Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List

Compared to other destinations in Europe, the Baltics are relative newcomers to tourism. The 3 Baltic countries Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were under Soviet rule until 1991, which meant next to no tourism.

In recent years, the notion of Baltic tourism has been a real thing, with all three countries seeing a massive influx of tourism. Western Europe has been on the tourism map for decades, however, due to their popularity, they are pricier and more crowded than their eastern counterparts, hence the boom in Baltic states’ tourism.

This article delves into the best of the Baltics and covers a multitude of bucket list worthy things to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. With their outstandingly well preserved Medieval historical centres, rolling and untouched landscapes dotted with fairy-tale castles and captivating history, you can see why visiting the Baltics is on the up, and for good reason.

Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 1
Tallinn Old Town, Estonia

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Best of the Baltics – How to use this guide

This Baltic best-of guide is divided into sections. The first section is designed to be used as a quick glance, it gives an overview of the top three things to do in the Baltic States. If you’re limited on time, during your Baltics vacation, then these items are definite must-sees.

The second section of this article is designed to help you plan your Baltics itinerary if you have a bit more time. They are listed under each specific country. If you’re only interested in visiting one country, then you can jump to the section you need below.

The final section is filled with answers to FAQs and covers things like the best time to visit the Baltics, where to stay and information about getting around and of course, useful travel tips.

What you can expect in this article...

If you don’t have time to read the whole article now, you can download a planning travel planning sheet the full list featured in this article straight to your inbox for offline viewing.

Don’t forget your travel insurance.

Before you set off on your awesome trip to the Baltic States, make sure you’ve booked your travel insurance. 

Two companies I recommend are True Traveller (for European citizens) or World Nomads (all nationalities).

Baltic States Travel Guide – At a Glance

If you’re planning your Baltic itinerary, and only have a limited amount of time then this section covers the top three things to see in each of the countries. You could visit all these highlights within a week, especially if you have access to your own car.

Estonia Top 3 Things To See

      • Tallinn Historical Centre
      • Lahemaa National Park & Viru Bio reserve
      • White Sandy Beaches of Pärnu

Latvia Top 3 Things To See

      • Riga UNESCO Historical Centre
      • Art Nouveau District, Riga
      • Jurmala Beaches & Villas

Lithuania Top 3 Things To See

      • Vilnius Historical Centre
      • The Hill of Crosses
      • Trakai Castle
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Best of the Baltics – 23 Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List

Best Things To See In Estonia

Tallinn Historical Centre

You might be wondering which is the best Baltic city. Truth is, they are all stunning. However, Tallinn is undisputedly the most visually beautiful. The UNESCO listed historical centre ticks every box for being a quintessential medieval city, with walls, defence systems connected by a myriad of pretty cobbled courtyards and all alleyways to spend hours getting lost in.  

The city is also rich in history, which includes a pretty harrowing Soviet past. There is still an abundance of relics left from the Soviet era including the eerie KGB prison and headquarters, which is actually housed in a beautiful Art Nouveau building right in the heart of the old town. 

Inside the historical centre, there are so many things to see. Tallinn is best explored on foot as the city is compact and mostly pedestrian. The city is surrounded by hills, and there are several look-out points dotted about to walk up to and take beautiful panoramic photos of the city going past the fantasy like Alexander Nevsky cathedral.

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St Katherine's Passage, Tallinn
33 Unmissable Ideas for What To Do In Tallinn. The Beautiful Capital of Estonia. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Find out 33 amazing things to do in Tallinn. Ideas for the perfect Tallinn Itinerary. What to see in Tallinn #Tallinn #Estonia #Ruins
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
One of the most popular things to do in the historical centre is to walk around the remaining segments of the city walls. Once, these surrounded the entirety of the city to protect it from invaders. Today, they no longer make a complete circuit, but you can walk along with segments and lots of the sections still have watch towers to climb. If you want to learn more about the history of the city, then it’s worth doing a walking tour of Tallinn with a knowledgeable guide.
 

Make sure you visit the gigantic and rotund Kiek in de Kok. Ideally, you’ll want to spend a couple of hours here. This building also houses the entrance to the super eerie Bastion passages which are built under the city and used in several wars. If you’re looking for a great Instagrammable spot, then be sure to visit St Katherine’s passage.

Kuressaare

Explored by Daniel and Ilona from Top Travel Sights 

If you want to escape Tallinn and leave the other tourists behind, you should catch a bus to Kuressaare. This town, with its cute historic centre, is located on Saaremaa, Estonia’s biggest island.

