In the Baltics’ rural traditions, undiscovered history and modern outlook are an enticing blend.

Sea, sky, and sand: the universe is reduced to three elements as you survey the Bay of Amber and the 60-mile sweep of dunes at Curonian Spit. Whistling winds, waving grasses, and a boardwalk that leads to what feels like the world’s edge—a landscape you never imagined. Then again, you’re learning to expect the unexpected in Lithuania. Fascinating folk traditions and indelible sights fill each day’s walk, from the legend-inspired woodcarvings on Witches’ Hill to Trakai’s red-sandstone island castle. Yesterday a farm-to-table lunch near a Bronze Age hillfort, today the chance to craft your own amulet from native amber at a local jeweler’s gallery. Across the border, Latvia awaits: scenic wetlands, country palaces, and Saturday’s chef-led tour through the converted zeppelin hangars of Riga’s food market. When you’re hiking in the Baltics, every step reveals new horizons.

Highlights

  • Take in sights straight out of the pages of a fairy-tale as you visit magnificent Baltic castles and grand, historic palaces, nestled in beautiful settings
  • Follow scenic trails into the national parks of Trakai, Curonian Spit, Žemaitija, Gauja, and Kemeri
  • Pay a visit to an amber museum to learn about the traditions surrounding this treasured gem and craft your own keepsake in the workshop
  • Tour of one of Europe’s largest markets guided by a Latvian chef, sampling fresh bread, cheese, and more, treating your senses as you explore
On all Guided-Flex Adventures you can count on...
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Expert local guides to introduce you to the best of your destination.
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Opportunities to break away from the group and explore on your own.
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Delicious multi-course meals—a majority are included.
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A maximum of 20 fun-loving fellow travelers to share the journey.
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Gracious accommodations that are a clean, comfortable home away from home.
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Experts to handle all the details.
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Flight + Tour Combos include plane tickets, airport car service, and pre- and post-tour accommodations.

Itinerary

Fri, May 21 to Mon, May 31 - 2021

Show Itinerary:

Begin your adventure by departing from a convenient gateway city in the United States or Canada. Spend your first night aloft.

Upon arrival at Vilnius International Airport, a representative holding a Country Walkers sign meets you as you exit the baggage-claim area. A complimentary small-group transfer is provided to the Hotel Pacai, an approximately 20-minute shuttle. The remainder of the day is at your leisure (no meals or activities included).

If you are going to be delayed meeting our transfer representative for more than 15 minutes due to delayed or lost luggage, please let our representative know by calling the hotel at +370 527 70000. Our drivers are generally able to wait for up to 45 minutes from the time your flight lands, after which you would be responsible for your own transfer. You may also contact Allianz Global Assistance, 1.804.673.1660, to advise of your delay and they will contact our transfer service.

Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be available until 3:00 p.m., in which case you may store your luggage with the reception desk.

Accommodation: Hotel Pacai, Vilnius, Lithuania

Varnikai Bog to Trakai Castle; 5 miles, easy. Independent exploration of Trakai

After breakfast, meet your Country Walkers guides—one Latvian and one Lithuanian—at 9:00 a.m. in the hotel lobby for a brief tour orientation. You begin your Baltic adventure with a 45-minute transfer to the Varnikai Cognitive Walking Way, where serene nature trails thread their way through hilly forests and along swampland past splendid lakes. There’ll be opportunities to pause along the way and take in the scent of pine and earth. You pass a memorial wood carving and inscribed stones, the marking for a mass Holocaust gravesite dating to 1941. Your footpath leads to Trakai, a lake resort with a fascinating past. This distinctive town straddles several lakes and was built and preserved by settlers of many different nationalities—Karaims, Tatars, Lithuanians, Russians, Jews, and Poles. In 1991, the region was designated as a National Historic Park. As you approach, you cross two footbridges and arrive in town via Lake Galve. Cross a bridge to the stunning, red sandstone Trakai Island Castle, once the seat of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

You have time to explore Trakai on your own, perhaps pausing for lunch and sampling kibinai, a local specialty resembling an empanada. Browse the shops along the main avenue or tour the castle, whose elegant chapel has a hand-laid, vaulted brick ceiling. And this being a lake resort town, you may choose to indulge in a swim, a paddleboat ride, or a pontoon cruise.

Back in Vilnius, enjoy a welcome drink before heading out by foot to dinner, where traditional Lithuanian dishes and libations are accompanied by lively folk music and singing.

Accommodation: Hotel Pacai, Vilnius, Lithuania
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Dukšta Trail; 3 miles, easy. Optional walk at Kernave; 1-1.5 miles, easy with moderate options. Transfer to Klaipeda

At your breakfast this morning, be sure to try some of the local honey. Lithuania has a history of beekeeping and honey-making dating back to medieval times. The honeybee is not only a respected creature in Lithuania, but also a symbol of friendship. After breakfast, depart Vilnius for Neris River regional park. The Neris is known as the link between Lithuania’s two historic capitals: Vilnius and Kernave. You begin your exploration along the Dukšta Trail, a wooded path that follows its namesake rivulet and its lush valley. Salmon make a 300-mile journey here from the Baltic Sea to spawn. During your walk, ascend the observation tower on the Hill of Oaks for a breathtaking panorama of the Neris, surrounding forestland, and a valley that was inhabited as far back as the 1st century AD. At a nearby mound local tribes held sacrifices, and to commemorate its significance to local heritage, some weddings are still held here today. You also pass the Saint Oak of the Hollow, a 300-year-old tree of great importance in Lithuanian pagan mythology: locals once believed that the souls of the dead were reincarnated as oaks.

