What is the furthest destination you ever travelled inside Europa? There are several northern countries but today we will focus on the Baltics that are somewhat underrepresented in the travel itineraries around the world. We get it, they are three small countries, far up north which makes them not so attractive in summer and super cold in winter. However during spring (and summer) in only 5 days road trip you can get a taste of the Baltic Sisters and a bonus – a day trip to Helsinki. If you are like us, you like to step off the beaten path and travel to a lot of countries in the most efficient way, so this is something you would not like to miss! Our route starts from Riga gets you to Tallinn and ends with a taste of Scandinavia - a day trip to Helsinki.
After the long, cold, dark winter this region is finally ready to show its beautiful face in May! As nature awakens the region lights up and puts on a green dress. However, the climate between these three countries varies too. This is why, we suggest that you travel between June- August and pack both your swimming suit and a light winter jacket (we warned you!)
Day 1 and 2 - Riga, Latvia
Latvia’s climate can be still considered as “friendly”. If you visit Riga during summer time you will most probably even be able to go for a swim. The temperatures can hit 25-30 Celsius and Latvia has nice beaches that are famous among the Baltic States! Of course, the sea temperature will be still a bit colder than you are used to in Mediterranean (ok, maybe not just a bit).
Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States. Starting from the old town, you can walk to most of the city highlights. Hit the tourist information centre, get a map and start walking! There are many interesting buildings to see in the old town: St. Peter’s Church, the Three Brothers, House of Blackheads are only a few of them. Once you are in the old town, just wander and find your way between the small streets.
After exploring the old town you can head to the Central Market. Take some time to explore this place and maybe try some of the local delicacies. You can get a sense of the daily life of the locals and find many different kinds of food from delicious berries to the dried fish. The alternative is to attend one of the daily free city tours. The Cultural tour starts every day at 12:00 and focuses on the other sights of the city such as Art Academy of Latvia, Art Nouveau district, Boulevard circle, National Theater, House of the Parliament, Dome square, House of the Blackhead, Monument of Freedom. Visit Stalin’s Birthday Cake and get a panorama view of the city. Even though the tour is free they work only with tips to show your generous side!
Once you get tired, grab some berries from the market and walk back to the Bastejkalna Park.
Even though it is the biggest city in Baltics, the highlights of the city can be seen in 1-2 days so if you have a car you can drive to Tallinn, Estonia. If you prefer to go by bus you can go to this or this website to buy yourself a bus ticket to Tallinn! The buses are very comfortable and the drive takes around 4-5 hours. The tickets can cost 5-15 euros, depending on how early you buy too. And the good news is, the bus station is very close to the Central Market!
Day 3 - Tallinn, Estonia
Estonia has the average climate between Helsinki and Riga. During the summer, it is not that cold but doesn't expect 30 degrees either. The temperatures can go up to 25 degrees until August and then slowly start dropping again. The “scary” dark and snowy winter starts mid-November and can last until the end of April. But if you visit Estonia in June, the clear white nights are waiting for you!
Comparing to other European capital cities, Tallinn can be still cheap but it is definitely more expensive than Riga. It is a very tiny city but you will still need to use a taxi or bus to reach the city centre from the bus station. Once you are in the centre, it is easy to walk around the centre. Also, the old town is much smaller too. Again, get lost in the small streets and finish the old town in a day. Some districts in Tallinn have an architecture influenced by the Scandinavian culture. Take a walk in the Kalamaja district and check out the colourful houses. Connecting your route to Telliskivi, you will find many interesting cafes and bars to spend time in.
One important thing to do while in Estonia is to appreciate the nature. There are many small forests surrounding this tiny city and Estonians like to spend time outdoors during summer! Get a taste of the local life and hit one of the nearby forests to just take a walk. Stroomi Rand can be the perfect place for that. If you are visiting Tallinn around July, you should definitely hit one of the Tallinn’s beaches at night to catch the sunset! Because the sun almost never goes down, during the sunset you will witness amazing colours!
After spending 1-2 days in Tallinn, get ready to cross the Baltic Sea. You can buy your ferry ticket from Tallinn to Helsinki from here and the tickets can cost between 40-60 euros, again depending on how early you book.
Day 5 - Helsinki, Finland
One day is certainly not enough for Helsinki but you can get a taste of the city main attractions in a day if you are short of time (else we would advise you to stay at least 2-3 days). You will certainly feel the temperature drop so prepare to wear a light jacket even in summer. But if you wear proper clothes and are a bit lucky with the weather Helsinki has a lot to offer from its nature to intellectual sights!
To get to the city centre use the public transportation. There are many things to see in the centre so you will need to set your priorities. One thing not to miss is the Temppeliaukio Church, a church carved into a stone and located in the heart of Helsinki, at the end of Fredrikinkatua.
Another place you should visit is the Kiasma Museum. If you like contemporary art enjoy this free of charge museum and get lost for a couple of hours. Silence Chapel is a great architecture sight and a good place to sit down and be for a moment. We love local markets and Market Square is the perfect place to visit and get a taste of Scandinavia cuisine and try some delicious fish!
Once you are in Helsinki, you should definitely visit the World Heritage Site Suomenlinna. You can reach this historical island by ferry or water bus service in half an hour and walk all around the place to see the Swedish, Russian and Finnish influence in one place.
Tipp: And if you already don’t know, try to download this app called Taxify for cheap taxis in Riga and Tallinn.