We just spent 10 days visiting the three beautiful capitals of the Baltic States: Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn. My first time in the region was five years ago, so it was interesting to see how much they’ve changed. Vilnius has become more sophisticated, cool young people and good vibes everywhere, Riga is still impressive but seems to be crumbling a bit, while Tallinn though modern and hip felt overcrowded with drunken tourists around its Old town.
Vilnius, the capital of the most populated Baltic state, Lithuania, belonged virtually to almost everybody at one time or the other. Walk around and you’ll see Russian and Polish heritage side by side to the Lithuanian one. Its Old Town is not as impressive as the ones of Riga or Tallinn, but its churches are crown jewels of baroque architecture. This is probably one of the best places in the region for coffee lovers, beautifully decorated cafes and bars serve delicious coffee and cakes; perfect for watching charming modern Lithuanians. Unfortunately the art district Užupio does not offer alternative spontaneous parties anymore.
Riga is still the Baltic’s most important metropolis. It is the largest city in the region and the one with the most diverse architecture. The medieval Old town is less preserved than Tallinn’s, but with more outstanding buildings such as the House of the Blackheads. Additionally it is home to one of the largest collections of Art Nouveau buildings in the world, with several extraordinary examples. The whole city centre is a neoclassical festival, and a pretty large one. Plus there is a huge river (Daugava) and a beautiful beach town just a half an hour away.
Tallinn was special because we spent our days with friends, so we were able to get to know some alternative places. We attended a surprise concert by a girl getting married and went to a lovely wetland forest outside the city. The Old Town is by far the most complete in the region and its city walls are the most preserved in the whole of Europe. Unfortunately it is pretty much taken by crowds of tourists, but with a little patience and flexibility you might get to enjoy some corners by yourself, and at nights it’s practically deserted. The last time I was impressed by Rotterman’s cool architecture, this time there is a new neighborhood, more alternative and fun: Telliskivi. And all of them surrounded by wooden houses!!!
Each city is unique and for sure worth a visit. Going from city to city is easy, inexpensive and a great way to enjoy the Baltic nature. We had good food everywhere and all of our hotels were perfect, they know how to treat tourists in the region. Currently in Helsinki, we got here a couple of days ago thanks to Tallink Silja Line, fantastic trip, pretty soon pics and more info!