Today’s walk also highlights some of Lithuania’s 800 hillforts, or piliakalniai, which are central to Lithuanian history and identity. Tribes built walls along the contours of these oval, table-top hills to optimize defense. Within the earth of these mounds, remains of ancient settlements and burials have been excavated. Many date back to the Bronze Age, and several have been associated to conflicts with the Teutonic Knights. Some of the hillforts can be accessed via stairways, and during your walk, you’ll explore two of them—Buivydai and Bradeliškes.

After, settle in for lunch at a secluded restaurant in the woods. Your host, the owner and chef of this unique establishment, guides you through a multi-course farm-to-table lunch of foraged and locally farmed ingredients cooked in a traditional wood stove. Continue to Kernave, the medieval capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The five hillforts in the city’s archaeological site are interesting as it’s rare to find so many concentrated in one location. As you explore the city, take in more sweeping Neris River vistas. Later, shuttle about three and a half hours to the port of Klaipeda, once an important city of the Hanseatic League. During the drive, be sure to keep on the lookout for Lithuania’s national bird, the white stork. In the spring and summer months, these large birds migrate from Africa to breed and build their impressively sized stick nests atop buildings, trees, and telephone poles. Throughout the days the birds are commonly seen foraging for food in open farmlands.

Dinner tonight is at your hotel, shortly after arrival.

Accommodation: Boutique Hotel Michaelson, Klaipeda, Lithuania
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hill of Witches; 2-3 miles, easy. Nagliai Nature Reserve; 1.5 miles, easy

Set out on a walk this morning to the pedestrian ferry dock, where you embark on a short crossing to the picturesque Curonian Spit. This 60-mile stretch of sand dunes separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea and connects Lithuania and the Kaliningrad Oblast (an exclave of Russia). The lagoon’s tranquil waters are part of a migration route for millions of birds each year. Throughout your day, keep an eye on the sky for the great cormorant and the grey heron, two of the majestic birds that nest on the spit.

From the Bay of Amber, where straw sculptures made by local artists adorn the coastline, you trace the shores of the Curonian marsh through the tiny resort of Joudkrante. Once a fishing village and part of Old Prussia, in Joudkrante, you’ll stop to explore the incredibly detailed wooden sculptures on the Hill of Witches where 80 stunning works depict figures from Lithuanian mythology and folklore. Later, follow the boardwalks of Nagliai Nature Reserve through the scenic grey dunes carved by strong winds. As you walk, inhale deeply, and you may notice the heavy scent of the pine forests that border the Baltic Sea.

Continue to the town of Nida and an amber gallery, where a local craftsman enlightens you on the unique qualities of this popular stone. After admiring the 434 amulets in the gallery’s museum, you set to work making your own amber amulet as you learn about the history and folklore of this gem. Afterward, there’ll be time for lunch—perhaps smoked fish—and independent exploration. You might visit the Fisherman’s Homestead or Thomas Mann house, where the author spent his summers. Or walk to the gigantic Parnidis sand dune, on top of which is a sundial standing 45 feet and weighing 36 tons. On your way back to the ferry, there may be time for a swim in the beautiful Baltic Sea.

Back at the hotel, you can join your guide for a brief walking tour, visit the Maritime Museum at Fort Wilhelm, or head to the 235-year-old Švyturys Brewery where the nation’s most popular beer is made.

Accommodation: Boutique Hotel Michaelson, Klaipeda, Lithuania
Included Meals: Breakfast

Šeire trail and Lake Plateliai; 4.5-5 miles, easy. Hill of Crosses. Transfer to Latvia

Depart Klaipeda this morning and transfer to Žemaitija National Park in the Samogitian Highlands. Samogitia (Žemaitija) has a distinct culture with a proud heritage dating to the pagan era. Žemaitija National Park was established in northwest Lithuania in 1991 to preserve the region’s unique landscape and traditions. Here, lakes cover more than seven percent of the land—this scenic pocket of Lithuania is said to have been the last place in Europe to accept Christianity. Your walk today begins at the Šeire Trail, a pleasant idyll through woodland that leads you to the shores of Lake Plateliai. It’s believed that the islands on these waters were once much larger and greater in number, as underwater archaeologists have discovered stones that were placed in a circular pattern beneath the surface. From this historical lake, you follow a path through several villages that harken back to life in old Lithuania.

