Nordic & Baltic Road Trip May 2020!

Nordic & Baltic Road Trip May 2020!

Join us on an epic road trip through the incredibly scenic countries of Finland, Estonia & Latvia – Capital Cities & National Parks

We’re off to explore three countries that lie on the Baltic Sea! We’ll visit the Nordic nation of Finland and learn why it’s ranked The Happiest Place in the World! Then we’ll cross the Baltic Sea to go off the beaten path to the former Soviet Republics of Estonia and Latvia to check out these Baltic countries and their fairytale-like towns with their fascinating & beautifully preserved historic sites.
Helsinki, Tallin & Riga Road Trip

Helsinki Capital of Finland
Get ready for a 10 day adventure exploring the capital cities of Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga with many other intriguing and fascinating stops along the way.

​We’ll start our journey in Helsinki in the land of the midnight sun. We’ll enjoy the short but sweet season of Summer in Finland where the sun remains somewhat visible around the clock in June. We will take advantage of this soft filtered light while enjoying a traditional sauna experience with a sauna mama, riding fat tire bikes through the pristine Nuuksio National Park, exploring the charming medieval town of Porvoo, and learning more about the Russian & Swedish rule of Finland during a walking tour on the island of Suomenlinna.

Stop 1 – Helsinki – Capital of Finland

Road Trip Finland Estonia and Latvia

Helsinki Capital Finland

Stop 2 – Nuuksio National Park

 Road Trip Adventure in Finland, Estonia, & Latvia May 2020

Lake in Finland
We will continue our exploration of medieval towns by crossing the water on a luxury ferry boat arriving in the Fairytale town of Tallin Estonia. Our private guide will start our tour in Old Town Tallin – one of 200 Hanseatic cities around the World.

​Tallinn was a member of the Hanseatic League of cities involved in the maritime medieval trading routes, dating back to the 13th Century. In the 19th century, Tallinn was called the Naples of Scandinavia. The Gothic architecture is reminiscent of a childhood fairytale with old town walled entrances, colorful buildings and stately church towers.

Stop 3 – Porvoo

Nordic & Baltic Road Trip Adventure - Finland, Estonia, & Latvia May 2020

The Medieval Town of Porvoo

Stop 5 – Heritage Sauna Experience

Nordic & Baltic Road Trip Adventure - Finland, Estonia, & Latvia May 2020

A Sauna Experience in Finland
Click the “Read More” link to learn more about this amazing trip!

Stop 6 – Suomenlinna Fortress and Island

Nordic & Baltic Road Trip Adventure - Finland, Estonia, & Latvia May 2020

Suomenlinna Island Helsinki

Ferry to Tallinn Estonia

Road Trip Adventure - Ferry portion to Estonia

Ferry to Tallin Estonia

Stop 4 – Tallinn Old Town – Capital of Estonia

Nordic & Baltic Road Trip Adventure - Finland, Estonia, & Latvia May 2020

World Unesco Heritage Site – Tallinn Estonia
The journey progresses and the next stop is Soomaa National Park where we will partake in canoeing and the unique activity of bog walking. After departing our afternoon of adventures in the National Park, next stop is the idyllic seaside town of Parnu Estonia. Situated near the Gulf of Livonia. Parnu’s beaches have white sand as far as the eye can see. Parnu’s most notable attraction is the Mary-Magdalene Guild. The guild is a collection of artisan workshops and studios housed within a restored wooden house in the center of town. We will depart Parnu and cross the border into Latvia to the Sigulda Region where we will have a traditional Latvian lunch experience and then for a refreshing hike in this breathtaking park.

Stop 5 – Soomaa National Park – Canoeing & Bog Walking

Nordic & Baltic Road Trip Adventure - Finland, Estonia, & Latvia May 2020

Soomaa National Park

Stop 6 – Turaida Museum Reserve in Gauja National Park

Nordic & Baltic Road Trip Adventure - Finland, Estonia, & Latvia May 2020

Turaida Museum Reserve and Castle
Our final destination is Riga, Latvia. Riga is the largest metropolis in the Baltics. Located at the crossroads of Eastern and Northern Europe, the Latvian capital has had a turbulent history from German knights, to Swedish Kings and Soviet Commissars. We will learn more about it through a private walking tour of the City. The architecture of this World UNESCO Heritage site is stunning! The Gothic spires of the Old Town mingle with the facades of the World’s richest collections of Art Nouveau. Our tastebuds will be exercised while tasting bread, beer and balsam during an afternoon foodie experience. If that is not enough tasting, a visit to the enormous Central Market will be sure to satisfy your cravings.

