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23225
Lithuania/Latvia/Estonia

Best of the Baltics: Treasures of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

On a comprehensive journey to the three Baltic capitals, learn about Tallinn, Vilnius and Riga’s tumultuous histories and experience the cultural gems this region has to offer.
Rating (4.5)
Program No. 23225RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
2,599
Flights start at
1,125
Lithuania/Latvia/Estonia

Best of the Baltics: Treasures of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

On a comprehensive journey to the three Baltic capitals, learn about Tallinn, Vilnius and Riga’s tumultuous histories and experience the cultural gems this region has to offer.
Length
12 days
Starts at
2,599
Flights start at
1,125
Program No. 23225 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 20 - May 31, 2022
Starting at
2,699
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

May 27 - Jun 7, 2022
Starting at
2,699
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Jun 10 - Jun 21, 2022
Starting at
2,699
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Jun 24 - Jul 5, 2022
Starting at
2,699
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Jul 15 - Jul 26, 2022
Starting at
2,699
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Aug 12 - Aug 23, 2022
Starting at
2,699
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Sep 2 - Sep 13, 2022
Starting at
2,699
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Sep 16 - Sep 27, 2022
Starting at
2,699
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Oct 7 - Oct 18, 2022
Starting at
2,599
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 20 - May 31, 2022
Starting at
3,099
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

May 27 - Jun 7, 2022
Starting at
3,099
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Jun 10 - Jun 21, 2022
Starting at
3,099
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Jun 24 - Jul 5, 2022
Starting at
3,099
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Jul 15 - Jul 26, 2022
Starting at
3,099
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Aug 12 - Aug 23, 2022
Starting at
3,099
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Sep 2 - Sep 13, 2022
Starting at
3,099
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Sep 16 - Sep 27, 2022
Starting at
3,099
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

Oct 7 - Oct 18, 2022
Starting at
2,999
Itinerary Note

This departure will end in Vilnius. Please see itinerary for details.

At a Glance

Few places know “bounce-back” like the Baltic States. For almost 50 years, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania hid under the shadow of Soviet rule until declaring their independence in 1990. Slowly but surely, each regained its footing and developed its own identity. With local experts, explore each of the Baltics’ colorful capitals and learn what makes them extraordinary. In Estonia, discover the Baltics’ oldest capital, Tallinn. Latvia’s Riga, the largest of the three capitals, is a complete architectural treasure. Last but not least, venture to Lithuania and explore Vilnius, one of Europe’s cultural gems. Experience the welcoming spirit of the locals in all three capitals on the learning adventure of a lifetime.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 3 miles per day, standing for up to 2 hours on field trips. Many cobbled streets in city centers, some hilly and uneven terrain in rural areas.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Explore the unbelievable architecture of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius as you walk through their Old Towns and historic landmarks with local experts.
  • Immerse yourself in the different cultures through musical performances and by meeting local families.
  • Learn about the Baltic States’ political, economic and geographical position through fascinating lectures from university professors.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Coup de Grace
by Marguerite Yourcenar
The Baltic Story: A Thousand-Year History of Its Lands, Sea and Peoples
by Caroline Boggis-Rolfe
Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania
by Eyewitness Travel
Northern Shores: A History of the Baltic Sea and its Peoples
by Alan Palmer
Everything is Wonderful: Memories of a Collective Farm in Estonia
by Sigrid Rausing
The Dedalus Book of Lithuanian Literature
by Almantas Samalavicius (ed.)
Latvia: A Short History
by Mara Kalnins
A Concise History of the Baltic States
by Andrejs Plakans
Yiddish Civilisation
by Paul Kriwaczek
Estonia: A Modern History
by Neil Taylor
The Baltic Revolution
by Anatol Lieven
Peasant and Lord in the Process of Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism in the Baltics: An Attempt of Interdisciplinary History
by Juhan Kahk
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12 days
11 nights
22 meals
10 B 5 L 7 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Tallinn, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Tallinn
D
Nordic Hotel Forum

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After checking in to the hotel we’ll have some time to relax and settle in to our rooms before our Orientation meeting at 5:30 p.m. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a very active program with walking over two miles daily, excluding personal walks. We will use a motorcoach during field trips, but be prepared to climb stairs at museums and historic sites (not all have elevators). Comfortable shoes are a must. This program is not suitable for participants using wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or other mobility assistance devices as motorcoaches are not equipped for them. Be prepared to carry/roll personal luggage, as porters are not available on most sites. Group meals are fixed. Special diets cannot be guaranteed and must be clarified in advance. Throughout the program, a buffet breakfast is offered in hotel dining rooms, where you can choose what you like from hot and cold dishes plus juice, coffee, tea, and bottled water. We will have lectures exclusively for Road Scholar participants on topics related to our program. Dates of all listed performances are subject to change. The details of all included performances will be announced in the second preparatory material mailing. Avoid purchasing tickets for independent visits until then. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will enjoy a 3-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water and one glass of wine or beer included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Lecture, Kadriorg Palace, Old Tallinn, St Nicholas’ Church
Tallinn
B,L
Nordic Hotel Forum

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; total driving about 5 miles, approximately 1 hour. Total walking over two miles on hilly and grassy terrain, cobblestone. Stairs in Kadriorg Palace and other field trip sites.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, the buffet breakfast includes a range of hot and cold items including breads, cereals, cheese, eggs, meats, jam, yogurt, with coffee, tea, water, fruit juices.

