With quaint medieval capital cities, cozy restaurants, brooding coastlines and lonely backroads the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are a road tripper’s delight.
On this 16 day road trip we started in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and wound our way north, ending in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Other points of interest in Lithuania included the Hill of Crosses and Coronian Spit National Park, in Latvia; Riga the capital, Rundale Palace and Guaja National Park, and in Estonia; Tartu, Parnu, and Lahemaa National Park. Rental agenices make it easy to rent a car in one country and return it to another.
Suggested Itinerary Adjustments
For those short on time you could easily decrease the number of nights in the capital cities from 3 to 2 each. As we were traveling in early fall, late September, we weighted our trip towards the cities. Those traveling during summer may want to spend more time in the national parks.
Lithuania – 5 nights
Sights of Vilnius
The small walkable city of Vilnius has one of the largest medieval old towns in Europe, making it a delightful destination to meander through for the day.
Sleeping and Dining in Vilnius – 3 nights
The quaint medieval old town of Vilnius, with boutique hotels and quality cozy restaurants, makes for an enchanting weekend getaway or a stop on longer itinerary through the Baltics.
Hill of Crosses
The small hill, barely a hill, is covered in more crosses of various types and sizes than you can imagine.
Curonian Spit National Park
The narrow strip of land a short ferry ride off the coast of Lithuania with Curonian Lagoon on one side and the Baltic Sea on the other is a lovely getaway.
Sleeping and Dining in Klaipeda – 2 nights
A short ferry ride from Curonian Spit National Park this small city makes a great base for exploring the region.
Latvia – 4 nights
Latvia’s answer to Versailles, with both furnished interiors and well-tended gardens, is a delightful stop an hour and half outside of Riga.
Sights of Riga
This charming Baltic capital may be short on actual sights but is long on ambience.
Sleeping and Dining in Riga – 3 nights
Castles of Gauja National Park
The castles of Gauja National Park – Sigulda, Krimulda and Turaida – offer a destination for organizing a trip through this wooded region an hour outside of Riga.
Karlamuiza, Guaja National Park – 1 night
A small country manor located 12k outside of Cesis has lovely grounds but somehow just misses the mark.
Cesis, Gauja National Park
Boasting a picturesque castle, beautiful gardens and quaint streets, Cesis is billed in Lonely Planet as the cutest town in Latvia.
Estonia – 7 nights
A University town and Estonia’s second largest city, it’s best known for its college town vibe and museums.
Otepaa, Day Trip from Tartu
A 45 minute drive from Tartu, the area offers a selection of outdoor activities including hiking, biking and skiing.
Sleeping and Dining in Tartu – 2 nigths
A Day in Parnu – 1 night
The seaside resort town, known for its beach and spa hotels, is one of Estonia’s top summer vacation spots.
Sights of Lahemaa National Park
Located on the north coast of Estonia east of Tallinn, the park is known for its historical sites and natural beauty as rolling hills and forest meet the sea.
Sleeping and Dining at Sagadi Manor – 1 night
The pink 18th century mansion set on a rural country estate within Lahemaa National Park includes a hotel located in the former stable buildings of the historic manor.
Of the Baltic capitals Tallinn has the most intact medieval city wall, a historic old town and an almost Disneyland vibe, making it a fun place to explore yet more removed from everyday Estonian life.
Sleeping and Dining in Tallinn – 3 nights