Lesser travelled than other corners of Europe are the three Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. All three countries are compact and share a similar history, but within them are three completely distinct cultures, different traditions and languages. For all their differences, they all offer the perfect mix of UNESCO-listed Old Towns, medieval castles and picturesque natural landscapes.
Here’s what Gary, Llama Travel Sales Manager, saw during his time in the Baltics - all the photos in this blog are his own.
My journey through the Baltics began in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania known for its well-preserved Old Town and rich architectural presence. Outside of Vilnius is Trakai, famous for its striking red-brick castle built in the 14th century. Before crossing into Latvia, I visited the Hill of Crosses in northern Lithuania. Now a place of national pilgrimage, over 100,000 crosses and crucifixes have been erected since the 19th century. Crossing the border into Latvia, Rundale Palace is a grand baroque palace with beautiful French style gardens. Arriving into my second Baltic capital Riga, the city with one of the highest concentration of Art Nouveau buildings anywhere in the world. Leaving Riga behind I visited Gauja National Park to explore the historical 12th century castles of Sigulda and Turaida with a verdant backdrop. Parnu was my next stop, an Estonian sea resort with a long, sandy beach and pleasant shopping avenue. The final stop of my tour was in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia with its enchanting medieval ambience and streetscapes.
Here are some pictures I took along the way.
Cathedral Square, Vilnius. Behind the statue is the neo-classical Vilnius Cathedral and its bell tower.
Trakai Island Castle built in the 14th century.
The Hill of Crosses in northern Lithuania is a pilgrimage site with more than 100,000 crucifixes.
House of Blackheads in Riga's Old Town.
Rundale Palace is the most spectacular example of Baroque architecture in Latvia.
Inside Gauja National Park is the Old Turaida Castle and Tower.
Town Hall Square in Tallinn lit up at night.
Tallinn's Town Hall is the only surviving Gothic town hall in Northern Europe. From the tower are beautiful views of the sprawling Old Town.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral atop Toompea Hill, an orthodox church built in the Russian Revival Style.
We’ll let you know when our Baltics holiday is on sale, but if you are potentially interested, send us an email or call us by 15 November to let us know and we’ll give you an extra £50 per person off, in addition to any other launch offers we have. There’s no commitment on your part, but this will help us gauge interest.