Uncover the cultural riches and historical intrigues of four fascinating countries on a journey through Poland and the Baltic states. This 18-day highlights tour of Poland and the Baltics will get you in the know with Soviet history, inspired by the variety of architecture and cultural richness of the country, and full of as much pierogi and vodka you can manage. Let Poland please you with a journey through its urban attractions, then cross into Lithuania, before exploring the Baltic capitals of Riga and Tallinn. Encompassing both historical attractions and outings for the active, a bit of Europe both old and new, this is the trip for travellers wanting to check out a side of Europe often overlooked.
Day 1: Krakow
Czesc! Welcome to Poland. You will have an important welcome meeting at 6 pm, meeting your group leader and fellow travellers. Krakow is striking with contrasts: a medieval old town with a large youthful influence, renowned fine dining restaurants with food truck and casual riverside eateries, a vibrant Jewish quarter with some elegant speakeasies and hidden bars. You’ll have two full days to explore Krakow at your own pace, but if you would like to spend more time here, why not arrive a little early? After your important meeting, you'll have an option to head out with your group to dinner – your leader will know of some great options.
Day 2: Krakow
This morning, begin getting to know Krakow from its relatively new history. Take a guided tour of Nowa Huta – a former communist town turned eastern Quarter of Krakow. Nowa Huta was prime Polish agricultural land but was swallowed up by the Soviet Union in an attempt to create an Orwellian settlement in contrast to the fairytale of central Krakow. An experienced tour guide will explain all the history hidden in its streets and buildings that otherwise would look like another sector of the city. In the afternoon, take a leader-led walk around the Old Town. Rynek (main square) is one of the oldest and most recognisable medieval squares in Europe. With the renaissance Cloth Hall in its centre, now home to the main market, touring the main square is a must. Later on, walk over to Jewish quarter and learn more about that part of town.
Day 3: Krakow
Today, enjoy a free day in Krakow to do whatever you choose, and there is so much to see and do here, and beyond! You may wish to visit Wieliczka Salt Mines, magnificent chambers chiselled out in rock salt. There is almost 3 kilometres of meandering corridors, 800 steps to climb of which 350 have to be descended to reach the depth of 135 meters underground. Otherwise, a lot of travellers use today to visit the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, however pre-booking is necessary to secure a place. If you would like to see some different sides to Krakow and the surrounding area, there is also the option to see what Urban Adventures can offer. From cooking classes to tailored shopping adventures, they’ve got you covered! Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Krakow-tours.
Day 4: Warsaw
Today, travel to Warsaw on a high-speed train, taking approximately 3 hours. Warsaw is a capital of Poland and has a rich history shown in its mix of Gothic, neoclassical and Soviet-era architecture, and also a new, cosmopolitan touch. This afternoon head out on a guided tour all about Polish cuisine. Being one of the lesser known European foods, you’ll learn about Poland’s signature dishes and how to make them. To wash everything down, you’ll even get the chance to test out some local vodka with an included tasting. Na zdrowie!
Day 5: Warsaw
You’ve got a free day to enjoy the wonders of Warsaw. From many options, one worth considering is a visit to the Uprising Museum. Dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, the museum is a tribute for residents who fought and died for an independent Poland, and a free capital. It was said that Warsaw survived its own death – learn about that part of history of this city in one of the most modern museums in Europe. Otherwise, sit back in one of the many parks, stroll past the Tamka street art, or head to a local eatery for a serving of pierogi (filled dumplings).
Day 6: Gdansk
Travel onwards to Gdansk aboard a high-speed train (approximately 3 hours). After check-in to your hotel, your group leader will show you around the old town on simple orientation walk. After you’ve got your bearings, enjoy the rest of your day and soak up the atmosphere of this maritime, medieval city. Tonight, if you’re struggling to find somewhere to eat, take a walk down Dulgi Targ – it’s a lot quieter at night than during the day.
Day 7: Gdansk
Today, head out on a guided tour of Gdansk. This will include a visit to most iconic sites of the city: the Crane (Zuraw), an iconic trading symbol located near the National Maritime Museum. Then, visit Olowianka, an island in the middle of the Motlawa River, to learn more about Gdansk’s maritime history. In the evening, experience a traditional Polish meal at Tawerna Mestwin, serving specialties of Kashubian regional cooking (north Poland cuisine). Interiors of this place look like a traditional farm cottage and the exposed beams and dark-green walls make for a cosy atmosphere.
Day 8: Gdansk
With no activities planned for today, you are free to explore at your own pace. Aside from boasting some very grand architecture, Gdansk has a wealth of sites worth checking out. Pay a visit to the National Museum for a dose of fine art, follow in the footsteps of visiting royalty with a lap or two of Royal Way, or travel a suburb over to Sopot and take a stroll along Europe's longest wooden pier. In the evening, meet with some new travellers at another welcome meeting at 6 pm to begin the next stage of your Baltics adventure.
Day 9: Gdansk
Today you'll spend getting to know Gdansk and its history as relayed by your tour leader during leader led orientation walk. After walking through the city and its sights, board an old galleon style ship for a cruise out on the Baltic. Cruising along Westerplatte's peninsula, become versed in the city's shipbuilding heritage with stop-ins at the Gdansk Shipyard, a repair yard, the docks and Wisloujscie Fortress.
