For anyone planning a trip to all three Baltic capitals, travelling by road between the cities is usually a far more attractive option than flying.
The three Baltic capital cities of Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius were almost unknown to tourists from the UK a decade ago. Now, with the advent of low-cost flights these cities have become far more popular, partly because they also represent excellent value for money. A popular holiday with Cities Direct customers is one which includes all three cities. They have a lot in common but each one certainly has its own traditions, culture and style.
It is possible to fly between the cities – Air Baltic operates a very good service. However, many people would rather avoid these additional flights during their holiday and travel by luxury coach instead. Lux Express is the main express coach operator in the Baltics. In addition to coach services between the Baltic capitals, it also offers services to St. Petersburg and Warsaw. The journey from Tallinn to Riga takes about 4½ hours and from Riga to Vilnius about 4 hours. The company has a fleet of modern, comfortable coaches with all the on-board facilities you would expect of such a service. A big advantage over the flight option is that coach services operate to/from the central bus station in each city, within easy reach of city-centre hotels.
All three of the Baltic capital cities have compact city centres which can be explored relatively easily on foot.
Tallinn’s old centre is worth visiting for its original cobblestone streets dotted with medieval churches and grandiose merchant houses. The Gothic Town Hall in Town Hall Square dates back to the early 15th Century. Its fancy arches and precious works of art reflect the wealth and ideals of the former Hanseatic town. The Town Hall also operates as a museum and a concert hall. Climb up to the viewing platform of St Olaf’s Church for a fantastic panoramic view over the city.
Riga also has a central area of cobbled streets within 13th – 18th Century fortifications, known as old Riga. Inside this small area are a number of medieval monuments which have survived the two world wars. The Cathedral which dates back to the 13th century is a “must” for any visitor, as is the complex of residential houses known as “The Three Brethren”. If you have time during your stay in Riga it is also well worth visiting the main Art Nouveau district. In fact, examples of Art Nouveau architecture can be seen throughout the centre of the city, creating a very elegant feel.
Vilnius is probably the least known of the Baltic capitals although it is slowly growing in popularity. The main attraction for many visitors is the charming old town, the largest Baroque old town in Eastern and Central Europe. The old town is filled with attractive squares and ornate Orthodox churches, synagogues and monasteries. Cathedral Square, which lies at its very heart, is dominated by the impressive Cathedral of St. Stanislav & St. Vladislav and its bell tower. Vilnius also receives high praise for being a very green city. It has a wealth of parks, squares and gardens. The city centre is also surrounded by hills, from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the red roofs of the old town.
All three Baltic capitals are keen to welcome visitors, and the easiest way to travel between the cities is by express bus – enabling tourists to enjoy the surrounding countryside as they travel from one country to another.