EXPLORING THE BALTIC STATES
We both love to travel, any chance I get I am looking on Skyscanner for the next cheap flight we can get to a new destination! Knowing very little about any of the Baltic States it was a perfect chance for us to explore and learn about these exciting countries. The flights were so cheap and finding interesting, beautiful Airbnb’s at a low cost was also not an issue. I love using Airbnb as you get a chance to live like a local. During our 19 day stay, we managed to explore Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia – and managed a one day trip to Finland.
Fortunately, I live very close to Leeds Bradford airport. Sometimes flights, however, are considerably cheaper to fly from Manchester or Liverpool, so it is always worth having a look. When that is the case, I visit the Cyllenius Travel Services website to prevent any difficulties or stresses when travelling to or from the airport.
For the trip, we flew to Vilnius Lithuania. This city stole my heart – I loved every second there. A highlight of the trip was the crypts of Vilnius cathedral tour and the KGB museum tour! Uzupis is a magical, hipsters paradise.
Day trips are easy to navigate on your own, such as Kaunas to visit Ninth Fort. There is also the breathtaking Hill of Crosses, in Siauliai. A little harder to get to but worth the effort. Our favourite day trip was to Trakai, a unique, isolated space, reasonably free from tourists while there visit the castle on the lake or take a rowboat around it!
After a fantastic time there we took an overnight coach to Estonia. Trains within each country were excellent and so punctual. Unfortunately, trains do not connect the countries so for getting between the capitals; coaches were the only option. Taking the overnight coach meant that we didn’t lose any days travelling, and it saved us another night in an Airbnb. The coaches were gorgeous too, with individual TV screens with movies and reclining seats. The travel was brilliant, and it was amazing waking up in Estonia.
When in Estonia we realised a day trip to Finland was more than doable. A day trip to Helsinki was an excellent addition to our adventure, just a 2-hour ferry ride. We made the best use of our time while there with their one-day travel pass. This was around £10 and can be used on all public transport around Helsinki. After a short tram ride into town, we took a short ferry to the Suomenlinna island to see the sea fortress. Such a wonderful experience! Back in the heart of the city, we managed to see theKamppi Chapel of Silence, Rock Church, Helsinki Cathedral and have a quick bite at Just Vege – serving delicious vegetarian food!
Tallinn was probably the most compact of the cities we visited. A picturesque walled, cobblestoned Old Town. The cruise ship tourists can be a little much here, so I would recommend the train to the Kumu Art Museum for any art lovers. F-Hoone is a lovely place for breakfast too!
The bus ride from Tallinn, Estonia to Riga, Latvia is 4 hours. We split this journey by taking a two-hour coach to the beachside town of Parnu, Estonia to spend a day on the beach. That evening we had a short 2-hour coach journey, arriving in Riga.
Riga is a spectacular city, with so many exciting and beautiful museums, cathedrals, monuments and buildings. Outside of the town, we visited the Salaspils Memorial Ensemble as well as the Rumbula Forest Memorial. We also took a day to visit Sigulda. This charming place is their national park, where you can visit the Gutmanis Cave, Turaida Castle and Old Sigulda Castle. Simple routes, beautifully kept, with wonderful tourist information. We braved the cable cart across Gaya which was terrifying, but the views were incredible.