When it comes to popular road trip itineraries in Europe, the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania do not feature high on the list. Most travelers set out to explore the historic cities of Croatia, the beaches of Spain, beautiful alpine forests of Germany, and drive through gorgeous landscapes in Iceland first before planning a road trip to this part of Europe. However, a road trip through the Baltic states is one heck of an amazing experience. So, come together with this on this beautiful ride and uncover the beauty of Latvia, and other two Baltic states - Lithuania, and Estonia.
(Day 1): Arrival into Riga and driving to Jurmala
(Day 2): A Tour of Salaspils and Kemeri National Park
(Day 3): One Day Tour of Lithuania
(Day 4): Enjoy a Relaxing Day on Sandy Beaches
(Day 5): Venturing to Tallinn, Estonia
(Day 6): Nearby Tour From Tallinn
Riga, Jurmala, Salaspils, Kemeri National Park, Lithuania, Tallinn in Estonia, Jagala waterfall
Today, your journey will begin as you reach Riga early in the day and begin your Baltic road trip. The first destination of this road trip takes you to the beach-side town of Jurmala that enjoys a 32km long stretch of white sandy beach. If you visit this part of Latvia during summer months, expect the beach to be crowded. If you happen to travel here somewhere in September, you’ll be able to enjoy some quiet time at the beach. Jurmala’s spas are the main highlight for most tourists. The spa town possesses mild climate, mineral-rich waters, and curative mud, making it one of the best as well as most affordable spa getaways in Europe.
The dark history of this region is no secret. During World War II, Latvia was occupied by Nazi Germany. Anyone opposing Nazi ideals was sent to concentration camps, tortured, and later executed. If you want to acquaint yourself with the dark history of this place, then the best way is to visit a concentration camp not far from Riga. The Salaspils concentration camp is situated at an hour’s drive from Jurmala. It is believed that over 10,000 people were executed by the Nazis here. A few commemorative statues exude the history of horrors that unfolded here.
Salaspils concentration camp is situated in the middle of a pine forest. It is basically an off-the-beaten-path. At the camp, there is a machine that produces the sound of beating hearts to honor the souls of those who were executed by Nazis here. This uncanny beating of hearts is the only thing that intervenes the silence at the site of this concentration camp.
After this somber trip to the concentration camp, you’ll be driven back towards Jurmala. Enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants lining the high street. Later in the evening, head out to Kemeri national park, which is not far from Jurmala. Spend some time here wandering amongst wildflowers, picking wild berries and mushrooms in the woodlands, or simply picnicking. Stroll by lakes that sit over swamps and admire beautiful panoramas and forests that surround you.
Tip for Kemeri National Park: If you visit this area between June and September, do carry mosquito repellent with you. During the summer months, the area tends to have a lot of mosquitoes and insects.
Today, get ready for a cross-country day trip to the well-known Hill of Crosses. Begin early from Jurmala and head towards Lithuania via Dobele where you can spend some time exploring the many fruit farms and enjoying the beautiful Latvian countryside. Make sure to pack something to eat as eating options at the Hill of Crosses are limited. The Latvian countryside offers many options to park your car and sit down for a leisurely picnic.
The hill of crosses boasts hundreds of thousands of rosaries and crucifixes, that dates back to the 14th century.
It is believed that during the years of Soviet occupation (1944-1990), a lot of existing crosses were destroyed by Soviet soldiers but Lithuanian citizens would plant more crosses overnight risking their lives. The crosses might be a religious symbol but they are inseparably tied with Lithuanian national identity. A jumble of thousands of crosses, The Hill of Crosses is a must-see whether you are a believer or not!
On your way back to Jurmala, stop at Rundale Palace. The palace makes for a perfect backdrop while you relish a cup of coffee. Wander around the manicured gardens and the striking baroque interiors of the palace before you leave for your hotel in Jurmala.
Today, you’ll enjoy the white sandy beaches of Jurmala on a sunny day! Not planning much for your 4th day in Jurmala is highly suggested. Just relax on the beach, go for a quiet stroll, and enjoy a spa session.
After having enough of the beach and spa, make your way out for an exploration of the narrow residential streets of Jurmala that are lined with romantic wooden houses in the Art Nouveau style. There are numerous restaurants and cafes dotting the high street – just grab yourself a cup of coffee or a beer and observe the world go by. Tomorrow you will depart Jurmala for another country, so make the best of your time here.
The drive from Jurmala to Tallinn cannot really be categorized as one of the best in the world but it isn’t too bad either. For more than half the distance, the road twists and turns along Gulf of Riga with some panoramic stops right by the beach. Have a stop at one of these picnic spots and enjoy lunch or simply stretch your legs in one of the bigger towns such as Ainazi or Salacgriva.
If you depart Riga by 10 a.m. and spend a couple of hours for lunch, you should reach Tallinn by 6 p.m. at the latest. Your hotel will be near the historical old town so that you won’t have to deal with traffic while exploring Tallinn. After checking in at your hotel, go for a stroll to the old town. In the evening, it gets lively with locals and tourists wandering on the cobble-stoned alleys while violinists dole out classic tunes. Enjoy a meal overlooking the magnificent Town Hall in one of the many restaurants that line the town square.
This morning, get ready to venture out of Tallinn and drive through hazy forests to Jagala waterfall. If you have been to Iceland or Argentina, you wouldn’t be surprised by the size of Jagala waterfall – however, it is the highest waterfall in Estonia and does greet tourists with intense energy. Make sure to carry your swimwear and go behind the waterfall to discover a different perspective or take a refreshing dip in the pool. Spend some time in the garden alongside the waterfall. It’s the perfect place for a picnic or a barbecue.
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