By Carissa Hickok
The Baltic region includes the countries of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and they offer a wide array of intact cultural spots with great architectural sights. These states can provide many insights into the lesser known side of Europe, which is exactly why more and more travelers are choosing to explore this region. If you are visiting the Baltics for the first time, it is probably the best idea to explore the capital cities first, as all three are rich in history and they have an abundance of great sightseeing spots. The capitals are a great base for exploration, especially if you’re visiting only for a day or two.
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is somewhat contradictory at first glance, as it has a quite modern look, but at the same time, it’s one of the most preserved medieval cities around the globe. The Old Town part of Tallinn is on the Unesco World Heritage Site list and it dates back to the 13th century. You’ll be running across century-old building at every turn and you can easily get lost in the maze of alleyways this part of town has. When you find yourself in the Old Town, you should take the time and go to the Toompea Hill, where you’ll get to see the whole Old Town stretching to the borders of the modern city, which can also be seen beyond.
While Riga, the capital of Latvia, also has a magnificent Old Town part of the city, it’s mostly known for its amazing nightlife. It has been voted European Capital of Culture in 2014 and has since built on that reputation to become one of the most vibrant cosmopolitan cities in the world. The remnants of the past are imminent to show in this city, with Riga Cathedral and White Stone Palace as the main testimonies of the past. Another great spot to check out in this city has to be the House of Blackheads, which was built in 1334. It served as a meeting venue for various social occasions in Riga, up until the 1700s, where it was taken over by Blackheads’ Society, for which the building is now known.
Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, can boast with the fact that it probably has the highest number of attractions and sightseeing spots in all of the Baltics, which is no small achievement. The only inland capital of the Baltics also has a region of the main city called Old Town, which can only be described as warm and mellow, with its uniquely colored houses and baroque architecture. Vilnius is less commercial and it gives off a real bohemian feel to it, which can’t exactly be said for its northern comrades. One of the main attractions of this beautiful city is the Gates of Dawn, which is a city gate from the 16th century, the last one that still remains intact. Nowadays the Gated of Dawn has become a true shrine, with many exquisite paintings held in the Chapel of the Gated of Dawn.
Not yet convinced to visit the capitals of the Baltics? Check out some imagery online – you will be amazed!
Carissa enjoys traveling so much that she left the corporate world to work as a freelancer, which allows her to up and go on a regular basis. She lives with her dachshund, Daphne in central Florida.