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3 weeks - Helsinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius - Aug/Sept.

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Apr 8th, 2014, 07:58 AM
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3 weeks - Helsinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius - Aug/Sept.

Hi, this is a modified version of my Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn post under Lithuania.
I am posting this under Finland and Riga threads.

I will be traveling in the last 2 weeks of August and 1st week of September.
I will start in Helsinki, take a ferry to Tallinn, fly to Riga and fly to Vilnius.

I was thinking of:
5 nights in Helsinki
5 nights in Tallinn
5 nights in Riga
4 nights in Vilnius
All including day trips

What do you think of this itinerary? I’m going to book my flights soon but am flexible to change and ideas.
I will fly within the Baltic States as the bus rides are too long for me; I get nauseated very easily on road trips. Although I haven’t come across many positive reviews of airBaltic, I think it’s the only airline offering direct flights.

I have to choose b/w 3 ferry companies:
Tallink Silja, Eckerö Line and Viking Line. Any preferences?

I have also narrowed down my hotel options and have gotten many good ideas for day trips. My main interests are history, culture, architecture, art and really learning about the city/country I’m visiting.

I would appreciate any comments, feedback, suggestions....

Thank you
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Apr 8th, 2014, 07:59 AM
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Sorry, I meant Finland and Latvia threads.
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Apr 25th, 2014, 04:11 AM
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Hi,

The ferry companies between Helsinki-Tallinn are pretty much similar, so my advice would be to choose the one that has the best price and schedule for your travel date. It is possible to take a fast ferry (check out Linda Line too) which takes a couple of hours or slower one where you spend one night on board. The harbour in Tallinn is easy walk to old town.

In Helsinki I can recommended visiting Suomenlinna fortress. Seurasaari is also a popular spot for picnics etc. with locals.

If you are planning day-trips in Finland by bus there is also a newish budget bus company, Onnibus. They are usually much cheaper than train or ordinary busses.
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Apr 25th, 2014, 05:38 PM
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We did 4 nights Copenhangen, flew on SAS to spend 3 nights in Helsinki, took the Tallink (a bit over 2 hours) to spend 2 nights in Tallinn and 4 nights Stockholm (overnight ferry in between Tallinn and Stockholm on the Tallink Silja).

For us, those number of nights worked well. Tallinn is very small and I would have been very bored after 3 days...

We were happy flying SAS.

I found everything pretty cheap in Tallinn compared to Helsinki (the food there was so expensive!) but it was my favorite city out of the 4 visited.

I regretted no visiting St Petersburg... is this a city you've considered adding?

You'll have a fabulous trip! I wanted to go to Riga this year, but chose something different from what we did in 2013... it might be on my list (along with Lithuania) in 2015
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Apr 25th, 2014, 08:34 PM
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IMO 5 nights each in Helsinki and Tallinn are too many. Have you considered catching the overnight ferry from Helsinki to St Pete's? We did this and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. No visa necessary for entry on the ferry line. 72hrs is the time limit: enough to get a taste of St Pete's. I'd be happy to answer any other questions if you would like to pursue this option.
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Apr 25th, 2014, 10:15 PM
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I agree that that is too much time for Tallinn, even with day trips. Click on my name for my Baltics TR. BTW, I'm not sure that flying Tallin-Riga will be any faster than the bus.
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Apr 26th, 2014, 06:51 AM
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A friend and I went to Helsinki, St Petersburg, and Tallinn last summer. I agree with the others, 5 days is too long in H and T. We did not enjoy Helsinki, it was very expensive and was just another big city. One day would have been plenty to see everything.

We took the overnight ferry to St Petersburg on the 72 hours visa free deal, it was fabulous! That equated to 3 days and we sure wished we had a couple more.

One day was plenty in Tallinn also, it is very small. Once you have milled around in the old town part, you have done it.

I typed up my report from that trip and would be happy to email it to you. If interested, just email me at [email protected].

We are budget travelers, btw.

Hope you enjoy your trip,
Sandy (in Denton)
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Apr 26th, 2014, 07:59 PM
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3 weeks - Helsinki-Tallinn-Riga-Vilnius - Aug/Sept.
Posted by: Jackie0626 on Apr 8, 14 at 10:58am
Hi, this is a modified version of my Vilnius-Riga-Tallinn post under Lithuania. I am posting this under Finland and Riga threads.


