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21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

Toronto, Canada
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21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

Hi, I will be traveling to the Baltic States either in April or September 2014. The weather seems to be warmer in September.

I’ll be staying in the old town of the capital cities as bases and doing day trips. I have about 21 days.

- Are 7 days in each city a good way to go? I’ll be starting off in Vilnius then Riga and Tallinn (flying home from my last destination). I’m interested in history, culture, concerts, architecture.

- Can you suggest any day trips? I won’t be driving and will be traveling alone.

- I’m considering my travel options b/w these cities. The flights are less than an hour and the bus ride takes more than 4 hours. I’ve found http://www.luxexpress.eu/en and http://www.hansabuss.ee/index.php?page=3& on older threads. Do any of you have experience with either company? Is the bus ride comfortable? Which airline for the flights?

- I've narrowed down my hotel options but would love to hear from anybody with very good or bad experiences

- Any other tips or advice are most welcome

Thank you

New York City, New...
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1. Re: 21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

My .02...went to the 3 cities you mentioned in Sept 2012.

Spent 4 or 5 nights in each place, but since the cities are quite small I did day trips outside

part of the time (by public transpo)...7 nights might be too much.

Some day trips I did...

Vilnius -> Trakai

Riga -> Sigulda Natl Park (followed Lonely Planet guidebook), Jurmala (a bit too cold to swim in late Sept, lots of people walking on the beach tho all bundled up)

Tallinn -> Lahemaa Natl park

(went on organized tour; link is here http://www.traveller.ee/tour/lahemaa-national-park-day-trip/), Tartu

Travel between cities I did by bus which are comfortable and cheap. Trains are sorta non-existent.

Oh by the way from Vilnius to Riga I stopped one night in Siauliai to see the Hill of Crosses.

Accommodations, stayed in cheap hostels. And college dorm in Siauliai.

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: 21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

Great info! Thanks, mopotofu!

Do you think 7 days is too much even with day trips?

I was thinking of working an itinerary to include Helsinki if it's not too expensive in comparison.

New York City, New...
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3. Re: 21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

Yeah 7 days really is kinda a long time in each city, imho, even with the day trips.

(i really recommend the tour in Estonia i previously posted. they have other

tours as well). But you can just relax, take it easy, don't have to do too much every day.

If you like beer, I know a couple of places in Vilnius (have to check my notes).

Food-wise, lots of good options esp. in Tallinn (i became friends with the

owner of an Italian wine bar, we reminisced about his time in NYC haha).

Whatever you do, do not miss the Art Nouveau section of Riga. repeat - DO NOT MISS!

Check out In Your Pocket guides - www.inyourpocket.com - useful in that part of the

world. Free PDF downloads.

perhaps you can rework the itinerary to include other places like

the Curonian Spit (Lithuania), etc etc...or perhaps spend more time in

Tartu...heck, stop in Siauliai!! i found the LP guidebook quite helpful.

i actually finished my trip in Helsinki by taking the ferry from Tallinn, spending a couple of nights

there. i liked Helsinki, wish I could have tried the sauna there (i did try in Tallinn - hot!!).

It is quite expensive compared to the three Baltic states though...way more expensive.

but yeah i know, it's an apples to oranges comparison.

If you do decide to stay in Helsinki, I recommend Hoteli Finn (http://www.hotellifinn.fi/en/3)...

great central location, kinda funky artsy decor. i saw it in the NYTimes Frugal Traveler

column. A friend also recommends the Scandic hotel chain, though be careful

which one you choose - some are more centrally located than others.

Toronto, Canada
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4. Re: 21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

Hi mopotofu, great tips!

I’m in for the Estonia tour and the Art Nouveau section in Riga; I WILL NOT MISS IT! I don’t eat meat so I’m hoping I can easily find food that suits me. Italian is always easy.

I love inyourpocket!

I’m liking the idea of including Helsinki since it’s so near and I don’t know when I’ll be in that part of the world next.

What if I were to break it down to 5 nights in each city including Helsinki or does one city require more or less than the others? You’re not the first to mention the cost of Helsinki but the more I think of it the more I feel that I should visit it OR….I guess there’s nothing wrong with returning home sooner :(

Also, I will work on making September happen rather than April. I noticed it’s a bit too cool in April although it’s a bit more expensive in September. I just have to decide what’s more important.

Thanks again, your feedback is adding to my anticipation :):)

New York City, New...
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5. Re: 21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

Some more thoughts...(i consulted my notes since i love nothing better

than reminiscing about trips and helping other travelers online - this is NOT

sarcasm, btw. haha).

1> if you like cats, Siauliai has a Cat Museum which took me a while to

find. (I walked from downtown). There's also a Bicycle museum, among

others, which i did not visit. (Are you noticing the hard sell on Siauliai by now??)

