Baltics to St Petersburg
Day 1 Vilnius
Arrive at any time. There will be an important welcome meeting around 6pm where you'll meet your CEO and fellow travellers. Please look for information about where and when this meeting will take place in the lobby of the hotel. We recommended arriving a day or two early to fully explore this charming city. If you arrive early, there's no reason not to wander through the small streets and enjoy some time in a café on the main square or start your sightseeing early. The Occupation Museum is definitely worth a visit.
Day 2 Vilnius (1B)
Enjoy a visit to Trakai Castle, about 45 mins out of town by bus, built in the late 14th century. Getting out of the capital and visiting this historic treasure is a great way to experience a little more of Lithuania. Fall under the spell of delightful and quirky Vilnius, with a thriving alternative artistic culture alongside a beautiful Baroque old town. Here you will find a Royal Palace, a Castle, the churches painted in pastel colours and cobblestoned streets of old Vilnius. Yet this fascinating town is not stuck in the past – it is a haven for artists, dreamers and alternative lifestylers who have created their own "Independent Republic of Uzupis' – complete with its own constitution and a magnificent modern statue called the "Angel of Uzupis". Vilnius also has statues to Frank Zappa (much loved in Lithuania) and the Communist statues of Green Bridge, which the inhabitants of the city refused to tear down after winning independence from the Soviets, not for political reasons but because they had developed a soft spot for them! Multi-faceted, puzzling, a heady mix of old and new, Vilnius has all the glories of a royal past, the troubling reminders of wartime and Communist atrocities and a vibrant forward-looking outlook. It truly is a must-see!
Days 3-4 Curonian Spit (1B)
Travel by public bus and ferry to the Curonian Spit. The journey will take all morning, so stock up on some snacks. Settle in and grab some lunch before heading to the Parnidis Dune. On Day 4, enjoy an included bicycle tour around Hill of Witches,and a visit to sea bird colonies. The Curonian Spit is a 98km long, thin sand dune that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. This will be your first brush with Russia as the spit is shared by Lithuania and Kalingrad, Russia's westernmost oblast. The spit is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to mythology, the Curonian Spit was formed by a giantess named Neringa, playing on the seashore. Somewhat more scientifically (and boring!), the spit is known to have been formed originally as a glacial moraine with wind and sea currents contributing to the rise in the sand. Today, the spit is home to the highest drifting sand dunes in Europe- with some reaching 60 meters. This is also an ideal area for birdwatching as between 10 and 20 million birds fly over during the seasonal migrations, and many stop to rest and breed. The spit is also known for its beautiful beaches and both the Lithuanian and Russian sections are national parks. The area is also known for its ties to Paganism and an included bike tour around the Hill of Witches (Ragan? Kalnas) in the village of Juodkranté. The forested hills used to be the site of dancing and gathering during Pagan festivals. Now, the hills are dotted with wooden statues created by local artists- depicting witches, dragons and the elements. Some of the statues as well tell stories of the local legends and folklore, bringing the region to life with these intricate carvings.
Days 5-6 Riga (1B, 1L)
Cross the border into Latvia and head to the capital, Riga. Enjoy a guided tour and a lunch of treats from the Central Market. Options for this city include visiting the Occupation Museum, the Riga Art Nouveau Centre, Riga Castle, the Andrejsala artists' district or just wandering the cobblestoned streets. From medieval trading city to lavish turn-of-the-century splendour to life under Soviet rule, Riga has a varied and fascinating story to tell. Wander the medieval cobblestoned lanes and marvel at the contrasting Art Nouveau architecture of this enchanting UNESCO World Heritage city. Explore the narrow streets on foot and get better acquainted with the city known as "the Paris of the East". Opt to visit St Peter's church, where we ascend the spire by lift, for a fantastic view over the city.
Days 7-9 Saaremaa (3B)
Cross the border to Estonia and get the local experience with three nights on a farm stay. Saaremaa is a remote island in the Baltic Sea with unique traditions and heritage. In the area there is hiking, cycling, mustard-making, fruit-picking and folk evenings with traditional music. Don't miss an included tour of the local breweries, bakeries and windmills. Though part of Estonia and ruled over at different times by Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Russia, the island of Saaremaa remains totally unique due to its isolated location. Thatched roof houses, stone walls and windmills make up this fairytale landscape. There are plenty activities located in the rural countryside and the capital (and only city!) Kuressaare. In the area you'll find a naturally growing oak forest with rare flora (like orchids) and a bird watching platform. Visit a group of windmills and try traditional baked goods like sipping on local beer. Opt to visit some of the churches, some dating back as far as the 1300s and others boasting ancient wall frescos still intact. Natural sites include the lake, the Panga Cliff and the Pühatu Springs.
Days 10-11 Tallinn (2B)
Travel to the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. Fall in love immediately with this medieval town. Enjoy an included visit to Kadriorg Palace and use your free time to visit the Museum of the Occupation, the Dome Church, the open air museum, go sea kayaking, visit the beaches or bask in a sauna. Located on the Gulf of Finland, Tallinn is only 70km from Helsinki. The medieval heart of the city looks like something out of a fairytale with cobblestoned streets, castes and high city walls with pointed watchtowers. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old town is superbly well-preserved with shopping streets and small alleyways winding around the city. After being passed back and forth throughout the 20th century between the Soviets and the Nazis, Estonia eventually gained their independence in 1991. Luckily the culture, language and charm of Tallinn survived the fighting and now you can witness Old Europe beauty, harsh Soviet architecture and newer, modern European sophistication evident throughout the city. With lots to see, you'll want to use every spare minute in Tallinn. We visit the famous old palace together and then set you loose to do what you want with the rest of your time here. Choose between wandering the Old Town, soaking in the 15th to 17th century feel, and visiting the Raekoja Plats where you can try cafés and restaurants lining this square. Opt to visit the Town Hall, which is now the Tallinn City Museum or hike up Toompea Hill to get an amazing view of the city. For some Russian flavour, visit the onion-domed Aleksandr Nevsky Cathedral and get a taste of what's to come in St Petersburg. Visit the Museum of the Occupations to learn more about life under the Soviet and Nazi regimes, then head to the ex-KGB Headquarters.
Days 12-13 St Petersburg (1B)
Travel by bus to St Petersburg, the "Paris of Russia". This opulent, sprawling city will enchant with its history, architecture and vibe. An included walking tour exposes the secrets of this captivating city, bringing its history and culture to life. On Day 13, visit the famous Hermitage Museum. Opt to take a canal boat tour at midnight, experience "white nights" in June when the sun barely sets, ride the deepest subway in the world, lounge in the city parks or relax in a café with some tea and traditional Russian fare.
Day 14 St Petersburg
Depart at any time. We recommend staying an extra day or two to fully experience all this vibrant city has to offer.