Heritage Cities of the Baltic: Vilnius, Kaunas, Riga, Tartu & Tallinn

26 Jun – 10 Jul 2018

  • Region:
    • Estonia
    • Europe
    • Latvia
    • Lithuania
    • Northern / Central Europe
  • Status: open
  • Code: 21822
Overview

Tour Highlights

  • Join Dr Uldis Ozolins and Juris Baltputnis exploring the heritage of the Baltic Cities.
  • Stay in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic cities of Vilnius, Riga & Tallinn, as well as lovely Kaunas and Tartu.
  • Beautifully-preserved medieval castles & cathedrals of the Germanic Teutonic Knights.
  • Take in intricate medieval architecture, cityscapes, and merchant and guild houses of major Hanseatic centres.
  • Discover how centuries of interaction between Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Protestant traditions that have distinctively shaped the art, architecture & culture of each city.
  • Explore Riga’s unique and extensive Jugendstil architecture; also visit the recently renovated, Latvian National Museum of Art – one of the largest depository of professional art in Latvia.
  • Visit monuments of the great Polish, Swedish & Russian Empires that fought for domination of the region.
  • Enjoy stays in several heritage hotels, including Hotel Neiburgs (Riga), housed in an original Art Nouveau building, the Hotel Antonius (Tartu) housed in a 16th-century heritage-listed building, and the Hotel Telegraaf (Tallinn), a 19th-century building where the exchange station once operated.

Testimonials

The Tour Leaders were both terrific and their combined knowledge of the history of the region was extensive. All three countries and their capital cities were delightful and the itinerary was varied and interesting. I now feel I have a much better understanding of some of the more recent history of the region and the impact that has had on the people. The accommodation was comfortable with standout hotels in both Riga and Tallinn, and the group was friendly and easy to spend 2 weeks with.  Roberta, NSW.

My Baltic tour surpassed expectations and Uldis’ lectures were very thought provoking. Both he and Juris worked so well together and were always ready to answer our questions. I feel I now have a very good understanding of this part of the world.  Pat, NSW.

The tour was a very welcome opportunity to visit 3 countries that were entirely new to me. While I was aware of the Baltic emigration to Australia after WW2, and a few things about the cities of Riga and Tallinn, the tour explored these regions in some detail, looking at their history, architecture and landscapes. Most evenings we had a most informative lecture that prepared us for what we were about to see the following day – we were also given an expansive history of the region in advance of the tour. I was particularly struck by the cities we visited. Vilnius had many fascinating byways and some intriguing buildings. Clearly restoration here is work in progress. We explored Kaunas and Riga, where the Jugendstil buildings were a particular delight. Tallinn, with its winding streets and ancient buildings, was of enormous fascination. The people on the tour were most agreeable and we enjoyed many meals together as well as sharing the daily experiences. Several of the hotels were outstanding, my preference being for Neiburgs in Riga which had been immaculately restored and located right in the centre of town. I can thoroughly endorse this tour which greatly expanded my knowledge of the region and peoples.  John, VIC.

15-day Cultural Tour of Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia

Overnight Vilnius (3 nights) • Kaunas (2 nights) • Riga (4 nights) • Tartu (1 night) • Tallinn (4 nights)

Overview

“The Baltics are an undiscovered jewel for anyone concerned with history, art, architecture and culture. Long the focus point of battles between East and West in Europe, their cities, heritage and large areas of countryside have remained remarkably intact despite a half-century of Soviet occupation.” 
Dr Uldis Ozolins, ASA Tour Lecturer.

Enthusiastic advocates of Baltic culture, Latvian-Australian Dr Uldis Ozolins and Juris Baltputnis, unveil the dramatic histories of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, from the Teutonic Knights to Glasnost and beyond. These fascinating small countries hold immaculately-preserved UNESCO World Heritage-listed cities. In Vilnius, capital of a once-vast duchy stretching to the Black Sea, we explore Renaissance brick masterpieces like St Anne’s Church and the Bernadine Church of Saint Francis of Assisi. We stroll though Vilnius’ Baroque streets and visit the richly-decorated library of its ancient university. Kaunas, the alternative capital of Lithuania, boasts wonderful 15th- and 16th-century merchant houses. The country’s unspoilt, picturesque meadows are framed by deep forests and defended by formidable medieval citadels like Trakai Castle, home of an army of anti-rabbinical Karaite Jews. Of particular interest are Latvia’s reconstructed primitive floating-fortress village, and Lithuania’s extraordinary Hill of Crosses at Siauliai. Like Vilnius, the wealthy Hanseatic port cities of Riga and Tallinn and Estonia’s lovely university town, Tartu, have kept their historic centres astonishingly unchanged. Riga and Tallinn are graced with soaring brick-and-stone Gothic churches whose tall towers served as beacons for medieval merchant shipping. They boast richly-decorated guildhalls and merchant centres, with high-gabled Renaissance warehouses inflecting their colourful streetscapes. In Riga, European Cultural Capital 2014, we encounter one of the finest Art Nouveau precincts in Europe and stay in a magnificent Art Nouveau heritage hotel. Past the walls of these lovely merchant cities, we visit fine Estonian country estates. Rundale Palace, designed by famous St. Petersburg Baroque architect Rastrelli, rivals his masterpieces at Pushkin and Peterhof. Meanwhile, classical Palmse and Sagadi manors, built by Baltic German barons, match the best of Georgian England. In contrast to these grand residences, the Baltic States also possess a vibrant folk culture and ghosts of the Soviet period, including an untouched underground Soviet command centre.

