Baltic Horizons: Ultimate 12 Days in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania

Back in 2016, our family made a deliberate choice to break from our usual summer beach holidays in southern Europe and explore the charming yet less-frequented Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Our Baltic road trip adventure kicked off in Tallinn, Estonia, then took us through Latvia, Lithuania, and circled back to Tallinn. Unlike the popular sun-soaked destinations, the Baltic states are often overlooked.

Our journey unfolded in August, a month that, unfortunately, greeted us with its fair share of rain, clouds, and brisk winds. Undeterred by the weather, we adjusted our Baltic road trip itinerary to make the most of our 12 days in this unique region.

Over the 12 days, we discovered magical lakes in the countryside, hiked in soaring dunes, explored UNESCO World Heritage Sites, searched for golden amber on the coast, and marveled at architectural wonders.

View from the Kohtuotsa viewing platform north-east of the Toompea Castle

Baltic road trip itinerary planning (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania)

Flight booking

Lufthansa provides direct flights from Frankfurt to Tallinn, Vilnius, or Riga. After checking the flight schedule, we chose to land in Tallinn and booked return flights accordingly.

Rent a small car

Then, following a comprehensive search on the car rental platform, we hired a compact car for our journey. Given uncertainties about parking, having a smaller car seemed more manageable. Fortunately, the pickup location was conveniently situated inside Tallinn Airport.

Book hotels

Later, we meticulously selected accommodations along our driving route and confirmed hotel reservations. Below are the five hotels located in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania:

Finalized Baltic road trip itinerary (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania)

1st Day: Tallinn (Estonia)

Tallinn arrival

The Lufthansa flight touched down at Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport on schedule. Everything proceeded according to plan: we retrieved our luggage and swiftly picked up the rental car, completing the entire process within a mere hour.

Overnight stay

The airport is conveniently located close to the city center, where the Tallink City Hotel stands. This sizable hotel features a distinctive glass facade. Offering amenities such as WiFi, a sauna, and a bar, the hotel’s proximity to the old town allowed us to explore its charm well into the evening.

Following our check-in, we headed to Tallinn’s Passenger Port, just a few hundred meters from the hotel, for a joyful dinner.

2ed Day: Tallinn (Estonia)

Tallinn old town

Our first stop was undoubtedly the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its medieval charm. The narrow cobbled streets, centuries-old architecture, and the hidden courtyards around the Town Hall Square create the heart of this historic gem.

Viewing platform.

Subsequently, we ventured to the Kohtuotsa viewing platform located northeast of Toompea Castle. From this elevated spot, we were treated to awe-inspiring vistas of the city, including the iconic Dome Church and its surroundings.

Kiek in de Kök Fortifications Museum

After a short break in a romantic cafe, we strolled along sections of the old wall, eventually reaching the Maiden’s Tower (Neitsitorn). Adjacent to the tower stands the Kiek in de Kök Fortifications Museum. Imbued with a medieval atmosphere, the museum also boasts mysterious underground passages.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallinn; Baltic road trip itinerary

3rd Day: Mustvee, Lake Peipus, and Tartu (Estonia)

Mustvee and Lake Peipus

Mustvee is a quaint settlement nestled on the shores of Lake Peipus. In the Peipus area, a traditional religious minority is acknowledged for their industriousness, skilled craftsmanship in fishing and building, and a fervent dedication to onion cultivation. Mustvee is also situated along the renowned Estonian Onion Route.


The Onion Route lies near Tartu, home to one of Northern Europe’s oldest universities. In Tartu, attractions, dining spots, and nightlife are concentrated on a few adjacent streets. During the day, there were few tourists, and some restaurants were quiet. However, as evening approached, more people emerged for dinner.

Overnight stay

We spent a night at Hotel London. The hotel’s prime location placed us near superb restaurants and the University of Tartu.

Tartu, Estonia
Lake Peipus, Estonia

4th Day: Riga (Latvia)

Riga old town

The main attractions in Riga are the Old Town and the Art Nouveau district. The city has several hundred stunning Art Nouveau buildings known for their intricate motifs, curvaceous figures, and elegant lines inspired by nature.

As night fell, our appetite for food increased. We decided on the Gutenbergs Rooftop restaurant, drawn to its enjoyable open terrace. From the terrace, we discovered a spectacular way to experience the city.

Overnight stay

The distance from Tartu to Riga is approximately 244 km, and it would typically take around three and a half hours without any stops. Due to our late departure from Tartu and a stopover in Sigulda, we reached our next accommodation, Tallink Hotel in Riga, in the late afternoon.

View from Gutenbergs Rooftop restaurant in Latvia; Baltic Road Trip Itinerary; Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania road trip itinerary

5th Day: Jurmala (Latvia)

Jurmala beach

One of the best activities near Riga is visiting the Jurmala beach resort. With its 25 km-long white sand beach, Jurmala offers an incredibly spacious area for sunbathing and swimming. Our day was relaxing as we spent quality time on the beach and had a late lunch on Jomas Street (Jomas iela), one of the oldest streets in Jurmala.

