The Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia still echo with memories of Medieval Guilds, rampaging Teutonic Knights and a turbulent history of conquests and partitions. Since independence from the former Soviet Union over 20 years ago their tangled, medieval, old town streets, cobbled stone squares, and church spires have all been spruced up. Yet the capitals have all embraced the west in different ways. Tallinn was dubbed ‘party capital of the year’ by the New York Times, while Vilnius, for some reason, erected a statue of avant-garde musician Frank Zappa…as you do. Yet, whether you come for the ancient history and fabulous architecture or the very lively nightlife, these three incredible countries, long championed as hidden treasures of Europe, won't remain hidden for much longer.
From a resurgent Warsaw, head to the thriving Baltic capitals. Your journey reaches its zenith with seven nights in Russia's two imperial cities.
An all-embracing journey of Scandinavia, the Baltic, Russia, Lithuania and Poland, showcasing Baroque splendour, fine design and historic conflicts and resolutions.
Set out from Warsaw to explore the Baltic States, including the capitals Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius. Discover stylish, vibrant cafe societies with fascinating history.
The classic way to enter the charming and compact Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, is through the Gates of Dawn. Continue through the Old Town Hall Square to the University and the French Embassy where Napoleon rested before his ill-fated campaign against Russia. The former Soviet KGB headquarters are a reminder of more recent and grim events. Just outside the city stands the splendid Trakai Castle, built on a fortified island by Grand Duke Vietautas at the beginning of the 15th century.
In Riga, be sure to tour the city walls, and visit the Domkirk. The House of the Three Brothers is the oldest in Latvia and nearby stands the Swedish Gate and castle of the Livonian Knights
Standing in the old town of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, survey the market square with its old German Weighing House, Pharmacy and Town Hall. The energetic may wish to walk up Toompea Hill to the castle and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Take the funicular up to the Gediminas' Tower – an iconic Lithuanian landmark. Either visit the museum or just enjoy the fine panorama over the orange-red roofs of Vilnius Old Town. Need a pick-me-up? According to legend, Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, became ill during a visit to Latvia, but was cured after drinking Riga Black Balsam liquor. Try the local tipple over ice-cream, topped with shaved chocolate.