Most travellers visit Kuressaare to see the Episcopal Castle, a huge fortification that dates back to the 14th century. From its towers, you have a great view of the town, but the highlight is the museum inside the castle. Here, you can learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the history of Saaremaa. Oh, and did we mention the hidden passageways? The castle is full of them, small, winding staircases that you can take to get from one floor to another.

If you’re tired of climbing stairs, it’s time to relax. Kuressaare is famous for its spas, and here, you’ll have the chance to unwind in a typical Estonian sauna. If you travel to the Baltics in the low season, as we did, you could even look into renting a room in a spa hotel. They offer great discounts in winter.

In the evening, we recommend having dinner in a traditional windmill. Here, you can try lots of typical dishes from the region, like wild boar or kama jelly. Give it a try; we’re sure you’ll love it.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Kuressaare | Top Travel Sights

Mooska Farm Smoke Sauna

Explored by Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel

Located in Võru County 3 hours from Tallinn, Europe, Mooska Farm Smoke Sauna is an Estonian must-see! Mooska Farm Smoke Sauna is a farm and smokehouse, but the traditional Estonian smoke sauna is by far the biggest attraction here.

No Baltics tour would be complete without experiencing a traditional sauna. The smoke sauna experience has been awarded a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity certificate and is meant to improve your overall sense of wellbeing – in body, mind, and soul. It gave us important insight into local traditions and was an experience we will remember for years to come.

The 3-hour Smoke Sauna experience is guided by the mother of the smoke sauna and wonderful hostess, Eda. She’ll instruct you in and out of the sauna and lead the chanting, meditation, and whisking with leaves, twigs, and honey scrubs. There is also an optional ice-cold skinny dip!

Meats are traditionally cured inside the Estonian smoke sauna and after our sauna experience, we were given the chance to try some alongside other local products from the farm. The meal was homemade and made us feel like the food was reason enough to visit the farm.

Depending on the time of the year, you can also partake in a nature tour with Mooska Farm which typically involves snowshoeing, skiing, or walking through the local forest.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Mooska Farm Smoke Sauna | Drink Tea & Travel

Pärnu

Explored by Nicholas from Rambling Feet

Pärnu, Estonia is home to one of the best Baltic beaches, and one of the most popular beach destinations across the three Baltic States. Czars and Russian officials made the journey here for their retreats and tourists continue the tradition every summer. 

During the long summer days, the town roars to life with tourists and the sandy shores of the Baltic Sea become Party Central. When the temperature drops, though, it becomes quiet once again and a peaceful place to wander. 

Did you know that Pärnu was where Estonia’s independence was first proclaimed? It was read in 1918, and not in Tallinn, from the balcony of the old Endla theatre. The Soviets may have demolished it and a new one was rebuilt in the city, but a replica of the balcony has sprung up in the original spot, with the proclamation inscribed on it. You’ll find it close to the bus terminal.

Away from the beaches, there is still plenty to see in Pärnu during the off-season: A leisurely walk (watch out for the black ice in winter!) takes in marshes teeming with birdlife, traditional wooden houses, including the poet, Lydia Koidula’s, childhood home. You’ll also find decorative art nouveau buildings such as the Villa Ammende, along with historic mud baths and ancient fortifications like the red tower and the Tallinn gate.

It’s enough to turn a rest stop on the Riga-Tallinn journey into an overnight stay.

Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 3
Ammende Villa, Pärnu

The Struve Geodetic Arc

Explored by Tom from Travel Past 50

If you’re into the sciences or even interesting facts, then this is a must-see on your Baltic States itinerary. The Struve Geodetic Arc is a series of triangulations done by Tartu University astronomer and geographer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve between 1816 and 1855. The measurement of the meridian, which used the observatory at Tartu University in Estonia as its base point represented the first accurate measurement of a long segment of an earthly meridian. 

This work helped determine the exact size and shape of the planet and marked an important step in the development of earth sciences and topographic mapping.

Struve did important early astronomy work on the nature of binary stars. But his actual thesis work was on determining the exact geographic coordinates of the Tartu Observatory. This, indirectly, led to his geodesic project.

The observatory is no longer in use, but now serves as a museum and includes many of the measuring instruments, many handmade by Struve, that he used in his work in mapping and astronomy.

The Tartu University site, along with other points along the meridian in 10 countries stretching from Norway to the Black Sea, are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
The Struve Geodetic Arc | Travel Past 50
Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
The Struve Geodetic Arc | Travel Past 50

Lahemaa National Park

Explored by Marco from Nomadic FIRE

As much as I love the energy and options that city living provides, it’s sometimes nice to take a break from the concrete and decompress in nature. Before deciding to retire to Spain, I did a “trial run” living in Tallinn to see if Estonia would be a better European country to retire to. 

