Like postage stamps on the map of Europe, the tiny northern frontiers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania make up the Baltics. One of the earliest areas of European civilization, people have inhabited the land since the Mesolithic Period. Homer named it the Amber Coast for the resin abundantly found on its shores. Among the first countries to free themselves from Soviet domination, each of them has a fascinating story to share.
The Baltics offer a blend of culture, history, the outdoors, and relaxation. Ancient castles and fortresses give way to thick forests and wild, beautiful coastlines. The Tallinn Opera House is a treat to visit while Rundale Castle between Riga and Vilnius takes you back to another era, and the tiny islands off the Estonian coast are full of delightful secrets, like fine cuisine and a world class spa!
For an introduction to the three Baltic capitals and some time to relax on Muhu island, our Essential Baltics sample itinerary is a great starting point. It captures the highlights in each capital, with stops to see some of the sights between cities.
Our Simply Exeter programs feature the top highlights of each major city, are ideal for the more independent traveler who still wants Exeter's 24-hour on-the- ground support, or who only have time for a quick stop into one place.
On a Baltic cruise? We can help with private shore excursions in each Baltic port.
Alternatively, our Baltic Self-Drive itinerary is ideal for those that prefer more independence.
Anyone with a special interest or connection to Jewish heritage, may want to consider our Essential Jewish Baltics program which includes some of the most important Jewish historical sights.
The Estonians are extremely charming, full of warmth and generous hospitality, and you immediately feel welcomed when you arrive in Estonia. Tallinn has one of the best-preserved Old Towns, including it’s original walls and most gates. Aside from being the commercial hub of the Baltics, Latvia has also produced some fine artists and philosophers in its time, and the Riga Opera House is considered one of the finest in Northern Europe. Riga has created a perfect blend of the historic with the contemporary – avant-garde restaurants are housed in Benedictine Monasteries, and some of the best bars are in underground cellars created by ancient monks! Vilnius, is one of the oldest cities in the world and has an air of old-world gentility. Lithuania was once a hub for some of the greatest thinkers and artists of Europe and is a country full of immense history with a rich heritage from its checkered past.
The Baltic countries are known for their incredible archaeological heritage – in fact this region was home to one of the oldest known civilizations and one of the first languages – dating as far back as 9000 BC and some believe, even further! Archaeologists have unearthed several artifacts from the Estonian countryside that date as far back as the Stone Age. The Roman Empire had a marked influence on the entire region and several raids took place across the Baltic Sea with Vikings attacking from both the Baltic and the Scandinavian sides.
The Baltics became an important center of shipping and seafaring trade and several commodities such as lumber, amber, silver, salt, and hemp were culled and then shipped by various neighboring countries including Poland and the Scandinavian nations.
The early Baltic settlements practiced their own form of pagan worship and were among the last countries to be converted to Christianity. The Baltic coast was also an important center of European Judaism, particularly Lithuania. Vilnius and Klaipeda in Lithuania, as well as Dagda in Latvia, still retain a strong Jewish sensibility.
German, Dutch, Danish and even Scottish migrants settled in various parts of the Baltics. Both Denmark and Sweden held sway in the region, until the Imperial Russia took over. In 1871, when Germany assumed control of the entire region, but were evicted post World War II, and the region fell under Soviet rule. Lithuania was the very first country to announce that it was ceding from the USSR; it was the fuse that ignited the downfall of the Soviet bloc.
Allow Exeter International to open the doors of luxury travel, tours and vacations to the Baltics, contact one of our travel experts.