In the charming enclave of Beržoras, you’ll visit with locals who have invited you to lunch in their home. Foraged berries and mushrooms have been a staple on the Lithuanian table for generations, and today you’ll have the chance to sample them along with a feast of meats, vegetables, and freshly baked breads with just-made butter. You might even try a national favorite, žemaiciu blynai, or Samogitian pancakes. Your meal is served on earthen dishes and eaten the local way—with wooden spoons—and in the spirit of the old Lithuanian proverb, “One can manage without gold, but not without bread.”

Afterward, you transfer to the Hill of Crosses, one of Lithuania’s most moving pilgrimage sites. This hillside is festooned with crosses adorned with statues, rosaries, and icons. It dates to the mid-1800s and many have tried to destroy it: in 1961, the Soviets demolished 5,000 crosses. But many have survived and today the hill is home to well over 100,000 monuments. In 1993, Pope John Paul II visited and called it a place for hope, peace, love, and sacrifice.

Your final destination today is the lower Zemgale region of Latvia. You pass fields of wheat and yellow flowers en route to your elegant manor house to enjoy dinner.

Accommodation: Mazmežotne Manor, Rundale parish, Latvia
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Rundale Palace; 2-2.5, easy. Bauska Castle walk; 1-2 miles, easy

This morning, you walk right from your manor house to the massive Rundale Palace, a sprawling butter-hued Baroque wonder. Built for the Dukes of Courland in the 18th century, today its splendid residences and gorgeous gardens serve as a museum and a great source of Latvian pride. There’ll be time to explore the property before continuing on a short bus transfer to Bauska for a walk along the green banks of the Lielupe River. Your riverside stroll delivers you to the Bauska Castle, overlooking the confluence of the Muša and Memele rivers. If there’s time, you may continue further to Bauska’s historical Old Town.

Return to your manor house for a free afternoon. Perhaps you’ll indulge in a spa treatment, take a spin on a rented bicycle or boat, or visit the on-site sugar beet museum in the property’s Great Servants’ House. For dinner, you cross a bridge over the Lielupe River by foot, arriving at the historic Mežotne Palace, where you’ll enjoy refined Latvian cuisine in a stunning setting. With its proximity to the sea and abundance of rivers, fish is always on the menu in Latvia. The daily catch is nicely complemented by freshly baked dark rye bread (a staple in the Baltics) and locally sourced beet or nettle soup. For dessert? Perhaps a traditional rupjmaizes kartojums, a Latvian ambrosia of layered jam, whipped cream, and dark rye breadcrumbs served parfait-style.

Accommodation: Mazmežotne Manor, Rundale parish, Latvia
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Kemeri Great Bog walk; 1.5-2.5 miles, easy. Coastal walk; 3 miles, easy. Independent exploration of Riga

After breakfast, journey to Kemeri National Park. In past millennia, this scenic region was underwater, part of the Baltic Sea. Today, it is a vast wetland that supports thousands of species of flora and fauna, including the white wagtail. This mesmerizing bird with white, gray, and black plumage is the national bird of Latvia. Kemeri’s lakes, mires, marshes, and bogs are a distinctive feature of the region, and you’ll witness their tranquil beauty up close in the Great Kemeri Bog. Choose from two loop walks along a network of boardwalks, the longer of which has a popular raised observation platform. As you stroll, stop to admire delicate moss, stunning orchids, undersized pine trees, blueberries, rosemary, and along the way, perhaps you’ll spot a stork or an otter.

After a rewarding morning, you head to the Baltic Coast for a lunch of seafood plucked right from the sea. Later, you enjoy a walk to the shore, continuing to the fishing village of Ragaciems, which has a distinctive red lighthouse. Here, you pause to visit the Ragaciems sedums site, where former fishing piers stand as a monument to the history of fishing. In the site’s tiny wooden huts, fishermen would make long cylindrical fishing nets. Small fishing boats, long since run aground, still seem eager to set out for the water. As you continue along the wave-kissed beach, you pass dune habitats and watch for birds in the estuary of the Starpinupe River, then follow a boardwalk through the Kupskalni Nature Reserve.

If time permits, linger a while in seaside Jurmala and explore Jomas Street, a pedestrian avenue lined with colorful shops and fruit stands. A walk along the town’s oldest street gives you insight into the rhythm of daily life in this beachside haven. Later, transfer to Riga, Latvia’s cosmopolitan capital, where you’ll find cobbled lanes winding past gingerbread-trim houses and Europe’s highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture. Indulge in a well-deserved treatment at your hotel’s spa or join an orientation tour of Riga’s Old Town. Dinner is on your own. Your guide can point out ideal spots to try some of the city’s creative cuisine, complemented by a great local beer.

Accommodation: Grand Poet Hotel by Semarah, Riga, Latvia
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Optional tour of Riga Central Market. Three Castles Walk; 4.5 - 6 miles, easy with moderate sections

Early risers may join an outing to Riga Central Market, one of Europe’s largest. This impressive emporium of produce, flowers, and countless other items is housed in five former Zeppelin hangars; only nine of these unique structures remain in the world. You are escorted through the market by a renowned Latvian chef, whose high regard in the marketplace allows him to jump behind food counters and offer you samples of the freshest bread, smoked meat, and more. Here, you also help gather picnic provisions for later today. Afterward, you transfer to Gauja National Park for our “Three Castles Walk.”