Estonia never gets its dues as a significant tourist attraction. When someone mentions Estonia, the first reaction is “Brrrrr. It’s cold.” Yes, the country borders Russia and the capital city of Tallinn is only a 2.5 hour ferry to Scandinavia, but summers in Estonia are a hidden gem.

Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 4
Lahemaa National Park

Summer days this far north of the equator mean EIGHTEEN hours of sunlight. The seemly endless days allow for exploring Estonia’s gorgeous national parks, of these fantastic natural areas, I highly recommend adding Lahemaa to your Baltic travel itinerary.

Lahemaa, the largest national park in Estonia, is a short 1-hour bus ride from Tallinn. The park is perfect for a picnic in the forest, exploring quaint seaside villages, overnight glamping at the eco-hostel at Projekt Kodu, and hiking the wooden planked path of the Viru bog. If you don’t want to go by bus, then book onto a full day tour of Lehemaa instead.

Viru bog hike is a uniquely Estonian nature walk. The 2 to 4-mile hike is over a giant biodiverse peat bog. To keep from disturbing the ecosystem, you hike over wooden planks. The path is well marked, simply follow the planks, with information signs highlighting the plants you will commonly encounter. The highlight is the view from the lookout tower overlooking the dark pools of bog water. From that viewpoint, I felt transported back into time, as if I was looking over a scene from Jurassic Park. 

Street Art of Tartu

The university city of Tartu is located 186 kilometres (116 miles) southeast of Tallinn and is the hub of Estonian street art. So much so, that each year there is a street art festival, Stencitibility. Although technically street graffiti is an illegal activity in Estonia, the festival has been running for over 10 years. If you’re a fan of street art, then this is one of the best Baltic cities to visit to find it, in abundance.

The styles differ and are created by local and international artists. With pieces ranging from playful and cartoon-like, to full on political satire. No matter where you walk in the city, you’ll pass some form of street art that adorns every possible surface. Large murals decorate the walls of buildings, but you’ll also find artwork on letter boxes, street lamps, doors and roads. Don’t forget to look up and back over your shoulder. You’ll be surprised by how much artwork you will see.

Urban art is a constantly evolving medium, with new pieces cropping up all the time. I’m sure you’ve heard of the urban artist, Banksy, well Estonia has their own answer who uses a similar signature stencil style with pieces provoking political and social issues. Again, like Banksy, Edward von Lõngus keeps his real identity hidden.

Estonia's Street Art Capital – Urban Art & The Tartu Graffiti Scene + Street Art Map with locations of this ever changing urban gallery. Tartu Graffiti - Estonias second largest city plays host to the nations street art hub. #graffiti #streetart #estonia #baltics #urbanart
Murals in Tartu

Best Things To See In Latvia

Riga Historical Centre

The Latvian capital has been dubbed the ‘Paris of the north’. It’s easy to see why; beautiful architecture, located on a river and plenty of café culture. If you’re spending any time in Latvia, make sure that you dedicate a couple of days to the city.

The Old Town of Riga is a listed UNESCO heritage site and it’s clear to see why. Riga is a city filled with remarkable buildings and picturesque cobblestones, all of which have been lovingly and painstakingly restored and brought back to their original glory after the city’s turbulent past. In the centre of the old city, make sure to visit the House of the Blackheads. The colourful unmissable facade is one of Riga’s oldest buildings.

The compact city is ideal to get lost in. When you visit Riga, be sure to see Town Hall Square and the colourful House of the Blackheads and one of Riga’s most iconic buildings, featuring the bulbous spire, St Peter’s Church. It’s also worth climbing up the tower for an amazing view across the river and the city. If you want to learn more about the history of the city, then book onto a guided city walking tour.

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Riga Old Town
This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Riga Old Town

If you’re after one of the livelier places in Riga, then head to Livu Square or the areas surrounding the cathedral where you’ll frequently find street entertainers, live music and market stalls as well as plenty of places to drink. Don’t forget to try the local drink; Riga Balsam!

For the architecture aficionados, then Riga is also the Art Nouveau capital of the world. You’ll find these stunning overly decorative and ornate buildings dotted all over the city. However, Albert Street is where you’ll find the highest concentration of them. It’s certainly worth half a day exploring the opulence of a bygone era. If you have more than a couple of days in Riga, then it’s also worth doing a day tour out to Rundale Palace.

Related Article: Perfect 3 Day Riga itinerary

Kemeri National Park

Explored by Kelly from Snap Travel Magic

While many visitors take the capital-city road trip in the Baltics (Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius), not many people get a chance to experience some truly awe-inspiring and unique nature tucked away in the region. 

