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Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Internationally Known

Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Hi everyone. Wonder if anyone has done this trip or at least one of the countries? Couldn't find a lot of info on this site, most travelers went just to Tallinn as part of a Baltic cruise. Wonder if anyone has experience with a rental car. Ideally, I would love to rent a car in Tallinn and drop it off in Vilnius , Lithuania. Can't find a lot of info online, might have to call car rental company. Any interesting sites in those countries? Found a couple of old posts but they were not really informative...were from the times when there was no 100 words requirement. Your input is appreciated...thanks in advance.

16 Replies
Internationally Known

Re: Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Hey there! I did that exact same trip in July 2018 albeit in reverse order. I picked up car in Vilnius, Lithuania & dropped off at ferry terminal in Tallinn, Estonia. I made online reservation through Avis & prepaid my car while reserving. If you are a US citizen & hold a US driving license, go to AAA to get an International driving permit because just US license wont work (a friend of mine gave me this pro tip 2 weeks before I flew & turned out this is true. Surprisingly you wont find this requirement easily unless you call Avis customer service). Ping me if you have questions.

Internationally Known

Re: Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Thanks for the message. I am lucky, I have both, a U.S. and a European drivers license. Was the one way charge outrageous? Where you able to use the primary car insurance from your credit card? Anything we should skip or definitely see on the trip?

Internationally Known

Re: Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

I paid $804.46 for 9 days in July (prices may have been hiked for summer). I was able to use primary car insurance with Chase Sapphire Reserve card (the primary travel card I had back then).


Must dos & can skip: Just my 2 cents if you start from Tallinn, rest of Baltics can be a let down. We started from Lithuania, traversed through Latvia & ended in Estonia with Tallinn as the best part of the roadtrip. I personally may not have enjoyed Vilnius that much if I had seen Tallinn's glory as the first introduction to that region.


* Olde Hansa in Tallinn is a must do for lunch.

* Skip Jurmala in Latvia & Tartu in Estonia

* Hill of Crosses in Lithuanis is quite unique - dont miss it & so is Trakai Castle near Vilnius

* Riga is cute, go to Jauneila - one of the most beautiful streets of the Old Riga , between the Dome Square and Town Hall Square. There were shot ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘Seventeen Moments of Spring’, and many other films.


Internationally Known

Re: Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Thanks for the info. We will take the ferry from Helsinki, so it will have to be the other way around.

Checked a couple of prices for car rental yesterday night, 3 weeks are currently around $ 1,000 for a compact. About half of that are fees and taxes, assume the one-way fee is quite high. 

Good to know about Tartu, would have been on my agenda otherwise. Guess we will drive along the coast down to Riga which on the other hand means that we won’t get to see most of Estonia...maybe head to one of the islands for a few days.


I am still in the planning stage. Google for what ever reason is not particularly helpful, not many pictures or travel posts.


Internationally Known

Re: Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Yep, Google isnt much helpful for trip to Baltics. I am sharing my planned itinerary with you, if it helps. This was what was planned & ofcourse like any travel we didnt do all of it to be flexible with weather, traffic & other surprises. My itin is Finalnd (Helsinki) -> Lithuania ->Latvia -> Estonia - ferry to Finalnd (Helsinki & Porvoo) -> onwards to St.Petersburg.


* Arrive HEL 3:50PM; reach hotel by 5PM. Take FinnAir bus from T1 or T2. 6.3 Euro. Discount with Helsinki card.
* Eat at Ekberg (open till 7PM on Fri)
* The Esplanadi Park

* Cafe Esplanade 9AM-9PM - taste something very typical Finnish: a “Korvapuusti” cinnamon bun with a cup of coffee or tea
* Fazer Cafe for lunch, esp Dessert
* Noon - Free Walking Tour -
* 5-7PM Loyly sauna. They have a cute restaurant for coffee/bites before or after sauna. Take swim dress. Price includes a towel, seat cover,soap & shampoo.
* Dinner at Zetor

* Sibelius Monument + RockChurch-Temppeliaukion Church & Cafe
* Take FinnAir bus from CityCenter. 6.3 Euro. Discount with Helsinki card. HEL - VNO 4:30pm-6:15pm
* Prepaid Avis car rental from airport. Ask if return loc in Talinn is Terminal D (per invoice) or Terminal A (per google)
* Dinner at Forto Dvaras

