The countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia all make up what is colloquially referred to as the Baltic States. These three countries, though small both in size and population, have a lot to offer travellers, especially if they’re looking to get off the beaten path. Not only are the Baltics one of the most affordable places to travel in Europe, they are also safe and easy to get around and remain — with the possible exception of the cruise ship crowds in Tallinn — relatively untouched by foreign tourism. This is a shame, as the Baltics are easily one of the best places to travel in Europe, but planning a Baltics itinerary can be daunting as there is little information available beyond the capital cities of Tallinn, Riga & Vilnius.
Whether you’re only able to sojourn into the Baltics for a short time or you have weeks on end to explore this undiscovered region, there are many routes you can take for a Baltic travel itinerary. Each country has its own unique culture, incredible nature, beautiful beaches, and postcard-perfect towns and cities.
The Ultimate Baltic Travel Itinerary
If you are keen to dive deep and really get a good taste of what the beautiful Baltic countries have to offer, then we would recommend spending at least 3-4 weeks in the region. If you only have a shorter period of time, it is best to concentrate on only one or two of the countries rather than trying to rush through all three. Here are our top Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania itineraries to help you plan your trip!
Estonia is the northernmost country in the Baltic States and is the one that is most ethnically and culturally unique compared to Lithuania and Latvia. Most famed for the excellently-preserved medieval old town in its capital city of Tallinn, there is so much more to this country than that. Alternative culture, an innovative cuisine, hip and modern cities, and a large expanse of forests, bogland, and beaches make Estonia one of the most interesting countries to visit in Europe. If you want to get the most out of Estonia and see all that you can, we recommend that you spend about 10 days in the country. This will allow you to explore the biggest cities and really get a feel for the unique culture of this beautiful Baltic nation.
Days 1 – 4: Tallinn
Begin your Estonia itinerary in the capital city of Tallinn. Many people treat this beautiful city only as a day trip, hopping over on a ferry from Helsinki or strolling around while on a land excursion from a Baltic cruise. However, Tallinn has a lot more to offer tourists than its compact (albeit absolutely beautiful) Old Town, which is why we recommend you spend at least 3 days in Tallinn, however, four days is best to really get to know the city.
While the Old Town can easily be explored in only one day, Tallinn has a lot of interesting things to offer tourists beyond it. Take the time to wander around the trendy Kalamaja district — once a neighbourhood for fisherman and their families, it has now been gentrified and taken over by the city’s hipsters. The nearby Telliskivi Creative City and Balti Jaama Turg have some of Tallinn’s best street art, restaurants, and street food in town.
It is also worth exploring the Estonian capital’s hopping (pun intended) craft beer scene. There are so many incredible beers available in Tallinn that travellers could easily spend days jumping from one taproom to the next without coming close to sampling them all.
And while Tallinn is famous for its medieval charms, it is also well worth exploring the city’s more recent history. Though Estonia has all but shaken its Soviet past, has a thriving capitalist economy, and is often considered the most technologically advanced country in the world, there are still striking reminders about the occupation this small country was under less than thirty years ago. Imposing communist structure, such as Linnahall just outside of the Old Town, serve as a reminder for just how far this city has come.
Where to Stay in Tallinn
Because Tallinn’s tourism is increasing exponentially with the passing of each year, there is no shortage of great places to stay. Here are some of our top picks:
Fat Margaret’s Hostel – this hostel is a fantastic place to stay in Tallinn if you’re on a budget or travelling solo. It is in a great location near the harbour, just minutes from the Old Town and the Kalamaja neighbourhood. They have both dorm and private rooms available and also have a sauna — perfect to really get the feel of Estonian culture! Click here to check their latest prices on Hostelworld or Booking.com
Vabriku Guesthouse – this budget hotel located in the heart of trendy Kalamaja is just minutes from a number of cool cafes and restaurants and a short walk into the Old Town. They offer private rooms, so it is perfect for couples. Click here to check their latest prices
Airbnb – If hostels or hotels aren’t quite your thing, Airbnb is another great option when visiting Tallinn. There are myriad places to choose from depending on your budget and desires, from private rooms to full houses. Click here to get up to $40 off your first stay with Airbnb!
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse the best deals for hotels in Tallinn!