Begin at Turaida Castle’s Folk Song Hill, a harmonious blend of powerful sculpture and the natural world. It is impossible to overstate the importance of song to the identity, culture, and freedom of the Baltic nations. Traditional folk songs shaped the spirit of a revolution as masses of proud people raised their voices in collective songs to protest against the Soviet Union. Folk Song Hill commemorates that Singing Revolution. You take the Krišjanis Barons Trail, named for a renowned Latvian folklorist and writer, down wooden steps, entering a fragrant forest, and following the Gauja River. The steep path passes oak, ash, and linden trees and brushes by lush fern and lily of the valley.

You gather for a picnic lunch at Tautas Park, surrounded by birch trees, serene ponds, wildflowers, charming footbridges, and dragonflies. Afterward, continue your sojourn past Gutman’s Cave, the largest cave in the Baltics, where the legend of the Rose of Turaida was born. In this sad tale, Rose is deceived, and instead of meeting her fiancé Victor at the cave, she meets a malevolent suitor. Her entrapment leads to her murder. After Victor’s ax is found at the scene, he is sentenced for her death. You can pause here to contemplate the power of love before following the serpentine road to the remains of Krimulda Castle. This former carriage road was built in a zig-zag through the forest to reduce the grade for horses.

From Krimulda, a cable car crosses the Gauja River, affording spectacular vistas of the primeval valley and three castles—Turaida, Krimulda, and Sigulda—including the Krimulda manor house and a winding bobsled track. Diembark your gondola and walk next through Walking Stick Park, named for Sigulda’s 200-year tradition of carving walking sticks. You will undoubtedly want to find the one that speaks to you and purchase it as a keepsake of your journey!

Visit the old and new Sigulda Castles, the latter a neo-Gothic fortress of stone and subtle details. Ascend the towers for lovely views, browse the shop for leather crafts, silver jewelry, pottery, and walking sticks, or relax with a beer in the garden. After time here, return to Riga and celebrate your Baltic explorations during a farewell dinner at one of the city’s top restaurants. Your multi-course tasting menu emphasizes fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced items. The theme of your meal is “Taste of Nature” and may include forest-foraged plants such as sorrel and elderberry or fresh fish from the nearby Baltic seaside. After dinner, the brave might enjoy a tipple of the nation’s Black Balzam, a 45-proof herbal liqueur beloved by Goethe as “the elixir of life.” This toast provides a fitting end to your adventures throughout the cities, countryside, and coast of Latvia and Lithuania.

Accommodation: Grand Poet Hotel by Semarah, Riga, Latvia
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Your tour concludes after breakfast. You have the remainder of the day to explore this scenic capital on the Daugava River independently. Wander the quaint streets of Vecriga (Old Town), admiring ancient churches, brightly hued houses, and Art Nouveau treasures and stopping to shop for locally made jewelry. Visit the Dome Cathedral, the largest medieval church in the Baltics. And toast your discoveries at one of the city’s many wine bars or pubs. Country Walkers provides you with City Information, including recommendations for what to see and do.

Accommodation: Grand Poet Hotel by Semarah, Riga
Included Meals: Breakfast

Uz redzešanos! This morning, a complimentary small-group transfer is provided to Riga International Airport (based on your departure time).

Sun, May 23 to Sun, May 30 - 2021

Show Itinerary:

Varnikai Bog to Trakai Castle; 5 miles, easy. Independent exploration of Trakai

After breakfast, meet your Country Walkers guides—one Latvian and one Lithuanian—at 9:00 a.m. in the hotel lobby for a brief tour orientation. You begin your Baltic adventure with a 45-minute transfer to the Varnikai Cognitive Walking Way, where serene nature trails thread their way through hilly forests and along swampland past splendid lakes. There’ll be opportunities to pause along the way and take in the scent of pine and earth. You pass a memorial wood carving and inscribed stones, the marking for a mass Holocaust gravesite dating to 1941. Your footpath leads to Trakai, a lake resort with a fascinating past. This distinctive town straddles several lakes and was built and preserved by settlers of many different nationalities—Karaims, Tatars, Lithuanians, Russians, Jews, and Poles. In 1991, the region was designated as a National Historic Park. As you approach, you cross two footbridges and arrive in town via Lake Galve. Cross a bridge to the stunning, red sandstone Trakai Island Castle, once the seat of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

You have time to explore Trakai on your own, perhaps pausing for lunch and sampling kibinai, a local specialty resembling an empanada. Browse the shops along the main avenue or tour the castle, whose elegant chapel has a hand-laid, vaulted brick ceiling. And this being a lake resort town, you may choose to indulge in a swim, a paddleboat ride, or a pontoon cruise.

Back in Vilnius, enjoy a welcome drink before heading out by foot to dinner, where traditional Lithuanian dishes and libations are accompanied by lively folk music and singing.