* Vilnius Free walking tour (10AM & noon). 2 hrs
* Try Pinavija for coffee & kibinai
* Vilnius is a real treat and we had a lot of fun exploring the cute and quirky Old Town where the highlights were
    - The Gate of Dawn - the entrance to the Old Town
    - Pilies Street, the oldest street in the Old Town.
    - Literatų Street. Once home to numerous bookstores, this street features a wall dedicated to writers and poets.
    - Church of St. Casimir
    - St Anne’s Church is a little further afield but worth the trek.
* Roam at Stiklių gatvė - a scenic lane peppered with shops, restaurants, and bars
* Three Crosses - Perched atop a hill overlooking the Old Town is one of Vilnius’ most prominent monuments
* Dinner at Bistro18

* Climb Gediminas Tower
* Hales Turgus - local market (?? can skip)
* Leave at noon for a 45 mins to Trakai (embraced by multiple lakes from all sides, the short drive is a panoramic treat) for light lunch at 1 PM at Bono Lounge or Bono Pizzeria
* Roam Trakai Castle; rent a boat if you want
* Snack at Senoji Kibinine - try chicken soup, kibins (trakai savory pastries), cumin drink & Gira (rye alcohol). Roam at the ""Apžvalgos aikštelė"" to get views of castle.
* Drive to 1:05 hrs to Kaunas; Dinner at BerneliU Uzeiga & see Castle

* Roam around Old Town along Vilniaus gatvė. Explore the maze of streets and admire the buildings in Kaunas Old Town
* The best view of the Old Town can be seen from the Aleksotas Hill. You just have to cross the bridge over Nemunas river and you are at the lower station of the funicular, opened in 1935 (Kaunas is the only city in Lithuania that has funiculars, even two of them!). the hill isn’t that high so going up there wasn’t so much of the deal. And the view from there was really amazing, worth all the effort.
* Drive to see Ninth Fort (see the massive 100ft memorial at Ninth Fort)
* Drive 2:15 hrs to Hill of Crosses
* Drive 2 hours to Riga
* Dinner at Province restaurant . Try Riga Black Balsam - traditional Latvian balsam made with many different natural ingredients mixed in pure vodka, giving a 45% abv drink.

* St. Peter's Church - 9€ to enter includes elevator ride up to the top of the spire, providing a spectacular 360 view of Riga.
* Riga free walking tour at noon
* Three brothers building
* The Alberta Lela is within the old town of Riga, the free walking tour of Old Riga will go down this street. street is famous for the art nouveau buildings. Worth a visit to see the unusual architecture.
* Jauneila - One of the most beautiful streets of the Old Riga , between the Dome Square and Town Hall Square. There were shot ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘Seventeen Moments of Spring’, and many other films.
* Roam around the old town & cross the canal bridges
* Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs - Latvian beer or wine, in a 13th century cellar with live music sounds like a great evening to me!

* Breakfast in Riga & enjoy anything left from previous day
* Drive to Jurmala 40 mins - Latvian summer beach party at this string of seaside resorts. It’s all about relaxing and having fun in Jurmala with its beautiful beach, a cute pedestrianized street and an abundance of natural mineral spa resorts.
* Stay at Baltic Beach Hotel & enjoy spa treatments booked online. Same hotel has following beach restaurant
* Beach Bar & Grill - they even rent out the sunbeds, so you can order drinks and snacks right to the sun bed. Wonderful parties on Fridays with great music and magnificent sunsets.

