This walking trip visits the three Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Discover their cultural heritage and explore their national parks. Walk along the Curonian Spit, search for ruins of medieval fortresses hidden in forests and walk across bogs. Capital Cities - Guided tours of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius \ Old Towns\ on foot Curonian Spit National Park - Walk the spectacular vast sand dunes of this UNESCO World Heritage Site Bog Walking - Wear specialist bog shoes and learn about the unique ecosystem
Arrive in Tallinn, Estonian capital city. Situated on the coast, in the Gulf of Finland off the Baltic Sea, Tallinn is also a major port. Its 'Old Town' is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city was a European Capital of Culture in 2011. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Tallinn at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive at Tallinn Airport (TLL) which is around 20 minutes' drive from the hotel. Should you miss the meeting, your leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. The city is easy to explore on foot, if your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to discover the medieval architecture strolling through the cobbled streets to the busy town square which is dominated by the 14th century Gothic Town Hall.
This morning we take a brief walking tour of Tallinn's 'Old Town', the colourful houses of the crooked streets reflect the German, Scandinavian and Russian periods of Tallinn's history. We'll walk through the quarter where merchants once traded and take in the historical and architectural highlights. We travel east to Estonia's largest and oldest national park, Lahemaa National Park. As well as its rich nature the park also celebrates Estonia's cultural heritage, encompassing ancient fishing villages and 17th and 18th century manor houses. Today we walk the 'Beaver Trail', discovering the diversity of the plant and animal life of the park and looking for beaver dams and dens along the Altja River Valley. If we are lucky we will see also see the beavers themselves amongst the trees or in the water. This walk ends in the 400 year-old fishing village of Altja. Later, after an optional lunch, we learn to bog walk in special bog shoes. Traditionally used by local villagers, these specially adapted clip on 'shoes' allow us to hike through this fascinating ecosystem. We stay overnight in the national park in a beautiful converted distillery set within landscaped gardens. Today's four kilometre walk along the Beaver Trail is expected to take around two hours, gently undulating and forested. The afternoon six kilometre bog walk is expected to take around three hours.
Today we cross the border into Latvia, and drive to Cesis in Gauja National Park (approx. 3.5 hours). This is Latvia's biggest park and is known as 'Latvian Switzerland' due to its rolling landscapes. The park includes the valleys of the Gauja River and its tributaries, and also over 500 historical features including hill forts, stone castles, churches, watermills and windmills. Cesis itself is a medieval town, over 800 years old, and its 13th century castle was the main stronghold of the Livonian knights who ruled most of Latvia and Estonia during medieval times. In the afternoon we make a walk in the park along a forested nature trail to Gauja River and Gauja Rocks, a famous local site. Today's five kilometre walk is expected to take around two hours. The terrain is slightly hilly and forested.
This morning we drive to Sigulda to walk a nature trail through the forests and river valleys of Gauja National Park. Walking past the ruins of Livonian medieval fortresses and a neo-gothic castle, the walk ends at the 13th century Turaida Castle. As part of the route we take a cable car and enjoy views down over the forest. In the afternoon we drive to Riga, the Latvian capital, where we have a short orientation tour of the city. Lying at the mouth of the Daugava River on the Gulf of Riga, Riga 'Old Town' is also a UNESCO Heritage Site, particularly noted for its Art Nouveau and 19th century wooden architecture. We will take in the Freedom Monument, Gunpowder Tower, Saint Jacob's Church and the city's cathedral. Today's eight kilometre walk is expected to take around three-and-a-half hours. The terrain is undulating and forested.
We drive west to Kemeri National Park, founded in 1977 to preserve the local wetlands, coastal lakes and dunes. Here we walk on a raised boardwalk above the wetlands discovering the distinctive mosses, bog pine trees, and small pools and lakes. We then return to the seaside and spa resort of Jurmala for an optional lunch. Jurmala is known for its curative mineral waters and therapeutic mud, and its interesting multi-style architecture. After lunch we continue south and cross the border into Lithuania. We continue southwest to Klaipeda (approximately six hours) and take a ferry to Nida on the Curonian Spit, our base for the next two nights. Today's four kilometre walk is expected to take around one-and-a-half hours.The terrain is flat - a raised boardwalk over wetlands.
The Curonian Spit National Park is a 98 km long sand dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. Chains of sand dunes up to 60m high, breaking waves, pine forests and old Curonian houses make up this UNESCO Heritage Site. Today we walk through the different landscapes of the spit: coastal, pine forests and sand dunes in and around Nida. Today's 11 kilometre walk is expected to take around three-and-a-half hours.. The terrain is mainly flat and sandy, some areas are forested.
Today we make a long journey (approximately six hours) southeast to Trakai the formal capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Located on a peninsula in Lake Galve, Trakai is now famous for its 15th century castle which sits outside the town on a small island. We take a scenic walk around the town and lake, and visit the castle. We then make the short journey to Vilnius, and take an oreientation tour of the city. The 'Old Town' of Vilnius is also a UNESCO Heritage Site, we'll visit the ancient university founded by the Jesuits - a centre of the Counter Reformation and a source of Lithuanian culture. We'll also see the cathedral and Church of the Dawn. In the newer part of Vilnius lies the main shopping street with the opera house, parliament building and a number of cafes. Today's four kilometre walk is expected to take around two hours. The terrain is flat and forested in some areas.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Vilnius. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Vilnius at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Vilnius International Airport (VNO) which is around 20 minutes' drive from the hotel.
7 Break Fast(s)
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