Cycle the Baltics
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
Crossing Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, this ride will take you on a journey of discovery through historic cities, untouched wilderness and along breathtaking coastline. Our trip will start in Tallinn where the fairytale architectural style sets an enchanting scene. This will feature throughout the trip as we journey through Tartu, Riga, Trakai and Vilnius. Between the architectural highlights, we will also enjoy some of the best cycling this region has to offer, through beautiful national parks and along idyllic coastal paths.
• Cycle in the Baltic states through three countries
• Explore three fascinating capital cities
• Visit the fairytale Trakai castle
• All breakfasts
• All accommodation
• Local bike hire
• All transport and listed activities
• Tour leader throughout
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DAY 1 - Start Tallinn; transfer to hotel.
On arrival, there should be some time to explore Tallinn. Tallinn is a fascinating historical city with many sites to explore. We recommend strolling through the streets of the Old Town to Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square); the square historically served as a market and meeting place and is surrounded by elaborate merchant houses – the perfect setting to enjoy a coffee. If you find the round stone with a compass rose in the middle of the square you will be able to see the 5 church spires of the old town. The Cathedral of Saint Mary, St. Alexander Nevsky and St. Olav's Church have long characterised the skyline of the old town and are well worth a visit, as are the old town walls.
DAY 2 - Explore Tallinn; transfer to the Lahemaa N.P. for a scenic ride.
This morning there is some free time to further explore Estonia's capital (timings will be confirmed by the guide in the welcome briefing). In the afternoon we leave Tallin behind and drive out of the city (approx. 1h), we will begin our first ride through National Park Lahemaa. The park, one of the last unspoilt regions of the Baltic Coast, extends over 700 square kilometres. Its nature is rich and unique. Here you will cycle through thick woods, marshes and lakes. Above all, the coastline is what makes this area so distinctive. It is also a rich environment for wildlife with moose and wild boar, although difficult to spot, and over 220 species of bird – keep your eyes open! Our accommodation for the evening is situated in the national park itself and is in a spectacular setting in the grounds of an old distillery.
DAY 3 - Full day riding through Lahemaa N.P.
Today we have a full day to explore the largest national park in Estonia and one of the biggest in Europe. We will embark on a circular route taking in as many of the parks wonderful attractions as possible. Starting from Palmse Hotel (the former park manor house), we will pass Sagadi manor, the 400 year old fisherman’s village of Altja, the popular seaside resort of Vosu, and Kasmu village which is home to the fisherman’s museum. We finish the loop cycling back through Estonian forests and meadows until we arrive at the hotel.
DAY 4 - Transfer to Peipsi and cycle along the shore of the lake; transfer to Tartu.
We start the day with a bus transfer to the shore of Peipsi Lake (approx. 1.5h), then start cycling from the 17th Century fisherman’s village of Mustvee. From here we pass through ancient towns and churches. Following an old Russian tradition, villages in Peipsi only have one street. Because of this, the shore of Peipsi Lake is one long street with lots of small settlements dotted along it. We continue cycling into Varnja and then transfer to Tartu (approx. 30min).
DAY 5 - Cycle through 'Estonian Switzerland' to Otepaa; transfer to Riga.
After breakfast, we have a 40km transfer to Otepaa. This area is known as ‘Estonian Switzerland’ because of its stunning scenery and pine forests. As you would expect, there are a few hills on today’s ride, though nothing too steep and challenging with the gradient not going above 7%. Once over the hills, we cycle through beautiful forest and meadows and past Lake Puhajarve on our way to Sangaste town. We will visit the park and castle in Sangaste – walking up the castle tower gives us a great view over Otepaa and the surrounding green natural areas. After visiting the castle we continue cycling to Valga city, and from here we transfer by bus to Riga (approx. 2.5h), our base for the next two nights.
DAY 6 - Cycle to Jurmala; transfer to Riga for the night.
Our journey today will start in the bustling town Riga, Latvia’s largest town and capital city. The city has a mediaeval old town which is famous for its wooden buildings and art nouveau architecture. We will then follow the cycle paths to the beautiful town of Jurmala, which is famous for its incredible wooden buildings and 19th Century Russian villas. Jurmala is also one of Latvia’s largest seaside resorts – it has a 33km stretch of white sandy beach for us to explore on our bikes. There will be plenty of time to have a swim in the sea before we transfer back to Riga for the night.
DAY 7 - Transfer to Sventoji; cycle to Klaipeda.
After breakfast, we leave Latvia and transfer directly to Lithuania (approx. 4h). We begin our ride in Sventoji on a beautiful cycle route to Klaipeda, which lies along the Baltic Coast. On the way we pass Palanga, a traditional bucket and spade seaside town with a long stretch of sandy beach. It's a really fun place to stop, have a wander around, a dip in the sea, and see one of the most favoured seaside towns among Lithuanians. We will visit the Palanga Botanical Gardens and manor house which is now home to the amber museum. There are numerous cafes to sit and enjoy the atmosphere and have some lunch before we set off again for our final destination of Klaipeda, our base for two nights. Our hotel is close to the Old Town, so a good spot from which to explore.
DAY 8 - Transfer to the Curonian Spit N.P; explore by bike.
We transfer to Nida (approx. 1.5h including the ferry ride), known as the town of retreat, and an artist’s resort. It was home and inspiration for two summers to the author Thomas Mann and its affluent feel and tranquillity encourages the feeling that you are on a holiday within a holiday. From here we explore the 68km long Curonian Spit. The high dunes (up to 60m) running along the spit have encouraged the local people to refer to the area as the 'Lithuanian Sahara'. During our ride we will make a stop in Juodkrante and admire the bizarre wooden carvings on what is known as Witch Hill. The sculpture park was started in 1979 and now has more than 70 wooden carvings representing characters of Lithuanian folktale and legend. We will then continue along the spit with the Baltic Sea extending far into the distance. We finish the ride at the ferry port, and from here we take the ferry across the lagoon then transfer back to the hotel in Klaipeda for the night.
DAY 9 - Transfer to Kintai village; cycle to Vente Cape and Silute; transfer to Vilnius.
We start the day with a bus transfer to Kintai village (approx. 45mins), and from here we cycle through dense green forests and beautiful meadows to Vente Cape. There is a lot of wildlife at Vente Cape as it is a popular resting place for birds on their migration, and it's home to one of the first bird ringing stations in Europe. We will visit the 11m high lighthouse which offers breathtaking views of the lagoon and golden sand dunes of the Curonian Split; the lighthouse is a fascinating place, built in 1863 when the cape was still part of Germany. We continue cycling to the town of Silute where we get on the bus and transfer to Vilnius (approx. 4h).
DAY 10 - Transfer to Trakai; cycle around town and visit Trakai Castle; return to Vilnius.
After breakfast, we transfer by bus to the small village of Semeliskes(approx. 1h). From here we have a picturesque ride over undulating terrain to Galve Lake. Here the magical and famous Trakai Castle sits, as if floating on its own island in the middle of the lake – it’s a truly magical place. We will explore the surrounding areas of the lake and visit the Castle before transferring back to Vilnius for the night.
DAY 11 - End Vilnius.
We have a free morning in Vilnius before the trip ends here.
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