Morning: At the hotel, we will enjoy a lecture from a local university professor on the Baltic states and Estonia as a new member of the European Union. After the lecture, we will board a motorcoach and ride to Kadriorg Palace, a Baroque palace built for Catherine I of Russia by Peter the Great in the early 18th century, set in an extensive park to the east of the city. Today the Palace houses a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia focusing on 16th- to 20th-century art. Our Group Leader will provide us with an introduction to the Palace during our drive, and once we arrive we’ll have some time for self-directed exploration of the buildings, grounds and collections. After our field trip, we’ll return by motorcoach to Tallinn’s Old Town.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in the Old Town we’ll have a 2-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Toompea, the Old Town of Tallinn, was originally built as a fortress on the Gulf of Finland and is now on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It has the features of a 15th-century trading town and the general look of a typically prosperous Hanseatic city. Tallinn was founded in 1154 and now, after over 860 years, is the oldest of the three Baltic capitals and the historical, cultural, and political center of Estonia. We will join our local expert for an informative walk through the Upper Town, learning about Tallinn's history while admiring the unique architecture of the city, with its stunning skyline, accented by towers, spires, and red-tiled roofs. At St Nicholas’ Church we’ll enjoy a performance of organ music. We’ll then continue our expert-led exploration of Old Tallinn with a walk to the Lower Town, a charming blend of medieval and modern life. Here we will see the old town hall, called Raekoja Plats, and the tower, both dating back to the 15th century. We’ll spend some time exploring Town Hall Square and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral before returning to the hotel.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Estonian Open Air Museum, Estonian History Museum
Tallinn
B,L,D
Nordic Hotel Forum

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; total driving about 10 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking up to 2 miles on uneven terrain in the country and in the park, and up/down hill. Afternoon walking dependent upon personal preference, cobbled streets.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and drive into the countryside to the west of Tallinn for a field trip to the Estonian Open Air Museum at Rocca al Mare, where we will see the recreated rural settlement and enjoy a folkloric show.

Lunch: At the Open Air Museum we’ll have a 2-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll return to central Tallinn by motorcoach, and begin our afternoon with a field trip to the Estonian History Museum. This museum, housed in the 15th-century Hanseatic Great Guild Hall, traces the history of the Estonian people through collections of artefacts spanning eleven millennia. After our field trip, the rest of the afternoon is free time to see and do what interests us most in the Old and New Towns.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
5
Transfer to Latvia, Turaida Castle, Soviet Bunker
Riga
B,L,D
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; total driving about 250 miles, approximately 7 hours, with breaks for field trips.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board a motorcoach and begin our transfer to Riga in Latvia. We’ll see some more of Tallinn’s suburbs at the beginning of our journey, driving through the site of the musical and choral festivals in Pirita, then enjoy the Estonian countryside, the picturesque Baltic coastline, and numerous hills and lakes. Our route will take us through Pärnu, a major seaside resort town in Estonia, and some small towns, and we’ll cross the border between Estonia and Latvia before lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant en route we’ll have a 2-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch we’ll board the motorcoach again and ride a short distance to Turaida Castle, constructed in the early 13th century under the orders of Riga’s founder, the German Bishop Albert. This castle played an important strategic role in the area’s history until the late 17th century, when a period of decline began after it passed into private ownership. It is now one of the most extensively investigated archaeological sites in the Baltics. Our Group Leader will introduce the castle, and we’ll have some time for brief independent exploration. We’ll then proceed by motorcoach to another important strategic site from Latvia’s more recent history, a formerly secret Soviet bunker that was declassified in 2003. We’ll learn more about the Soviet administration’s response to the Cold War nuclear threat during a docent-led field trip through this underground facility, designed to function as a command post for Party officials Augusts Voss and Boris Pugo. We’ll complete our transfer to Riga by motorcoach and check in to the hotel late in the afternoon. Founded by Albert in 1201, Riga is the largest of the three Baltic capitals. It boasts a kaleidoscope of architectural styles, a busy seaport, and a rich cultural life.

Dinner: At the hotel we’ll have a 3-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. We can choose to join our Group Leader for a short walk in Riga’s Old Town.

DAY
6
Lecture, Art Nouveau District, Old Town Riga
Riga
B,D
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; total driving about 6 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking over 2 miles on cobblestone surfaces in Old Town.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, the buffet breakfast includes a range of hot and cold items including breads, cereals, cheese, eggs, meats, jam, yogurt, with coffee, tea, water, fruit juices.