Kemeri National Park is located about 45 minutes away from Riga, Latvia, and makes for a perfect day trip from the city. The park is home to stunning bogs, forests, therapeutic mud, and mineral waters. Guests can take several hikes through the park including the Great Kemeri Boardwalk, Lake Sloka, Forest House, and Lake Kanieris. Birdwatching and cycling are also options in the park.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Kemeri National Park | Snap Travel Magic

Perhaps the most popular and most beautiful thing you can do in the park is to walk the Great Kemeri Boardwalk at sunrise. You’ll be shrouded in mist, walking through the bog, enjoying the painted sky, wrapped in silence. Towards the end of the walk, climb to the top of the observation tower for amazing 360-degree views of the entire bog.

To get to the Great Kemeri Bog Boardwalk, you can take a train from Riga train station every 2 hours for just a few euros. Get off at the Kemeri Railway Station. It’s a bit of a walk from the train station to the beginning of the hike, follow the signs for “Leila Kemeru tirela taka”. If you’re travelling the Baltics by car, then you’ll be glad to hear there is plenty of free parking at the park. 

Gutmanis Cave

Explored by Marika from Clumsy Girl Travels 

Gutmanis Cave is located in the Sigulda region of Latvia, about 1 1/2 hours by bus from Riga. It’s not very big, but what makes Gutmanis Cave famous is the number of legends that happened here. The most famous one is The Rose of Turaida, a Latvian love story. 

This tragic tale is about a girl who was found as a baby during the Swedish – Polish war. She was adopted, baptized and given the name Maia. One day she fell in love with a gardener named Victor Heil and soon after they were engaged. 

Legend says they met at Gutmanis Cave in the evenings, but an army deserter named Jakubowsky also fell in love with Maia. One day Jakubowsky sent Maja a love letter pretending to be Victor asking her to meet him at the cave. She arrived, and Jakuboswky appeared out of the shadows and attempted to force himself on her. She begged for him to stop and said in return, she would give him a scarf that would protect him from all injuries, and if he didn’t believe her, he could try it out on her first. He stabbed her with his sword as blood gushed from her neck. She would have rather died than betray her fiancé. 

Today, every Latvian knows this story, and if you visit the Sigulda region during your Baltics travel you will certainly come across it. It’s so famous that there is even an opera based on the legend.

Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 5
Gutmanis Cave

Jurmala

Explored by Luda from Adventures with Luda

A warm sea breeze, colourful art nouveau villas, flower-lined pedestrian streets, and a carefree attitude are just some of the signature hallmarks of Jurmala.

This cheerful little resort town is located right in the middle of the Gulf of Riga, and just 40 minutes from Latvia’s capital, Riga. For added effect, take the retro elektrichka (electric train).

If you’re travelling to Latvia, don’t miss visiting Jurmala – especially in the summer! Although this town was known for its healing sanatoriums back in the USSR, it hasn’t lost its charm. It’s still the go-to place for travellers around Eastern Europe.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Jurmala | Adventures with Luda
Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Jurmala | Adventures with Luda

Grab a towel and start your trip at one of Jurmala’s beaches. My personal favourite is Majori beach, which is clean, has plenty of space to spread out, and is close to the centre. Speaking of the centre: don’t travel to Jurmala without taking a casual stroll along Jomas Street! This is the main high street of Jurmala and is full of beautifully photogenic villas, boutique shops selling local Latvian goodies, and delicious cafes.

If you’re craving nature, the Dzintari Forest Park is the place to be: It’s the perfect spot for families, as there’s an entire children’s area. Whether you’re travelling to Latvia for a day or a week, Jurmala is a must for any Baltic States travel itinerary!

Ventspils

Explored by Moon Ray from Nomadic Mun

We visited Ventspils during our Baltic Road trip and immediately fell in love with this Latvian city. Founded over 700 years ago this beach city is located on the western coast of Latvia. Ventspils is known as the Latvian capital of flowers and fountains. Ventspils Port is Latvia’s oldest and one of Europe’s busiest ports. In the town centre, there is a beautiful historic carillon bell which plays the melody “Pie dzintara jūras” each hour. Other must-visit places are Livonian Order Castle and Ventspils Town Hall Square.

The entire city is adorned with flowers from spring to autumn. It is famous for its artistic spirit and numerous cow sculptures around the city. During the ‘City Festival’ in August, florists from Baltic states cover the Promenade of Ostas Iela with carpets of flowers. During this time, you will find several extraordinary flower sculptures and unusually shaped greenery, flower beds, and fountains all around the city.

Like many of the beaches in the Baltic States, Ventspils offers a beautiful white sandy beach with special areas for surfers and nudists as well as having plenty of amenities nearby.

