The Unspoiled Charm of the Baltic Sea
The Baltic region, known as such for its position next to the Baltic Sea, compromises a collection of countries, all of which host uncontested pleasures. The Baltic region is home to some of the finest historical architecture and to some of the most cosmopolitan of capital cities. It boasts the grandeur of cities such as St Petersburg juxtaposed by long, isolated, undiscovered coastlines. It is ideal for explorer’s; there is something new to do and see each day. There is dense and diverse heritage and vast, multifarious landscapes around which to plan your ideal trip. Whether you find accommodation as you go along (so that you can follow your whim) or plan an itinerary beforehand the region has a plethora of experience which goes unrivaled by anywhere else in the world.
The Baltic States
The largely forgotten, Baltic States, are home to wild and ragged coastlines, sparsely populated islands, acres of untouched forestry, crystal clear lake water and some astounding medieval architecture. These countries, dense with history and culture, are a must-explore of the Baltic Region.
Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, is like a scene from a fairy tale. One of the legacies of invading empires is the medieval architecture and grand manor houses which adorn the city’s streets. Tallinn is home to the 13th century Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral, which can be found on Toompea Hill. From Toompea Hill (which also situates Toompea Castle) there is a spectacular view of the Gulf of Finland.
Out of the city, Estonia is rich with forestry, rivers, lakes and waterfalls, wonderful for trekking, canoeing or simply admiring. There are stunning coastlines; all of which are untainted and pristine with natural beauty.
On the Eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, Latvia is the most diverse of the Baltic States; a third of the population of Latvia is of Russian descent. This is epitomized by its capital city, Riga, which is cosmopolitan and vibrant. It is a rival for Prague and has the added bonus of being relatively undiscovered by tourists. Less than an hour away from the buzz of this city is Sigulda – otherwise known as ‘Little Switzerland’. Here there is a national park, a medieval castle and even a bobsleigh run if you’ve feeling like something really fun to do!
The Bauska Region is also less than an hour from Riga, but to the south. The region is known for its castles and palaces with architectural magnificence ranging from medieval to classical. An absolute must see is Rundal Palace; built in the 1730’s and designed by the same architect who became infamous for Winter Palace in St Petersburg.
Lithuania, also rich in history and culture, has a warm and outgoing population of people. The capital of Lithuania (the largest city in the country) is Vilnius. Vinius, situated in the south-east of the country and built on the bank of the Neris River, was once one of the biggest cities in Europe. It still displays one of the largest Baroque Old Towns.
Whilst in Lithuania, a trip 150 miles Northwest of Vilnius is essential. Here on a small mound is the ‘Hill Of Crosses’. The Lithuanian people have erected hundreds of crosses to represent their peaceful resistance to foreign oppression. Lithuania did not achieve absolute independence from the Soviet Union until the 1990’s and they also experienced Nazi occupation during WW2.
Beyond the Baltic States
As the Baltic Region is geographically positioned along the Baltic Sea it is possible to travel either by land or by water. Making a sea cruise part of your trip can be a wonderful way of visiting a multitude of destinations and experiencing the Baltic Region from a different viewpoint. The region includes the Baltic States; Denmark, Germany, Finland, Poland, Russia, Norway and Sweden. There is opportunity to see the eerily transcendental natural beauty of the Northern Lights, the majesty of St Petersburg, the white sand dunes and sapphire sea of the East German coast, the dramatic white cliffs of South Zealand in Denmark – not to mention heritage reaching as far back as the medieval times, relics from the Vikings, Gothic churches and some of the most vivacious cities of the world such as Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Berlin.
Spanning a reasonably small area the Baltic Region has a rich tapestry of history and a medley of culture to be discovered. The landscapes are as diverse as the people that populate them and the architecture rich with historic identity. In many places it is fabulously serene and unspoilt, whilst it also offers some of the world’s most exquisite cities. With such an array, the Baltic Region’s magnificence is unlikely to remain a well-kept secret for long.