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Baltic states Travel guide

Lake Galve The town hall and House of the Blackheads Folk dances
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Baltic states : Michelin's recommendations

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Going from north to south, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are three small, overlooked countries with a turbulent past punctuated by long periods of occupation. While they have some points in common, they also have some real differences. The Baltic States are bordered by the Baltic Sea to the west and share borders with Poland, Byelorussia and Russia, a country which is still regarded with mistrust.

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania cannot be summed up merely by their capital cities, even though Tallinn, Rĭga and Vilnius remain the region's driving forces in the economic, cultural and tourist sectors. These contrasting towns are both traditional and trendy, drawing you in with their medieval, Baroque and Art Nouveau city centres, the Gothic spires and onion-domed bell towers of their churches, and their red-tiled roofs.

And yet, when the fleeting summer arrives, Balts and tourists migrate to the Baltic Sea lined with long sandy beaches, to the remote coves of Saaremaa and Lahemaa (Estonia), and the vast expanses of beach on the Courland Isthmus and the Latvian coast. To experience a true seashore atmosphere (beaches, festivities, restaurants), make a beeline for Pärnu (Estonia), Palanga (Lithuania), Liepāja or Jūrmala (Latvia).

The relatively low-lying inland areas are full of well-preserved natural environments featuring dunes, beaches and pine forests in the Courland Isthmus (Lithuania), Slītere Park (Latvia), Lahemaa Park and the shores of Lake Peïpous (Estonia); wetland areas in the Neman Delta (Lithuania), Soomaa Park (Estonia); Aukštaitija's connected lakes (Lithuania), and rivers and caves in Gauja Park (Latvia).

Baltic states - See all cities and regions

Baltic states : Must-see towns and regions

  • Riga

    Riga is a captivating place. A stroll through the atmospheric city should take in both the historic centre and the modern town, a mixture of Hanseatic houses, Art Nouveau buildings and important churc...

  • Vilnius

    Lying in the east of the country and with around 540 000 inhabitants, Vilnius is Lithuania’s capital and a showcase for its architectural heritage, bearing witness to a tumultuous past yet looking to ...

  • Tallinn

    Estonia’s dynamic capital is Tallinn, situated on the north coast. It is also the main port on the gulf of Finland, a stone’s throw away from Helsinki. A historic city with Unesco World Heritage site ...

  • Jurmala

    Tucked away among the pine trees on the south coast of the gulf of Riga is Jurmala, Latvia’s premier resort which has drawn those in quest of seaside and spa holidays for over a century. Whether visit...

  • Kaunas

    Kaunas is Lithuania’s second city and should not be missed. This place is bustling (most notably on Laisv?s Street), rich in museums and religious buildings in its historic centre, and renowned worldw...

  • Tartu

    The emphasis in Tartu is on quality of life. The fact that it is a university town ensures that it has a youthful and lively atmosphere; its streets are lined by fine neo-Classical buildings and many ...

  • Palanga

    Fishermen, merchants and amber prospectors (the town coat of arms includes an amber necklace) have populated Palanga down the centuries. Since the 19C its fine beach has drawn holidaymakers in droves,...

  • Pärnu

    Sun umbrellas and beach towels are in order for a visit to Pärnu, this seaside resort which is highly regarded among Estonians for its fine sandy beach nestling in a sheltered bay. From the early 19C ...

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