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Forums » Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia » 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

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blackie

3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

by blackie »

Hi everyone

I will be traveling in the last 2 weeks of August and 1st week of September.

I will start in Helsinki, take a ferry to Tallinn, fly to Riga and fly to Vilnius.

I was thinking of:

5 nights in Helsinki

5 nights in Tallinn

5 nights in Riga

4 nights in Vilnius

All including day trips

What do you think of this itinerary?  I’m going to book my flights soon but am flexible to change and ideas.

I will fly within the Baltic States as the bus rides are too long for me; I get nauseated very easily on road trips.  Although I haven’t come across many positive reviews of airBaltic, I think it’s the only airline offering direct flights. 

I have to choose b/w 3 ferry companies:

Tallink Silja, Eckerö Line and Viking Line.  Any preferences?

I have also narrowed down my hotel options and have gotten many good ideas for day trips.  My main interests are history, culture, architecture, art and really learning about the city/country I’m visiting.

I would appreciate any comments, feedback, suggestions....

Thank you

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warlord

RE: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

by warlord »

  Well it really depends on what you like to do and see.  I found Helsinki to be fairly dull and I was only there for about 2 days and couldn't wait to get out.  I didn't find much to see, and everything was very expensive as well.

  I took the Tallink-Silja line over to Tallinn, that one had the best prices for the times (in fact had more times than Viking, Linda or Eckeroline) and I got my ticket the day of so no need to book it online (though if you are there for 5 days, than you can get it anytime during your trip.  I've heard negative things about Linda Line so avoid that.  It will depend on the time you want to leave though.  All these may go over early in the morning, but as for me, I wanted to at least go in the early afternoon or late morning and found Eckeroline only had one evening ferry and Viking only had 2 (11:30 and 21:30 times).  I found Tallink-Silja to be a bit cheaper leaving at the 14:00 ferry.  It's about 2 hours and not that thrilling of a trip, but it still got me into Tallinn at a decent time.  I would avoid Linda Line if possible as it frequently gets cancelled due to weather.

  It's too bad you can't do the land travel and are flying.  It's fun to see the country side and you could have even broken down your trip further to spend less time in all the main cities and more times outside in the smaller towns like Pärnu or Tartu etc.  Plus LUX Express was a great bus company, very comfortable, WiFi and great prices.  I used Lux Express for the entire trip.

  Tallinn was fun, it's a more younger crowd city, but the old town is really fun.  I liked it probably better than most other old-tows throughout Eastern Europe and this is one of the cities I'd like to go back to.  It's a smaller city though, so 5 days (actually 5 days in any of the cities might be overkill, at least for me it would be).  I just liked Estonia the best.

  Riga is kind of cool, and visiting Salaspils concentration camp was kind of interesting as not many people go there.  Bad thing about Latvia is the price excange for the Lats.  It's a pricey city in comparrison to Tallinn and especially to Vilinius.  Riga's old town is a decent size, however it is heavily plagued by the Stags that come from Britian.  So expect to see a lot of drunk English groups dressed up and such around at all hours of the night.  You will get that in Tallinn to a minor degree and Vilnius as well, but Riga seemed to be the hotbed for that.  So Old Town isn't that quiet if you are looking for a peaceful sleep.  Also near Riga are some castles out in the country in the hills.  There are a few that are easily accessible by bus (shouldn't be too long for you, can't recall how long it was).  I went to Silgulda, Turida Castle and to Kirmulda/Sanitarium, though I walked to all of them from the bus station, but that's a bit of a walk for some.  There are other buses that will take you around to the other castles.  But this was a fun trip to do.  Another area is C?sis which is a bit further away, but has a castle there and supposedly is nice to see as well.

  Vilnius was fun, I liked it and wish I had a longer stay there, but my flight got cancelled and they had me cutting my trip short by a day and night and having to go back to Helsinki which I was not happy about at all.  It's by far the cheapest location of your entire trip as well.  Old town is ok, but I just liked the feel of Lithuania and would like to try and see Kaunus next time.   

    Anyways if I were ever to go back, I'd like to hit up Vilnius again and definately little old Tallinn.  Those were my favorites and especially since my time in Vilnius was cut short by a day and night.  Next time though I'd go see Tartu in Estonia and maybe see C?sis on the way down through Lithuania to Kaunus and back to Vilnius again.

  Hope some of this helps you out a bit...

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blackie

RE: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

by blackie »

Hi Warlord, thank you for sharing your experiences.  You’ve been quite helpful in the past as well J

Wow, ok, so you think 5 nights is too much.  Hmmm, you’ve given me a lot to think about.