Days 5 – 7: Tartu
Although it is Estonia’s second-largest city, Tartu doesn’t get nearly the amount of tourism it deserves. Home to the country’s oldest and largest university and filled with a lively and youthful energy, there are many fun and interesting things to do in Tartu.
Spend your first day exploring the charming Old Town, with its many cafes and restaurants and distinct lack of tourists. Take some time to admire the Kissing Students fountain and view the main square through the yellow National Geographic Frame.
It is also well worth taking the time to visit the Tartu University Botanical Gardens and taking a stroll along the Emajogi River — the only fully navigable river in Estonia.
On your second day, get to know Tartu outside of the Old Town. The hip neighbourhood of Karlova is well worth exploring, especially given it has some of the city’s best street art. Also worth stopping by is the Aparaaditehas Complex, a former Soviet widget factory that has been repurposed and now houses a number of hip restaurants, cool shops, and art galleries.
Stops at the Estonian Print & Paper Museum and the KGB Cells museum are also a great idea, especially if you want to learn more about the history of Tartu and Estonia in general.
Where to Stay in Tartu
Though Tartu is a large city, it doesn’t see nearly the amount of tourism that other Estonian cities do, however, that doesn’t mean that there is a lack of accommodation options to choose from. Here are some of our top picks:
Hotel London – Located in the heart of Tartu’s Old Town, this boutique hotel is a good option for those travelling on a mid-range budget. They have a range of rooms available and breakfast is even included in the room rate. Click here to view their latest prices!
Looming Hostel – If you are travelling on a budget, then Looming Hostel is a great accommodation option in Tartu. This small, environmentally-friendly hostel has a couple of dorm and private rooms on offer, good common areas, and a nice roof terrace. It is also possible to purchase breakfast at an extra cost. Click here to view their latest prices on Hostelworld or Booking.com!
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other accommodation options in Tartu!
Have more time?
If you are planning a stand-alone Estonia itinerary or have an extended period of time to travel in the Baltics, we recommend heading to the seaside city of Pärnu after enjoying the culture and alternative scene of Tartu. With many kilometres of white-sand beach and numerous interesting things to do, Pärnu is often considered to be Estonia’s “summer capital.” Two to three days here should be sufficient to get a feel for the city.
If you have even more time to devote to Estonia, then make sure to head to one of Estonia’s many islands. Saaremaa and Hiiumaa are the two largest and easiest to get to and they will offer a unique cultural experience that isn’t available on the mainland.
Located right in the centre of the Baltic nations, Latvia’s foreign tourism is mostly concentrated to the capital city of Riga. While Riga is an incredibly dynamic city and worth a stand-alone visit, there is much more to this country than the capital. Like its neighbours, Latvia boasts some stunning nature, a beautiful coastline, and quaint cities that just beg to be explored.
Devoting about one week out of your Baltic itinerary specifically to Latvia is the best amount of time to be able to get to know this amazing country.
Days 8 – 11: Riga
Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States by population and certainly has a more cosmopolitan vibe than the other two Baltic capitals. While the UNESCO-listed Old Town is very much worth exploring, with iconic sites such as the House of the Blackheads and the Gunpowder Tower, the real charms of the Latvian capital lie in central Riga.
With more Art Nouveau architecture than any other city in the world, Riga is a visual wonder. There are also many cool and interesting things to do in the city, we recommend spending at least three days here.
Spend the first exploring the Old Town. While this is the most touristy area of the city, prices are still quite affordable and there are significantly fewer tour groups than in Tallinn. Your second day should be devoted to wandering through the central district, admiring the architecture, eating at some hip restaurants or wine bars, and visiting a few of the many museums. A detour to the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum just outside of the city is also a great idea, especially if you want to see what life in Latvia was like hundreds of years ago.
On the third day, take a trip to the nearby seaside villages of Jurmala — a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. If the weather is warm and sunny, spend the day basking on the fine, white sand. Or else, there are many affordable spas so you can treat yourself to a massage or a pedicure.
If you want to spend more than three days in Riga, there are a number other day trips to take from Riga, including the charming towns of Cesis and Sigulda with their imposing medieval castles and to Kuldiga, which boasts the widest “waterfall” in Europe.
