Three capital cities in one week. From the world-renowned architecture and culture of the Scandic city of Helsinki, to crossing the gulf to Tallinn, with its fairy Old Town surrounded by medieval walls, to our final stop of our Baltic trip, Riga, capital of Latvia set on the Baltic Sea. Riga’s UNESCO World Heritage Site Old Town is a fascinating place, with gothic spires soaring above. We will also escape the cities to delve deep into nature, visiting the Gaujas National Park and beach resort of Jurmala. An eye-opening tour for those with an eye for history and nature.
Today we head to the airport and board our flight to the Finnish capital of Helsinki. This evening, we will gather for a welcome drink and dinner to get to know our fellow travellers.
We wake up in the capital of Finland and today enjoy a city tour of Helsinki. We visit the historical centre with Senate Square, the Presidential Palace, City Hall, the Parliament building, Finlandia Hall and the Opera House. The ‘Church in the Rock’, designed by Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, was consecrated in 1969. The church is built into solid rock, with the inner wall left raw and unfinished, and is crowned with a solid copper dome. The wall surrounding the church is made from rock quarried on the site. Finlandia Hall is Helsinki’s conference and concert hub. The hall was built in 1971 and is one of Alvar Aalto’s most famous works. It is also home to the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, founded by Robert Kajanus in 1882. The hall is a great place for one to hear Finland’s finest musicians as well as appreciate the distinctive, angular architecture employed in Aalto’s buildings.
This afternoon we can enjoy a spot of free time and discover the city further. Maybe head to the dock and catch a boat to the Suomenlinna Fort, or relax and take in the city from one of the many coffee shops.
After breakfast at the hotel, we get ready to leave Helsinki to board the ferry to Tallinn. We will sail across the Gulf of Finland and dock in the Estonian capital of Tallinn. We enjoy a tour of this city, which boasts a picturesque Old Town, where the districts date back to the Middle Ages. We wander the Old Town’s quaint narrow streets and beautiful merchants houses – wonderful examples of Gothic architecture. On the tour of Tallinn, we will also see the Toompea Castle, the 13th Century Dome church, the 19th Century Russian orthodox Cathedral of of Alexander Nevskij, the 15th Century Town Hall Square, the Old Guild built to celebrate Tallinn’s membership in the Hanseatic League, and St. Olaf’s Church.
Today we head to the Estonian Open Air museum, which showcases the country’s rural architecture and way of life and provides an overview of how families from different classes of society lived between the 18th-20th Centuries. The museum is made up of 14 farms and an onsite village consisting of a church, an inn, a schoolhouse, mills, a fire station, a shop, and fishing sheds by the sea.
Today we make our way to Riga, Latvia, where we stop at Sigulda and Gaujas National Park. Sigulda, one of the most picturesque towns in Latvia. Situated in the Gauja National Park, it’s known as the most popular tourist and leisure destination, as well as a famous winter sports resort in Latvia due to its bob-sleigh track and down-hill skiing routes.
In Sigulda, we will experience the Middle Ages, a time of romantic legends, castles and heroic figures, visiting the ruins of the 13th Century, Crusader Castle, and the 19th Century Kropotkin’s Palace on the outskirts of Sigulda. By coach, we travel down into the river valley where we will enjoy the landscape and a walk to the sandstone grottoes on the ancient river bank.
We also head to the Turaida Museum Reserve, the historical centre of Turaida comprising archaeological, historical and art monuments that tell us about the events that have taken place since the 11th Century. The Turaida walled castle, is a medieval architectural monument and Turaida church, one of the oldest wooden churches built by the local rural craftsmen. We will continue onto Riga where we will check into the hotel.
This morning, we head out into the city of Riga for a tour, taking in the beauty of the picturesque cobbled streets of the Old Town. We witness the Dome Cathedral which boasts one of the world’s largest pipe organs, St. Peter’s Church with magnificent views of the city from its steeple, the old Guild Houses, the Swedish Gate, the architectural ensemble Three Brothers, St. Jacob’s Church, the Parliament House, Old Riga Castle, and view the many wonderfully restored buildings, now housing cosy restaurants, cafes, bars and souvenir shops.
Today we head to Jurmala, a seaside city and resort in Latvia well known for its natural resources – curative mud, mineral waters and pine forest. The white sand stretches for 24km, and is home to one of the largest heritage sites of historical wooden architecture in Latvia.
This evening, we gather for a farewell dinner and share stories of the past week and the Baltic cities we explored.
We enjoy a final breakfast as a group and make our way to the airport for our flight back to the UK.
From Helsinki airport to the hotel, it is roughly 1 hour.
From the hotel in Riga, to the airport is roughly 30 minutes.
The dress code for during the day is casual. In the evenings the dress code is smart casual. Comfortable shoes for walking and sightseeing are recommended.
There is often confusion on the question of gratuities, since it frequently depends on the type of holiday, location and, of course, your attitude towards tipping, as to what is normally expected. To give you a rough idea, we have given appropriate guidance below.
The Tour Leader will be on hand to offer advice or suggestions if required but gratuities are offered entirely at the sole discretion of the individual. We suggest a group collection at the beginning of your holiday to cover drivers, guides, porters and hotel staff. Your Tour Leader will collect this on your behalf and distribute it accordingly, thus relieving you of the burden of who, when and how much to tip.
To enter Finland (and all Schengen countries) your passport must:
Make sure you get your passport stamped.
If you’re a visitor, your passport must be stamped when you enter or leave the Schengen area (which includes Finland).
Border guards will use passport stamps to check you haven’t overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for stays in the Schengen area. If your passport was not stamped, border guards will presume you have overstayed the visa-free limit.
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
In Estonia, Finland and Latvia, they all use the Euro.
Each day there is some walking involved, such as walking city tour where we will be on our feet for a few hours, so a level of fitness is required. In the old towns of the cities, expect uneven ground dur to cobbled streets.
“I’m sure you will enjoy it, I have been on three solos holidays to date and the people I’ve met have been great.”
“I’ve been travelling with Solos for nearly 20 years, on and off. The reason is for exactly what you want – you meet like minded people… and have loads of fun!”
“I’ve been on loads of trips with Solos over the years and can honestly say you will not regret booking your 1st one!”
“The feeling you have once you go away on your own is worth all the nerves before! I was so very anxious the first time but now having done it 4 times, I love it!”