 

I’ve been please with what I’ve read so far on Tallink-Silja ferries.  Linda Line is a definite pass.

I’m glad you mentioned Salaspils in Riga.  I hadn’t come across it yet.  I would definitely like to visit.

 

Back to do some research.  Thanks again for your help!

In Response to Re: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius:[QUOTE]

  Well it really depends on what you like to do and see.  I found Helsinki to be fairly dull and I was only there for about 2 days and couldn't wait to get out.  I didn't find much to see, and everything was very expensive as well.

  I took the Tallink-Silja line over to Tallinn, that one had the best prices for the times (in fact had more times than Viking, Linda or Eckeroline) and I got my ticket the day of so no need to book it online (though if you are there for 5 days, than you can get it anytime during your trip.  I've heard negative things about Linda Line so avoid that.  It will depend on the time you want to leave though.  All these may go over early in the morning, but as for me, I wanted to at least go in the early afternoon or late morning and found Eckeroline only had one evening ferry and Viking only had 2 (11:30 and 21:30 times).  I found Tallink-Silja to be a bit cheaper leaving at the 14:00 ferry.  It's about 2 hours and not that thrilling of a trip, but it still got me into Tallinn at a decent time.  I would avoid Linda Line if possible as it frequently gets cancelled due to weather.

  It's too bad you can't do the land travel and are flying.  It's fun to see the country side and you could have even broken down your trip further to spend less time in all the main cities and more times outside in the smaller towns like Pärnu or Tartu etc.  Plus LUX Express was a great bus company, very comfortable, WiFi and great prices.  I used Lux Express for the entire trip.

  Tallinn was fun, it's a more younger crowd city, but the old town is really fun.  I liked it probably better than most other old-tows throughout Eastern Europe and this is one of the cities I'd like to go back to.  It's a smaller city though, so 5 days (actually 5 days in any of the cities might be overkill, at least for me it would be).  I just liked Estonia the best.

  Riga is kind of cool, and visiting Salaspils concentration camp was kind of interesting as not many people go there.  Bad thing about Latvia is the price excange for the Lats.  It's a pricey city in comparrison to Tallinn and especially to Vilinius.  Riga's old town is a decent size, however it is heavily plagued by the Stags that come from Britian.  So expect to see a lot of drunk English groups dressed up and such around at all hours of the night.  You will get that in Tallinn to a minor degree and Vilnius as well, but Riga seemed to be the hotbed for that.  So Old Town isn't that quiet if you are looking for a peaceful sleep.  Also near Riga are some castles out in the country in the hills.  There are a few that are easily accessible by bus (shouldn't be too long for you, can't recall how long it was).  I went to Silgulda, Turida Castle and to Kirmulda/Sanitarium, though I walked to all of them from the bus station, but that's a bit of a walk for some.  There are other buses that will take you around to the other castles.  But this was a fun trip to do.  Another area is C?sis which is a bit further away, but has a castle there and supposedly is nice to see as well.

  Vilnius was fun, I liked it and wish I had a longer stay there, but my flight got cancelled and they had me cutting my trip short by a day and night and having to go back to Helsinki which I was not happy about at all.  It's by far the cheapest location of your entire trip as well.  Old town is ok, but I just liked the feel of Lithuania and would like to try and see Kaunus next time.   

    Anyways if I were ever to go back, I'd like to hit up Vilnius again and definately little old Tallinn.  Those were my favorites and especially since my time in Vilnius was cut short by a day and night.  Next time though I'd go see Tartu in Estonia and maybe see C?sis on the way down through Lithuania to Kaunus and back to Vilnius again.

  Hope some of this helps you out a bit...


Posted by warlord[/QUOTE]

 

Avatar
warlord

RE: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

by warlord »

  Yeah no problems.  I will all depend on you though.  Maybe you can squeeze 5 days in each place out.  I'm not a museum or indoor type person (other than pubs) so maybe there is a lot more of the indoor stuff that you might like.

  Salaspils isn't too far from Riga, and you can just take the regular train.  Though you have to know what stop it is, as there really isn't a train station per se there.  It's more like a remote abandon building that signifies the stop.  Then you just have to walk a bit to get to the camp (and Rumbula Masacre site too if you are interested). 

  Yes I had no issues with the Tallink at all, it's a big ship so you won't notice the waves either.  It was rainy when I went across so there wasn't much to see or do but sit, but it's an open ship so you can just wander around if you can't find a place to sit since it's all based on who boards first.  Nothing thrilling, but efficient, good times and probably a better price than the others too and easy to find...