If you want to learn more about the history of the area, you can discover Ventspils’s marine history in the
Seaside Open Air Museum with its nostalgic collection of fishing boats, nets, and huts. Take a beautiful ride on a narrow-gauge steam train running from here.

If you’re after souvenirs, Ventspils market square is the best place for buying locally made products. The market was established in the 17th century and alongside the handmade gifts, you’ll find locals shopping for vegetables, fruits, clothes, flowers, plants and meat. If you have time, and you’re on a Baltic States road trip, you could spend at least a couple of days in Ventspils.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Ventspils | Nomadic Mun

Sigulda

Explored by Inma from A World to Travel 

Sigulda is one of the most charming, yet underrated and lesser visited towns of Latvia. A true hidden gem and interesting town that will not leave visitors bored because, whatever you like, there is something interesting to do and see there. 

Known as the ‘Switzerland of Latvia’, this region has an abundance of appeal for active travellers. I recommend renting an electric fat bike for half or a full day. This way you can get closer to wonders like the Sigulda castle, the cable car that will take you to the opposite slope passing over the Gauja river, the Sigulda’s bobsleigh track, and the hipster Jāņa market; a great option to stop for lunch and coffee.

Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 6
Sigulda Castle

If you have your own vehicle, you can go a little further to discover places like Gutman’s cave, Krimulda manor, and Turaida museum. Finally, if you enjoy walking, don’t miss the nearby Cecili and Amata hiking trails in the wonderful Gauja National Park, a short distance from Sigulda. If you don’t have a car, then book on to one a full day tour to Sigulda instead.

Ideally, you would want to visit Latvia between late spring or early autumn to make the most of the outdoor activities, however, if you visited during the winter, then be sure to add a visit to a local sauna into your plans.

Best Things To See In Lithuania

Vilnius Historical Centre

The Old Centre of the Lithuanian capital is one of the most beautiful Baltic cities, and as with Estonia and Latvia, is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The medieval city is known for its mixture of architectural styles with a huge emphasis on baroque style buildings. A guided walking tour of Vilnius will give you loads of insignt into this fascinating city.

The main hub of the Old Town is Pilies Street and Gediminas Avenue. Both are lined with these exquisite buildings which are now a buzz with stylish cafes. boutique restaurants and often lined with street markets.

You could easily spend a couple of days in Vilnius getting lost and exploring the quaint cobbled paths, courtyards and alleyways. Be sure to visit Cathedral Square, the Vilnius Cathedral and the Town Hall Square as well as one of Vilnius’s most beautiful buildings, the Vilnius University – it’s got 13 courtyards!

Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 7
Vilnius Old Town

Other must-see places are St. Anne’s Church and the Gate of Dawn, a 16th-century gate which once guarded the entrance to the original city.

One of the more interesting areas in Vilnius and certainly worth a few hours is the autonomous district of Užupis. This community within the city is filled with quirky artwork often made from recycled and reclaimed materials and thought-provoking and sometimes political messages. Outside of the city centre, you’ll find that Vilnius also has an outstanding street art scene.

Trakai Castle

Explored by Eric from Penguin and Pia

If you’re on your own Baltic states tour and looking to get into a bit of Lithuanian history, Trakai Castle is for you.

Completed at the start of the 15th century, this medieval castle stands proudly on an island in Lake Galvė in the town of Trakai. While the castle itself became obsolete centuries later, it stands as an important symbol of Lithuanian statehood.

To get to the Castle, you take a long wooden bridge from the shore across the lake. In the summer, the lake provides a beautiful relaxing escape from the city. In the winter, you can walk across the frozen lake to get to the Castle (ice conditions depending).

Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 8
Trakai Castle

Inside the castle walls, there are numerous areas like the courtyard, keep, and chapel that you can explore. I wandered around the gallery rooms reading and exploring the artefacts. Having known nothing about the history of Lithuania, Trakai Castle was a great place to learn with a guided tour. After all, it is a medieval castle!

It is really easy to get to Trakai. The town is only about 40 minutes drive from the capital, Vilnius. I took the bus there which was very easy to do. The bus station in Trakai is south of the castle so you walk through the town – with cafes and shops – before spotting the castle across the water.

Because Trakai Castle is located on an island in the middle of a lake, there are various ways of seeing it; by kayak in the summer and by kick sledge in the winter when the lake is frozen.

The Hill of Crosses

Explored by Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far

Located in the northern part of Lithuania, not far from the small unassuming town of Šiauliai, you have perhaps the most fascinating thing to see anywhere in the country and also one of the best places to visit in the Baltics. Thousands upon thousands of people flock here every year to visit the Hill of Crosses. A small hill in the countryside, dominated by more than 100,000 crosses!

