Explore Gdańsk’s old port and shipbuilding yards during a boat cruise on the Baltic. Tour the remnants of Wolf’s Lair, an important military headquarters during the battle for the Eastern Front. Stalk along the ramparts of Malbork Castle; at one time in history the world’s largest brick castle. Unearth historical Vilnius on a guided tour of its cathedrals, churches and city square
Uncover the cultural riches and historical intrigues of four fascinating countries on a journey across northern Poland and the Baltic states. Beginning the adventure in Poland’s premier seaside hub of Gdansk, learn of the city’s former shipbuilding industry and military significance during a boat ride out through Westerplatte and into the Gulf of Gdansk. See the summer capitol of Poland, Gizycko, and explore nearby famous lakes. Visit a major military headquarters used during fighting for the Eastern Front. Crossing into Lithuania, spend an afternoon exploring Vilnius’ old town (and kooky breakaway republic), then finish things up becoming acquainted with the lively and picturesque capitals of Latvia and Estonia, Riga and Tallinn. Encompassing both historical attractions and outings for the active, a bit of Europe both old and new, this is the trip for travellers wanting to check out a side of Europe often overlooked.
Breakfast Included: 10 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 1
Welcome to atmospheric Gdańsk, Poland's fourth largest city and major seaport. There are no activities planned until the group meeting this evening (6pm), so if arriving early be sure to head out on an explore. Aside from boasting some very grand architecture, Gdańsk has a wealth of sites worth checking out. Pay a visit to the National Museum for a dose of fine art, follow in the footsteps of visiting royalty with a lap or two of Royal Way, or travel a suburb over to Sopot and take a stroll along Europe's longest wooden pier.
Today you'll spend getting to know Gdańsk and its history as relayed by your tour leader during leader led orientation walk. After walking through the city and its sights, board an old galleon style ship for a cruise out on the Baltic. Cruising along Westerplatte's peninsula, become versed in the city's shipbuilding heritage with stop-ins at the Gdańsk Shipyard, a repair yard, the docks and Wisłoujście Fortress.
Malbork Castle / Wolf's Lair / Masurian Lake District
Today involves a fair bit of travel with several interesting stop-offs en route to break up the journey. The first stop, only a 30 minute drive out of Gdansk, is Malbork castle. This beautifully preserved fortress is a classic example of medieval architecture and, on its completion in 1406, stood as the world's largest brick castle. Following an audioguide tour of the castle, enjoy lunch before continuing on to Wolf`s Lair, the first military headquarters from which Hitler oversaw the fighting on the Eastern Front. You'll be shown around the site by a local guide, then, following a refreshment stop, continue on to Gizycko – summer capital of Poland. Situated on the shore of Niegocin Lake, Gizycko offers a number of interesting food and drink options, so well deserved after a long day of travelling.
Masurian Lake District / Gizycko
See in the morning with a boat ride on Niegocin Lake, the seventh largest lake in the country. Gently cruising across towards Gizycko, or Love Island, situated towards the other side of the lake and occupied mostly by cormorants. Take a chance to spy other wildlife too, it’s plentiful in this part of Poland. Lake District contains over 2ooo lakes and recently was had been elected as one of the 28 finalists of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The afternoon is free for you to spend however you wish, perhaps with a swim in the lake or hike or bike ride to one of the neighbouring villages. If you are in to history and would like to learn more about the region, Boyen Fortress is a place to see. Former Prussian fortress is situated between Niegocin and Kisajno lakes and played its part in both World Wars.
This morning after breakfast we travel east into Lithuania and its capital Vilnius (Approx. travel time 2.5 hours). After settling into your hotel, join the group for a city tour led by a local guide Passing through Cathedral Square and the Old Town, learn about the famous Grand Duke Gediminas, the legend of Vilnius' creation and the prestigious history of Vilnius University. See the painting of Our Lady of the Dawn Gate that adorns the Gate of Dawn, then venture out to get to know Vilnius on your own terms or join your group for your first Lithuanian dinner.
Today's set aside for you to explore all that this lively city has to offer. Options include: climbing the Hill of Crosses for magnificent views over the city; heading up to the TV tower that stands as a symbol of Lithuania’s independence; visiting the Cathedral and climbing its tower, and visiting a country within a country – the Republic of Užupis. Much to the surprise (and amusement) of the outside world, this small Vilnius suburb of artists and eccentrics declared themselves an independent republic on April 1st 1997. You can pore over the peculiar articles of its constitution on one of the city walls.
A trip up to Trakai castle is another recommended visit. Located on a small island in the middle of the lake, this castle was the capital of the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania before the establishment of Vilnius. The castle is these days accessible by a bridge, the shoreside walk to which is very pleasant. Your trip leader will be able to give you detailed instructions on how to get there.
Hop aboard a comfortable public bus for the onwards drive to Riga (approx. 4h). After arrival, transfer to our hotel, which is located a short walk from the symbolic Freedom Monument – or, as she's affectionately known to the locals, Milda.
Head out on an orientation walk with your leader through the small cobbled streets and squares to discover the main sights of the Old Town. During this walk you'll also visit the central market, buzzing with life in old zeppelin hangars. Stop to taste a few local specialities along the way, perhaps finishing the afternoon with a shot of traditional Riga Black Balsam.
Enjoy a free day getting to know Riga at your own pace. Most of the Art Noveau architecture for which the city is famed is located in a part known as 'the quiet centre'. A leisurely stroll along the canal that intersects the town's central park is another popular outing, as is a visit to one of its many museums – the recently renovated Art Museum, located only a few minutes walk from our hotel, is particularly impressive. Take in views of the city with a drink at a rooftop cafe (your leader will be able to make some recommendations) or, if it's summertime, make the trip to the popular beach resort town of Jurmala (only a 30 min train ride away).
Rise early for the trip to Saaremaa island, the largest island in Estonia. Travelling first by private minivan and then public ferry, you'll arrive in the island's southern part by late afternoon for a night's stay in a local farmhouse (home cooked dinner included, approx. travel time 6 h).
Transferring to the biggest town on the island, Kuresaare, spend a few spare hours exploring the town before catching a public bus to the Estonian capital of Tallinn (Approx travel time 4.5 h). Tonight's accommodation is in Tallinn's atmospheric Old Town, which you'll get to know on an orientation walk with your leader. As tonight's your last with your group and trip leader, why not head out for a memorable dinner among friends.
Your trip ends this morning after breakfast. There are no activities planned and you're free to check out of your hotel at any time.