Trip Details at-a-Glance
|Arrive:||St. Petersburg, Russia|
|Lodging:||6 nights hotels|
|Meals:||Meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)|
|Activity:||Cultural Adventures, Walking|
Cultural explorations and walking tours
Visa RequirementsA visa is required for U.S. citizens visiting Russia. Your visa must be obtained prior to arrival. Visas are not required for US citizens visiting Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
Our Trips using this Extension
Russia: Land of the Czars
Choosing the Right Trip
We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.
Experience the Old World charm of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, with their storybook capitals and history-filled towns.
St. Petersburg / Tallinn, Estonia
Transfer to the St. Petersburg bus station to board the comfortable Euroline coach (which has air conditioning and a bathroom) and head through the countryside to Tallinn, Estonia’s sea coast capital in the Gulf of Finland. Tallinn was once two separate feuding medieval towns. Toompea, the upper part of town, set on a hill, was the seat of the government, while the lower town was an independent Hanseatic trading center inhabited by Swedish, Danish, and German traders. On arrival in Tallinn, transfer to the hotel for overnight. Lunch and dinner are on your own...B
At the center of the lower part of Tallinn is Town Hall Square, the central marketplace for hundreds of years. The 15th century town hall dominates the square, and it’s now a museum with wonderful city views from its tower. Tallinn’s winding cobbled streets and turreted fortress wall are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Your walking tour today begins at Kadriorg, a summer palace and park built by Peter the Great. The palace’s architect, Michetti, was later involved in building Peterhof, Peter’s summer palace outside of St. Petersburg. The parkland around the palace originally encompassed almost 250 acres. Stroll through the beautiful park to the Song Bowl, where Estonians defied the Soviet Union in 1988, and where every five years, an enormous international festival is held.
Next, visit Toompea, the hilltop center of Tallinn, nearly 90 feet higher than the rest of the city. Toompea Castle sits near the highest point, rebuilt by Catherine the Great over the remains of the 13th century castle of the Knights of the Sword. The spectacular, onion-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which crowns the hill in Toompea, is designed in the classic Russian Revival style and is the grandest orthodox church in the city. Commissioned by Czar Alexander III, it was built to honor the victory of Alexander Nevsky over Estonian foot soldiers fighting alongside the Teutonic Knights on Estonian territory in 1242. Although some Estonians wanted to demolish it after independence, the government restored it. The rest of the day is for independent exploration. Lunch and dinner are on your own...B
In the morning, depart by private minivan for a drive to Riga, Latvia. Along the way, visit Sigulda, the gateway to Gauja National Park in the steep-sided Gauja River Valley. Take a walk in the Turaida Museum Reserve, climbing to the top of the medieval red-brick Turaida Castle for views of the park. After lunch, continue on to Riga, first a fishing village founded by native Livonians, a Finno-Ugrik people related to the Estonians and the Finns. When the proto-Balts, an Indo-European people, arrived, they gradually assimilated most of the Livonians. The resulting mix of people, now called Latvians, lived in small kingdoms, easy prey for the German crusaders who came to spread Christianity at the beginning of the 13th century. For the next 500 years, while the leadership of the country changed hands among the Swedes, Poles, and Russians, the ethnic German aristocracy hung on to its autonomy and its feudal estates. Peter the Great finally conquered Latvia in the early 1700s, and Riga began to grow as a trade and industrial center. Although the town was badly damaged during both world wars and neglected during its Soviet period, today Riga is Latvia’s flourishing and lively center of the arts, Art Nouveau architecture, and nightlife. Dinner is on your own. Overnight at hotel...BL
