10-Nights Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia: Enchanted Forests and Medieval Castles - Signature Land
National Geographic Expeditions
OFFER ID 1505570
Although small in size, the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have offered a large history that is rich with diverse cultures, traditions and temperaments for centuries. Explore these stunningly picturesque Baltic states that preserve their “old centers”—recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites— while embracing modern times. Throughout your trip, you’ll visit destinations that include Vilnius, the Curonian Spit, Klaipeda, Riga, Gauja National Park, Tallinn and other fascinating locations that will tell the story of these small, but proud countries.
10 nights from $7,795 per person
Tallinn's many occupations over the centuries have resulted in a cultural mix and unique ambiance of this maritime city. Old Town's cobbled streets and 13th-14th century buildings attract thousands of visitors annually who admire the city’s heritage of medieval buildings, the imposing City Hall, the Orthodox Cathedral, Toompea Castle and Oleviste Church. See former guild houses, including the Great Guildhall of the medieval Hanseatic League. Other attractions include impressive Town Hall Square with 15th century Gothic Town Hall, and numerous Gothic churches including Toomekirik. Toompea Castle has fine views over Tallinn. In Hirve Park, Estonians have rallied recently in protest of foreign occupation. "Tall Herman" and "Fat Margaret" are two towers among the remnants of the original defense walls. The "Fat Margaret" tower now houses a Maritime Museum on Tallinn’s history as a busy port. Other museums include: The House of Knights on Toompea Hill which displays Estonian art from the 19th and 20th centuries; the Museum of Decorative and Applied Art.
Gauja National Park
If the weather is right, a few days in the densely wooded Gauja National Park, just 20 mi/30 km northeast of Riga, can be the highlight of a trip to Latvia. Set in the Gauja River Valley, Gauja National Park is the largest national park in Latvia and is less than an hour's drive from Riga. It has scenic Devonian sandstone cliffs, small caves, ancient oak trees, manors, windmills, nature trails, and even a cable car ride. A nice way to see the park is on trail rides or—when the water levels are high in spring—by boat.
In Gauja, visitors should stop in Cesis, a former Hanseatic town in the middle of the park. It hosts several popular summer festivals, including an opera festival, a beer festival and the Knight's Festival (with a jousting tournament).
Now reasserting its proud Baltic heritage after the return of Latvia's independence, this ancient Hanseatic river-port is the largest city of the Baltic States and a showcase for the restored Old Riga with its cobbled pedestrian streets, towers and spires of medieval churches and venerable facades of gabled 17th century German merchants' homes. It is surrounded by a moat and contains several medieval buildings, including a 13th-century cathedral and guild halls from the 14th century. Riga is still historically and architecturally fascinating.
Klaipeda (formerly Memel) is a port in western Lithuania on the Baltic Sea. It has shipyards, factories, museums and an aquarium.
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and one of the country's oldest cities. It stretches along both banks of the fast flowing Neris River, and is set among hills pine forests. Vilnius is very old city indeed. The honor for founding Vilnius is justly given to Gediminas (a Lithuanian Duke) in the year 1323. Having declared Vilnius his "royal town", Gediminas created the conditions for its subsequent growth as the political, economical and cultural center of Lithuania. The fortress on Castle Hill was used for defense purposes and was called the Upper Castle. Following the craftsmen in other European towns at the end of the 15th century, Vilnius craftsmen began to join together by professions into guilds. Many Catholic churches and monasteries appeared in the town. Stone buildings sprang up inside the Lower Castle. The new Cathedral was among them. Crafts and trade continued to develop in the 16th century. Many beautiful new buildings in the late Gothic and Renaissance style appeared in the town. The most significant event in the cultural life of 16th century Lithuania was the founding of the Vilnius Academy in 1579, which was endowed with the rights and privileges of a university. In 1795 Vilnius became the center of a new gubernia consisting of the lands annexed to the Russian Empire. A number of new Classical style buildings were built, including the Cathedral, which had been reconstructed at the end of the 18th century, a new town hall, and the Governor-Generals' Palace. In 1860, a railway, the first in Lithuania, crossed Vilnius and connected with St. Petersburg and Warsaw.
During World War I Vilnius was occupied by the Kaiser's troops for three and a half years. On 16 February, 1918, Lithuanian Council in Vilnius proclaimed an independent Lithuanian Republic. In the autumn of 1920, Vilnius and the region to which it belonged were occupied by Poland. On October 10th, 1939, Lithuania and the Soviet Union signed a treaty on mutual aid, in accordance with which Vilnius and the Vilnius Region were returned to Lithuania. In 1940, Vilnius became the capital of Soviet Lithuania, which meant it was an administrative center of occupied Lithuania.
On March 11th, 1990, the Supreme Council restored Lithuania's independence.
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* This departure has been designated a guaranteed departure by the operator, meaning that the minimum number of guests has been met, although still subject to weather and other conditions.
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All prices are per person, based on double occupancy, unless otherwise stated and are subject to availability and change without notice and do not include international or internal airfare. All prices are quoted in U.S. Dollars. Prices listed for each offer may pertain to specific departure dates. Single supplement applies. Other restrictions, blackout dates and holiday surcharges may apply. Itinerary and inclusions subject to change.
Not included: Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable. Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance; Visas when applicable; Alcoholic beverages; Expedition Leader gratuities.
All fares are quoted in US Dollars.
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