Itinerary

The detailed itinerary provides an outline of the proposed daily program. Participants should note that the daily activities described in this itinerary may be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate changes in museum opening hours, flight schedules & road conditions. Meals included in the tour price and are indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=Lunch and D=evening meal.

Vilnius, Lithuania - 3 nights

Day 1: Tuesday 26 June, Arrive Vilnius
  • Short Orientation
  • Welcome Dinner

Our tour commences in Vilnius. Participants taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight are scheduled to arrive late morning. Upon arrival we transfer by private coach to the Mabre Residence Hotel. If you are travelling independently to Vilnius, ASA can arrange a private transfer for you, or you should take an officially marked taxi to the hotel. Time permitting, we will take a short orientation walk around the hotel precinct. This evening we dine together at a local restaurant, where a light three-course meal will be served. (Overnight Vilnius) D

Day 2: Wednesday 27 June, Vilnius
  • Gediminas Castle & Royal Palace Museum
  • Vilnius Cathedral
  • Bishop’s Palace (exterior only)
  • Vilnius University
  • St John’s Church

We begin our exploration of Vilnius with a climb to Gediminas Castle, which towers over the old city as a lasting symbol of the strength of Vilnius’ founder. It offers a majestic perspective over the billowing curves of the Baroque centre of the city. From there we descend into the heart of the city, beginning with the Cathedral – originally built on ancient pagan grounds by Mindaugas, the first Grand Duke to convert to Christianity. The present neo-classical Cathedral, with its Doric columns and Baroque statues of Abraham, Moses and the four evangelists, was built by architect Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevicius in the late 18th century. Next to the Cathedral stands the somewhat controversially reconstructed Duke’s Palace, which was leveled in the 19th century to make way for a marketplace.

After lunch we pass the Bishop’s Palace, where Napoleon stayed on his way to Moscow in 1812. We tour the courtyards of Vilnius University, cultural and intellectual heart of the city and an important centre of learning in eastern Europe, founded by the Jesuits in 1570. The University’s beautiful St John’s Church was built in 1387, soon after Lithuania’s conversion to Catholicism. The University contains a beautiful library with a frescoed vault ceiling, and a number of important works of art. (Overnight Vilnius) B

Day 3: Thursday 28 June, Vilnius
  • Gates of Dawn & Church of St Theresa
  • Didzioji & Town Hall Square
  • Bernardine Churches, including the Church of St Anne
  • Time at leisure

Today we continue our exploration of the cosmopolitan capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at its height. We begin with an early morning walk to the Gates of Dawn, the only remains of fortifications built against the invading Tartars and transformed in 1671 into a beautiful Carmelite Chapel. The interior was refurbished in neo-classical style in the 19th century.

From there we walk through the old town, passing the oldest Baroque church in Vilnius, named after the city’s patron saint, Casimir. Exquisitely beautiful, it was ironically used by the Soviets as a museum of atheism. Numerous Orthodox Churches scattered throughout the city testify to a strong eastern cultural heritage. We also pass the oldest surviving church in Vilnius, the Gothic St Nicholas’, built by German merchants before Lithuania’s conversion to Catholicism, and explore Vilnius’ civic buildings including the Town Hall, a stately baroque edifice that was designed by Stuoka Gucevicius, architect of the Vilnius Cathedral, after the 16th-century original was destroyed by fire.

