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Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania - have you been?

I'm looking at a tour of these 3 countries and ending with 2 or 3 days in Warsaw, Poland.
Looks like there is a lot of history to see in this area and I'm always looking to add
more countries to my "list".
If you have been to this area - I'd be interested in any recommendations or "don't bothers".
I would be going to Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, and Warsaw. (on a bus between cities)
I'm looking for mid to late May and time frame and would appreciate your comments and advice.
Thanks in advance.

Posted by
7666 posts

I have not been to Warsaw but have been to the other three. I was glad to have visited these cities but felt afterward that once was certainly enough. When I was there, about 6 years ago, there was still what I would call a "Soviet era" mentality in the tourist industry. For instance, one guide was astonished that our group wanted to change somewhat the itinerary for that day, astonished and a bit fearful of what her boss would say. Hotel personnel were for the most part glumly efficient. Riga was the prettiest of the 3 cities, I found, and has some wonderful art deco buildings, if architecture is of interest. My overall impression was, and still is, that if your heritage lies in that part of the world you will enjoy it more than I did.

Posted by
4867 posts

I was born in Warsaw, so feel free to ask me anything offline. As for must sees, I would say Old Town, Warsaw Uprising Museum, and Lazienki Park.

Posted by
2825 posts

We took a similar trip two years ago minus Warsaw, plus Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki.

We liked our stays in Tallin, Riga and Vilnius very much.

In Vilnius we stayed at Domus Maria - I'd recommend it! From Vilnius we took a Lux Express bus to Riga.

In Riga we stayed at the Old City Boutique Hotel near the Opera House. We went to an Opera performance, the market, the the Art Nouveau Museum, the Occupation Museum and walked through the city on the park walkways. There is quite a lot to do there.

Tallinn was our favorite. We took a bus there from Riga. We stayed at GoHotel Schnelli - it was a hotel that worked well for us but it's outside the city center. You might prefer staying in the Old Town.

We were also there in late May and it was a perfect time to be there! You'll enjoy learning more about this part of the world!

Posted by
1531 posts

Thanks to all of you for your speedy feedback.
I am planning towards the end of May and now looking forward to some things that are not listed
on the tour - but I could see in my free time.

Posted by
631 posts

We've been to Lithuania three times, as well as Tallinn and Warsaw. I wish we'd gotten to Riga. Including the usual places in old town Vilnius, I'd include visiting the TV tower and learning about the Soviet tank incident there. Places to visit outside of Vilnius include Trakai castle and Rumsiskes outdoor folk museum. Trakai is about an hour by bus or train. Rumsiskes is actually closer to Kaunas and I'm not sure what the transportation options are without a car. We used the Lux Express to travel from Tallinn to Riga to Klaipeda, LT, and recommend it. The Hill of Crosses outside of Šiauliai is quite impressive and worth a stop. I believe that you could bus to Šiauliai from Vilnius and from Šiauliai to Riga. We stayed twice at the Domus Maria in Vilnius (http://www.domusmaria.lt/en/) which is right next to the Gate of Dawn, at the upper end of old town, and a short distance from the train station. For a budget place in Vilnius, try the Litinterp Guest House which is at the lower end of old town. If you decide to go to the west coast of LT, Klaipeda, let me know and I'll mention other sites.

In Tallinn we stayed at Villa Hortensia, which is (was?) in the RS Scandinavia guidebook. It is actually a set of self-catering apartments near the center and off a small courtyard. We enjoyed Tallinn and followed the 'self-guided walk' in the guidebook.

We took the train from Vilnius to Warsaw and that in itself is an interesting experience. We also recommend the Warsaw Uprising Museum.

In Your Pocket guides are published for each of these cities. They usually cost a few bucks in hotels or at Tis, but you can download them free at www.inyourpocket.com and then select the city in which you are interested.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
3547 posts

I believe this year will be the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Rising, so should be lots going on there.

Posted by
764 posts

I have been to Riga, Tallinn, and Warsaw and really enjoyed all three. Riga is definitely the most picturesque as far as the Old Town. Warsaw is fascinating and the city has many different parts- beautiful parks, the old town, big gray buildings built during the occupation,fashion districts with nice shops. I spent the least amount of time in Tallinn and it was raining but I still enjoyed it. We went to a music festival that was very entertaining.

I respectfully disagree with Norma but I was there last year. Maybe things have changed? There is a similar history in all of the countries as far as the war and then being occupied by the Soviets. I found the people friendly, eager to educate us about their history, and certainly sad and angry about the suffering that has happened. But their and hope for the future stood out way more.

As an aside, if you go, consider taking a ferry between some of the cities. I was expecting a place to eat and sleep but its basically like a one night cruise ship. Quite the buffet, karaoke, live music, casino. It was great people watching!

Posted by
1531 posts

Thanks again for the great info.
I booked my tour today - departing May 12th.

I am going with Gate1 tours. I have been on several tours with them
to various parts of the world and I like what they offer for the best
price.

Now for fun part of looking thru travel books, looking at maps,
seeing a descriptions of some of the things I will be visiting.

I still appreciate hearing recommendations from all you fellow travelers.

Thanks,
Frances

Posted by
252 posts

Loved Riga and Tallinn. I strongly recommend the museum of the occupation of Latvia in Riga.

Posted by
11945 posts

It was over 7 years ago, but Vilnius and Warsaw were both big surprises to me. I would describe Vilnius as "Prague, minus the souvenir stands and triple the number of churches". I heard good things about the KGB museum, but I never made it. Delicious, hearty food, but some of the worst beer I've sampled anywhere. I also stayed at Domus Maria. Nothing spectacular, but nothing wrong with it either.

The very name "Warsaw" conjured images in my head about all that was grey, depressing and brutal about 20th century Europe. The Warsaw Pact, the Warsaw ghetto, the Warsaw uprising, etc. Surprise, surprise, it turned out to be a rather lively, even attractive city. And I couldn't have cared less that the royal palace and Old Town were completely rebuilt, they looked pretty enough to me. Don't leave town without enjoying a perogi feast.