The wooden architecture

Jurmala is renowned for its historical wooden architecture in Latvia, showcasing some of the finest examples of the country’s romantic and classical architectural styles. Though I’ve seen various types of wooden houses in places like Bavaria, Germany, and Zakopane, Poland, the wooden houses in Jūrmala exhibit a distinct, more intricate style.

Overnight stay

The Tallink Hotel in Riga has a convenient location, with both the Central Train Station and the International Bus Station just a short walk away. Riga’s historic Old Town and the Latvian National Opera are also only a few hundred meters away from the hotel.

Jurmala beach and the wooden Architectural House, Latvia; Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania road trip itinerary

6th Day: Riga (Latvia)

Riga Central Market

The Riga Central Market is located alongside the River Daugava, just a few hundred meters away from the old town. Not only is it one of the largest marketplaces, but it also ranks among the most visited markets in Eastern Europe.

Offering a wide variety of Latvian-grown and homemade products, exotic fruits, spices, as well as manufactured goods, the market is divided into five categories: vegetables, dairy, meat, fish, and gastronomy products. Stalls and stands fill the indoor and outdoor area, creating a lively atmosphere. Special events like the Night Market and ‘Round the Clock Farmers’ Market add to the vibrant experience. It’s noteworthy that the Riga Central Market holds a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Overnight stay

The chic restaurant at Tallink Hotel in Riga offered a breakfast buffet along with a diverse range of international cuisines. Additionally, the hotel features amenities such as a sauna and a hot tub for guests to enjoy.

Riga Old Town, Latvia; Baltic Road Trip Itinerary

7th Day: Palanga, Karkle, Klaipeda (Lithuania)


The Baltic coast, stretching from Karkle to Melnrage, is renowned for the precious amber pieces tossed ashore by the waves. Eager to explore and hopeful of finding our own treasure, we had scheduled a visit. Unfortunately, our plans were thwarted by a sudden storm, accompanied by heavy rainfall.


As a result, we decided to turn back and explore the Amber Museum in Palanga. The displayed amber products were incredibly beautiful, and I couldn’t resist buying a bracelet for 150 Euros, which came with a certificate of authenticity.


Once the rain stopped, we went to explore into Klaipeda. Holding the title of Lithuania’s oldest city and its sole port town, Klaipeda carries a distinctive historical charm. Originating as a German settlement in the 13th century, it joined Lithuania in the 20th century. The city has a mix of architecture, featuring distinctive timber-framed houses, contemporary glass structures, and grey building blocks from the 1960s.

Overnight stay

During our stay at Vila Radailiai for two nights, we found it conveniently situated next to a Dinosaur Park. The park entrance was included in our room rate, regrettably, we didn’t have the time to explore it.

Pick up amber pieces on the Karkle beach, Lithuania; Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania road trip itinerary

8th Day: Curonian Spit (Lithuania)

Curonian Spit

Curonian Spit is the most beautiful place in Lithuania with untouched nature. Its beautiful beaches, endless sand dunes, expansive pine tree forests, and pretty small fishing villages have left us an unforgettable experience. If you are in Klaipeda, consider booking a Curonian Spit full-day tour to explore the enchanting Curonian Spit area.

Parnidis Dune

Our initial stop led us to the impressive 52-metre Parnidis Dune, celebrated as one of Europe’s tallest shifting dunes. Surrounded by white sand and a pine forest, the dune presented breathtaking scenery, even on that stormy day, enhancing the dramatic view. At the dune’s summit, a large sundial stood, inviting visitors to enjoy the playful challenge of figuring out the


In addition to the Parnidis Dune, highlights in Nidda are such as the water promenade along the Curonian Lagoon and the colourful fishermen’s houses. When the rain began, we sought refuge in a restaurant where the guests were predominantly German, and the waiters spoke German.

As the rain persisted for the rest of the day, preventing us from taking a stroll, we visited the Thomas Mann House Museum. Heading further south of Nida leads to the border between Russia and Lithuania, but without a visa, crossing into the Russian side was not an option.

Overnight stay

Vila Radailiai is well-suited for families with kids, just like us. It features a children’s play area and a spa corner.

Parnidis Dune on Curonian Spit, Lithuania; Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania road trip itinerary
On top of the Parnidis Dune on Curonian Spit, Lithuania

9th Day: Vilnius (Lithuania)

The drive from our hotel in Radailiai to Vilnius took approximately three and a half hours. Unfortunately, heavy rain prevented us from exploring Kaunas as initially intended. Consequently, we proceeded directly to the Vilnius Grand Resort, where we would be staying for the next three nights.

Nestled amidst of a pine and birch forest, the resort offers a SPA and wellness centre. Upon check-in, we spent the rest of the day indulging in the amenities of the resort’s wellness facilities. Specializing in Asian fusion cuisine, the restaurant treated our family to a delightful dinner that evening.

Bora Bora Restaurant of the Vilnius Grand Resort, Lithuania
Bora Bora Restaurant from Vilnius Grand Resort

10th Day: Trakai Castle and Lake Galve (Lithuania)

Parking in Trakai posed a challenge, but resourceful local residents opened their gardens for public parking. Choosing this alternative, we entered one of these gardens, paid a modest fee of two Euros, and were promptly allocated a parking spot.

