Wondering how to visit Baltic countries and what to see in Baltics? This article covers it all and includes a 10-day Baltic itinerary that you will want to steal.
The Baltic countries consist of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and are located in Northern Europe. It used to be a true hidden gem in Europe, however, nowadays, this region has gained a lot of popularity and attracts many tourists from all over the world.
From the medieval Hanseatic League to the more recent Soviet era, the Baltics have endured and emerged as sovereign states, each with its language, traditions, and unique national character. And traveling around the Baltic countries guarantees unforgettable memories and sights.
This comprehensive Baltic guide will cover everything that you need to know before visiting Baltics. We will cover a lot of practical travel tips, like how to move around and when is the best time to visit the Baltics. And then we will dive deeper into the perfect 10 days in Baltic itinerary for first-timers.
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Useful information to know before visiting Baltic countries
Where are the Baltic countries?
The Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, are situated in Northern Europe, along the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. Estonia is to the north, Latvia in the middle, and Lithuania to the south, collectively creating the Baltic region.
These nations form a distinctive region with shared historical ties and a rich cultural heritage. The geographical proximity to the Baltic Sea has significantly influenced the development of these nations over the centuries.
Are Baltics worth visiting?
Yes, exploring the Baltic countries is definitely worth it. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania offer a unique blend of rich history, diverse landscapes, and vibrant cultures.
From the medieval charm of Tallinn’s Old Town to the Art Nouveau architecture of Riga and the serene natural beauty of Vilnius, the Baltics provide an amazing travel experience.
Whether you’re interested in historical sites, cultural traditions, or simply enjoying the natural beauty of the region, the Baltics have something to offer for every traveler.
Is it safe to travel to the Baltic states?
Generally, the Baltic states are considered safe for travelers. They have low crime rates compared to many other European countries, however, like any travel destination, it’s essential to exercise common safety precautions.
While no place is entirely without risk, the Baltic countries are one of the safest places in Europe for travelers who take basic precautions and stay informed about their surroundings. Which makes it a great destination for solo female travelers as well.
Are Baltic countries cheap?
The Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, are often considered more budget-friendly compared to many Western European destinations. While prices may vary depending on specific locations and your personal spending habits, the Baltics generally offer good value for money.
Accommodation, food, and transportation costs in the Baltic states are often more affordable than in Western Europe. Local markets and eateries can provide cost-effective dining options, and public transportation is usually reasonably priced.
I have to mention that over the years the Baltics have raised the prices, so if you visited these countries a couple of years ago, you might be surprised. However, you can certainly plan a budget trip to Baltic countries.
That being said, the level of perceived affordability can vary from person to person, and factors like the specific cities you visit, the type of accommodation you choose, and your lifestyle preferences will influence your overall expenses.
How to get around Baltic countries?
Getting around the Baltic countries is relatively easy, and there are various transportation options to choose from. Let’s dive in and explore the ways to get around Baltic countries.
Public Transportation: Each capital city—Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius—has well-developed public transportation systems, including buses and trams. Public transport is an affordable and efficient way to explore these cities.
Buses: Intercity buses connect major towns and cities in the Baltic region. Several bus companies operate, providing a cost-effective means of traveling between countries and exploring different regions.
Trains: The Baltic countries have a rail network that connects major cities. Trains are a comfortable option for traveling between capitals and other notable destinations. Check the schedules and book tickets in advance for long-distance journeys.
Car Rental: Renting a car is a convenient option if you want to explore rural areas or have more flexibility in your itinerary. However, you won’t need a car to follow this Baltic itinerary.
Taxis: Taxis are available in urban areas, and ride-sharing services like Bolt operate in some cities. Taxis are a convenient option for short distances or when public transportation is less practical.
If you are planning to follow this Baltic States travel itinerary, you will use the bus to move between Baltic capitals. Make sure you check Flixbus for the most affordable prices and purchase your ticket in advance. Other great alternatives include EcoLines and Lux Express.
