After travelling from Tallinn to Vilnius, these are my picks for the best destinations to visit in the Baltics.
Estonia’s conflicted heritage showed its face in Kuressaare Castle on Saaremaa Island.
For almost seven hundred years, the island of Saaremaa was yanked from one country to another until it finally joined with mainland Estonia in 1918. Its attractive location is partially to blame since the island sits in the upper west side of the Baltic Sea, offering the perfect portal through which to monitor ships travelling between Europe and Russia. It all started in 1227 when the German Brothers of the Sword seized control of this tranquil island.
For further travel information: Kuressaare Castle houses the Saaremaa Museum. For more information, refer to saaremaamuuseum.ee/en.
In Latvia, the less-touristy Cēsis Castle captured the essence of its people and offered a glimpse into the country’s past.
I quickly forgot the modern glass panels of the Cēsis Tourism Development and Information Centre after stepping outside its doors and facing a scene that drew me back in time. Remnants of a once foreboding fortress lay ahead, refreshingly vacant of the amber gift shops and T-shirt vendors that had invaded Riga’s and Tallinn’s medieval centres. Instead, the walls of a four-storey cloister stood—at least partially.
For further travel information: Cēsis can be visited as a day trip from Latvia’s capital city, Riga. For more information on visiting Cēsis Castle, refer to cesupils.lv/en.
Lastly, Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius exuded a passion and personality that normally evades urban centres.
The streets were deserted. Had we fallen into a fairy-tale city decorated like a fancy wedding cake but without any guests? The morning felt oddly serene as we wandered the cobblestoned lanes and wound our way to Vilnius’ central Cathedral Square. The square’s liveliness from the night before had turned sedate. There were no tour groups, no hawkers or people rushing to work. Only a couple of people strolled the silent expanse. Our first clue of what was happening was the chorus that drifted from Vilnius Cathedral.
For further travel information: The City of Vilnius tourist information website will help to build your travel plan, refer to vilnius-tourism.lt/en/.
Searching for Unique is packed with details about these three sites and other hidden gems around the world, each brought to life through travel tales and on-the-ground tips.
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Nancy O'Hare has lived and worked across five continents and travelled to over eighty countries. Her writing shares insights from her travels and musings about the world around us.