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So, I’ve planned my next euro trip and I’m extremely excited to share what I think is a great itinerary with you.
The inspiration for this trip came from my memories of being an 18-year-old and traveling around Europe by train for a month on my own. During this month I went to all the major cities in the west and ventured as far east as Budapest and Krakow. At the time I didn’t think there was much worth seeing any further east than these cities – oh, how wrong I was.
In the years after this trip I learnt more and more about the far eastern Baltic countries such and Lativa, Estonia, and Lithuania that border Russia. Their allure had me hooked. The promise of countries with beautiful gothic cities and majestic, untouched country sides that were seemingly unknown to most, was too much, I had to go.
The past 3 summers I have spent working at an American summer camp which is honestly the best thing I’ve ever done. However, this summer I have no working holiday plans, so this August is the ideal time for me to visit these countries. I’ve booked my flight and I’m starting in Helsinki.
Image from flickr via Giuseppe Milo
Helsinki is the capital of Finland and sits on its southern tip. Although on the mainland, the city Is made up of 330 islands that host a variety of beaches, camp sites, and other unique attractions. The city itself is full of great places to eat and drink and the nightlife reviews aren’t bad at all!
While in Helsinki I plan on taking a day trip to Lake Tuusula which is only 30 minutes from the capital. This tranquil picturesque lake is surrounded by dedicated cycle roads with no cars on, it sounds like a perfect way to explore the beautiful area!
Image from Wikipideia
The capital of Estonia, Tallinn, sits on its northern shore and is only a 2-hour ferry ride across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki. The city was founded in medieval times and retains much of its original architecture. The city is the cultural centre of Estonia and provides and exciting mix of old and new. The city is also extremely green and due to it being on the coast, has lovely beaches and promenades.
Image from Wikipedia via Kristian Pikner
On the road south from Tallinn lies the coastal town of Parnu. This medieval town is Estonia’s largest resort town and boasts miles of lovely sandy beaches with some of the beaches hosting great restaurants and bars. Due to its location the town provides lots of opportunities for water sports such as jet skiing, paddle boarding, and canoeing. This is a definitely a summer destination, if I was visiting during another season I would have switched Parnu for the city of Tartu.
Gaujas National Park, Latvia.
Image from Flickr via Liga Eglite
Gaujas National Park in Latvia has interested me for quite a while now. With your base in the town of Sigulda you can explore the park which is dotted with historical medieval structures. The park also provides opportunities for hiking, caving, and nature watching. The stairway hikes up the sandstone cliffs provide a beautiful view of the river valley below.
Riga is Latvia’s Capital city and sits in the west of the country on its Baltic shores. The city contains a lovely old town which is completely pedestrianised. To get a great aerial view of the city you can pay a small fee to go up to the top of St. Peter’s Church. The city is famous for its markets which I know I’m going to love because I basically eat non-stop. The city is also dotted with lovely parks which I’m sure will provide that extra piece of rest and relaxation I’m looking for after a few hectic days travel.
Image from Wikipedia Via Diliff
The capital of Lithuania marks my final stop on my Baltic tour. Well maybe – I have no return flight and I might decide to keep going! Vilnius, like many of its fellow cities in the Baltic countries, contains a beautiful old town that is just waiting to be explored. The city contains plenty of bars that produce craft and local traditional brews for you to sample. Gediminas Tower which sits atop Gediminas hill is a unique vantage point to look across the city and has unrivalled panoramic views.
A day trip from Vilnius is Aukštaitija National Park. Only a 2-hour drive from the capital, the national park offers an escape to some completely untouched pieces of nature. The park contains mountains, cliffs, lakes, and plenty of wildlife.