“An eight day cultural tour of Stockholm, travelling along the Baltic coast of Estonia and Latvia, and finishing in Lithuania. Staying in hotels and one overnight boat trip to Tallinn.”
Stockholm | Tallinn | Parnu | Riga | Rundale Palace | War and Peace locations | Vilnius | Tragai Castle
Description of Winter holiday in Stockholm & the Baltics
Have yourself a very merry build up to Christmas on this beautiful Baltic winter holiday, starting in Stockholm, taking a ferry over the Baltic to Estonia and then following this great sea’s coast down through Estonia, Latvia and then through inland Lithuania.
While some people like to do Europe’s Christmas markets fleetingly, this is a week of festive, cultural and fascinating city tours with plenty of markets thrown into the mix. Starting in Stockholm where, as well as its archipelagic beauty, contemporary culture and capital city elegance, its museums and galleries make a fine cultural start to our tour.
Taking an overnight ferry to Tallinn across the Baltic, we have a day and a half to familiarise ourselves with its fairytale-like Old Town , with Gothic spires, horses and carts, pedestrianised medieval squares and artisan crafts. There are plenty of crafts on offer in Parnu too, Estonia’s old seaside resort town, with the biggest market in Eastern Europe for some serious stocking up on Christmas presents.
From Estonia, the smallest country in the Baltics to Latvia where the capital, Riga is the largest metropolis in the Baltics. A port town it has a very pretty, ancient centre, famous for its wooden buildings, cobbled streets, Gothic architecture and superb central market. Before wrapping up with a traditional hot toddy in one of its plethora of cafes, we take a guided tour of Riga Castle, The Dome Cathedral, St Peter’s Church, Great and Small Guild Halls and many more.
Heading further south into Lithuania, much favoured for locations in the recent award winning War and Peace series, and the last stop on this Baltic trip, we enjoy time in its capital city Vilnius. This UNESCO World Heritage site is not only famous for its ancient Cathedral and Square but also for a tile that marks where a 650km human chain linked the city to Tallinn in protest against Soviet occupation. Marked "stebuklas" meaning miracle, its exact location is a secret, but it is somewhere between the cathedral and the cathedral tower. This independent strength is something you will feel throughout the Baltic States, although you will have time to discover many of its secrets too.
Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.
Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: Winter holiday in Stockholm & the Baltics
Accommodation and Meals: You will spend 6 nights in locally run hotels, all in good locations and some with sustainability certification (Konventa Seta in Riga). The hotels use locally produced ingredients wherever possible for breakfast and picnic meals- this is usually a combination of fresh bread, cheeses, meats, fruit and vegetables. Where meals are provided, the food will often be typical of the region; however we do encourage clients to use authentic, small restaurants and cafes as well. Your guide will be able to recommend or take you to some traditional restaurants, selling sauerkraut, borsch, veal and fish dishes.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Local Craft and Culture: There are several cultural stops on our trip, including guided tours around Stockholm, Tallinn and Vilnius, Riga Castle, the Dome Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church, the Monument to Freedom, Rundale Palace, Hill of Crosses and Trakai Castle. Our entry fees to these places go towards their maintenance and using local souvenir shops and cafes which surround them, the community benefits from our presence. In terms of local crafts, the Christmas markets are a definite highlight at this time of year. At Tallinn Christmas market clients can purchase handmade gifts, decorations and mulled wine. Riga Central Market offers Latvian specialties like smoked sausage, caraway cheese, local fruit and Kvas- the local beer made from rye bread.
A Fair Deal: All of our guides are local to the Baltics and in exchange for their insider’s knowledge and passion for the area, we ensure they are paid and treated fairly. You will also find that those working in the hotels and museums are locals as it is a natural requirement for those in the tourist industry to speak all three Baltic languages. Our support of locally staffed businesses helps to provide alternative employment opportunities in areas which are sometimes quite rural. The economy and local community therefore benefits.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 20 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.