* Breakfast & start driving around 8AM. Drive 1.5 hrs to Sigulda, arrive 930AM at Turaida Castle. climb at the top of tower. Spend 1.5 hours.
* Drive 40 mins to Cesis. Arrive 11:45PM. Lunch at Cafe2Local till 1PM. Roam around town till 2PM.
* Drive 2:30 to Tartu arrive 4:30PM
* Tartu Cathedral ruins (closes at 5PM)
* Tartu Town Hall Square, (photoOp of square from yellow frame - see maps), Kissing student's fountain & Tartu Old City. Try Werner Cafe (open till 1AM)
* Dinner at Pussirohukelder (open till 2AM)

* Breakfast in Tartu & drive 2.5 hours to Tallinn. Leave no later than 830AM
* Tallinn Free tour - daily at 10, noon & 3 from Tallinn Tourist Information at Niguliste 2. 2.5hrs. Try for the one at noon.
* Lunch at Ill Draakon restaurant at 330PM
* Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
* Masters' Courtyard
* St. Catherine's Passage
* Viru Gates. Plus Viru street leading upto Viru Square
* Lekker - best techno, EDM, house

* Toompea Hill - Kohtuotsa platform, Piiskopi & Patkuli platform. [Climb Tower of St Mary's Cathedral if possible for Sarah's INST photo] 4 hours
* the haunting monk statues in the Danish King’s Gardens. Also see Virgin’s Tower (North Wall Tower/NightWatch of GoT) It has a cafe upstairs, It is a good visit The thing is that you need to read and look who used to live in those rooms which are really impressive
* Rataskaevu Street & have lunch at Rataskaevu 16 - reservations at noon.
* Pikk street - ""A must"" when visiting Tallinn old town. It has several really fascinating buildings. Some of them from Middle ages, for example The three sisters. And a long the way you find very nice Cafés
* Tallinn Old Town
* Town Hall Square
* Dinner at Kompressor, a popular local pancake house had some of the best pancakes of our travels. Be warned, they’re huge!! enormous portions are served for a low price 11AM-11PM

* Climb Oleviste church for best views of Tallinn. 3€ entry. 7 mins from Town Square, 45 mins church
* Go around the town walls
* Lunch at Olde Hansa at noon. Reservation confirmed
* Kadriorg Park 2.5 hrs
* Return Avis car by 430PM & take Evening ferry to Helsinki - 18:00 to 20:15*

* Shopping at Stockmann Helsingin keskusta
* Half Day trip to Porvoo at 11:30AM from Esplanade Park, Fabianinkatu, Helsinki
* Ferry to Russia at 19:00

Internationally Known

Re: Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Love the detailed itinerary, you sound like my kind of planner! Curious if you could share your plans to get from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. I'm just getting started planning to go from Tallinn to Helsinki to St. Petersburg to Moscow for this fall. I see you're perhaps looking at the overnight ferry to St. Petersburg? I was looking at taking the Allegro train that looks like it gets there in about 3.5 hours, wondering if you knew anything about the train, and why you would opt for the ferry (cost?).

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Re: Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

I am a US citizen & therefore ferry was the easiest option to get 72 hours visa on arrival in St.Petersburg. Train is definitely a better alternative but I would have had to get visa approval prior (and thats a huge hassel from what I have heard/read). I took the Moby overnight ferry, got visa at the seaport, spent 72 hours (which were enough to see the city & neighboring sites like Pushkin palace & Peterhof gardens).


If your situation allows you to take the train, its the best!


Here is my planned itin for SPB


* Arrive St. Petersburg at 9AM

* City bus tour at 9AM. Having the «Arrival/Departure» card you can board and leave the shuttle bus unlimited times during the day at the bus stops indicated on the map.

Use metro everywhere

* Lunch at Terrassa (open 11AM)

* take a walking tour along Nevsky Prospect, where you can take in the ambiance of the city and do some shopping at Grand Palace, Passage mall, Gostiny Dvor ,and the Eliseyev Emporium food hall (Choc/Dessert MUSTDO)

* Afternoon coffee/tea with view at Cafe Singer

* Degtyarnye Bani - Russian Bath <skip if you have had Sauna in Helsinki>

* St.Peterburg House of Books (9AM-12AM)(avoid 12PM-5PM) - cute cafe, nice architecture for photoOp, sit by picture windows overlooking St Isaac's Cathedral w/good coffee. great selection of souvenirs: mugs, chocolates and posters.

* Maker Design Loft - russian designer wear, souvenir + best coffee. Do stop by. 10AM-9PM

* Canal boat ride <> or next day. Go around 11PM to ensure you are in the water to see bridge opening at midnight & the famous white nights of Russia.

