Poland and the Baltics small group holiday
Description of Poland and the Baltics small group holiday
Uncover the cultural riches and historical intrigues of four fascinating countries on a journey across northern Poland and the Baltic states, beginning in the atmospheric port city of Gdansk.
Here, 800 years of history ranges from medieval trading heyday to the fantastic era of the Solidarity movement chronicled in a fantastic museum beside the shipyards from which the movement sprang to overthrow Communist dictatorship. You'll also enjoy a cruise in an old galleon style ship out on the Baltic. Free time also allows a visit to the two adjacent towns that form the Tri-City with Gdansk – the elegant 19th century beach resort Sopot (home to Europe's longest wooden pier) and the gritty port of Gdynia, home to the superb Emigration Museum.
A day trip also introduces you to three intriguingly different places in northern Poland. Contrast the magnificent 15th century Malbork Castle with the eerie WW2 history of the so-called Wolf's Lair - Hitler's HQ for the invasion of Russia. Then immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Wigry Lake, set at the heart of a national park renowned for its forested islands, with a dash of holy history in the shape of the atmospheric Kamedul Monastery.
Travelling onto Lithuania, discover its characterful capital Vilnius, from grand historic spots like the Hill of Crosses and Trakai Castle (beautifully set on a lake island) to the quirky boho 'art republic' neighbourhood of U˛upis.
The Latvian capital Riga, meanwhile, offers one of Europe's most gorgeous Art Nouveau townscapes, as well as an impressive Art Museum. A great add-on here is the pretty beach resort town of Jurmala, a short half-hour jaunt from the city. You'll also see a more rural side of the Baltics with a trip to Saaremaa island, the largest island in neighbouring Estonia, where you'll enjoy an atmospheric overnight farmhouse stay.
The tour ends in Estonia's lovely capital Tallinn, where the history of the ravishing Old Town contrasts with echoes of Soviet rule and a thriving creative scene you can dip into at the excellent Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design (ETDM).
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PlanetThe Baltic States are easily explored by public transport meaning we’ll use it on this trip wherever it’s reliable, safe and feasible to do so. For example, on the seventh day of our itinerary we’ll take a local bus from Vilnius to Riga, or on the ninth we’ll use a public ferry to get to Saaremaa Island. If for any reason public transport isn’t an option, we’ll choose to travel in private locally owned vehicles instead.
We educate our all passengers about environmental issues. Starting with our initial group meeting, during which we encourage everyone to refill bottles and recycle throughout the trip when possible. All our tour leaders are there to set a good example and teach individuals how to become more responsible travellers. They will pick up litter if they see any, use drinking bottles and continue to communicate our responsible travel philosophy.
We also give out canvas bags at the start of each trip. Our travellers can then use them every day, whether to go shopping for souvenirs or for carrying those daily essentials. These bags go home with our travellers too in the hope they’ll continue to be used long after their adventure with us comes to an end.
PeopleAn important part of travelling is mixing with the local people and experiencing real-life in your chosen destination. In the Baltic States, our focus is on making a positive impact and providing numerous opportunities for local interactions, particularly as we cover so much ground using public transport. You’ll be amazed by how much you can learn from a friendly local who strikes up a conversation during a journey.
The markets in Riga and Vilnius also offer a great opportunity to speak with locals and help us to give back to the communities we visit. Elderly people in the Baltic States have depended on selling their produce at markets for many years and this is often their only source of income. So, by buying local produce and products you’re helping to boost the local economy.
We’re also committed to employing local leaders for our trips. On the many guided town tours, we use the services of a local guide, bringing money into the local community and giving our travellers the benefit of an experience through local eyes. Your leader and local guides will be able to direct you to many local eateries throughout the trip too, enabling you to discover real local fare at real local prices (you might even learn some of the local language whilst you’re at it).
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