Stop 7 – Riga – Capital of Latvia

Nordic & Baltic Road Trip Adventure - Finland, Estonia, & Latvia May 2020

Riga Capital of Latvia

Highlights of the Road Trip

  • A welcome dinner at a vegan small plates hot spot. We will enjoy Europe’s hottest new cuisine destination – Helsinki. According to a CNN correspondent, Helsinki’s new food scene is “Vibrant, ingenious, inventive, fresh and fun, the food of Helsinki deserves top billing. Travelers looking for another European food destination to write home about need look no further. It is right there in Finland’s relaxed capital.”

  • Fat Tire Bike outing in Nuuksio National Park. We will be guided through this stunning National Treasure on fat tire mountain bikes. Don’t worry about be hungry or tired, we will stop along the way to snack on the traditional coffee and sausages and later a Finnish meal. Total mileage is 14 miles and 200 feet elevation.

  • A walking tour of the medieval town of Porvoo the second oldest city in Finland dating back to 1380. There is plenty to see in Old Porvoo with beautiful architecture, quirky boutiques, and cute cafes.

  • A traditional Finnish sauna experience on the shore of a clear water lake. Our Sauna Mama will explain the history of the Finnish sauna and will teach us how to use the relaxing birch tree whisks. After relaxing in the sauna while donning our wool sauna hats, we will enjoy a traditional Finnish meal by the lake and an open fire.

  • Ferry ride and walking tour of Suomenlinna Island – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Suomoenlinna is considered a town within the town of Helsinki. The 18th-century sea fortress and centuries old artillery and defensive walls protected Finland from maritime attacks. We will enjoy a meal together on the island following our tour.

  • 2 hour Ferry ride on a luxury ferry boat from Helsinki to Tallinn. We will enjoy a 2 hour ferry ride from Helsinki to Tallinn Estonia where we will meet our personal tour guide Davide who will travel with us through Estonia and Latvia.

  • Walking tour of the Capital of Estonia,World UNESCO Heritage Site and storybook Old Town of Tallinn. We will learn about the significance of Tallinn’s membership within the maritime Hanseatic League. We will enjoy a traditional lunch and beer tasting following the tour.

  • Guided Canoeing trip and Bog Shoe walking on the protected wetlands of Soomaa National Park, as well as seeing the biologically diverse glades wooded meadows and gorgeous forest land within this stunning park in Estonia. We will enjoy a picnic after our activities.

  • A guided tour of Turaida Museum Reserve in Sigulda Latvia. Turaida means “God’s Garden” in ancient Livonian. We will see the red brick castle with its tall cylindrical tower built in 1214. We will learn about the Livonian State from 1319 to 1561.

  • A relaxing hike in Sigulda. Overlooking the picturesque Gauja River in the majestic Gauja National Park, Sigulda’s forested valleys are steeped in myths and legendsAn afternoon at a traditional Latvian Farm. We will dine in the ancient log barn & terrace called The Zipari Barn. Our hosts Vilma & Sanita will show us their ecological products & produce as well as the woodworking operation on the farm. We will learn about Latvian folklore and listen to their daughter Marta play the traditional instrument the kokle followed by a delicious farm to table meal.​
  • A walking tour of Riga the Capital of Latvia. We will learn about the largest metropolis in Latvia which started as a sea trading post in the late 12th century where the Reformation gained a foothold in the 1520’s. We will see the Gothic spires that dominate the cityscape as well as the flamboyant art nouveau district. ​​
  • A foodie inspired tour of Riga where will be guided through the Central Market and surrounding area. We will sample a wide range of foods including Latvian specialties of beer, bread and balsam.