When you finally reach the Baltic capitals, you will be walking most of the time. Occasionally, you can hop on a public transport or book a Bolt ride. And to explore the countries beyond the capital, you will be able to use buses or trains. Or join some of the best tours.
However, you don’t have to worry about these things, because this 10-day Baltic itinerary will include all these details and all the information on how to travel between Baltic states.
When is the best time to visit Baltic countries?
The best time to visit the Baltic countries—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—largely depends on your preferences for weather and activities. Here’s a general overview.
Summer (June to August)
This is the peak tourist season when the weather is generally mild and pleasant. Summer brings longer days, allowing for more exploration and outdoor activities. However, popular tourist destinations can be more crowded during this time.
If you ask my personal preference, summer is the best time to explore the Baltics and make the most of your trip.
Spring (April to May) and Fall (September to October)
These shoulder seasons offer milder temperatures, fewer tourists, and the added beauty of blooming flowers in spring or colorful foliage in fall. It’s a good compromise between pleasant weather and avoiding the crowds.
The fall foliage was one of my favorite seasons growing up in Latvia, however, you will have a high chance of rain and a cloudy sky.
Winter (November to March)
Winter can be cold, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. If you enjoy Christmas markets and winter sports like skiing, this could be an excellent time to visit, especially in Lithuania. However, many outdoor attractions may be less accessible during this period.
Chasing winter wonderland in the Baltics is a truly unique experience and overall, it is more affordable compared to Scandinavian winter destinations.
How many days in the Baltic countries?
The ideal duration for your visit to the Baltic countries depends on the depth of exploration you desire and your travel preferences. However, the Baltic itinerary for first-timers should consist of at least 10 days.
During the 10 days in the Baltics, you will be able to discover the essence of the Baltic capitals and even pick one of the best day trips to see beyond the big cities.
I have to say that this is a relatively easy Baltic itinerary for 10 days because I want you to enjoy your time not just chase sights. Also, it is very flexible, so you can easily exclude the things that you don’t want to see or visit and add other alternatives.
What is the best route to visit Baltic countries?
The best route to visit the Baltic countries often depends on your starting point and personal preferences. However, if you’re looking for a general route that covers the highlights in a logical sequence, you might consider the following.
Start in Tallinn, explore the Estonian capital and beyond. Head south to Riga, spend a few of days there, and then make a day trip to see more of Latvia. Conclude your trip with a stop in Vilnius and plan a short visit to Trakai.
You can also do the same route and start from Vilnius instead. If you have to fly back from your arrival point, plan an extra day on the route, which is not ideal, but totally doable.
The ultimate Baltic itinerary for 10 days
This is a quick overview of your Baltic itinerary for 10 days.
- 2 days in Tallinn
- Day trip from Tallinn
- 2 days in Riga (with an optional extra day)
- Day trip from Riga
- 2 days in Vilnius
- Day trip from Vilnius to Trakai.
If you are wondering how to see the best of the Baltic in 10 days, you will need to plan at least 3 day trips – one from each capital. But if you want to see other beautiful places to visit in the Baltics, you can always add an extra day.
Also, I suggest you plan a day trip, so you don’t have to worry about checking out and checking in to a different hotel every day and drag your luggage with you. This way you can base yourself in each Baltic capital for 3 days and plan a short trip from there.
As you can see there is an extra day for Riga, however, you can use it for an additional day trip from Tallinn or Riga, depending on your interests. Or you can simply enjoy a chill day in the middle of your trip. If not, this trip to the Baltics will take 9 days, but I wanted to keep it flexible.
This is truly the best way to spend 10 days in the Baltics. But let’s dive deeper and discover more details of your Baltic vacation.
The northernmost capital, Tallinn, is a blend of medieval charm and modern vitality. The heart of the city is its UNESCO-listed Old Town, where cobblestone streets wind through well-preserved medieval structures.
