A Brave New Baltic
Plan an adventure through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia
With the addition of Latvia and Estonia to our Pass network it is now possible to travel across all 3 of the Baltic countries with Eurail/Interrail! You might not know too much about this region of Europe, but its diverse and exciting history makes it perfect for a journey of discovery, with each country offering a unique experience. Expect the unexpected, from surreal swamp landscapes and healing waters, to a famous power plant and a museum in a submarine factory.
To learn more about the Baltic region and give you some travel tips we asked the people who know best - the national railway companies. Lietuvos geležinkeliai (Lithuania), Pasažieru vilciens (Latvia) and Elron (Estonia) recommend the Baltic destinations that you shouldn't miss and how to get to them by train.
Cities visited in this trip:
1. Klaipėda, Lithuania
2. Kaunas, Lithuania
3. Vilnius, Lithuania
4. Visaginas, Lithuania
5. Riga, Latvia
6. Jūrmala, Latvia
7. Ķemeri, Latvia
8. Tartu, Estonia
9. Tallinn, Estonia
10. Aegviidu, Estonia
Klaipėda and the Curonian Spit
Begin your Baltic adventure in the coastal city of Klaipėda, with its half-timbered buildings and many sculptures. The city is the starting point for visiting the Curonian Spit and Lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Words cannot describe the beauty of Nida, a town located on the spit itself. Standing atop one of its hills, you’ll be surrounded by pine forests and, of course, the sea itself. There are numerous cycling and hiking trails here, designed to make time stop. It is impossible to miss the striking sight of Parnidis dune. The giant dune never stops moving and over time has swallowed entire villages. Stay on the Spit for an immersive experience.
You can reach Nida on weekends by specially commissioned bus from Klaipėda. Don’t forget to take a bicycle!
Photo © Klaudijus Driskius
The city of Nida on the Curonian Spit
Photo © Andrius Aleksandravičius
Kaunas old town
Kaunas will be the European Capital of Culture in 2022. Its motto “from temporary to contemporary” sums up the flourishing of Kaunas. The organizers are hoping that 2022 will be an after-party for the cultural revival happening now. Come to Kaunas for a dose of art-deco architecture and artsy kookiness, seen in its streets and open-air galleries. You can stay in an actual monastery or select from one of the more modern options.
For even more art take a 1 hour regional train to Marijampole, the “Lithuanian Mecca of street art”. Its impressive murals make it one of the most Instagrammable towns in Lithuania.
Vilnius and Trakai
Lithuania’s capital city, Vilnius has a large medieval old town and numerous green spaces, bars and restaurants. But it is also a great place from which to travel off the beaten track.
Trakai is the Lithuanian capital of culture 2020. The little town, adored by Lithuanians, has it all – medieval history, delicious food, vast lakes shimmering in the sun and the picture-perfect Trakai Castle. Yachts and catamarans grace the waters, letting you fully explore every nook and cranny of this lake region. This year brings a slew of cultural events to this gem of a town, so there’s no better time to visit. Accommodation options in Trakai run the gamut from country houses to 4-star resorts.
Travel by train to Trakai from Vilnius in just 33 minutes.
Photo © Giedrius Akelis
Medieval island castle at Galves lake in Trakai
Visaginas town in Lithuania
En-route to Latvia you can visit Visaginas. The hit HBO series Chernobyl was filmed here at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, located 13km from the train station. It is currently being decommissioned so you can tour its innards.
Riga – Capital city of Latvia
Riga has always been a crossroads of nations and cultures. The city has always lived in close cooperation with nature, which is still an important part of its residents’ daily lives – the many public parks, forests, squares, lakes and the city canal. Riga has hills and islands, as well as beaches. Nesting birds and even beavers call the city home. In addition, considering the relative compactness of the city, many of its sites are within walking distance: special urban pulse points and green relaxation zones, a dynamic city atmosphere and the romance of rural idylls.
Hop on a train from Riga to visit Jūrmala and Ķemeri, to the city’s north.
Boat cruise on the Riga canal
Jūrmala – Latvia’s “Northern Riviera”
Jūrmala is the largest spa town on the shores of the Baltic Sea. It is a veritable oasis of natural healing and health that prides itself in an almost unbelievable concentration of natural resources, both in the air and underground. The sea, the wind and majestic pines calmly coexist alongside a vibrant cultural scene, a combination that refreshes and enriches all who spend time there.
By train from Riga: 32 minutes to Majori station (by the coast) or 50 minutes to Sloka station (central Jūrmala)
Central street of the city of Jūrmala
View of Jūrmala's coastline
Kemeri – a true wilderness at your fingertips
Take a short journey from Riga and you will find yourself in another world. Raised bogs dotted with countless tiny pools, mysterious flooded forests, vast floodplain meadows with wild horses and cattle, lagoon-type lakes rich with waterfowl, winding rivers, the sea coast, and, of course the famous sulphurous mineral water – a true health elixir with the aroma of rotten eggs. More than twenty different objects of interest (nature trails, sightseeing towers, cycling routes, museums, etc.), as well as an array of tourism services (boat and bicycle rentals, guides, cafes, etc.), provide excellent conditions for exploring different parts of the Park.
Spring is a great time to start your journey in this wetland paradise. Some of the season’s specialties include spring floods, looking for woodpeckers, taking a bicycle tour through the fresh-smelling forests, or joining the numerous activities (expert walks, hikes, nature education activities, special offers from tourism businesses, etc.) of Travel Day in the beginning of May.
By train from Riga: 1 hour to Ķemeri station.
Cycling in Ķemeri National Park
Ķemeri National Park bog trail
Estonia’s second-largest city is defined by its historic university, so is home to some of the country’s most important museums and learning centers, such as the Estonian National Museum and the AHHAA science center. As a university city, Tartu naturally has a thriving nightlife to keep you busy after a day of culture.
Evening panoramic view of Tartu city
The capital of Estonia is a thriving city on the Baltic Sea, fusing history, both medieval and Soviet, with the tech-savvy and modern. You can experience both of the city’s facets by visiting the Old Town and the Rotermann district, respectively.
Tallinn is also home to some innovative and award-winning museums in exciting locations. The Seaplane Harbor, one of Europe’s largest maritime museums, is housed in the world’s first large reinforced concrete shell structure; while the PROTO Invention Factory, found in a former secret submarine factory, has interactive exhibitions for the whole family.
View of the Old Town and sea port harbor in Tallinn
Two dogs on wooden trail in raised bog in Aegviidu
Take a 50-minute train ride from the capital and you will find Aegviidu recreation area, known as the “Estonian Switzerland”. The melting of permafrost formed a landscape of swamps, forests and esker “mountains” with a hundred lakes and bog ponds. The area is great for hiking, cycling or walking. For a complete experience you can stay on a campsite, start a campfire by night and pick berries and mushrooms in the morning.
A Scandinavian Voyage
If your Baltic adventure leaves you thirsty for more, then why not cross the Baltic Sea to Helsinki, Finland, or even Stockholm, Sweden. A Eurail/Interrail Global Pass entitles you to a discount of up to 50% on various ferry lines headed for the Nordics from Tallinn or Riga. Take your pick from Tallink Silja Oy, Viking Line or Eckerö Line.
Tallink Silja Oy ferry
Viking Line ferry
Eckerö Line ferry
For this itinerary we recommend:
Eurail/Interrail Pass: Global Pass
Travel days: 10 days within 2 months