Inclusions

All airport transfers and transportation
All accommodations – 9 nights beginning on May 28, 2020

Excursions: 8 total
-Fat tire bike ride in Nuuksio National Park
-Guided walking tour Porvoo
-Traditional Sauna Experience
-Guided walking tour Suomenlinna
-Guided walking tour Old Town Tallinn
-Bog Walking Soomaa National Park
-Guided tour Turaida Castle
-Guided walking tour Riga
Culinary Experiences: 6 Total
-Finnish modern culinary scene Welcome Dinner (alcohol not included)
-Coffee and sausage during bike trip
-Traditional Finnish meal at Salmi Manor
-Beer tasting and lunch in Tallinn Old Town
-Latvian Farm to Table Experience
-Riga Foodie Tour
Other Excursions-Food Included:
-Breakfast Included at hotel 9 mornings
-Light lunch during bog walking tour
-Picnic lunch hiking in the Gaujas National Park
​-Final night dinner celebration (alcohol not included)

Exclusions

International airfare
​Any meals or beverages not listed in Inclusions
Any activities on Day 5, the free day in Riga
Travel Insurance
Gratuities/Tips:

  • Hotels – Tip good service similar to U.S.
  • Restaurants – No need to tip A service charge is sometimes added to the bill ranging from 1 to 3 Euros, or 10% – 15%)
  • Tour Guides – It is customary to offer our local tour guides a tip at the end of each guides segment. 20 Euros suggested amount per person per guide (2 Guides on this Trip)

Accommodations

Nights 1-3  Helsinki Finland
Klaus K Hotel  – Finland’s first design hotel. Klasu K is located in the heart and center of Helsinki. Inspired by the national epic Kalevala (considered most significant work of Finnish literature). Modern, indigenous, memorable and uncomplicated service.
TripAdvisor Rating: 4.0

Nights 4-5 Old Town Tallinn Estonia
Bern Hotel –  Bern Hotel, set within walking distance of Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, offers luxury rooms and is decorated in historic style. Built in 2007, the venue was fully renovated in 2010.
Night 6 Parnu Estonia
TripAdvisor Rating: 4.0

Villa Ammende – Art Noveau Hotel –  Villa Ammende, an architectural pearl of Art Nouveau in Pärnu, is located in a marvelous garden near the beach, surrounded by magnificent parks and lime tree avenues, and only 10-minute walk from the centre of the town, the Endla Theatre, the Pärnu Concert Hall, and the shopping precinct.
​​TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5

Night 7-9
Metropole Hotel – The first operated hotel in Riga interweaves centuries of remarkable history and architecture with all the conveniences of modern amenities. A crown jewel, located in the hear of pre-eminent historic downtown Riga.
TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5

Details – Daily Itinerary for the trip

Thursday, May 28 Day 1. Arrival Day – Helsinki
Arrive Helsinki (HEL) prior to Noon on May 28th or the day prior. Transfer provided to the hotel in Helsinki. Evening group dinner together in the Design District in Helsinki within walking distance of the hotel.
Overnight – Hotel Klaus K

Friday, May 29 Day 2.  – Helsinki and Nuuksio National Park
Wake up early breakfast at the hotel and then off to explore the Helsinki Market Square and taste their traditional korvapuusti (Finnish cinnamon bun). We will be picked up by our private tour guide and host Timo and driven 35 minutes to The Nuuksio National Park. Here we will ride fat tire bikes from Haltia to Northern Nuuksio and Pikku-Parikas pond about 9.2 km. Once there we will enjoy coffee and grilled sausages. After our lunch we will continue on our biking adventure to Salmi Manor another 4.7 km. We will enjoy a traditional Finnish meal prepared by Miia and Marjo at Pohjoinen Pirtti. Transfer back to our hotel in Helsinki. Approximately a 50 minute drive. Retire for the evening, or explore Helsinki’s nightlife.
Overnight – Hotel Klaus K