Tallinn’s skyline is dominated by the imposing Toompea Castle and the spires of churches like St. Olaf’s Church and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
It is the starting point of a 10-day Baltic sightseeing itinerary. 2 days in Tallinn is the perfect amount of time to enjoy all the essentials of Tallinn, taste unique food, and try unforgettable experiences.
In this itinerary, we will cover how to spend 2 days in Tallinn and how to maximize your time in this charming city. I will add some optional stops, so this itinerary suits different travelers and interests.
2 days in Tallinn itinerary
Day 1 in Tallinn
- Morning: Viru Gate, self-guided tour in the Old Town, Town Hall Square, Town Hall Pharmacy.
- Lunch: Pub Kompressor.
- Afternoon: Hellemann Tower, St Olaf’s church or Cafe Maiasmokk (optional), Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Kohtuotsa viewing platform, Patkuli viewing platform.
- Dinner: Draakon or Rukkilill Cafe.
Day 2 in Tallinn
- Morning: Rotermani (optional), Kadriorg.
- Lunch: Balti Jaam.
- Afternoon: Telliskivi, Fotografiska.
- Dinner: Old Hansa or Cru.
If you want to see a detailed version of this itinerary, make sure you read how to spend 2 days in Tallinn. It includes a lot of useful tips that will help you in the planning process.
Day 3 – pick the day trip from Tallinn
The compact size of Estonia and the convenient location of Tallinn means that you can plan an amazing day trip from Tallinn and see beyond the Estonian capital. If you ask me, there are a lot of great options for nature lovers and I would focus on that, but it is up to you.
Click here to discover the best day trips from Tallinn to fill up 3rd day of your complete Baltic itinerary for 10 days. You will see that you can even go to Helsinki, but considering that you are on a mission to discover the Baltic states, let’s just focus on the places within Estonia.
Where to stay in Tallinn?
It is important to find the right accommodation for your trip, so I have prepared a list of the best hotels in Tallinn for every budget. Depending on your travel style, I am sure you will find something suitable, so take a look and decide where to stay in Tallinn.
If your travel to Tallinn is focused on a luxurious experience, the Radisson Collection Hotel is the right hotel for you.
This modern and stylish hotel offers all the comforts to its guests, including a rooftop terrace on the 24th floor. Some rooms boast stunning city views, while some others even include a sauna.
If you want to make your 2 days in Tallinn unforgettable, Schlössle Hotel is the place to be. Renovated in 2016, this stylish 5-star hotel is housed in 13th-century buildings in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town.
The wonderful atmosphere, the antique furniture, and the sauna are just some of the reasons that make Schlössle Hotel a unique place to stay for your Tallinn vacation.
Mid-Range: Citybox Tallinn City Center
Citybox Tallinn City Center is a very modern hotel that is the perfect location to visit Tallinn without giving up any comfort and without squandering your finances.
Located between the port and the Old Town, it’s perfect if you have three or two days in Tallinn.
Affordable: St.Olav Hotel
St.Olav Hotel is the perfect place to explore Tallinn if you are on a budget. The hotel is housed in an ancient palace, it offers many rooms and can keep a competitive price.
The rooms are basic but nicely decorated and the location inside the Old Town is perfect for spending a long weekend in Tallinn.
Riga, the capital of Latvia, is a city that seamlessly intertwines its medieval past with a more cosmopolitan present. The Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a picturesque maze of narrow streets, medieval buildings, and charming squares.
Riga’s rich architectural heritage is particularly notable in the Art Nouveau district, where intricate facades showcase the city’s artistic flair. The vibrant Central Market, housed in former Zeppelin hangars, is another must-visit place in Riga.
It is your next stop on Baltic States travel itinerary and you can choose whether to spend 2 or 3 days in Riga. I am originally from Riga, so want to share it through the eyes of a local and help you discover beyond the main attractions, so I suggest you plan 3 days, but that is up to you.
2 days in Riga itinerary
Day 1 in Riga
- Morning: Mārtiņa Beķereja, Latvian National Opera, Freedom Monument, Bastejkalna Park, Livu Square, The Swedish Gate, Three Brothers, Latvian Museum of Architecture.