Pilgrims have congregated here ever since the 1800s when there used to be a matter of hundreds of crosses here. In recent decades’ popularity has exploded and now it’s a wonderful sight to behold regardless of whether you are religious or not. In 1993, the Hill of Crosses was so widely renowned that it was worthy of a visit from the then-reigning Pope John Paul II.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
The Hill of Crosses | Dream Big Travel Far

Even if you aren’t religious, most people still find their visit here to be pretty magical. It’s fascinating walking up and over the hill taking in the incredible array of crosses, and the pictures look pretty cool as well! 

After your visit, take some time to walk a bit further out from the hill, enjoying the large church behind as well as taking in views of the never-ending Lithuanian countryside in all directions. A no-fuss option for visiting Hill of Crosses is to opt for a tour that includes transportation and a guide.

Klaipeda

Explored by Maggie from The World Was Here First 

If you’re looking for the perfect small city to visit in the Baltics, then you really can’t go wrong with the charming port city of Klaipeda. Often overlooked as simply a jumping-off point for the Curonian Spit, there are several things to do in Klaipeda that make it worth visiting in its own right.

As a very important ice-free port in the Baltics, Klaipeda has been a strategic city for centuries, giving it a robust and interesting history. There is plenty of maritime history here that is worth learning about and a few museums that can help you to understand just how influential Lithuania’s third-largest city historically was. One of the most relaxing ways to explore Klaipeda is from the water in a handcrafted canoe.

Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 9
Klaipeda

Along with boasting a charming riverside pathway lined with lovely historic ships, Klaipeda also has a charming old town worth wandering through and a great restaurant scene that showcases the newfound love for modern Lithuanian cuisine. 

The city also has a couple of beautiful, white-sand beaches perfect for taking advantage of the long, sunny days of a Lithuanian summer. 

If you’re searching for a great city to visit on a trip to the Baltics, don’t hesitate to include Klaipeda on your itinerary!

Grūtas Park

Explored by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan

If you’re interested in either dark tourism, or Soviet history, then Grūtas Park will be one of the top things to do in the Baltics. Grūtas Park is located in southern Lithuania, not far from the border with Belarus. The nearest town is Druskininkai, about eight kilometres away. If you don’t have your own transport, then book onto a guided tour instead.

When Lithuania declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, the Soviet statues that had been on display in public spaces were pulled down and dumped in various places around the country. Then in 2001, a wealthy local man collected them and turned them into a kind of Soviet theme park, nicknamed “Stalin World”.

This idea was opposed by many at the time and remains controversial today, but the intention was never to glorify the Soviet regime. When you look at the park’s recreation of prison camps, barbed wire fences and guard towers, it’s clear that the purpose is to document the horrors of this difficult time in Lithuania’s history. For a better insight, it’s worth exploring the parks and statues as part of a guided tour.

Among the 86 statues in the park, you’ll find a dozen or so of Lenin and even two of Stalin, which is pretty unusual. Even today, you’ll often come across Lenin statues while travelling in Russia and some other former Soviet countries. But de-Stalinization has been ongoing since the 1950s, so it’s rare to come across an image of him. 

While I understand why some Lithuanians are not in favour of the park, I believe that it can help locals and visitors alike to better understand the country’s recent history.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Grūtas Park |The Nomadic Vegan
Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Grūtas Park |The Nomadic Vegan

Palanga

Explored by Monica from This Rare Earth

Any trip to Lithuania, particularly in the summer, wouldn’t be complete without at least a day trip to Palanga! The Baltic sea brings large crowds together in the summer months when visitors can get their fill of swimming, sunning, and playing in the sand. 

One of the most famous Baltic sea landmarks is the Pier of Palanga. It’s a great spot for photos as you head to the ocean, which you can also walk under depending on the tide. I highly recommend spending time at the Seaside Regional Park, a unique gateway to the sea with large trees that line the sand out to the water in some places.

This park is noted for the Dutchman’s Cap, which is a sand-dune climb to the highest elevation. Seaside Regional Park is also a breath-taking spot for sunsets. Bring a picnic basket and settle in the sand for a gorgeous light show through the trees.

Besides the typical beach activities, tourists can rent bikes to ride through green forest paths. A family favourite is the nearby Lithuanian Fairy Tale park, which features several interactive sculptures that kids like to climb and play on. 

