Almost all travellers start their wanderlust with a list of countries they’d like to visit. But what happens when you’ve done the usual US, UK, and South Pacific Islands, etc?
Almost every week, clients ask for our suggestions for “somewhere that’s a little bit different”. If you read the previous blog, you might be considering a visit to Africa – maybe even for a safari. So this post, we thought you might like to consider somewhere totally different to Africa.
The very lovely Baltic States. Not sure where exactly they are? Read on…
The Baltic States are made up of three countries in the north of Europe – Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The ancient Baltic States were part of the old USSR until the 90’s thanks to their shared borders with Russia, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine.
These three countries are still largely unspoilt due to their rather ‘off-the-beaten-tourism-track’ location, have wonderful history to explore steeped in folkloric traditions and are the blend of a somewhat interesting mix of Russian, German and Polish influences.
Estonia is an amazing ‘land’ of islands and islets and is best described as rugged where you can relish in the nature and wildlife of the national parks.
Plus an almost fairy-tale-esque medieval history in its capital, Tallinn, which is full of castles, ramparts and ancient church spires. Tiny alleys and tiny laneways – all perfectly preserved and rather breathtaking, especially if viewed from one of the aerial viewing platforms.
Make sure you take in Kadriorg Palace – built by Peter the Great for his wife in 1710 – ornate and beautifully preserved. Or if historic maritime treasures are more your thing, you’ll want to visit Lennusadam Seaplane Museum where you can crawl through a 1936 submarine, experience life on a sea boat, including steam powered ice-breaker ships and see other life-sized exhibits.
A few hours south (by bus) is the place Hemmingway described as the Paris of the North.
Latvia’s capital, Riga is more than 800 years old and the city’s beautifully preserved art nouveau architecture is UNESCO World-Heritage listed. Think cobblestone streets – perfect for a guided walking tour, or to watch the world go whilst partaking in some café culture. There are amazing open green spaces flush with colour in the spring/summer – with canals you can row (or motor) down or if rowing isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of folk dancing to be done in the pubs. But it’s not just the Old Town that’s worth exploring. Outside Riga, there are also plenty of nature trails and hikes to explore as well.
But it’s not just the Old Town that’s worth exploring. Outside Riga, there are also plenty of nature trails and hikes to explore as well.
A bit further south again, is Lithuania. Its capital is Vilnius is also steeped in rich history but it feels a little more quirky, more bohemian than its northern cousins. Whilst there, you can learn more about what life was like behind the Russian Iron Curtain in the 20
Whilst there, you can learn more about what life was like behind the Russian Iron Curtain in the 20th century and visit the independent republic of Uzupis which has its own government, currency and constitution – where you can become an honorary citizen for the day.
Oh, and while you’re in Vilnius, make sure you try some local craft beer in one of the 28 pubs in Vilnius Old Town.
When to visit?
The best time to visit the Baltic States is between April and October. Although, if you go in June, be prepared to experience the 24hr daylight day (the nighttime hours aren’t dark, they’re merely, a sort of grey, so you’ll want to take an eye mask with you).
So if you’re thinking about somewhere a little different for your next holiday, or you’re just looking for a little further inspiration, we’d be delighted to chat! You can always give us a call on (02) 6041 5577, call into the office at 601 Dean Street, Albury or book an appointment via the form below with one of our expert travel agents today.
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