Accommodation: Hotel Pacai, Vilnius, Lithuania
Included Meals: Dinner

Dukšta Trail; 3 miles, easy. Optional walk at Kernave; 1-1.5 miles, easy with moderate options. Transfer to Klaipeda

At your breakfast this morning, be sure to try some of the local honey. Lithuania has a history of beekeeping and honey-making dating back to medieval times. The honeybee is not only a respected creature in Lithuania, but also a symbol of friendship. After breakfast, depart Vilnius for Neris River regional park. The Neris is known as the link between Lithuania’s two historic capitals: Vilnius and Kernave. You begin your exploration along the Dukšta Trail, a wooded path that follows its namesake rivulet and its lush valley. Salmon make a 300-mile journey here from the Baltic Sea to spawn. During your walk, ascend the observation tower on the Hill of Oaks for a breathtaking panorama of the Neris, surrounding forestland, and a valley that was inhabited as far back as the 1st century AD. At a nearby mound local tribes held sacrifices, and to commemorate its significance to local heritage, some weddings are still held here today. You also pass the Saint Oak of the Hollow, a 300-year-old tree of great importance in Lithuanian pagan mythology: locals once believed that the souls of the dead were reincarnated as oaks.

Today’s walk also highlights some of Lithuania’s 800 hillforts, or piliakalniai, which are central to Lithuanian history and identity. Tribes built walls along the contours of these oval, table-top hills to optimize defense. Within the earth of these mounds, remains of ancient settlements and burials have been excavated. Many date back to the Bronze Age, and several have been associated to conflicts with the Teutonic Knights. Some of the hillforts can be accessed via stairways, and during your walk, you’ll explore two of them—Buivydai and Bradeliškes.

After, settle in for lunch at a secluded restaurant in the woods. Your host, the owner and chef of this unique establishment, guides you through a multi-course farm-to-table lunch of foraged and locally farmed ingredients cooked in a traditional wood stove. Continue to Kernave, the medieval capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The five hillforts in the city’s archaeological site are interesting as it’s rare to find so many concentrated in one location. As you explore the city, take in more sweeping Neris River vistas. Later, shuttle about three and a half hours to the port of Klaipeda, once an important city of the Hanseatic League. During the drive, be sure to keep on the lookout for Lithuania’s national bird, the white stork. In the spring and summer months, these large birds migrate from Africa to breed and build their impressively sized stick nests atop buildings, trees, and telephone poles. Throughout the days the birds are commonly seen foraging for food in open farmlands.

Dinner tonight is at your hotel, shortly after arrival.

Accommodation: Boutique Hotel Michaelson, Klaipeda, Lithuania
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hill of Witches; 2-3 miles, easy. Nagliai Nature Reserve; 1.5 miles, easy

Set out on a walk this morning to the pedestrian ferry dock, where you embark on a short crossing to the picturesque Curonian Spit. This 60-mile stretch of sand dunes separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea and connects Lithuania and the Kaliningrad Oblast (an exclave of Russia). The lagoon’s tranquil waters are part of a migration route for millions of birds each year. Throughout your day, keep an eye on the sky for the great cormorant and the grey heron, two of the majestic birds that nest on the spit.

From the Bay of Amber, where straw sculptures made by local artists adorn the coastline, you trace the shores of the Curonian marsh through the tiny resort of Joudkrante. Once a fishing village and part of Old Prussia, in Joudkrante, you’ll stop to explore the incredibly detailed wooden sculptures on the Hill of Witches where 80 stunning works depict figures from Lithuanian mythology and folklore. Later, follow the boardwalks of Nagliai Nature Reserve through the scenic grey dunes carved by strong winds. As you walk, inhale deeply, and you may notice the heavy scent of the pine forests that border the Baltic Sea.

Continue to the town of Nida and an amber gallery, where a local craftsman enlightens you on the unique qualities of this popular stone. After admiring the 434 amulets in the gallery’s museum, you set to work making your own amber amulet as you learn about the history and folklore of this gem. Afterward, there’ll be time for lunch—perhaps smoked fish—and independent exploration. You might visit the Fisherman’s Homestead or Thomas Mann house, where the author spent his summers. Or walk to the gigantic Parnidis sand dune, on top of which is a sundial standing 45 feet and weighing 36 tons. On your way back to the ferry, there may be time for a swim in the beautiful Baltic Sea.

Back at the hotel, you can join your guide for a brief walking tour, visit the Maritime Museum at Fort Wilhelm, or head to the 235-year-old Švyturys Brewery where the nation’s most popular beer is made.

Accommodation: Boutique Hotel Michaelson, Klaipeda, Lithuania
Included Meals: Breakfast

Šeire trail and Lake Plateliai; 4.5-5 miles, easy. Hill of Crosses. Transfer to Latvia

Depart Klaipeda this morning and transfer to Žemaitija National Park in the Samogitian Highlands. Samogitia (Žemaitija) has a distinct culture with a proud heritage dating to the pagan era. Žemaitija National Park was established in northwest Lithuania in 1991 to preserve the region’s unique landscape and traditions. Here, lakes cover more than seven percent of the land—this scenic pocket of Lithuania is said to have been the last place in Europe to accept Christianity. Your walk today begins at the Šeire Trail, a pleasant idyll through woodland that leads you to the shores of Lake Plateliai. It’s believed that the islands on these waters were once much larger and greater in number, as underwater archaeologists have discovered stones that were placed in a circular pattern beneath the surface. From this historical lake, you follow a path through several villages that harken back to life in old Lithuania.