* Dinner at Katyusha Restaurant (open till 1AM)


* Breakfast at Pyshechnaya (opens 9AM)

* Peterhof Park and the Catherine Palace Tour in One Day

* Peterhof for a tour of the Upper Gardens and the Lower Fountain Park, where you’ll hear about the history of this impressive landmark.

After lunch, spend the afternoon in Pushkin exploring Catherine Palace and Park.

* The Amber Room or Yantarnaya Komnata is a world-famous chamber decorated in amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors, located in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo.

* Return to St. Petersburg & dinner at Gastronomika. Take subway back to hotel.

* Canal boat ride <> if not done previous day


* Breakfast at Bushe (opens 8AM)

* The best of St. Petersburg in English 2 Adult 05.07.2018 10:00 - 05.07.2018 16:00

* Entry to Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Peter and Paul Fortress. An excursion with a professional guide through the State Hermitage.

* Folk art bazaar near ship terminal

* Ferry to Helsinki at 19:00

Internationally Known

Re: Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Thanks for the great info sonag11, I've yet to dive into the visa morass, so I may be changing my tune and plans once I see what I'm getting into. We've been email pals with some Russians from Moscow whom we met in Paris a few years ago, and want to try to visit while we have an invitation to hang out with some locals. Just decided to go for it this year, so I'm just getting started!

Internationally Known

Re: Travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

sonag11: This is great stuff. Glad to see that there are more folks like me who like to prepare in detail (hello ED4000 :-)). Admittedly, you are even more detailed than I am but we usually do additional homework once we are at our destination. We keep our schedules a bit more open and just list what we might want to see/do. In many cases, locals gave us the best tips and we kept some flexibility. Plus we tend to travel for a couple of weeks and it is just too much preparation if you want to do it for every single day. 

This is an example (the schedule is just the beginning of our upcoming trip):


Tu 07/02   07:30 am Drive to airport


Return rental car at ...


10:35 am   Depart on AY 1404 (Finnair) to Helsinki


02:00 pm   Arrival


Transport to hotel (TBC)


Stay at:  Hotel Lilla Roberts (4 nights, Eur ... to be charged on ...)

Comfort Double Room incl. breakfast

Pieni Roobertinkatu 1-3


00130 Helsinki

Tel. +358 9 6899880


Things to do:

- Suomenlinna (island with fortress, restaurants, museums & park)

  Ferry leaves from Marketsquare (buy tickets at kiosk)

- Temppeliaukion Church (built in rock)

- Seurasaari Island & Open-Air Museum

- Canal Sightseeing Cruise (1 1/2 hours)

- Design District

- Arabianranta (Public Art & Interior Design Shops)

- South Harbor

- City Park, Old Market Hall, Esplanadi Park, Cathedral, Senate

  Square, Sibelius Park, Katajanokka Waterfront, Uspenskin

  Cathedral, Hakaniemi Market, Esplanade (high-end shops),

  Kaivo Puisto (Waterfront Park), Kiasma (Museum Modern Art)

- Porvoo (Old Wooden Town) -> Train? (1 1/2 hours)


Sa 07/06  Transport to Ferry (TBC)


Ferry to Tallinn (TBC)


Transport to Apartment (Taxify App? TBC)


Stay at:  AirBnB Apartment (4 nights, $ .... charged on 06/23)

Margus & Kati-Leen

Soo 9 3

Tallinn, Harju Maakond 10414

Tel. +372 5562 4379


Things to do:

- Telliskivi Creative City (Modern Art Hub)

- Toompea Castle (parliament) -> free tours



We 07/10   Transport to car rental agency (Taxify App? TBC)


Pick up rental car at...(TBC)


Drive:  Ca. 141 km


#390: along coast via Haabersti, Tabasalu, Muraste, Keila-Joa,

STOP at Keila Juga Waterfalls,

continue via Laulasmaa, Kloogaranna


#8: Kersalu, Paldiski, until the end to lighthouse, return


#174: Madise, continue until #17


#17: all the way to Haapsalu


Stay at:  Villa Frieda (2 nights, prepaid)


Apartment with Balcony

8 Ehte, 90503 Haapsalu

Tel. +372 5639 1671


Things to do:  Castle, Railway Station, Old Town, African Beach & Promenade


Thanks again for posting your schedule, sounds like you had a great trip.

ED4000: good luck with your planning