2> Doubtless this is mentioned in the "In your pocket" guidebooks, but

there are free walking tours of Vilnius/Riga/Tallinn...

freetour.traveller.ee/?page_id=5&lang=vl

I took all three of them! The Vilnius/Riga ones bill themselves as

"alternative" tours, so you don't really go to the famous sights but

rather the less-explored and funkier parts of town. The Tallinn tour

goes around the old town and a little outside - i give them all a thumbs

up. The guides speak great English. Level of English among younger people

is quite high.

3> ah...no elk soup for you!! gonna miss out on the mutton and reindeer!! ;-)

you'll find something to eat i'm sure.

4> RE duration of stay...I wound up spending 4 nights in Vilnius, 1 night in Siauliai,

5 nights each Riga/Tallinn, and 2 nights in Helsinki. Essentially i was just

playing it by ear and didn't have a fixed sked (altho trip was fixed length)

- priority were the Baltic States so the "leftover: time was devoted to Helsinki.

I'd love to re-visit Helsinki for a longer period of time, since it rained

all day on my second full day there.

Note though that I spent a lot of time doing day trips, as mentioned.

I'd say I spent two full days exploring each capital city. Could've gone inside

more museums/churches, i'm sure...

5> Caught Lux Express from Riga to Tallinn...4.5 hours comfy ride. Need to take

tram to Tallinn centre from bus station (you could walk it too) - local

onboard helped me figure out how to buy ticket and validate it. (not

that complicated really haha).

6> In Estonia i also did the "coastal cliff & paldiski tour" (there's a min. no. of people

required, luckily it happened) which consists of an odd assortment

of sights - none of them mentioned in the LP

7> if you happen to like the band Depeche Mode, look for the tribute bar "DM Baar"

in old town Tallinn (opened up by a fan, apparently). only DM tunes played

in the bar!

anyway, i'm glad you're going...the Baltics are way under-visited by

North Americans. have fun!

Luxembourg City...
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6. Re: 21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

As for Šiauliai, it is also kind of on your way from Vilnius to Riga :D

I can talk only for Lithuania and I would split the trip. Vilnius is very nice and an absolute must, but day trips to western or northern parts of Lithuania are impossible from there - would take too long. Curonian Spit is beautiful and I personally love the port town of Klaipėda (you could base yourself there if you don't choose Šiauliai).

In Vilnius, I would also take a tour offered by the tourist office, not only the free one. Alternative tour is nice, but I find it good to know what it is alternative to. The price for the paid tour seems to be 35 Litas which is like 10 Euros. It is almost for free IMHO (cannot convert to your currency, sorry) www.vilnius-tourism.lt/

Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: 21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

Actually, I love cats!

I’m open to any tours that will teach me about the city/country.

Thanks for the itinerary breakdown, gives me a better idea on how to proceed.

Depeche Mode! Wow, brings back memories 

Thanks for your help, mopotofu

Hi Rudeneja, thanks for sharing. I’ll have to look into the bases you’ve suggested. Indeed, 10 Euros is more than reasonable for a tour.

Moss Vale, Australia
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8. Re: 21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

Hi Jackie0626,

Sounds you are planning something similar to what we did.

This was our itinerary when we visited the lovely Baltic countries in September 2013. Please note we enjoy travelling slowly.

Fly into Vilnius

Vilnius 5 nights at the Shapespeare Hotel which we would recommend. Did a day trip by Local bus to Trackai

Train to Kaunas for 2 nights. We used the local bus to visit Birštonas for a half day trip out of Kaunas

Ecolines bus to Daugavpils 1 night

Local bus to Riga 4 nights. There is lots to do and see in Riga and we probably could have used 1 extra day there.

Train to Sigulda 3 nights. Did a day trip to Cēsis using the train.

Train to Tartu 2 nights. Stayed at the Hotel Antonius which we would recommend. Fantastic town with lots to see and do.

Train to Tallinn 5 nights. Did a day trip by local bus to the Haapsalu. Fantastic choice

Ferry to Helsinki

Regarding the places we stayed, I have done reviews of each one, so you may like to check them out.

I suggest you investigate the trains as, although not a lot of trains run, they are reliable and comfortable, when they do.

We downloaded the current In Your Pocket guides for the towns we could and then bought a hard copy when we arrived in that town. Fantastic publications.

We had the most wonderful time, and I am sure you will to.

If I can help further please ask.

Kind regards,

Barbaraanne56

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: 21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

Thank you for sharing, Barbaraanne56! I too prefer a slow pace and really enjoy the culture and environment instead of jumping from one location to the next. Hotel Shakespeare is one of my choices. I will definitely read up on your hotel reviews.

10. Re: 21 days - Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn - a bit of help needed

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