In the charming enclave of Beržoras, you’ll visit with locals who have invited you to lunch in their home. Foraged berries and mushrooms have been a staple on the Lithuanian table for generations, and today you’ll have the chance to sample them along with a feast of meats, vegetables, and freshly baked breads with just-made butter. You might even try a national favorite, žemaiciu blynai, or Samogitian pancakes. Your meal is served on earthen dishes and eaten the local way—with wooden spoons—and in the spirit of the old Lithuanian proverb, “One can manage without gold, but not without bread.”

Afterward, you transfer to the Hill of Crosses, one of Lithuania’s most moving pilgrimage sites. This hillside is festooned with crosses adorned with statues, rosaries, and icons. It dates to the mid-1800s and many have tried to destroy it: in 1961, the Soviets demolished 5,000 crosses. But many have survived and today the hill is home to well over 100,000 monuments. In 1993, Pope John Paul II visited and called it a place for hope, peace, love, and sacrifice.

Your final destination today is the lower Zemgale region of Latvia. You pass fields of wheat and yellow flowers en route to your elegant manor house to enjoy dinner.

Accommodation: Mazmežotne Manor, Rundale parish, Latvia
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Rundale Palace; 2-2.5, easy. Bauska Castle walk; 1-2 miles, easy

This morning, you walk right from your manor house to the massive Rundale Palace, a sprawling butter-hued Baroque wonder. Built for the Dukes of Courland in the 18th century, today its splendid residences and gorgeous gardens serve as a museum and a great source of Latvian pride. There’ll be time to explore the property before continuing on a short bus transfer to Bauska for a walk along the green banks of the Lielupe River. Your riverside stroll delivers you to the Bauska Castle, overlooking the confluence of the Muša and Memele rivers. If there’s time, you may continue further to Bauska’s historical Old Town.

Return to your manor house for a free afternoon. Perhaps you’ll indulge in a spa treatment, take a spin on a rented bicycle or boat, or visit the on-site sugar beet museum in the property’s Great Servants’ House. For dinner, you cross a bridge over the Lielupe River by foot, arriving at the historic Mežotne Palace, where you’ll enjoy refined Latvian cuisine in a stunning setting. With its proximity to the sea and abundance of rivers, fish is always on the menu in Latvia. The daily catch is nicely complemented by freshly baked dark rye bread (a staple in the Baltics) and locally sourced beet or nettle soup. For dessert? Perhaps a traditional rupjmaizes kartojums, a Latvian ambrosia of layered jam, whipped cream, and dark rye breadcrumbs served parfait-style.

Accommodation: Mazmežotne Manor, Rundale parish, Latvia
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Kemeri Great Bog walk; 1.5-2.5 miles, easy. Coastal walk; 3 miles, easy. Independent exploration of Riga

After breakfast, journey to Kemeri National Park. In past millennia, this scenic region was underwater, part of the Baltic Sea. Today, it is a vast wetland that supports thousands of species of flora and fauna, including the white wagtail. This mesmerizing bird with white, gray, and black plumage is the national bird of Latvia. Kemeri’s lakes, mires, marshes, and bogs are a distinctive feature of the region, and you’ll witness their tranquil beauty up close in the Great Kemeri Bog. Choose from two loop walks along a network of boardwalks, the longer of which has a popular raised observation platform. As you stroll, stop to admire delicate moss, stunning orchids, undersized pine trees, blueberries, rosemary, and along the way, perhaps you’ll spot a stork or an otter.

After a rewarding morning, you head to the Baltic Coast for a lunch of seafood plucked right from the sea. Later, you enjoy a walk to the shore, continuing to the fishing village of Ragaciems, which has a distinctive red lighthouse. Here, you pause to visit the Ragaciems sedums site, where former fishing piers stand as a monument to the history of fishing. In the site’s tiny wooden huts, fishermen would make long cylindrical fishing nets. Small fishing boats, long since run aground, still seem eager to set out for the water. As you continue along the wave-kissed beach, you pass dune habitats and watch for birds in the estuary of the Starpinupe River, then follow a boardwalk through the Kupskalni Nature Reserve.

If time permits, linger a while in seaside Jurmala and explore Jomas Street, a pedestrian avenue lined with colorful shops and fruit stands. A walk along the town’s oldest street gives you insight into the rhythm of daily life in this beachside haven. Later, transfer to Riga, Latvia’s cosmopolitan capital, where you’ll find cobbled lanes winding past gingerbread-trim houses and Europe’s highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture. Indulge in a well-deserved treatment at your hotel’s spa or join an orientation tour of Riga’s Old Town. Dinner is on your own. Your guide can point out ideal spots to try some of the city’s creative cuisine, complemented by a great local beer.