After breakfast, set out on a walking tour of Riga. With walls six feet thick, the 13th century Dome Cathedral in Riga is the biggest working church in the Baltics. Today its main brick body is 15th century Gothic, while the steeple is 18th century baroque. The spire on Gothic St. Peter's Church was the tallest in the world when it was built. It burned twice, was shelled once, and in 1973, was finally rebuilt in steel. Take the elevator 216 feet up the restored spire for fabulous views of the city. Visit the 14th century Great Guild Hall, which housed the town's merchants (mostly ethnic Germans) and the Small Guild Hall, which was for the artisans. Today, the Great Guild Hall hosts the Riga Philharmonic. The three oldest stone residential buildings in town are called the Three Brothers, standing shoulder to shoulder. The oldest dates to the 15th century, while the other two were built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Riga Castle was built in 1330 on the banks of the Daugava to oversee all the ships that came into the port. Today it houses the offices of the Latvian government. Continue by car to view Bastion Hill, the Powder Tower, the Latvian National Theater, the Fine Arts Museum, the Art Nouveau buildings from the turn of the century, the university, and the bridges over the Daugava River. Lunch and dinner are on your own today. Overnight at hotel...B
In the morning, depart by private minivan for Vilnius. En route, visit the baroque Rundale Castle, designed in the early 18th century by Rastrelli, who also built St. Petersburg’s winter palace. The palace was the home of the Duke of Courland, Ernst Johann Birland, a favorite of Russia’s Empress Anna. When Russia annexed Latvia, the palace was given to Russian Count Zubov and later to the Shuvalov family. The family owned the place until 1920, when it was turned over the Latvian government. Today about 40 of the rococo rooms are open, including the royal kitchens. After crossing into Lithuania, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Upon arrival in Vilnius, transfer to the hotel for overnight. Dinner is on your own...BL
Enjoy a walking tour of Vilnius’ Old Town this morning. The imposing neo-classical Vilnius Cathedral conceals a longer history than its 18th century exterior reveals. In the 1960s, when architects examined cracks in the church foundations, they discovered ancient crypts and foundations of earlier churches and pagan temples. More recently, archaeologists found church jewels that fleeing Russians had hidden in the walls in 1655. The most famous street in Vilnius, Pilies Street, means “Castle Street” and runs from the Cathedral Square to the Town Hall Square. Many artisans sell their goods on this busy stretch, and it’s a good place to find traditional souvenirs such as amber, Russian dolls, and woolen mittens. Pilies Street is also the place where most of the festivals and celebrations happen. Both the headquarters of Vilnius University and the house where the Declaration of Independence was signed on February 16, 1918, are situated on this street. Vilnius’ diminutive red-brick St. Anne's church, built around 1500, represents the pinnacle of Gothic architecture in Lithuania. The intricate combination of arches, finials, brick patterns, and spires with metal crosses make its exterior elegant. The church has survived more than five centuries almost unchanged. Other sites of interest include the 16th century Gates of Dawn, a fine example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, and the 17th century baroque church of Saints Peter and Paul, adorned with over 2,000 stucco statues and carvings. The rest of the day is free for independent exploration. Lunch and dinner are on your own. Overnight at hotel...B
Transfer to the airport for international departures...B
Prices are for 2015
$2595 per person, double occupancy (4 or more trip members)
Single supplement: $550 (2 or more trip members)
Solo traveler: Please call for details
Prices are not guaranteed until services are confirmed.
more on pricing
Extension Cost Includes:
- Accommodation based on double occupancy
- Meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- Local English-speaking guide in each city for groups of 2-5 (or the same guide throughout for groups of 6 or more)
- Sightseeing excursions as noted
- Transportation by public air-conditioned Euroline bus from St. Petersburg to Tallinn on Day 1, transfer by private minibus from Tallinn to Riga and from Riga to Vilnius, transfer from the hotel to the St. Petersburg bus station on the first day of the trip, transfer to the Vilnius airport on the last day of the trip
Extension Cost Does Not Include:Airfare, airport taxes or fuel surcharges, meals not specified, gratuities, items of a personal nature such as (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).
Days 1 to 2 (2 nights), Tallinn, Estonia
With a great location in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town, this hotel offers clean, modern rooms and an easy walk to shops, cafes, and pubs. ...
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Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Riga, Latvia
This hotel is in the Art Nouveau and embassy neighborhood of Riga, just a 10-minute walk through a leafy park to the charming Old Town and main ...
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Days 5 to 6 (2 nights), Vilnius, Lithuania
The four-star Amberton Hotel is in a perfect location in the heart of Vilnius, right on Cathedral Square and close to the National Museum and Old ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.