Where to Stay in Riga
Riga is booming in popularity as a stop for eager city-breakers, so there is no shortage of great places to stay. We would recommend finding accommodation in Central Riga rather than in the Old Town, not only will it be more affordable, it will also be more quiet at night and close to some of the best restaurants in the city. Here are some of our tops suggestions:
Cinnamon Sally Backpacker’s Hostel – located close to the Central Market, this small hostel is one of the best places to stay in Riga for budget backpackers or solo travellers. They offer both dorms and private rooms and also organise social events, making it’s a great option if you’re travelling solo and want to meet some people to explore Riga with! Click here to see the latest prices on Hostelworld or Booking.com
Redstone Boutique Hotel – if you’re travelling as a couple and have a slightly higher budget, then this boutique hotel is a great option. It is centrally located and within walking distance of all of the main sites. They have a large range of rooms on offer and breakfast is included in the room rate. Click here to see their latest prices
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse the best deals for hotels in Riga!
Days 12 – 14: Liepaja
As Latvia’s third largest city, the main appeal of Liepaja is it’s seemingly endless stretch of immaculate beach and a city centre that is absolutely oozing with charm. It seems a miracle that so few visitors to Latvia even have Liepaja on their radar.
While most people will make a beeline to the beach — which, incidentally, has the softest sand we have ever encountered — there are a number of cool things to do in the city of Liepaja itself and it deserves to be explored.
Take the time to browse the city’s many markets and get to know it’s musical history. Outside of the centre, there is a charming Art Nouveau quarter that has been used as a filming location for many Hollywood movies as a stand-in for the likes of Paris. The former Soviet prison in the suburb of Karosta is also, now, a tourist attraction. It is even possible to stay a night at the prison and have a complete, accurate taste of what it was like for inmates there in years past — not for the faint-hearted!
Where to Stay in Liepaja
Liepaja is a popular destination amongst locals, especially in the short summer months. Therefore, there are myriad accommodation options to choose from. It is most popular to hire a private apartment, however, there are also a few hotels to choose from. Here are our recommendations:
Seaside Park Apartment — this private apartment has everything you might need to feel at home while visiting Liepaja and it also just happens to be about a five-minute walk from the beach! The owners are incredibly kind and helpful and will ensure that your stay is as perfect as possible. Click here to see the latest prices on Booking.com!
Boutique Hotel Roze — Also located within a stone’s throw from the beach, this small hotel is perfect for a romantic getaway in Liepaja. They have a range of rooms on offer, have a restaurant on site, and also you can add a breakfast option to the room rate. Click here to see the latest prices on Booking.com!
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other accommodation options in Liepaja!
No Baltic travel itinerary would be complete without including the southernmost country in the Baltic States, Lithuania. While it is slowly gaining popularity on traveller’s radar, tourism in Lithuania is lacking and even it’s most popular area, the Curonian Spit, doesn’t get nearly the amount of recognition that it deserves.
Lithuania has a number of interesting sites, beautiful, and impeccable nature to explore and it is another country that travellers could easily spend weeks in. However, in order to get the most out of the country, we would recommend spending 8 – 10 days in Lithuania.
Days 15 – 18: Klaipeda
Klaipeda, Lithuania’s third-largest city, is the country’s only port. However, contrary to many other port cities, it is incredibly charming with a quaint old town, a number of great restaurants, and a thriving arts scene. It is also the gateway for exploring the naturally stunning Curonian Spit.
Spend at least one full day exploring Klaipeda proper, where there is a surprising amount of things to do. Walk along the quaint cobbled streets, admire the many art installations, and enjoy the peaceful seaside charm. The city also has an interesting Hanseatic history and many museums that are worth exploring.
Take another day or two to explore the Curonian Spit. And easy a quick ferry from Klaipeda, the Lithuanian side of the Spit spans for 50 kilometres and offers an incredible ecosystem unique to this narrow strip of land. The imposing sand dunes, the charming villages of Nida, Juodokrante, and Smiltyne, and the beautiful expanse of beaches make the Curonian Spit one of the premier places to visit in Lithuania.