- Lunch: Ezītis miglā or Petergailis.
- Afternoon: Our Lady of Sorrows Church and St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, Riga Cathedral, DOM Restaurant, House of the Black Heads, views from the St. Peter’s Church.
- Dinner: Salve Restaurant, ALA Pagrabs.
Day 2 in Riga
- Morning: Riga Central Market, Latvian Academy of Sciences.
- Lunch: Lido (either Dzirnavu or LIDO Atpūtas centrs).
- Afternoon: Riga Nativity of Christ Orthodox Cathedral, Corner House or Latvian National Museum Of Art, Art Nouveau district.
- Dinner: Riviera or Lidojošā varde, Cloud Nine.
In order to get a better look at this itinerary, please read this travel guide for 3 days in Riga. It covers the following day but you can easily turn into a day trip if you prefer. Also, you will find a lot of useful travel tips for visiting Riga.
Optional extra day in Riga
If you still want to explore Riga and discover all the hidden gems in the Latvian capital, here is a list of places you don’t want to miss.
Head to the left side of Daugava and enjoy the views on your back. I suggest you cross Vanšu Bridge and make a stop at the Vanšu Bridge Viewpoint.
After head to Agenskalns where you will find a vibrant market and the picturesque Holy Trinity Church located in Meža iela 2. Nearby, you will also find the National Library of Latvia, which is a gem of modern architecture.
You can end your day with a sunset over Riga panorama and visit AB Dambis for some of the best views of Riga.
If you prefer spending a day in nature, the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia is a good idea to take a glimpse at the old Latvian way of life. Another hot spot to enjoy some sunny days in Latvia is Mežaparks. This beautiful modern park is one of the most loved by the locals.
If these locations don’t excite you, feel free to skip to the next day.
Day 4 – pick the day trip from Riga
Just like Tallinn, Riga offers some amazing day trip options because of its small size and convenient location. While Tallinn day trips are great for nature lovers, Latvia offers some great cityscapes to historical towns, and charming villages.
Click here to discover the best day trips from Riga and decide the next stop of your Baltic States travel itinerary. This article features some of the best cities to visit in the Baltics, however, it includes some great spots in nature as well.
Where to stay in Riga?
Riga is not a big city and you shouldn’t have any problems moving around, but there are some tips to make your weekend in Riga even more sufficient.
The old town (Vecrīga) is the most beautiful area of Riga. The city center (Centrs) is a big area in the heart of Riga, but I don’t advise you to go anywhere after Lāčplēša Street. The area near the Freedom Monument is great and very practical.
If you are looking at the map, you see that Riga is divided by a river called Daugava. And it might look close, but I don’t advise staying on the other side of Daugava. It can be trafficked and not very pleasant to walk.
Luxury: Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga
If you want to have a luxurious and romantic escape during your Baltic vacation, this is your place to go.
Grand Hotel Kempinski is one of the most popular 5-star hotels in Riga and it offers phenomenal spa facilities to make your stay unforgettable. The location in the Old Town makes it perfect to discover the best photo spots in Riga.
Boutique: Grand Poet Hotel and SPA by Semarah
Grand Poet Hotel is the best place to stay in Riga with style. This fabulous five-star hotel in Riga’s old town is the best place for relaxing and sightseeing. In fact, guests have free access to the fitness center and spa zone.
The wellness center includes a pool, sauna, hot tub, and hammam. Various massages are offered at a surcharge.
Mid-range: Wellton Centrum Hotel & SPA
Wellton stands at the entrance of the old town, in one of the most picturesque streets in the Latvian capital. The hotel is stylish and also offers a great spa to relax after a day visiting Riga.
If you want to have a quality stay, at a reasonable price this is the right spot for you.
Affordable: Allure Rooms & Coffee
If you are looking for cheap accommodation while you visit Riga without giving up the quality, look no further.
