We have located two companies (in Latvia and the U.S.) that give private tour to the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) but the Latvian companies require wire transfer payment IN FULL 30 days prior to the trip (Baltic Travel Services in Riga). We were told this is Latvian government policy. The U.S. company has provided no information after requests and phone calls (East-West Travel, Bothell, WA) and have prices quoted in Euros and Dollars with a very unfavorable exchange rate, but with no option to pay in Euros. Does anyone have successful suggestions other than these? We have taken private tours in Eastern Europe where the company had payment policies much like U.S. travel firms. Thank you for your help.
Have you considered setting up your own trip? My wife and I are currently in Stockholm in the midst of a Baltic tour of our own, having already made stops in Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Riga. I don’t know how much actual touring about the within the Baltic countries you plan on doing, but I found it pretty straight forward to set up our trip online, and no wire transfers were involved- just liberal application of my credit card. We connected Tallinn and Riga using traveller.ee, which offers a twelve hour minibus tour with several interesting stops between the two cities. The same company connects Riga and Vilnius with a similar tour, although Lithuania was not part of our itinerary.
I don't know what their payment policy is, but we had a good experience with Riga Taxi Tours: http://rigataxitours.lv/en/
I had a good experience using Santa Ogrina of Riga Sightseeing for 2 days of touring in Riga. She is a young, enthusiastic native of Latvia. I paid for the tours at the end of the second day of touring. She mentioned that her company helps arrange trips throughout the Balkans. Perhaps its worth sending her an e-mail to see what she has to offer.
I looked up Baltic Travel Services on TripAdvisor; it has great reviews. I also noted that one of the business responses from 2016 was signed by Santa -- not sure if that means she was employed by them in the past or still is affiliated with them.
Odd terms like that with a poor exchange rate is a big red flag for me. I would look for other options.
My goodness, so many red flags in your story. But I have to admit I do not the law in Latvia.
I always say if something is such a struggle and uncertainties, look for something else. I am currently dealing with Anastasia tours for my upcoming Baltic cruise in August and dealing with them is like a light breeze. I am booking my tours through them in several cities. Not sure which of the countries they can offer for your destination. But maybe you can just contact them. You never know.
Hi Ann -
We’ve just returned from a trip through the Baltic States run by KE Adventures. They are based here in the UK (although I heard while on the trip that they’d been bought out fairly recently by Lord-knows-who, but trip was still excellent) - in the Rick Steves recommended Keswick, in fact.
Although nominally a British group there was one couple from Washington DC who fitted right in. Eleven of us in total, with Lithuanian guide and driver. Transport by mini bus throughout except the ferries to Finland and the Curronian Spit. Worth looking up to see if the trip is what you are after!
Hope you get the trip you are after!
I am sorry you are dealing with these small but annoying issues. I didn't even know that is Latvian government policy.
We, like another poster mentioned above, also used Anastasia Travel for few places on our Baltic cruise including Stockholm, St.Petersburg and Berlin.
Tallinn was easy to explore on our own, since we had plenty of time and the Old Town is easy to walk and enjoy without a tour guide.
We didn't take any tour in Lithuania as well. We walked (in the rain) in Klaipeda an eventually set down at one pizzeria and had the best pizza :)