Imagine taking one trip and visiting three picturesque European countries, each with centuries old history, where you’ll tour a 14th-century castle, visit the entire region’s largest market and bazaar, explore caves, and walk the cobblestone streets in some of the best preserved Medieval cities in the world. And lots more!
Are you ready to see the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia?
National Geographic Expeditions recently announced this amazing trip as part of a trio of new itineraries with departures beginning in 2024: Bhutan, Colombia and the Baltics. Today it’s my pleasure to share a closer look at the Baltics. The beauty and significance of these countries are inspirational for enthusiasts of dramatic architecture, history and nature.
Visiting the Baltics is an embrace of cultures and traditions. Historical centers are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and yet there is also a modern twist matching today’s lifestyle. I’m happy to report that the cities which are hundreds of years old and the region’s cultural centers remain front-and-center on this 11-day tour! It’s truly an enchanting experience and a step back in time, especially when visiting the castles. Plus, you’ll have a National Geographic Expert on this expedition to provide unique insights and an Expedition Leader to take care of the travel details …so you don’t have to!
First Stop: Lithuania, the Southernmost Baltic State
Your trip begins in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, and a visit to St. Anne’s Church, Gediminas Tower and Gates of Dawn. A privately guided tour of the Grand Duke Palace and a fascinating talk by your National Geographic Expert will propel your exploration of this city, historically traced back to 1569 as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In the evening, you’ll have time to explore Lithuania on your own or with your travel-mates.
The next day, be prepared to be awestruck by the Trakai Castle which sits on a small island in Lake Galve. During a privately guided tour, you’ll learn that the construction of this beautiful red Gothic brick castle commenced in the 14th century and how it survived attacks in the 1300s. Its first two phases were completed around 1409, the third phase in the 15th century and it was rebuilt in the 1950s. Today, its beauty stands as a testament to the Lithuanian people. You will also visit the Ninth Fort and learn of its somber history as you stop at the Monument for the Commemoration of the Holocaust Victims.
During the following two days, you’ll enjoy a ferry ride to the Curonian Spit, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a visit to the Amber Museum, and the Hill of Crosses – all immersive experiences in local culture with tremendous landscape views.
Discover Latvia and Its Coastal Peninsula
Latvia is known for its wide beaches, sprawling forests and stunning architecture. The country also boasts an incredible lineup of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that you’ll explore along the way, including the 18th-century Rundale Palace (often called the Versailles of the Baltics) and its collection of more than 2,300 varieties of roses, Riga Castle and Riga Central Market, the largest market and bazaar in Europe. I hope you leave some extra space in your suitcase!
But we’re not done with castles yet! You’ll enjoy privately a guided tour of the medieval Cesis Castle, one of Latvia’s most iconic and best-preserved castles, before heading to the Gutmanus Cave and a ride on the Gauja Valley cable car through the Gauja National Park.
Estonia: The Northernmost Baltic State Bordering the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland
Estonia, the northernmost of the Baltic states, is surrounded by the water to the north and to the west. Here, you’ll be captivated by the architectural details. In Tallinn, you’ll tour the Art Nouveau district, and in the coastal town of Parnu enjoy a walk among the timbered villas and neoclassical spa buildings. Back in Tallinn, the winding cobblestone streets of Old Town and the Medieval Tallinn in Old Town seemingly transport you to another time.
At the Rocca al Mare district in Tallinn on the picturesque Kopli Bay, a visit to the Estonian Open Air Museum inspires with its living museum of the people and cultures across Estonia. The museum is a representation of life dating back to the 18th century, including farmhouses, a church, schoolhouse, fire station, fishing sheds and more.
National Geographic Expeditions Takes Travelers Around the World
The highlights above are just a sampling of places you’ll visit! There is much to experience in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
With hundreds of trips and more than 140 itineraries to choose from, National Geographic Expeditions takes travelers to all seven continents and to more than 80 destinations around the world. Access and knowledge are foundational to each itinerary, plus a portion of every trip booked goes back to support the National Geographic Society.
To book this trip, visit nationalgeographicexpeditions.com, call 888-732-2379 or 312-940-7403, or contact your travel agent.