This lovely guest house is conveniently located in the old town and it even offers a romantic view of Riga. It’s the perfect place to pick to get the best of your time in Riga at an affordable price.
Vilnius, the southernmost capital, is a city of contrasts and layers. Its Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, unfolds with narrow alleys, baroque churches, and the iconic Gediminas’ Tower overlooking the city.
Beyond its historical treasures, Vilnius is a city that embraces modernity while cherishing its cultural roots. The Užupis district, often referred to as the “Republic of Užupis,” is a bohemian neighborhood that celebrates art, creativity, and free expression.
The culinary scene in Vilnius is a delightful reflection of the city’s diverse influences and traditions. From traditional Lithuanian dishes like “cepelinai” and “kugelis” to international cuisine, Vilnius offers a variety of dining experiences to suit every palate.
Just like the other Baltic capitals, you will need 2 days to see the best in Vilnius, and here are some of the best places that you absolutely have to see.
2 days in Vilnius itinerary
Day 1 in Vilnius
- Morning: Gates of Dawn, Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit, Town Hall Square, Literatų g.- St. Anne’s Church.
- Lunch: Etno Dvaras.
- Afternoon: St. John the Baptist and St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Church, Cathedral Square, Gediminas Castle Tower.
- Dinner: Lokys or Senoji trobelė.
Day 2 in Vilnius
- Morning: Uzpis, Biržų duona, Subačiaus apžvalgos aikštelė.
- Lunch: Paupio Turgus.
- Afternoon: Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, Three Crosses Monument.
- Dinner: Ertlio Namas or Amatininkų Užeiga.
Day 3 – day trip from Vilnius to Trakai
While there are many beautiful sights around Lithuania, a day trip from Vilnius to Trakai is a must during your Baltic itinerary for 10 days. It is a wonderful choice to explore the historical and picturesque Trakai Castle and enjoy the scenic surroundings. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.
The centerpiece of Trakai is the majestic Trakai Island Castle, a masterpiece of medieval architecture set on an island in Lake Galve. This iconic fortress serves as the residence of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and a symbol of the country’s medieval heritage.
Beyond the castle, Trakai town itself is a quaint and welcoming place. Visitors can stroll the charming streets, lined with traditional wooden houses, and perhaps stop in local cafes to try traditional Lithuanian delicacies.
Užutrakis Manor Estate, located near Trakai, further enriches the region’s appeal. The estate, with its elegant mansion and beautifully landscaped gardens, offers a glimpse into the life of Lithuania’s nobility. The expansive park, designed by renowned French and Italian architects, provides a peaceful retreat.
How to reach Trakai from Vilnius?
You can easily reach Trakai by using public transport since the buses regularly operate between Vilnius and Trakai. The journey takes approximately 40 minutes. The ticket will cost you 3 euro and you can buy it at the station.
Another option is to train. Trains depart regularly from Vilnius Railway Station, and the journey takes around 30 minutes. The price is 2.80 euros and you can purchase your ticket at the station.
Taxi is also a popular choice to visit Trakai from Vilnius if you have limited time. The ride will cost you approximately 20 euros depending on the traffic.
Finally, there are plenty of companies that organize daily trips from Vilnius to Trakai. This one is one of the best-rated tours and it offers a professional guide to learn more about Trakai.
Where to stay in Vilnius?
Here is a list of some of the best hotels in Vilnius for every budget and style. If you don’t like any of these options, I highly recommend that you pick a hotel near Old Town, so you can make the most of your limited time in the Lithuanian capital.
Luxury: Relais & Châteaux Stikliai Hotel
If you want to make your stay in Vilnius special, book Relais & Châteaux Stikliai Hotel. This 5-star hotel in Vilnius is housed in a historic building with Baroque and Gothic features and is located in the heart of the Lithuanian capital. The hotel boasts a sauna, an indoor pool, and a fitness center.
