Baltic

Baltic Capitals: a Cultural Walking Tour of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius


The Baltic capitals, Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius, have emerged from centuries of foreign domination (by Denmark, Sweden, Poland and both Tsarist and Soviet Russia) with their strongly defined national identities intact, and with such an outstanding architectural heritage that all three are designated World Heritage Sites.

The long, light-filled days of early summer are ideal for exploring the extensively restored historic centres, treasuries of Renaissance, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings; enjoying a performance of Puccini’s opera ‘La Bohème’ at the celebrated Riga Opera house; and short strolls on the forest paths and sand dunes of the Baltic coast.

HIGHLIGHTS of the tour include: 

  • A performance of the prestigious Riga Opera Festival – Puccini’s 'La Bohème'
  • Stay in 3 historic 4 star hotels and enjoy fresh seafood and Baltic specialities
  • Discover just why all 3 Baltic capitals are designated World Heritage Sites
  • A guided tour of the splendid Baroque Rundale Palace on a remote estate in the south of Latvia

Guests’ comments on this trip:

'A most enjoyable, first class holiday which was wonderfully organised.'

'A good balance of serious well-explained sightseeing and relaxed first rate meals combined with time to ourselves.'

'This was an excellent trip to parts of Europe that still remain a secret to most. Excellently led and a most companionable and knowledgeable group.'

DAY 1  
D included
After meeting at Tallinn airport in the late afternoon we settle into our luxury, historic, 4 star hotel, ideally located in the mediaeval town centre, then walk through the cobbled lanes to the splendid main square. A chilled vodka aperitif introduces a dinner of Baltic specialities in an atmospheric cellar restaurant. 

DAY 2 
B, L, D included 
From the ramparts of Toompea, the upper town inhabited by the German nobility after Tallinn joined the Hanseatic League in 1284, there are fine views across to the islands offshore. We visit the Toomkirik whose Lutheran simplicity contrasts with the nearby Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, then walk down through the mediaeval defences into the lower town. Old Town square contains both the magnificent Gothic Town Hall and a remarkable pharmacy dating from 1422, and we also see some eccentric Art Nouveau buildings and the delightful small Gothic Church of the Holy Ghost en route to lunch. A 15 minute tram ride whisks us out to Kadriorg for an afternoon visiting Empress Catherine’s Kadriorg Palace (an opulent setting for an excellent art collection), or the ultramodern KUMU gallery, and strolling through Peter the Great’s beautiful park. Dinner in the celebrated Russian restaurant of our hotel recalls this era of imperial splendour.

DAY 3
B, L, D included
We begin today’s explorations at the 16C Great Sea Gate, where we visit the Maritime Museum housed in ‘Fat Margaret’s’ Tower, then proceed to the Tallinn City Museum, a vividly presented collection arranged over three floors of a handsomely restored merchant’s house. Following a light lunch we turn our attention to the outstanding collection of mediaeval art displayed in the atmospheric setting of the 13C-15C St Nicholas Church. The remainder of the afternoon is free for individual wanderings, perhaps investigating the many linen, wool and amber shops, or people watching from a traditional café on the Old Town Square.

DAY 4
B, L, D included
En route south to the Latvian border we pause to walk on a quiet forest trail - silver birch, oaks and poplars, with an understorey of blueberries and cloudberries. We find marsh orchids by the shoreline overlooking the Gulf of Riga, stroll along the sandy beach and have a simple picnic in a bird reserve. Arriving in the Latvian capital, we first ascend to the top of St Peter’s Church for a stunning view over the mediaeval rooftops, then walk to our hotel, an elegant 4 star conversion of an historic mansion in the Old Town centre. 

DAY 5 
B, L, D included
The ‘New Town’ contains an eclectic collection of Art Nouveau and National Romantic houses, plus the National Museum of Art with an extensive collection of paintings, drawings and graphics. After a salad lunch we explore the extensive Old Town on foot, concentrating on the fine mediaeval houses of the Great and Small Guilds, including the House of the Cat and the House of the Blackheads (named for their patron saint, St. Maurice), and the 13C Dome Cathedral with its famous organ. Some free time permits visits to the harrowing Museum of the Occupation, or an authentic mediaeval merchant’s house, or the huge Zeppelin sheds which now cover the market. We attend a performance of Puccini’s opera ‘La Bohème’ in the ornate 19C Riga Opera House before a fish dinner in a celebrated city restaurant. 

DAY 6
B, L, D included
In 1736 the Duke of Courland summoned Rastrelli, architect of St Petersburg’s Winter Palace, to build a new palace on his remote estates in southern Latvia. We visit this magnificent Baroque palace and walk and picnic in the grounds before crossing the border into Lithuania. Storks on their nests, wooden farmhouses and working horses are common sights as we travel inland towards Vilnius and the spires and domes of the mediaeval city appear perfectly in keeping. Our 4 star hotel is a charming conversion of a merchant's townhouse, with a good traditional restaurant. 

DAY 7
B, L, D included
After a leisurely breakfast we set off on foot to explore the historic centre, densely packed with churches, including the flamboyant late Gothic brick church of St. Anne and the wildly pink and white striped Baroque St. Catherine’s. We visit the Amber Museum, documenting one of the best-known natural products of the Baltic shores, and see the Russian Orthodox church where Peter the Great had Pushkin’s great grandfather (an Ethiopian slave) baptised. After lunch we visit the Lithuanian State Jewish Museum and the rest of the afternoon is free for individual pursuits. Our farewell dinner is in a restaurant known for its French influenced cuisine.

DAY 8
B included
After a guided tour of the frescoed interiors, courtyards and library of the 16C Jesuit University, our Baltic journey concludes with a late morning transfer to Vilnius international airport.

£1,940 per person sharing
£400 deposit per person
£240 
single room supplement

Please note that the single room supplement is imposed by the hotels and not by Kudu Travel. We shall endeavour to obtain double rooms for single occupancy whenever possible, but some hotels do have single rooms that are small and less well positioned – in this case the supplement is simply ensuring your privacy.

Price includes

  • All accommodation for Days 1 through 8, on a twin shared basis
  • All meals (with wine and beer at lunches and dinners)  as listed in the daily notation
  • All land transportation as described except during free periods
  • All entrance and sightseeing fees except during free periods
  • Good category ticket for a performance in Riga Opera House
  • Gratuities for restaurant & hotel staff (appreciation for tour leaders/ managers is entirely at your discretion)

Price does not include

  • International transportation to Tallinn and from Vilnius
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol besides wine and beer with group lunches and dinners, free time activities, etc.)
  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage
  • Departure tax, if any


VALUE FOR MONEY - SO MUCH IS INCLUDED

On Kudu trips you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 3 nights in Tallinn, in a luxury, historic, 4 star hotel, ideally located in the mediaeval town centre
  • 2 nights in Riga, in an elegant 4 star hotel in an historic mansion in the centre

  • 2 nights in Vilnius, in a 4 star hotel, a charming conversion of a merchant’s house

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT EARLY BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR MUSIC AND OPERA TRIPS.
Kudu Travel reserves a block of seats for each performance, approximately 1 year in advance, and unsold seats will eventually be released. Once released, it may not be possible to retrieve seats in the same category, or indeed, to obtain any tickets at all for sold out performances.

Visa and Health Requirements
Visitors from the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA currently require a valid passport, but not a visa, for entry to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. If you are a national of any other country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

At present there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Residents of countries in the EU can only claim free (emergency) medical treatment in the three Baltic republics by presenting their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is issued in the UK by the Department of Health.

Insurance
It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.

If you are already insured, or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party
This trip will run with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 14 guests.


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