museum||€5.00|
|Total Trip to the Baltics||€2,944.55|
|ibis Tallinn Center||Tallinn||Hotels|
€ € € €
€ € € €
€ € € €
|Old Riga Palace||Riga||Hotels|
€ € € €
|Aurora Hotel Klaipeda||Klaipėda||Hotels|
€ € € €
|ibis Kaunas Centre||Kaunas||Hotels|
€ € € €
|ibis Vilnius Centre||Vilnius||Hotels|
€ € € €