A trio of independent states, hemming the Baltic Sea, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia each have their own character, all share a haunting history, and boast beautiful landscapes and cultural landmarks; and yet they are surprisingly unsung and little visited.
Discover these Baltic beauties before the rest of the world joins in and crowds disturb the calm.
The largest and southernmost of the three, Lithuania, like its neighbours, regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, but it had never really relinquished its independent spirit, age-old traditions, and unique folkloric legends.
With lakes, farmlands and forests cloaking its landscapes, the cultural hub of this unhurried country is its capital, Vilnius, a city of art and inspiration, Renaissance and neo-classical architecture. Seven centuries old, with a thoroughly modern mindset, it is peppered with churches, punctuated with cosy cafés and excellent eateries, and UNESCO listed for its Baroque, bewitching Old Town, the largest in Europe.
Latvia has endured a history of conquests across the 16th to 20th centuries, from Teutonic to Swedish and Russian occupation. It is a testament to Latvian determination that the country’s culture survived.
The capital, Riga, is its showcase of art and architecture, studded with monuments of its past, from the ostentatious Rundale Palace to the elegant art-nouveau enclave; the Dome Cathedral, the largest religious building in the Baltics; and the KGB headquarters, now the Museum of the Occupation. But it is Latvia’s ‘live for the moment’ ethos that marks its character, most notable in its feast of festivals.
The northernmost state is Estonia. With Baltic Sea beaches, swathes of forestry, pastoral miles, and picturesque towns, it is small in stature but big on beguiling diversity; and renowned for its welcoming people, and for seamlessly blending its cultural past and contemporary, convivial lifestyle.
These assets are nowhere more noticeable than in the medieval and modern mix of its capital, Tallinn, where the busy port city of Soviet-style buildings turns into a fairy-tale at Toompea Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage site. From its city walls to its Baroque splendour, colour-washed houses, cobbled streets, and skyline of turrets and domes, it is little changed since its Middle Ages heyday.
With variations from north to south of the Baltic countries, in general, winter temperatures frequently fall below freezing; southerly winds bring cool weather to the months of spring, April-May; summers (June to August) are comfortably warm, averaging 23°; and the autumn average drops to around 14°.
Jules Verne has departures from April to early October, so you can choose the season that suits you best.
Since emerging from the eras of Soviet rule, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have each recovered their respective customs and culture, and all regained the prosperity of their collective past. Now enjoying advanced economies and high living standards, together the Baltic States boast a 600km treasure trail through sumptuous natural landscapes and centuries of historic landmarks.
Unheralded and uncrowded, this region will enthral with its scenery, intrigue with its cultural sites, entertain with its ebullient nature, and entice with its cafés and cuisine, feeding both body and soul. If this sounds like your style, the Baltics will more than meet your expectations.
With 45 years’ experience and a passion for creating extraordinary adventures, Jules Verne visits iconic landmarks and lesser-known sites, with expert tour guides who share their local knowledge, and show you hidden gems. Guests on our Baltic States journey can enjoy the spirit of Estonia, in every sense of the word, with a tasting of Vana Tallin liqueur; a recital at Riga’s cathedral, its 19th-century organ boasting 6,718 pipes; and Lithuania’s local cuisine, from fried rye bread to ‘cold borscht’ soup, potato dumplings, and ‘tinginys’ cake.
Our guided tours to the Baltic States are ABTA and ATOL protected, and we offer a 100% price guarantee, so you can book with complete confidence.
Four countries, four capitals, and seven centuries of architectural styles, in their street-scenes and monuments, form the focus of this intriguing Baltics tour, as we travel to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and take the ferry across the Gulf for a final day in Finland