Palanga is located in the northwestern-most tip of the country, so it is an easy addition to any road trip through Lithuania and its neighbouring country, Latvia.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Palanga | This Rare Earth

Dvina Missile Base and Žemaitija National Park

Explored by Jo from Lost Wanders

In September 1960 the Soviets started a top-secret construction. 10,000 soldiers moved to Žemaitija National Park, in northwest Lithuania to build a nuclear missile base that had the potential to destroy every city in Europe. Once completed its strategical importance to the Soviets in the Cold War was second only to Cuba. One of the best ways to enjoy the Žemaitija National Park is by canoe

It was finally discovered in 1978 by U.S. reconnaissance teams but had been decommissioned 4 years earlier. Thankfully no missiles were ever fired.

Now it’s one of the very few nuclear missile silos in the world actually open to the public as a museum. The 100-foot deep missile silo is a highlight, tours also include displays of propaganda and the history of the Cold War. 

You can easily visit the Cold War Museum when taking a road trip through the Baltics and enjoy the Žemaitija National Park that surrounds it. The vast parks forests and lakes are home to rare wildlife such as Lynx and are well worth spending a day or two exploring while travelling in Lithuania.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Dvina Missils Base | Lost Wanders
Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Dvina Missils Base | Lost Wanders

Kaunas

Explored by Kami from My Wanderlust

Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania, is one of the coolest places to visit in the Baltic States. The city has big historical value, it used to be an important trade centre in the region in the 15th century, in the interwar period Kaunas was the capital of Lithuania. But these are not the only reasons why you should visit the city! With its diverse history, old port and wars, Kaunus is steeped in ghostly stories.

With all the great things to do in Kaunas, you won’t be bored there for sure. Besides the traditional monuments; churches, old houses, and the remnants of the castle from the 14th century, Kaunas offers a great street art scene, exceptional modernist architecture from the interwar period, and some unique museums (like the only Devils Museum in the world). 

This is also the only city in Lithuania with funicular trains, there are two of them in Kaunas, both built before World War 2. The coolest spot to visit in the city is the hidden Yard Gallery. A local artist wanted to 

bring the community together and created a real wonderland, with numerous art installations, street art and photos of Jewish families that used to live in that complex. 

When you get hungry numerous restaurants and cafes along Vilniaus street and Laisves avenue invite you to sit down, relax and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Kaunas. 

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Kaunas | My Wanderlust
Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Kaunas | My Wanderlust

Curonian Spit

Explored by Jeremy of Cultura Obscura

On the western edge of Lithuania, drawing a line across the edge of the Baltic Sea lies the Curonian Spit; a thin strip of land 61 miles long and just over a mile wide that connects Lithuania to a small piece of Russia.

This idyllic gem is a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by both countries and is the perfect destination for beachgoers, casual hikers, sailors, families and anyone who wishes to relax in nature.

The Curonian Spit has a folkloric creation legend on the Lithuanian side. It was made by Neringa, a beautiful and good-hearted Lithuanian giantess, who collected sand in her huge skirt and poured it out to form the Spit so that it could protect the people on the coast from raging storms. Because of this, part of the land is named in her honour.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Hill of Witches, Curonian Spit | Cultura Obscura

The town of Nida is also a draw for literary enthusiasts, as the Nobel Prize-winning author Thomas Mann spent summers in a holiday home he had built there in the 1930s.

In addition to this, on the Lithuanian side, the Curonian Spit is also home to the Hill of Witches – a supernatural-themed sculpture park in the village of Juodkrante, featuring wood carvings of people and creatures from mythology and supernatural lore.

The easiest way to get to the Curonian Spit is from the town of Klaipeda, unless you have your own transportation it’s easiest to book a tour to see everything in a day.

Druskininkai

Explored by To Youpiter  

Druskininkai is a special place in Lithuania, this city is well known for spas, relaxation, healing mud, clean air, and mineral water. In the 50km spectrum, there are no factories, and Druskininkai is surrounded by forests that’s why the weather there is extremely fresh. 

You can pick your own forest goodness like mushrooms, blueberries, cranberries, etc. Actually, this region of Lithuania has an old saying: “if there were no mushrooms and berries then Dzūkų women would be naked”. In the Lithuanian language, it rhymes. 

If you love spa holidays or just want to relax for a weekend then Druskininkai is your destination. Also, there are many trekking roads, bicycle roads, lakes, and beautiful nature. One of the top spas is “UPA Medical Spa” it is modern and minimalistic, the staff is super professional and they offer a variety of procedures. For top-notch Spa treatments and luxury accommodation, it’s well worth checking out this hotel.

I love that this city is small that’s why all restaurants and hotels personally take care of you and you make really warm memories of your stay. Also, I highly recommend going to a restaurant called “Sicilia” and trying their mussels, it’s just extremely delicious. It is one of the best restaurants in the city where you should come before dinner time during weekends or you will have to wait in line outside.

Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTripPlanning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Druskininkai | To Youtopia
Planning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTripPlanning your trip and wondering what to see in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Check out the best of the Baltics, 21 of the best places to visit in the Baltics. The best things to see in Estonia, where to go in Latvia, and the top attractions in Lithuania. The best things to see in the Baltics. Add these to your short trip to the Baltics or your Baltic road trip itinerary. #Baltics #BalticStates #Estonia #Lithuania #Latvia #Europe #EasternEurope #EuropeRoadTrip
Druskininkai | To Youtopia

Best of the Baltics - Frequently Asked Questions

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Can I do a small group tour of the Baltic States?

There are several companies offering tours of the Baltic States. My go-to company for small group tours are always G Adventures which appeals to travellers wanting to experience the culture more ethically, they also offer a great cancellation deal in the wake of Covid. Their group size is limited to between 8-12 people, plus they don’t charge a single occupancy fee, making them the ideal choice for solo travellers.

If you’re more interested in the party vibe, then opt for Contiki instead, although you’ll get to see loads of the countries, their focus is more on partying.

How do I get to the Baltic States?

Each country has their own designated international airport located just outside the capital. This makes getting to the Baltic States, from destinations within Europe or from as far away as the United States very easy.

Is it easy to travel around the Baltic States?

If you are travelling to the Baltic States without a car or not going on a tour, you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s easy to travel around the countries. There are decent train and bus networks across all three countries, and services are very affordable and regular. If you really wanted you could get a flight between each of the capitals, but this isn’t necessary as they are only a few hours apart by bus.

A great travel app to search across bus, train and flight is the Omio App.

Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 11Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 12

Where can I find a list of Baltic countries?

This article covers the three Baltic states, it’s made up of just three countries; Baltic countries list is Latvia Lithuania and Estonia.

Which is the best Baltic country to visit?

It’s difficult to determine which Baltic country is the best as the three Baltic states share a lot of common features as well as having a similar history. Each of the Baltic capitals holds UNESCO world heritage status, fascinating history as well as beautiful landscapes. They each have an EU border and neighbour Russia.

When is the best time to visit Baltic States?

The winters in the Baltic States are cold. However, the festive season can be incredibly picturesque, with the pop-up Christmas markets. These countries are geared up for the cold weather, and things like saunas and ice skating are popular activities.

The best time to visit Baltic countries is from late spring through to early autumn, with July and August being the warmest months. Because the Baltic states are located high up in Europe, in June you can expect over 18 hours of daylight per day.

What should I pack for the Baltic States?

It can rain all year round, even in the summer. It’s best to pack layers of clothing, as well as have a lightweight, wind and rainproof jacket. In the peak of winter, pack a thick jacket, hat scarf and gloves as well as thermal socks and waterproof shoes. It gets extremely cold.

Don’t forget your travel insurance!

For all year round, pack a pair of comfortable shoes as most likely, you will be doing a lot of walking. Take a pair of shoes with a good grip on the bottom, especially if you’re visiting historical city centres, as often they are cobbles and can be difficult to walk on.

Two insurance companies I recommend are True Traveller (for European citizens) or World Nomads (all nationalities).

What currency does the Baltic States use?

You’ll be glad to hear that the three Baltic nations all use the Euro, so you won’t need to change currency when you enter a new country. Hotels and tourist places will accept cards and ATMs are frequently available.

Final Thoughts on visiting the Baltic states

So, how many of these stunning places are you adding to your Baltic bucket list? I hope after reading this Baltic travel guide you have a ton of places to add to your itinerary. Whether you’re backpacking the Baltics, on a short weekend break to just one of the countries, or on an extended Baltic States vacation, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of places of interest. 

If you’re in the planning stages of your trip, you can download this handy free planning sheet and checklist straight to your inbox here.

I’d like to thank the contributors who made this article possible and showcased some of the best Baltic places in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Check out these other great articles:

Save it for later

Hopefully, you’ll agree the Baltic States have an abundance of things to offer and exciting things to do.

If you enjoyed this article, or know someone who would, then please like and share. Want to know more? Pop a comment in the space below and I’ll try and answer it.

Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 13
Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 14
Best of the Baltics – 23 Outstanding Things to Add to Your Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Bucket List 15

Becki from Meet Me In Departures

Adventure travel blogger with a big addiction to the World. An ex-rat-racer who was fed up with sleep-work-eat-repeat materialistic mentality that plagues modern living. I love anything to do with off-beat travel, abandoned places, temples & ruins, street art, wildlife in its natural habitat, adventure sport.....basically anything but the 9-5!

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