Saturday, May 30 Day 3. – Porvoo and Traditional Sauna Experience
Breakfast at the hotel followed by pickup by our tour guide to be transferred to the medieval town of Porvoo (approx 45 minutes). Walking tour of Porvoo and the cathedral. Lunch in Provo. We will then drive to experience The Heritage Sauna Experience at Saaksi lake. Sauna Mama Arja will provide the Finnish Sauna School Experience with birch branch whisking, swimming in the crystal clear lake and explaining the history of sauna and how it is a main component of the Finnish lifestyle. We will eat a light dinner on deck by an open fire.  Transfer back to our hotel in Helsinki.
Overnight – Hotel Klaus K

Sunday, May 31 Day 4. – Helsinki and Suomenlinna Island, Ferry ride to Tallinn Estonia
Breakfast at the hotel and free time exploring Helsinki in the morning. We can explore the Helsinki National Museum, the amazing Helsinki library, visit the Design Museum, or shop and enjoy Finnish coffee. This is your time to soak up the wonderful city of Helsinki. At 1 p.m. Timo will pick us up to transfer our group via ferry to Suomenlinna Island and Fortress. We will enjoy an afternoon learning about the island and UNESCO World Heritage Site through a walking tour. We will then enjoy our last meal in Finland before being transferred to The Helsinki Port to ride a luxury ferry to Tallinn Estonia ( 2 hour ferry ride). We will bid farewell to Timo our Finnish tour guide. Davide will greet us and transfer us to The Hotel Bern in Old Town Tallinn and takeover guiding us through the remainder of our adventures.
Overnight – Bern Hotel Tallinn Estonia

Monday, June 1 Day 5. –  Old Town Tallinn
Today we will wake up in Estonia and enjoy the magical town of Tallinn another World Heritage UNESCO Site.  Davide will greet us after breakfast and take us on an informative walking tour of Old Town Tallinn. Later in the day we will enjoy a beer tasting. If you like beer, Estonia is a good place to be! Later in the evening there is an option to dine together as a group at a fabulous Tallinn restaurant that books up months in advance.

Overnight – Bern Hotel Tallinn Estonia

Tuesday, June 2 Day 6. – Soomaa National Park & Parnu Beach Town
Breakfast at the hotel and depart for Soomaa National Park. Here we will partake in bog shoe walking over pristine bogs preserved over centuries. We will view the biologically diverse glades wooded meadows and gorgeous forest land of this stunning Estonian treasure. We will have a picnic in the park and then depart for Parnu on Estonia’s West Coast. Parnu is know for its beautiful white beach and Kabli. Parnu is famous for its spa procedures. You may want to consider a real Estonian spa procedure such as home beer or peat treatment. The city of Parnu is filled with age old traditions. Spend the evening relaxing in a spa or a group dining option will be available.

Overnight – Villa Ammende – Luxury Art Nouveau Hotel

Wednesday, June 3 Day 7. – Sigulda Region Latvia – Gauja National Park
Enjoy a delicious breakfast at Hotel Ammende. We will depart Parnu and Estonia and cross over into Latvia towards the Sigulda region. Once here we will visit the amazing Turaida Museum Reserve and learn more about this castle built in 1214 under the direction of Albert, Bishop of Riga. The forces of the Livonian Order besieged and took over the Turaida castle from 1298 until 1486. The stunning red brick castle with its tall cylindrical tower is a dramatic focal point against the Latvian Winters.

The afternoon will be spent at an authentic farm to table experience nearby. Our hosts Vilma & Sanita will show us their ecological products & produce as well as the woodworking operation on their farm. We will learn about Latvian folklore and listen to their daughter Marta play the traditional instrument the kokle followed by a delicious farm to table meal freshly made from their gardens and farm.

If time permits we can hike off the hearty meal during a short hike in the Gauja National Park. We will then get on the road for our final destination of the Capital City of Riga.

Overnight – Hotel Metropole Riga Latvia

Thursday, June 4 Day 8. – Riga Latvia
In the morning after breakfast, we will explore Riga and see the magnificent architecture that has helped to place Riga on the World Heritage UNESCO Site list. We will learn about the largest metropolis in Latvia which started as a sea trading post in the late 12th century & where the Reformation gained a foothold in the 1520’s. We will see the Gothic spires that dominate the cityscape as well as the flamboyant art nouveau district.

