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Best of the Baltics

Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland – 9 days

The Baltic region typically includes three counties: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and they’ve long been under appreciated by many travelers. It’s time to change that and discover these capital cities, each a jewel in its own right.  We’ll visit Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania; Riga, the capital of Latvia; and Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. And we’ll end this extraordinary trip with a high-speed ferry to Finland’s capital of Helsinki.

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  • Limited to 20 guests.
  • August 22-30, 2020 $4,995.
  • Prices are based on double occupancy. Single supplement: $999.

August 22-30, 2020

Day 1: Arrive in Vilnius, Lithuania

  • Welcome to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Baroque architecture.  Cobblestone streets. Great cafes, great food. Terrific shopping. Vilnius is a modern city with a small-town feel thanks to a medieval Old Town. You can walk the entire city including Uzupis, the artists’ quarter, and nearly 20 years after the end of Soviet occupation, the city is a vibrant capital beloved by visitors who discover it.
  • Private transfer will be provided from the airport to our hotel in the heart of Vilnius’ Old Town.
  • Our Tour Director will hold a welcome briefing followed by a walking tour of the Old Town.
  • Dinner: We’ll enjoy a Mediterranean menu that includes pastas, risottos, quiches, salads and soups at Kitchen, a restaurant located on Town Hall Square.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Hotel: The Hotel PACAI, a five-star property that is a member of Design Hotels AG, an association of luxury and boutique hotels distinguished by their architecture and décor.

Day 2: Vilnius

  • This morning, we explore Vilnius, stopping at such famous landmarks as the Town Hall, the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul.
  • After lunch we venture about 10 kilometers outside of town for a humbling visit to Paneriai, the site of the mass murder of as many as 100,000 people, mostly Jews, Poles, and Russians, by Nazis and collaborators during World War II and the Holocaust. We’ll also visit the Medieval stronghold of Trakai Castle on an island on Lake Galbvė whose foundations date to the 14th Century.
  • You are welcome to spend the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.
  • Dinner: Traditional Lithuanian cuisine focuses on meat and potatoes, the specialty of Etno Dvaras, where we’ll dine in the Old Town.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Hotel: Hotel PACAI 5*

Day 3: Choose one – 

  • Option 1: Take a Soviet walking tour, including a visit to the KGB Museum to see the cells, interrogation rooms, and execution chamber used by the military.  You’ll also learn about the Resistance forces who opposed the Soviets
  • Option 2: Spend the morning shopping and walking the charming streets of Vilnius.
  • After lunch, we leave Vilnius and Lithuania and head to the largest city in the Baltics, Latvia’s capital city of Riga, arriving in the afternoon.  Like Vilnius, Riga also has an Old Town, but it’s also considered a cultural center thanks to its many museums and concert halls.  Its wooden buildings and Art Nouveau structures are also distinctive.  There’s an enormous market in Riga, and the city boasts a lively nightlife.  You’ll see why it makes the “must visit” lists of many travelers.
  • Dinner: “Riga Black Balsam” is the national drink, the country’s version of a bittersweet aperitif that’s very strong.  And, yes, it’s black.  Our very cozy dinner restaurant, Balzambers, is named in its honor.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and Dinner
  • Hotel: We’ll spend two nights at the elegant, five-star Grand Palace Hotel, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

Day 4: Riga

  • In the morning, our local guide will take us on a walking tour of Riga.
    You may visit the Riga Central Market, Europe’s largest market and a UNESCO Heritage Site; Saint Peter`s Church with its 120-meter steeple that dominates Riga and offers a panoramic view of the nearby Daugava River; the Freedom Monument, a memorial to soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918-1920); the Opera House, the all-white, 300-seat home to the opera once directed by Richard Wagner; and the House of the Black Heads, a distinctive building that once housed unmarried merchants, shipowners, and foreigners in Riga.
  • After lunch, choose one –
  • Option 1: Take a drive with us to the woods outside of Riga to visit one of very few remaining, fully-stocked-and-functional Soviet nuclear bunkers. It’s a fascinating look at a formerly top-secret military post hidden beneath a sanitorium where top Soviet leaders planned to hide out in the event of a nuclear war.  (The sanitorium is still in operation.)
  • Option 2: Spend the afternoon on your own shopping and strolling through Riga at your leisure
  • Dinner: The AKA restaurant is hidden in Riga’s Old Town, but we know where to find it. Traditional Latvian fish and meat dishes star here.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Hotel: The Grand Palace Hotel 5*

Day 5: Pärnu

  • This morning we head north and cross the Estonian border to have lunch and, if desired, a spa treatment in the resort town of Pärnu, known for its 19th century timber villas and a promenade along a sandy beach.
  • After lunch, the MaxaTours team invites you to a complimentary massage before heading to Estonia’s capital Tallinn.
  • Dinner will be hosted in the Art Nouveau dining room of the Scheeli Restoran in the heart of Tallinn’s impeccably restored Old Town.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Hotel: We’ll stay two nights at the Hotel Telegraaf, another five-star hotel, this one in an 1895 building with an indoor pool in Tallinn’s Old Town.  It’s a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection of noteworthy hotels.