Morning: At the hotel, we’ll begin the day with a lecture and discussion led by a local expert, on Latvian politics, economics, and socio-demographics. We’ll then board a motorcoach and ride to Riga’s Art Nouveau District for a walking field trip. Our local expert will lead us through an area regarded by specialists as the capital of Art Nouveau architecture. Art Nouveau — also known as New Style, or Jugendstil in German — appeared in architecture and furniture in the 1890s, and is distinguished by its asymmetry, arches, and elaborate decoration. Nearly half of the center of Riga was built in this style, the most notable constructions being the buildings of the Riga Law School and the Swedish School of Economics, the exteriors of which we will admire during this walk.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: After lunch we’ll board the motorcoach and ride to Riga’s Old Town, a living museum of well-preserved medieval architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage list and a display of the prosperity the city enjoyed as a member of the Hanseatic League in the Late Middle Ages. During a drive and walk through the city, we will see many traces of this prosperity, reflected in the city’s layout and well-preserved architecture. We’ll be able to see the remains of the Livonian Castle, the magnificent 13th-century St Mary’s Church (the Dome), St Peter's Church, the Swedish Gate, the Three Brothers, the Large and Small Guilds, the Freedom Monument, Old Town Hall, and many other historical and architectural landmarks.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: After dinner we’ll return to Riga’s Old Town for an evening performance of organ music in the Dome Cathedral.

DAY
7
Free Time
Riga
B
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Extent of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Free time. This block of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time to continue your independent exploration of Riga.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Latvia’s Cultural Heritage, Riga Museums
Riga
B,L
Avalon Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; total driving about 4 miles, approximately 3/4 hour.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: In 2014, Riga was named a European City of Culture. This morning we’ll learn about Latvia's cultural heritage, musical traditions, and national musical instruments, in a lecture presented by university staff at the National Library of Latvia. After the lecture we will board a motorcoach and ride to our lunch venue.

Lunch: At a local restaurant we’ll have a 2-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll board the motorcoach again and drive through the former Jewish area, visiting the Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum. We’ll then have a field trip to the Museum of Latvian Occupation. The museum features numerous items and documents related to Latvia’s struggle for independence during various periods of its history. We’ll return to the hotel by motorcoach after our field trip.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
9
Transfer to Lithuania, Rundale Palace, Hill of Crosses
Vilnius
B,L,D
Novotel Vilnius Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 235 miles, approximately 6 hours, with stops at field trip sites. Light walking during the lunch stop and stairs in historic buildings.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will transfer to Vilnius, Lithuania. En route, we will stop at the town of Pilsrundale and take a field trip inside the baroque Palace of Rundale, the former summer residence of the Duke of Courland.

Lunch: At a local restaurant we’ll have a 2-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch we’ll board the motorcoach again and continue our transfer to Vilnius in Lithuania. We’ll cross the border in the early afternoon, and stop en route at the distinctive Hill of Crosses pilgrimage site close to the city of Šiauliai. This haunting site has come to play an important part in Lithuanian Catholic identity since its foundation in the wake of uprisings against Russian authorities in the 19th century. We’ll arrive in Vilnius in the late afternoon, and after checking in to the hotel we’ll have some time to settle in to our rooms before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel we’ll have a 3-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. We can choose to join our Group Leader for a short walk in the neighborhood.

DAY
10
Trakai Castle, Lake Galve, Local Farm
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; total driving about 45 miles, approximately 3 hours. Walking at least 2 miles on hilly and unpaved terrain, and cobbled streets in Old Town. Rest areas available.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, the buffet breakfast includes a range of hot and cold items including breads, cereals, cheese, eggs, meats, jam, yogurt, with coffee, tea, water, fruit juices.

Morning: We’ll focus on Lithuania’s thousand-year history with a field trip by motorcoach to historic Trakai Castle. The small town of Trakai was the capital of Lithuania in the Middle Ages. At the castle, a museum curator will explore events associated with this fortification. The Trakai Castle, constructed in 1406 under Grand Duke Vytautas, is strategically situated on three islands in the middle of Lake Galve. We will spend some time viewing the collection of medieval objects and furniture on display in the castle's history museum, as well as enjoying the magnificent view of more than thirty glacial lakes.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: We’ll return to the city by motorcoach, and begin the afternoon with some free time for independent exploration. We’ll regroup at the hotel mid-afternoon, and board the motorcoach for a field trip to a farm near Vilnius. Here we’ll enjoy a cultural interaction with local families, including a tasting of some farm produce. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Lecture, Peter & Paul Cathedral, Gates of Dawn, Free Time
Vilnius
B,D
Novotel Vilnius Centre

Activity note: Walking over 2 miles on cobblestones and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a lecture by a local expert concentrating on the Baltic states’ geographical and political position and on Lithuania’s integration into the European Union. We’ll then set out on an expert-led walking field trip through the Old Town of Vilnius. We’ll see the Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Church of St. Anna, walk through the Gates of Dawn and see the site of the ancient synagogue. We’ll also take time to admire stunning baroque architecture dating from the Middle Ages and now beautifully restored.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most in Vilnius.

Dinner: At a local restaurant we’ll have a 4-course plated and served farewell meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At dinner, we will enjoy a folkloric show before returning to the hotel for an evening at leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
12
Program Concludes
Vilnius
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon. See the “Travel Information” section regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. The hotel will provide a packed breakfast for those with early departures. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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