Have you considered starting in Stockholm? The Silja ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki is fantastic. I've done it several times. Agree with others that Helsinki ain't much, and you're probably giving too much time to the Baltic capitals. I've been to the trio but traveled by bus, and then by bus to Warsaw. The bus is a five hour ordeal between those cities. There is no train. I didn't think about flying.
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Apr 26th, 2014, 08:48 PM
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"The bus is a five hour ordeal between those cities."

I took the bus between Tallinn and Riga, I don't remember it being any kind of ordeal, although the scenery got boring. My bus had wifi and coffee, and an interesting seatmate. Not sure it was as long as five hours, either. In any case, you have to add time to the actual flight time to allow for arriving at the airport ahead of time and getting to/from.

BTW, there is train service of a kind between Riga and Vilnius, you have to overnight near the border!
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Apr 27th, 2014, 08:56 AM
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I was very hesitant about taking an overnight ferry (we did the 17 hour crossing from Tallinn to Stockholm) but many Fodorites strongly recommended it. I have to say it was a very pleasant, memorable experience. The only thing I'd do differently is not stay up partying so late !! so I can get up early the next morning to enjoy the magnificant navigating through the Swedish archipelago. I did see some of it, but not enough. Out of the 15 nights we were away, that night on the ferry stands out.

I'm like the OP though, bus travel can make me very nauseous and I prefer to travel by other modes of transportation. Flights can be very cheap, we scored a $65 deal from Copenhagen to Helsinki...

As I stated above, my biggest regret is not making it to St Petersburg....
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Apr 27th, 2014, 07:08 PM
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We took the overnight ferry from Tallinn to Stockholm and did get up early for the trip through the archipelago. It was a lovely trip. Very much enjoyed our overnight ferries. Would not hesitate to take them again. Very reasonably priced also.
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Apr 27th, 2014, 09:35 PM
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I will be in Tallinn for a few days for work. This thread has given me new ideas.
Thus, asking some quick questions and then will do more research.
Holding a US passport, can I take a ferry from Tallinn to St. Petersburg. Just curious to find out how long is the trip, and the cost and is it worthwhile doing it as a day trip.

If you think this is too ambitious, then which other ferry can I take for a day trip to any other place.

Thanks for your input. Have a great evening.
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Apr 27th, 2014, 09:42 PM
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ttt
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Apr 27th, 2014, 11:32 PM
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ileen, you could take a ferry to Helsinki. That would be the fastest and cheapest option. Stockholm is also a possibility, but that would require at least two nights.

I have done the St Petersburg ferry from Helsinki. The ferry stops for about 10 hours in St Pete, but the passport check and bus transfer from/to ferry port take time. I think that we had around eights hours for actual sightseeing.
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Apr 28th, 2014, 01:21 AM
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I believe I've flown AirBaltic 3 or 4 times, (not 100% sure, but they fly to the cities I know I visited before or after Vilnius and I don't know any other airline with a name similar to that). They were fine, I think one of the flights left significantly late. I used flight coupons, where I pre-bought them (I live in the US) and each coupon was $100 (a long time ago). I don't know if you're a US resident or from elsewhere, but this sort of thing still exists and may or may not save you money over the normal airfares, especially if you want the flexibility to set your flight time closer to the flight date when ticket prices are higher.

What's your traveling style? Do you zip around or really linger and absorb things? From your interests I don't think you'll be done with Tallinn in a day unless you're a speed-tourist; I was there about a day and half and I spent all the time wandering and photographing (and visiting shops--art is/was very affordable there!) and I sadly didn't make it into any museums. (I'm a lingerer). It's a gorgeous town and quite steep so just absorbing it takes some time.

I'm not sure how well the plan of 5 days in one spot and doing day-trips will work, it takes quite awhile to get to things! Of course staying just one night or even two and then moving on can be tiring as well. I only visited Tallinn in Estonia, I've only bused through Latvia, but I've gone to several places in Lithuania and don't think you have left enough time for the things I think are outstanding there (but of course the other countries may have their own outstanding things):

Hill of Crosses in Siaulai can be done as a day-trip from Vilnius (I did it but I recall it was quite a long day) as well as Trakai Castle of course, but I don't know about Gruto Parkas, for it I spent the night (or 2 nights?) in Druskininkai. (I loved Gruto Parkas). Druskininkai also has the home of Ciurlionis, but I didn't visit because of lack of time as well as interest--I hadn't seen his artwork yet. I saw his work in the museum in Kaunas and then regretted not seeing the home, maybe there were more dreamy fabulous works in it!