The second part of the day will be spent focusing on the foodie side of Riga. During this segment we will be touring the Central Market and tasting food and beer authentic to Riga and Latvia. If you are still hungry, you can join the group for an optional dinner outing later in the evening.

Overnight – Hotel Metropole Riga Latvia

Friday, June 5 Day 9 – Riga Latvia
Today is a free day to explore the gorgeous city of Riga and visit the museums, shops and favorite dining spots that we learned about on our walking and foodie tours on Thursday.

A group dinner and last night celebration will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night and maybe dancing!

Friday, June 6 – Departure Day Riga Latvia
We will have an early morning transfer to the Riga International Airport (RIX)

Pricing

Early Bird Trip Price (double occupancy): $2,880
Early Bird Booking Deadline: October 31, 2019
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Regular Trip Price – starting November 1, 2019 (double occupancy): $2,980
Regular Trip Booking Deadline: January 5, 2020
Single Room Supplement: $654 (This is to have your own room without sharing/having a roommate, not for upgraded rooms.)
Deposit: 30% of trip price due at booking
Final Balance Due: March 14, 2020
Estimated Airfare: $800 -$1,200 (Multi-city trip – Helsinki arrival and Riga departure (prices varies depending on your departure airport, flight quality, etc)
Cancellation policy: Only 100% refundable only within two weeks of paying your deposit.
We recommend a premium Trip Insurance policy via a reputable company like TravelSafe, which can be booked easily from our website. Premium trip insurance policies include the ‘cancel for any reason’ benefit. These premium policies must be paid for within 10-14 days of your initial trip investment.
While a 30% deposit is due at booking, the balance can be paid over time up until departure using our self-service payment feature. You can make payments of any size at anytime by logging into your account on the Gen X Travel Club website. This is a great way to finance/budget for the cost of a trip – instead of paying a larger single lump sum payment for the balance, you can make small monthly payments over time.

To Book the trip follow the link – Gen X Travel Club

Travel Insurance

We always recommend trip insurance & suggest TravelSafe insurance – a reputable company with competitive pricing and great coverage options.
Here are a few reasons to get trip insurance:
● Reimbursement for cancellation penalties (which can be 100% of your investment) in the event of an unforeseeable illness, injury or death of you, your travel companion or a family member.
● Reimbursement for cancellation penalties if you are called for jury duty, your home is damaged due to fire, windstorm, flood or vandalism or military leave cancelled.
● Reimbursement for unused portion of your trip if it is interrupted.
● Medical evacuation/repatriation expenses to an appropriate medical facility or back home in the event of a serious illness or injury while traveling.
● 24-hour help line for any travel emergency, such as medical, lost tickets, lost passports, and other travel documents.
We recommend a premium Trip Insurance policy via a reputable company like TravelSafe. Premium trip insurance policies include the ‘cancel for any reason’ benefit. Note: The ‘Cancel for Any Reason’ premium policy must be purchased within two weeks of your initial trip deposit.

Trip Map

Nordic & Baltic Road Trip Adventure - Finland, Estonia, & Latvia May 2020

Trip Leader – Judy Hughes

Nordic & Baltic Road Trip Adventure - Finland, Estonia, & Latvia May 2020

I’m an experienced trip leader who has lead trips all over the world including Italy, Maui, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Iceland, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Banff National Park in Alberta Canada, Alaska, and Joshua Tree National Park.

I am an avid hiker and love the outdoors. I’m passionate about leading our groups and creating new travel friends! I am certified by the National Outdoor Leadership School in First Aid & Safety and CPR. I thoroughly enjoy planning trips with Gen X Travel Club to off the beaten path places with authentic excursions and culinary delights.

This trip is going to be amazing! I had a blast conducting on-the-ground planning for this trip… meeting with our local guides, visiting hotels, and checking out the best activities for us. I had a blast visiting and researching again, most recently in September 2019, and I can’t wait to share these incredible experiences with you on our adventure to Finland, Estonia and Latvia! I hope you join me!

Published by Judy Hughes

I am a small group trip leader for 2 travel clubs. We check out cool and off the beaten path places around the World. Adventure is our specialty. I love to take notes and share the travel tips with you in my blog! Hope you check it out!

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