Mid-range: Courtyard by Marriott Vilnius City Center
If you are looking for quality accommodation without squandering your finances, make sure you check the Courtyard by Marriott Vilnius City Center. Its prime location and modern & stylish rooms are perfect for exploring Vilnius in style. The rich breakfast is also worth mentioning.
Affordable: Domus Maria
Domus Maria is definitely the best budget choice to stay in Vilnius. It is located in a former monastery in the Old Town and it’s perfect to visit Vilnius city on foot. The rooms are simple but cozy and welcoming and the value for the money is simply unbeatable.
More things that you should know before visiting the Baltics
What language do they speak in the Baltics?
The Baltic countries each have their own distinct languages.
The official language of Estonia is Estonian, which belongs to the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic language family and it is closely related to Finnish. The official language of Latvia is Latvian, a Baltic language that is part of the Indo-European language family. Lithuanian is the official language of Lithuania. It is a Baltic language and one of the oldest languages in the Indo-European language family that is still spoken.
As a Latvian, I can say that all these languages are very different and unfortunately, we are not able to understand each other. There are some similarities between Latvian and Lithuanian, but nothing remotely close to having an actual conversation.
As a foreigner visiting the Baltics, you will notice that the older generation speaks fluent Russian and the younger generation can communicate pretty well in English. I am sure you won’t have any problems with the language during your trip, but I recommend you learn some basic phrases and surprise the locals.
What is the local food in the Baltics?
The culinary scene in the Baltic countries is a delightful fusion of traditional flavors, influenced by the region’s history, climate, and agricultural practices. Each country has its unique dishes and culinary traditions, however, you will notice a lot of similarities.
One notable dish of Estonian cuisine is “Mulgipuder”. It is a dish of mashed potatoes and groats and is a hearty staple, often served with bacon. Fish, particularly herring, plays a significant role, and “kiluvoileib,” an open-faced sandwich with smoked or marinated herring, is a popular choice.
Vana Tallinn is the most famous local drink and a great souvenir to bring home.
While in Latvia you should try “grey peas with bacon”, which is a traditional Latvian dish. “Latvian rye bread” is a staple, and garlic bread can be found in every local restaurant. But layered rye bread is a popular dessert that you will need to try.
Sklandrausis is a vegetable pie (or tart) made from rye pastry that is filled with a mixture of carrots and potatoes and eaten cold. Latvia’s proximity to the Baltic Sea influences its seafood offerings, with smoked fish, especially sprats, being a common delicacy.
And just like Vana Tallinn, Riga Black Balsam is a must-try when visiting Latvia.
Lithuanian national dish is “Cepelinai” – large potato dumplings stuffed with meat, curd, or mushrooms. “Kugelis,” a potato pudding baked with bacon, is a beloved comfort food. “Šaltibarščiai,” a cold beet soup, is a refreshing and vibrant option, especially during the warmer months.
What is the local currency in the Baltics?
While every Baltic country used to have its own currency, nowadays, it is part of the Eurozone and the local currency in the Baltics is Euro.
Further reading for 10-day Baltic itinerary
Plan your trip to Estonia:
- 10 Best Day Trips from Tallinn, Estonia + Top Rated Tours
- Complete Tallinn Itinerary: How to Spend 2 days in Tallinn
- How to Plan a Day Trip to Helsinki from Tallinn via Ferry
- 40 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Tallinn, Estonia
Get ready to explore Latvia:
- 100 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Riga, Latvia
- Riga Art Nouveau Guide: Where to Find Art Nouveau in Riga?
- 10 Amazing Coffee Shops and Best Cafes in Riga
- How to Spend 3 days in Riga + Riga Itinerary and Tips From a Local
- Where to Eat in Riga Like a Local? 10 Local Restaurants in Riga, Latvia
- Weekend in Riga: Perfect 2 Day Riga Itinerary and Tips From a Local
- Why You Should Visit Latvia in Autumn?
This is the end up the ultimate guide to seeing the Baltic in 10 days and I am sure that you have a great vision of how to plan your trip to the Baltic countries.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.