Accommodation: Grand Poet Hotel by Semarah, Riga, Latvia
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Optional tour of Riga Central Market. Three Castles Walk; 4.5 - 6 miles, easy with moderate sections

Early risers may join an outing to Riga Central Market, one of Europe’s largest. This impressive emporium of produce, flowers, and countless other items is housed in five former Zeppelin hangars; only nine of these unique structures remain in the world. You are escorted through the market by a renowned Latvian chef, whose high regard in the marketplace allows him to jump behind food counters and offer you samples of the freshest bread, smoked meat, and more. Here, you also help gather picnic provisions for later today. Afterward, you transfer to Gauja National Park for our “Three Castles Walk.”

Begin at Turaida Castle’s Folk Song Hill, a harmonious blend of powerful sculpture and the natural world. It is impossible to overstate the importance of song to the identity, culture, and freedom of the Baltic nations. Traditional folk songs shaped the spirit of a revolution as masses of proud people raised their voices in collective songs to protest against the Soviet Union. Folk Song Hill commemorates that Singing Revolution. You take the Krišjanis Barons Trail, named for a renowned Latvian folklorist and writer, down wooden steps, entering a fragrant forest, and following the Gauja River. The steep path passes oak, ash, and linden trees and brushes by lush fern and lily of the valley.

You gather for a picnic lunch at Tautas Park, surrounded by birch trees, serene ponds, wildflowers, charming footbridges, and dragonflies. Afterward, continue your sojourn past Gutman’s Cave, the largest cave in the Baltics, where the legend of the Rose of Turaida was born. In this sad tale, Rose is deceived, and instead of meeting her fiancé Victor at the cave, she meets a malevolent suitor. Her entrapment leads to her murder. After Victor’s ax is found at the scene, he is sentenced for her death. You can pause here to contemplate the power of love before following the serpentine road to the remains of Krimulda Castle. This former carriage road was built in a zig-zag through the forest to reduce the grade for horses.

From Krimulda, a cable car crosses the Gauja River, affording spectacular vistas of the primeval valley and three castles—Turaida, Krimulda, and Sigulda—including the Krimulda manor house and a winding bobsled track. Diembark your gondola and walk next through Walking Stick Park, named for Sigulda’s 200-year tradition of carving walking sticks. You will undoubtedly want to find the one that speaks to you and purchase it as a keepsake of your journey!

Visit the old and new Sigulda Castles, the latter a neo-Gothic fortress of stone and subtle details. Ascend the towers for lovely views, browse the shop for leather crafts, silver jewelry, pottery, and walking sticks, or relax with a beer in the garden. After time here, return to Riga and celebrate your Baltic explorations during a farewell dinner at one of the city’s top restaurants. Your multi-course tasting menu emphasizes fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced items. The theme of your meal is “Taste of Nature” and may include forest-foraged plants such as sorrel and elderberry or fresh fish from the nearby Baltic seaside. After dinner, the brave might enjoy a tipple of the nation’s Black Balzam, a 45-proof herbal liqueur beloved by Goethe as “the elixir of life.” This toast provides a fitting end to your adventures throughout the cities, countryside, and coast of Latvia and Lithuania.

Accommodation: Grand Poet Hotel by Semarah, Riga, Latvia
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Uz redzešanos! Your tour concludes after breakfast. Explore Riga on your own or prepare for onward travels.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Accommodations

Linger Longer with a Tour Extension

Grand Poet Hotel by Semerah 3
Pre-Tour
Flight + Tour Combo Only
2021

2021 Pre-Tour Extension - Vilnius

  • One night at the Hotel Pacai
  • Small-group airport transfer
  • One Breakfast

1 Night From $148
per person, double occupancy

Single Supplement: From $98

Begin your adventure by departing from a convenient gateway city in the United States or Canada. Spend your first night aloft.

Upon arrival at Vilnius International Airport, a representative holding a Country Walkers sign will meet you as you exit the baggage-claim area. A complimentary small-group transfer will be provided to the Hotel Pacai, an approximately 20-minute shuttle. The remainder of the day is at your leisure (no meals included). Country Walkers also provides you with City Information that includes recommendations for what to see and do.

If you are going to be delayed meeting our transfer representative for more than 15 minutes due to delayed or lost luggage, please let our representative know by calling the hotel at +370 527 70000. Our drivers are generally able to wait for up to 45 minutes from the time your flight lands, after which you would be responsible for your own transfer. You may also contact Allianz Global Assistance, 1.804.673.1660, to advise of your delay and they will contact our transfer service.

Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be available until 3:00 p.m., in which case you may store your luggage with the reception desk.

Accommodation: Hotel Pacai, Vilnius, Lithuania

After breakfast at your centrally located hotel in Town Hall Square, you are perfectly situated to explore the historical sights of the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take the short walk to Cathedral Square to admire the Cathedral of St. Stanislav and St. Vladislav, the most important cathedral for Lithuania’s Catholics. You will find an impressive example of early Baroque architecture in St. Kazimir’s chapel. Continue to Bernardine Gardens—home to a lovely rose garden and a whimsical musical fountain. Later, visit Gediminas Avenue, Vilnius’ main avenue connecting Cathedral Square and the Lithuanian Parliament in the heart of the city. For dinner on your own this evening, meander to Gedimino Street, where various cafés and restaurants invite you to sample local specialties. Your hotel concierge will be more than happy to offer suggestions.