Day 6: Tallinn

  • This morning we`ll get to know Tallinn and visit Old Tallinn’s must-see landmarks including the Town Hall Square that’s been a marketplace in this trading town since the 13th century.  And we won’t miss the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church considered a monumental example of Orthodox sacral architecture with its 11 bells and mosaics and icons in its interior.
  • After lunch, choose from these options:
  • Option 1: Spend a Soviet-style afternoon by exploring the old KGB prison of Patarei and enjoying the colorful buildings that line the narrow streets of Tallinn that are lined with cafes and restaurants.
  • Option 2: Visit the massive Tallinn Central market and stroll around Old Town.
  • Dinner: “Leib” means “black bread” in Estonian, and freshly baked bread is a hallmark of our choice for a dinner restaurant in Tallinn, Leib Restoran.  It’s known by locals for simple, traditional meals using local ingredients.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Hotel: Hotel Telegraaf 5*

Day 7: Ferry to Helsinki

  • After a leisurely morning, we hop on a high-speed ferry that will take us to Finland’s capital city of Helsinki. Upon arrival, we’ll enjoy a late lunch across from our hotel before we take an afternoon walking tour of Helsinki.
  • Dinner will be hosted at Pompier ESPA famous for its homemade bread, soups and salads.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Hotel: Considered the most luxurious hotel in Helsinki, the five-star Hotel Kämp is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Behind its Old World exterior is a gleaming, modern interior that offers a warm welcome to guests.

Day 8: Helsinki

  • This morning, we’ll visit the highlights of Helsinki, including the Helsinki Cathedral, one of the first grand buildings sailors would see upon sailing into the Finnish capital; The Esplanadi, a gorgeous urban park;  Temppeliaukio Church, an impressive church built into solid rock; and Seurasaari Island, one of many islands around Helsinki. This one is great for walking and viewing the open-air museum featuring historic, wooden houses brought to Helsinki from around Finland. And there’s the Old Market Hall that opened in 1889–foreign markets are always interesting to visit to not only see but also to sample local specialties.
  • Feel like a visit to a Finnish sauna?  One option in late afternoon is a visit to one of four urban saunas in Helsinki.  Clean with interesting architecture, the saunas welcome visitors.
  • Our farewell dinner will be hosted at Nolla, a distinctively Finnish restaurant staffed by experienced chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants. The restaurant prides itself on its “clean” cooking using local, organic  ingredients.  No plastics used, no cling wrap, very little waste—this may be the restaurant of the future for the world.
  • Enjoy a concert featuring the music of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, an appropriately high note on which to end an interesting tour of the Baltic States and Finland.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Hotel: Hotel Kämp 5*

Day 9: Departure

  • After breakfast, begin your journey back home.

THE RUDY MAXA DIFFERENCE

When you let The Original Savvy Traveler arrange your trip through Europe, you are guaranteed peace of mind. Rudy Maxa’s team provides personal service and assistance from booking all the way through your journey.

What’s included:

 

  • Welcome package with luggage tags, tour information, and a personal gift from Rudy Maxa.
  • An exclusive experience with a small group (maximum of 20 guests.)
  • Rudy Maxa’s expert team lead by his Group Director will make your trip seamless, and magical. In addition to the team traveling with you, known and approved local guides with extensive knowledge will be show guests around.
  • The freedom to choose between multiple excursions and programs.
  • All tours, admissions, and entertainment.
  • Airport arrival meet and greet with transportation to the first host hotel.
  • Upscale, handpicked hotels inspected and approved by Rudy Maxa’s team.
  • All meals, including an upscale restaurant every night inspected and approved by Rudy Maxa’s team.
  • Luggage Butler Service: leave your bags in your hotel room in the morning and find them waiting in your room at your next hotel.
  • Transportation between cities in smaller luxury vehicles, high speed trains, or by air.
  • All gratuities.