Trakai Castle

Trakai Castle, once a residence for the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, sits on an island in Lake Galve, one of Lithuania’s deepest lakes. Accessible by crossing a long wooden bridge, the castle presents a view straight out of a fairy tale.

Lake Galve

Next to the castle, we discovered boats catering to tourists. We rented a motor boat for 35 Euros and enjoyed a scenic tour around Lake Galve. The new and roomy boat not only offered us a scenic adventure but also allowed us navigating it ourselves, all within a reasonable budget.


After our boat tour, we had lunch at a restaurant on the lakeshore, savoring the flavors of Lithuanian Karaim cuisine, including the traditional kibinai (or kybynlar) and meat soups. Following our meal, we strolled through the town, appreciating the wooden architecture that narrates the history of Karaim and Tartar communities.

Trakai Castle, Lithuania; Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania road trip itinerary
the wooden architecture telling the story of Karaim and Tartar communities in Trakai

11th Day: Vilnius (Lithuania)

Architectural building in the old town

In the early morning, the streets of Vilnius were tranquil and mostly devoid of activity. The old town of Vilnius, a UNESCO-listed site, is rich in historical charm, featuring notable buildings such as the Presidential Palace in Daukantas Square, the Gate of Dawn, Vilnius Cathedral, the Town Hall, and the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.

Stikliu Street and the restaurant corner

Once the heart of the Jewish Quarter, now Stikliu Street is filled with boutiques and artisan studios. The winding cobblestone streets in this area line up with quaint bars and restaurants. We had our lunch in the Belgium Restaurant Rene. 

Gediminas’ Castle

Gediminas Castle, perched atop a hill, is one of the best places to see the magnificent panoramas of Vilnius. After lunch, we climbed up the Gediminas Hill for the views of the city. The red roofs of Vilnius, the church towers, and the narrow streets of the old town are a stunning sight.

Architectural building in the old town of Vilnius, Lithuania; Baltic Road Trip Itinerary
Street of Vilnius in the early morning; Baltic Road Trip Itinerary

12th Day:  Saulkrasti (Latvia), Pärnu (Estonia), and Talinn (Estonia)

A small accident

Our forgetfulness struck in Saulkrasti when we realized we had left our swimming suits behind. In a rush, we contacted the resort’s reception. The reception of the Vilnius Grand Resort was incredibly friendly and efficient. Within minutes, they located our belongings and arranged to send them to our home in Germany. Surprisingly, our swimming suits reached Germany before we did.


The journey from Vilnius to Saulkrasti, the charming beach town, was quite a stretch. With a coastline spanning 17 km, it stands as one of the best spots for witnessing breathtaking sunsets. After the lengthy drive, strolling along the White Dune and inhaling the refreshing sea breeze while gazing over the Gulf of Riga provided a well-deserved break.


Pärnu is the ultimate summer holiday destination in Estonia, attracting travelers with its large sandy beach, numerous restaurants, cocktail bars, soothing spas, and an overall laid-back atmosphere. Even without our swimsuits, we enjoyed a leisurely walk along the long stretches of white sandy beaches. Blessed by Estonia’s finest sunshine, the shallow waters welcomed us with surprisingly warm temperatures.

Tallinn Airport

Our road adventure through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania ended as we returned our rental car at Tallinn Airport. Given our early morning flight the next day, we booked an overnight stay at Hotel Ülemiste, conveniently located just a 10-minute walk from the Airport terminal. With a 24/7 reception, the hotel also thoughtfully prepared breakfast boxes for us upon check-out.

Pärnu, Estonia; Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania road trip itinerary
Pärnu Beach, Estonia; Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania road trip itinerary

Travel tips for Baltic road trip itinerary (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania)

The road trip across Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania marked an unforgettable tourist experience, surrounding us with exotic languages, rich merchant cultures, diverse traditions, and distinct temperaments. Coronian Spit, Pärnu, and Jurmala are top destinations for an extended holiday, each offering many outdoor activities amid breathtaking landscapes. A week in each of these places would be ideal. Additionally, there’s a desire to explore more of Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius in the future.


  1. Whenever I think of traveling to Europe I always think of visiting France or Italy or the Swiss Alps. However, Through your post, I am seeing a different side of Europe. I loved Riga and Tallinn. I would love to visit these places following your itinerary.

  2. Your Baltic road trip itinerary is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to explore Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The detailed descriptions and stunning photos make me want to pack my bags and hit the road right away!

  3. You should do a YouTube Channel! I would watch it! I wish I could travel like this. You are so blessed to see so many beautiful places.

  4. oh wow! The baltic seems gorgeous!!! I’ve never been to any of these beautiful countries. Soon I hope.

  5. I like Baltic countries. I never mixed them in one go but it sounds like a lovely idea. My favorites are Tallinn (been there several times, always magical old town, I can’t get tired of). Riga is fantastic place to visit as well, I especially loved it for Riga marathon, very nice place to run. I’d add Sigulda to the list instead of Jurmala, I think the former has more to offer in terms of beauty, activities and history but definitely lacking the sea time.

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