I also loved my visit to the Rumsiskes Open-Air folk museum. It and Gruto Park had some eye-opening info about Lithuania's treatment by the Nazis and Communists and Rumsiskes about other historical periods and traditional ways. I got there by public bus from Kaunas but it looks pretty close to Vilnius too. The bus from Kaunas dropped me about 1km away from the museum, with no signs, and that was pre-GPS and smartphones. Luckily people in Lithuania are very nice and helped me out (but they will 70% likely not speak English). I hope there's better signage by now (or that you will have a map/GPS).

I have also stayed in Klaipeda and done a day-trip from there to Palanga, and slept in Nida for a couple of nights. That whole west-coast portion was all about amber; the time in Nida was for trying to beachcomb for amber (didn't find any, but that coastal area is cute with its own charming architecture) and in Palanga I visited the lovely Amber museum. I'm not sure the museum is worth the time to reach it as a day-trip from Vilnius but it was really good, a true museum unlike the "Amber Museum" (shop) in Vilnius.

My favorite things in Lithuania are: (star means super-highly recommended)
*1. Hill of Crosses
*2. Graveyard in Vilnius, I think it was Berdardine. Absolutely outstanding sculpture. If you go to that one and the sculptural headstones aren't there, I was wrong and try another.
*3. Gruto Parkas
*4. Rumsiskes
*5. Wandering all over Vilnius, Genocide museum in the former KGB headquarters
6. Kaunas art museum (I'd never seen Ciurlioinis so was stunned, if you're familiar/have different tastes you may not feel the same)
7. Palanga Amber Museum
8. Trakai Castle
9. Coast area--Nida

Lastly, do you know about the In Your Pocket guide series, covering all the places you're considering? I found their information so helpful. They are online and then the little guidebooks are for sale in many locations (or used to be).
http://www.inyourpocket.com/lithuania
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Apr 28th, 2014, 08:08 AM
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This is the website for the St Pete Line: http://www.stpeterline.ru/en/Schedule/Schedule.aspx

Once you arrive in St Pete's you will disembark and board a bus for a 'tour' of the city. This is nothing more than a way to get around the visa issue. The bus will make several stops throughout the city and you can just get off wherever you want. Later in the day you will again board the bus wherever you want (although it is probably best to re board at your same location to avoid missing the bus). You will then re board the ferry to make the overnight trip back.

I suggest walking to the Church on the Spilled Blood. Beautiful.
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Apr 28th, 2014, 11:46 AM
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Babelic-Thanks for your input.
I am doing some more research.
I really wanted to just go to St. Pete's but not sure if I can do it as a day trip. Go very early in the morning and return in evening.

Michele--I will look into this St. Pete's line too.
Appreciate all the help.

Any other ideas in case the St. Pete's does not work out.

If I go to Helsinki, how long is the ferry ride. Possible a day trip.

Or anyone has any other suggestions.

Have a great day.
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Apr 28th, 2014, 11:51 AM
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I did a day trip from Tallinn with EstAdventures, if you'd rather not take a ferry. Recommended.

http://www.estadventures.ee
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Apr 28th, 2014, 01:01 PM
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http://www.lindaline.ee/en/?p=256

This is the website for the Linda Line: a fast ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn and back. I think the trip was around 1 1/2 hrs.

The ferry to St Petes is not done as a day trip. You leave Helsinki at 6pm and arrive St Petes 9:30 am the next morning. You then visit St Petes and board the ship at 7pm and arrive Helsinki 8am the next morning, so two nights aboard the ship. It is quite a distance, the traveling takes place at night. You would probably have about 6 hours in St Petes, as you need to embark at least one hr prior to departure. Not a lot of time but better than nothing.
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Apr 28th, 2014, 02:09 PM
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Note that the Linda Line is the fastest ferry to Helsinki, but it doesn't go in bad weather. Also look at Tallink and Viking.
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