Accommodation: Hotel Pacai, Vilnius, Lithuania

Grand Poet Hotel by Semerah 3
Post-Tour
Flight + Tour Combo Only
2021

2021 Post-Tour Extension - Tallinn

  • Two nights at the Hotel Telegraaf
  • Flight from Riga, Latvia to Tallinn, Estonia
  • Small-group airport transfers
  • Two Breakfasts

2 Nights From $548
per person, double occupancy

Single Supplement: From $298

This morning, transfer from your hotel to Riga International Airport, where you’ll board a 50-minute flight to the enchanting capital of Estonia. Arrive in Tallinn mid-day and transfer to your hotel in the heart of the medieval Old Town. This historical 19th-century building makes an elegant home base, perfectly placed within easy walking distance of all the local sights and historic attractions. This afternoon and evening, set off to explore the city on foot, or settle in for a relaxing treatment at the hotel spa.

Accommodation: Telegraaf Hotel, Tallinn

After breakfast at your hotel, the whole day is yours to explore Tallinn’s many wonders, all just paces from your doorstep.

Divided into upper and lower towns, Estonia’s capital is one of Europe’s most picturesque cities, adorned with graceful spires, cobblestoned streets, pastel-hued baroque palaces, and a photogenic town wall complete with nine medieval towers.

Begin your exploration in Raekoja Plats, the lower town’s central square. Admire northern Europe’s best-preserved Gothic town hall, a beautiful steep-roofed structure framed by arcaded walkways. Across the square, visit the ancient display cases and lovely painted beams of the Raeapteek, Europe’s oldest continuously operating pharmacy. Much of the architecture in this neighborhood bears a distinct German influence, reflecting the role of the Baltic German traders who brought great wealth to the city and controlled Estonia’s political and cultural institutions throughout the late Middle Ages.

Nearby, the magnificent onion-domed Nevsky cathedral, resplendent with icons and late 19th-century frescoes, reflects a different historical period: the two centuries of Imperial Russian influence leading up to Estonian independence in 1918. After taking a break in the leafy park behind the cathedral, visit the city’s shops, museums, and cafés, or climb the stairs onto the city’s beautifully preserved medieval walls, affording wonderful views of Tallinn’s rooftops. This evening, enjoy dinner at one of the Old Town’s fine restaurants before retiring to the comfort of your five-star hotel.

Accommodation: Telegraaf Hotel, Tallinn

Head aega! This morning, a small-group complimentary transfer is provided to Tallinn airport based on your departure time. Your guides will confirm the transfer time while on tour.

What's Included

Flight + Tour Combo
Tour Only
Exceptional boutique accommodations Check Check
All on-tour meals except 3 lunches and 2 dinners Check Check
Local guides with you throughout tour Check Check
Local wine and/or beer with dinner Check Check
Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary Check Check
Travel assistance available 24/7 provided by Allianz Global Assistance Check Check
Roundtrip airfare Check
One extra night in Vilnius and one extra night in Riga Check
Airport car service for arrival & departure Check
Pre- and post-tour breakfasts Check
Business-class upgrades available Check
Morocco: Marrakesh, Foothills of the High Atlas & Essaouira

Dates & Prices

Flight + Tour Combo

11 days. Includes round-trip international airfare, airport car service, additional hotel nights with included breakfast, and your tour.

Single Supplement: From $598

Departing From New York, NY (JFK)

Tour Only

8 days. Includes your tour only.

Single Supplement: From $498

Fri, May 21 - Mon, May 31, 2021

$4,698

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Sun, May 23 - Sun, May 30, 2021

$3,798

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Fri, Jun 4 - Mon, Jun 14, 2021

$4,698

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Sun, Jun 6 - Sun, Jun 13, 2021

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Fri, Jun 18 - Mon, Jun 28, 2021

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Sun, Jun 20 - Sun, Jun 27, 2021

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Fri, Jul 9 - Mon, Jul 19, 2021

$4,898

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Sun, Jul 11 - Sun, Jul 18, 2021

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Fri, Jul 23 - Mon, Aug 2, 2021

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Sun, Jul 25 - Sun, Aug 1, 2021

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Fri, Jul 30 - Mon, Aug 9, 2021

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Sun, Aug 1 - Sun, Aug 8, 2021

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Fri, Aug 13 - Mon, Aug 23, 2021

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Sun, Aug 15 - Sun, Aug 22, 2021

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Fri, Aug 27 - Mon, Sep 6, 2021

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Sun, Aug 29 - Sun, Sep 5, 2021

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Fri, Sep 3 - Mon, Sep 13, 2021

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Sun, Sep 5 - Sun, Sep 12, 2021

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Fri, Sep 17 - Mon, Sep 27, 2021

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