Poland, the Last Leg of Our Trip
The last stop on our whirlwind tour of the Baltics was Krakow, Poland. We caught the smallest plane ever from Lithuania (it even had propellers) and landed in Krakow via Warsaw. We were only in the country for a couple of nights so really had to condense the major things we wanted to see and do in this historical city.
Our main reason for visiting Poland was to see Auschwitz. We whole-heartedly recommend that everyone should go there, but we’re glad we went at the end of our two week trip through the Baltics.
We got to Krakow mid afternoon and the weather was hot, for some reason I never expected Poland to be a warm country so I was pleasantly surprised. We struck gold with our accommodation.
After a 4 hour coach ride from Riga we ended up in Vilnius the capital city of Lithuania and the 4th country on our Baltic Trip. Like Riga, Vilnius has also been voted as a European City of Culture, and it’s Old Town is also a World Heritage Site. So yes we were excited to explore Riga, stretch our legs and find things to see and do.
Stopping off at Riga Central Market
The next stop on our Baltic trip was Riga. We arrived in the capital of Latvia suitably relaxed and refreshed and got off at the main coach station to start our Latvian travel adventure. We had to walk through the Central Market to reach our accommodation and it was bustling!
Riga is the largest city by population in the Baltics and the Riga Central Market is not only the biggest market in Europe but also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The raw hustle and bustle of daily life at the market was a marked difference in atmosphere to the picturesque Tallinn. The energy that hit us immediately after stepping off the coach widened our eyes and only increased our excitement for things to do in Riga during our 3 day stay in the characterful city.
Riga has a beautiful Old Town filled with Art Nouveau buildings, but unlike Tallinn it feels as though the Riga Old Town is for locals as much as tourists. It is abound with fashionable boutiques, galleries, hip restaurants and bars. After a relaxed day of discovering the Riga’s old town, we hit a few of these bars.
4 Highlights of Estonia
We began the second part of our Baltic trip by entering Estonia and the World Heritage site of Tallinn via the Gulf of Finland by a high-speed hydrofoil which covered the 85 km in less than 2 hours at a cost of 20€ each. Tallinn is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and this was apparent with the cobble-stoned alleyways and picturesque buildings we saw as we entered Tallinn Old Town.
The old town is no doubt touristy with its pristine streets and many “traditional” restaurants, but it is beautiful nonetheless. There are sprinklings of the new and hip with modern culture graffiti and retro cool Soviet style cafes such as Kohvik Must Prudel facing ornate orthodox churches and historic residential buildings.
Top Things To Do in Helsinki
We flew into Helsinki airport as the starting point for our 2 week Baltic trip taking us through the Baltic states and ending up in Poland. Here’s our list of the top things to do in the modern capital of Finland.
Meeting Moomin in Helsinki
Ateneum is a great art museum in central Helsinki. If you are interested in art it is always worth checking out what current exhibitions they have on offer. On our visit the Ateneum held an exhibition to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Finnish author/ artist, Tove Jansson. Tove Jansson is probably best known for her series of Moomin books. The exhibition was well presented with rooms and rooms of both collected and borrowed work, and plenty of information offered in both English and Finnish. Admission is 13€ pp.
From Finland To Poland, travelling through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
Planning our itinerary around South East Asia got us thinking about our Baltic trip largely done via coach. During our research it’s become obvious that travelling around SE Asia is not the quickest. Our Baltic coach trip was the complete opposite, and also cheap and comfortable to boot.
Lux Express, one of the largest coach operators in the Baltic region allowed us to travel quickly, cheaply and in great comfort between Tallinn and Parnu in Estonia, through to Riga in Latvia, and then onto Vilnius in Lithuania.