Day 10: Malbork Castle / Wolf's Lair / Masurian Lake District
Today involves a fair bit of travel with several interesting stop-offs en route to break up the journey. The first stop, only a 30 minute drive out of Gdansk, is Malbork castle. This beautifully preserved fortress is a classic example of medieval architecture and, on its completion in 1406, stood as the world's largest brick castle. Following an audioguide tour of the castle, enjoy lunch before continuing on to Wolf`s Lair, the first military headquarters from which Hitler oversaw the fighting on the Eastern Front. You'll be shown around the site by a local guide, then, following a refreshment stop, continue on to Gizycko – summer capital of Poland. Situated on the shore of Niegocin Lake, Gizycko offers a number of interesting food and drink options, so well deserved after a long day of travelling.
Day 11: Masurian Lake District / Gizycko
See in the morning with a boat ride on Niegocin Lake, the seventh largest lake in the country. Gently cruising across towards Gizycko, or Love Island, situated towards the other side of the lake and occupied mostly by cormorants. Take a chance to spy other wildlife too, it’s plentiful in this part of Poland. Lake District contains over 2000 lakes and recently was had been elected as one of the 28 finalists of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The afternoon is free for you to spend however you wish, perhaps with a swim in the lake or hike or bike ride to one of the neighbouring villages. If you are in to history and would like to learn more about the region, Boyen Fortress is a place to see. Former Prussian fortress is situated between Niegocin and Kisajno lakes and played its part in both World Wars.
Day 12: Vilnius
This morning after breakfast we travel east into Lithuania and its capital Vilnius (approximate travel time 2.5 hours). After settling into your hotel, join the group for a city tour led by a local guide Passing through Cathedral Square and the Old Town, learn about the famous Grand Duke Gediminas, the legend of Vilnius' creation and the prestigious history of Vilnius University. See the painting of Our Lady of the Dawn Gate that adorns the Gate of Dawn, then venture out to get to know Vilnius on your own terms or join your group for your first Lithuanian dinner.
Day 13: Vilnius
Today's set aside for you to explore all that this lively city has to offer. Options include: climbing the Hill of Crosses for magnificent views over the city; heading up to the TV tower that stands as a symbol of Lithuania’s independence; visiting the Cathedral and climbing its tower, and visiting a country within a country – the Republic of Uzupis. Much to the surprise (and amusement) of the outside world, this small Vilnius suburb of artists and eccentrics declared themselves an independent republic on April 1st 1997. You can pore over the peculiar articles of its constitution on one of the city walls. A trip up to Trakai castle is another recommended visit. Located on a small island in the middle of the lake, this castle was the capital of the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania before the establishment of Vilnius. The castle is these days accessible by a bridge, the shoreside walk to which is very pleasant. Your trip leader will be able to give you detailed instructions on how to get there.
Day 14: Riga
Hop aboard a comfortable public bus for the onwards drive to Riga (approximately 4 hours). After arrival, transfer to our hotel, which is located a short walk from the symbolic Freedom Monument – or, as she's affectionately known to the locals, Milda. Head out on an orientation walk with your leader through the small cobbled streets and squares to discover the main sights of the Old Town. During this walk you'll also visit the central market, buzzing with life in old zeppelin hangars. Stop to taste a few local specialities along the way, perhaps finishing the afternoon with a shot of traditional Riga Black Balsam.
Day 15: Riga
Enjoy a free day getting to know Riga at your own pace. Most of the Art Noveau architecture for which the city is famed is located in a part known as 'the quiet centre'. A leisurely stroll along the canal that intersects the town's central park is another popular outing, as is a visit to one of its many museums – the recently renovated Art Museum, located only a few minutes walk from our hotel, is particularly impressive. Take in views of the city with a drink at a rooftop cafe (your leader will be able to make some recommendations) or, if it's summertime, make the trip to the popular beach resort town of Jurmala (only a 30 minute train ride away).
Day 16: Saaremaa
Rise early for the trip to Saaremaa island, the largest island in Estonia. Travelling first by private minivan and then public ferry, you'll arrive in the island's southern part by late afternoon for a night's stay in a local farmhouse (home cooked dinner included, approximate travel time 6 hours).
Day 17: Tallinn
Transferring to the biggest town on the island, Kuresaare, spend a few spare hours exploring the town before catching a public bus to the Estonian capital of Tallinn (approximate travel time 4.5 hours). Tonight's accommodation is in Tallinn's atmospheric Old Town, which you'll get to know on an orientation walk with your leader. As tonight's your last with your group and trip leader, why not head out for a memorable dinner among friends.
Day 18: Tallinn
Your trip ends this morning after breakfast. There are no activities planned and you're free to check out of your hotel at any time.
17 Breakfast(s) Included
1 Lunch(es) Included
2 Dinner(s) Included
It's simple: You refer your friends, family, and anyone to us and when they book you will receive an American Express gift card worth up to $200 in the mail for simply referring.Read More