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blackie

RE: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

by blackie »

I didn't realize I might not find a seat on the ferry.  So, whether I buy the ticket in advance or at the last minute, I have to be there much in advance to secure a seat?  I'm not sure which company it was but I could only find reservations for cabins.  I think if I were to book without one, I'd be on my own to find a seat.  Is that so?  Was there a locker area for luggage on Tallink Silja?

Since you mentioned pubs, can you recommend any?  I would love to visit a pub/bar for a drink just b/c it would be in a different country.  I rarely do so at home.  

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blackie

RE: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

by blackie »

Hi warlord, I believe Latvia is now using Euros

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blackie

RE: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

by blackie »

Hello again

What do you think if I were to add Stockholm to my itinerary and maybe shave off a night or 2 from the other cities?

4 or 5 nights in Stockholm

3 nights in Helsinki

3 nights in Tallinn

4 nights in Riga

3 nights in Vilnius

How does that look?  Too much?  Not enough?  I don't want to be running around too much so 3 nights is my minimum, usually.

I must also consider travel time b/w cities so I'm not sure which is the better option.

 

Avatar
warlord

RE: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

by warlord »

  Oh you can find many pubs in any of the old towns in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius.  They may not be as obvious in the daytime, but you'll be sure to notice them strolling around at night.  They of course are going to be more pricey then going outside of the old-towns.  But many tourists don't like to wander outside of the old-towns at night.  I never had any issues, but there are plenty and old town is just a more fun atmostphere.

  Oh yes, I just read that Lativa is now on the Euro.  I will be curious to see how the prices compare to Estonia then and if prices have dropped significatly from when I was there and the Lats were the currency.

  I never pre-booked my seat on the Viking lines at all.  If you are in town the day or two before, then just wander over and get the tickets then.  It will also help get you familar with the location of the Viking Line dock and such as well so when you do go, you know exactly where to go.

  I noticed there were other places Viking went to (or other lines).  St. Petersburg was one that was popular and as you saw, Stockholm.  If you have the time and money and don't mind a lot of travelling, then yeah, I would check that out as well.  Just not sure what the travel time is between Stockholm and Helsinki or Tallinn.

 

  I think those are a good number of days to spend in each place if you want to see a lot of things and travel around the city and outskirts... 

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blackie

RE: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

by blackie »

Hi, ya, I think it would be a good idea to check out the port ahead of time.  I know it will alleviate any anxiety I might be feeling. 

Looks like I won't have any trouble finding a pub.  

I might just skip Stockholm and take it easy with my initial choices.  I always feel guilty if I’m not doing something or going somewhere when I’ve traveled so far and paid a lot of money but I have to remember that I also need to just relax and do nothing.

Thanks for your help, warlord smiley

 

In Response to Re: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius:[QUOTE]

  Oh you can find many pubs in any of the old towns in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius.  They may not be as obvious in the daytime, but you'll be sure to notice them strolling around at night.  They of course are going to be more pricey then going outside of the old-towns.  But many tourists don't like to wander outside of the old-towns at night.  I never had any issues, but there are plenty and old town is just a more fun atmostphere.

  Oh yes, I just read that Lativa is now on the Euro.  I will be curious to see how the prices compare to Estonia then and if prices have dropped significatly from when I was there and the Lats were the currency.

  I never pre-booked my seat on the Viking lines at all.  If you are in town the day or two before, then just wander over and get the tickets then.  It will also help get you familar with the location of the Viking Line dock and such as well so when you do go, you know exactly where to go.

  I noticed there were other places Viking went to (or other lines).  St. Petersburg was one that was popular and as you saw, Stockholm.  If you have the time and money and don't mind a lot of travelling, then yeah, I would check that out as well.  Just not sure what the travel time is between Stockholm and Helsinki or Tallinn.

 

  I think those are a good number of days to spend in each place if you want to see a lot of things and travel around the city and outskirts... 


Posted by warlord[/QUOTE]

 

Avatar
warlord

RE: 3 weeks - Helskinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius

by warlord »

  Yeah that's kind of tricky I've found to do something and relax at the same time.  I've been on many trips and some I've crammed so much travel in between places that I wish I hadn't, then others, I've left too much time that I'm bored and wish I would have booked more cities to visit.  

  I guess one good thing is I've found when I've run out of things to explore and see, that sometimes there are side excursion trips that I'll notice and then see if there is anything fun about those to do for a day trip.  Sometimes you never know what you might see that you just were never aware of before.

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