Where to Stay in Klaipeda:
There are a number of great places to stay in Klaipeda, from private apartments, hostels, and boutique hotels. Here are our top recommendations:
Hostel Kubu – If you’re travelling on a budget or are keen to meet other travellers while visiting Klaipeda, the Hostel Kubu is the place for you. This small hostel has both dorm beds and private rooms on offer and is in a great location. Click here to see the latest prices on Hostelworld or Booking.com
Michaelson Boutique Hotel – If you’re looking for a romantic getaway in a cute boutique hotel, then look no further than the Michaelson Boutique Hotel. Located in the Old Town, this small hotel offers a range of rooms and comes incredibly highly rated. Click here to see their latest prices
Friedrich Guesthouse – Another small hotel, this Friedrich Guesthouse is good for couples and families alike. They have a number of rooms to choose from, are located very close to the Old Town and breakfast is included in the room rate. Click here to see their latest prices
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other accommodation options in Klaipeda!
Days 19 – 21: Kaunas
Because it is a hub for budget airline Ryanair and has recently been selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2022, Kaunas is seeing more visitors than it used to in past years. However, many people visiting the second-largest city in Lithuania make a beeline either for Vilnius or the coast and leave the city unexplored.
This is a huge mistake, however, as Kaunas has a quite a lot to offer travellers. A more artistic and alternative city than you will find elsewhere in Lithuania, there is a thriving street art scene in the city. There is also a fascinating history, a number of interesting museums, and an imposing medieval castle to explore.
Spending two days in Kaunas is a perfect addition to your Lithuania itinerary and we assure you that this edgy city won’t disappoint.
Where to Stay in Kaunas
Kaunas is beginning to attract more and more tourists, and with that there are a number of great accommodation options to choose from. To help you narrow it down, here are some of our top picks:
Monk’s Bunk Hostel — this small and cosy hostel is an excellent option for budget backpackers and solo travellers alike. Located in central Kaunas, they have both dorm and private rooms available, have great reviews, and an excellent staff. Click here to see their latest prices on Hostelworld or Booking.com
Hof Hotel — this small hotel is one of the best places to stay in the city if you aren’t after the hostel lifestyle. Situated in a great location, they have a number of rooms on offer, come very highly reviewed, and even have free breakfast included in the room rate. Click here to see their latest prices
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other accommodation options in Kaunas!
Days 22 – 25: Vilnius
The perfect ending point for this Baltic States itinerary is in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. Boasting one of the largest Old Towns in all of Europe, Vilnius has a fraction of the tourists of Riga or Tallinn but sacrificed none of the charm.
The stunning baroque architecture and the laid-back vibe make Vilnius one of the best cities to explore in the Baltics. Spending at least three or four days in Vilnius will be the perfect amount of time to see everything that this dynamic capital has to offer.
Spend your first day exploring the massive Old Town, taking in all of the main sites such as the Town Hall Square, St Anne’s Church, and the central market of Hales Turgus. Enjoy the city’s thriving cafe culture and dine in some of the best restaurants in the region.
Devote your second day to wandering through the bohemian “independent republic” of Uzupis. This alternative area is filled with great street art, cool craft beer bars, and some of the best restaurants in the city. This is also a great time to visit some of Vilnius’ fantastic museums in order to learn more about the city’s and country’s complex history.
On the third day, take a day trip to the charming lakeside village of Trakai and admire the beautiful island castle. If the weather is fine, you can even rent a pedal boat or swim in the lakes.
Where to Stay in Vilnius
Vilnius is becoming a popular destination for an affordable city break and there are a number of great places to stay in Vilnius because of this. Here are our top picks:
Jimmy Jumps House/Hostel – this small hostel has a lively atmosphere and is a place to stay if you’re travelling on a budget. Located just off of the Town Hall square, they have both dorm and private rooms at affordable prices and also include breakfast in the room rate. They also organise social events in the evening. Click here to see their latest prices on Hostelworld or Booking.com
Hotel Tilto – excellently located close to Cathedral Square in the Old Town, this boutique hotel comes very highly rated. They have a range of rooms on offer and also have breakfast included in the room rate. Click here to see their latest prices
Airbnb – Airbnb is a fantastic option if you want to see how locals live in Vilnius. There are numerous private rooms and apartments listed on the website. If you’re new to Airbnb, click here to get up to $40 off your first stay!
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse the best deals for hotels in Vilnius!
Planning the perfect Baltic travel itinerary can be a complicated task, with so many interesting places to visit. Take the time to really explore the places you visit and get to know the countries you are in and it certainly won’t disappoint!
When visiting the Baltics, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you planning a Baltic countries itinerary? Have you been to Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania? Let us know in the comments!