Who on earth would anyone want to holiday in Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania? For these are the Baltic States located in northern Europe on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea.
Until the early nineties this area was under strict Soviet control and virtually closed to the western world. Times, however, have changed; the countries successfully and audaciously broke away from the Soviet grip from 1990-1991.
One major consequence of this ‘revolution’ was to make this beautiful unspoilt region more accessible to holidaymakers.
Where to visit in the Baltic region?
A more pertinent question is where to start!
Thousands upon thousands of tourists have discovered the virtually untouched beauty of the Baltic region; wonderful and breath-taking countryside, sublime beaches, ancient architecture, customs melded and absorbed seamlessly with the commercialism of the 21st century.
The three countries nevertheless retain their own identities, religions cultures and cuisine. So much so that volumes could, in fact have been, written on the attractions of the Baltic region; let’s just look at a fewhighlights from each country.
Ok let’s start at the most northern point, Estonia.
Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia; it’s a wonderful place to visit, alive with monuments, museums and architecture glorying in the country’s medieval past. There’s also plenty of entertainment and cuisine to enjoy.
However there are many other places worth visiting, for instance Lahemaa National Park to the north of Estonia.
This is a beautifully preserved and maintained park. It’s a paradise for bird watchers, photographers, hikers, indeed all nature lovers and explorers.
There are breath-taking views and features, including pine forests and dramatic limestone cliffs; it’s all set in the vicinity of the beachy Baltic Sea coastline.
The capital of Latvia is Riga. Riga, lies at the mouth of the river Daugava, it’s therefore no surprise that water activities, from swimming and fishing to sailing and boat tripping, are big holidaymaker attractions. Furthermore Riga is renowned for its splendid mix of medieval and art nouveaux architecture.
Another huge attraction is the town of Sigulda.
The town is absolutely charming, surrounded by trees and sits idyllically on the banks of the Gauja River.
There are many activities for the more outward bound; caves to explore, an exhilarating cable car ride and a rare chance for even a novice to experience its famous bobsleigh track!
Vilnius is Lithuania’s capital city; it’s historical, contemporary and 21st century exciting! The city’s architecture is diverse reflecting its medieval roots and its subsequent transition to Catholicism; the imposing Vilnius Cathedra and pagan relics bear testament to Lithuania’s cultural diversity.
Another fabulous city just waiting for you to discover is Siauliai; especially its’ unbelievable Hill of Crosses.
The Hill of Crosses dates from medieval times and it is exactly as described, ‘a hill of crosses’ Symbols of a country’s resistance to invaders and ultimately its deeply held religious beliefs.
The hill now glories in literally thousands of these Catholic icons; it has to be seen to be believed. When you visit why not leave your own cross in memory of a loved one or simply out of respect for Lithuania’s deeply embedded culture.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are relatively new-comers to the holiday scene; let’s hope it retains its’ cultural charm and unspoilt beauty for many, many years to come.
This article represents only the tip of an iceberg in its attempt to relay the stunning diversity and breath-taking beauty of the Baltic region. As if the Baltic States’ weren’t satisfying enough …. You can hop into neighbouring countries such as Belarus, Poland and of course Russia … Germany’s not that far off either.
The Baltic States; more of an unforgettable experience than a mere holiday!