After lunch we explore Vilnius’ beautiful Bernadine churches. Napoleon was so entranced by the intricate beauty of the Gothic Church of St Anne, whose graceful western façade is patterned with 33 varieties of brick, that he wanted the entire church shipped back to Paris. Nearby stands the 15th-century Bernadine Monastery, gutted during the Soviet period and now painstakingly being restored. The remainder of the afternoon will be at leisure. You may wish to visit the State Jewish Museum Holocaust Centre or the Museum of Genocide Victims (in the former KGB building). (Overnight Vilnius) B

Kaunas, Lithuania - 2 nights

Day 4: Friday 29 June, Vilnius – Trakai – Kaunas
  • Church of St Peter and St Paul
  • Karaite Ethnographic Exhibition
  • Island Castle and Trakai History Museum

We begin the day with a visit to the Baroque church of St Peter and St Paul, commissioned in 1668 by Michael Casimir Pac, Grand Hetman of the Lithuanian armies. The interior is spectacularly decorated with over two thousand stucco mythological and biblical figures and Lithuanian battle scenes.

As we drive out of Vilnius we pass the former KGB headquarters, and the Parliament building, where evidence still remains of the 1991 barricades when Lithuanians civilians defending strategic objects were attacked by Soviet troops as Moscow tried unsuccessfully to quell the Baltic independence movements.

Before Vilnius became the capital of Lithuania in 1323 under Gediminas, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was centred at Trakai, 27km to the west. We depart Vilnius in the late morning for its medieval forebear, which currently stands within a National Park overlooking Lake Galve, and visit the famous red brick Island Castle built by Vytautus the Great to celebrate his defeat of the German Crusaders of the Teutonic Order in 1410. The present castle houses a museum on the history of the Grand Duchy. Trakai also contains the ruins of two further castles, and is notable for the continuing presence of a small group of Turkic Karaite Old Testament believers. Originally invited to Lithuania by Vytautas as bodyguards because of their massive stature, the Karaites trace their history to an 8th-century Persian named Anan ben David, who founded an anti-rabbinical sect that rejected both oral tradition and the Talmud. Only a few hundred Karaites remain in Lithuania, and their Kenesa and distinctive wooden houses are a notable feature of Trakai. The Karaite Ethnographic Exhibition contains illuminating material on the history and life and applied arts of the Karaites, one of Lithuania’s ethnic minorities. After visiting Trakai, we continue on to Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city and a major rival to Vilnius. (Overnight Kaunas) B

Day 5: Saturday 30 June, Kaunas
  • Laisves Aleja
  • Resurrection Church
  • M.K. Ciurlionis State Art Museum
  • Walking Tour: Kaunas Old Town

Kaunas, the inter-war capital of Lithuania, combines a well-preserved old town with a decidedly modernist outlook from the 1920s. We begin the day with a walk along the Laisves Aleja, Freedom Avenue, the leafy main thoroughfare of the new town. At one end stands a Monument to Vytautas the Great. Standing over four defeated soldiers: a Russian, a Pole, a Tartar and a German crusader with a broken sword, he symbolises the might of the 14th-century Grand Duchy. At the far end of the avenue stands the formerly Orthodox Church and now Catholic Church of St Michael, a perfectly symmetrical, blue, neo-Byzantine church. Built at the end of the 19th century, it presents us with a contrasting symbol of Russian domination. Between them, the bustling Freedom Avenue serves as a reminder of Lithuania’s current independence and growing prosperity.

We take a ride up the small 1920s funicular (the conductors seem to be of this vintage also) to the astonishing functionalist Resurrection Church, begun in the 1930s but only recently completed. From its promenade roof we gain a spectacular view of the region.

The morning ends with a visit to the M.K. Ciurlionis Art Gallery, which contains almost all the surviving works by the Lithuanian mystic and modernist painter and composer. His legacy, both in music and in painting, is a remarkable expression of Lithuanian culture.

We devote the afternoon to a walking tour of the old city of Kaunas, centred on the Town Hall Square surrounded by 16th-century German merchant houses. The Kaunas Town Hall itself is known as ‘The White Swan’ for the elegance of its late Baroque and early classical architecture and its graceful tower. We visit the Cathedral – the only Gothic church of basilican design in Lithuania, the Gothic Vytautas Church – built by Franciscan monks in the early 15th century, and the warehouses and merchant houses of the old town. The most impressive of these is the Perkunas House, a 15th-century Gothic building which historians argue was either a Jesuit chapel or the Hansa office of Kaunas, and romantics believe was a temple to Perkunas, god of thunder. (Overnight Kaunas) B

Riga, Latvia - 4 nights

Day 6: Sunday 1 July, Kaunas – Hill of Crosses – Rundale – Jurmala Coast – Riga
  • Hill of Crosses, Siauliai
  • Rundale Palace
  • Jurmala Coast

In the early morning we drive to the Hill of Crosses just north of Siauliai, a spontaneous and moving religious shrine of folk art believed first mentioned in the 15th century. Tens of thousands of wooden crosses fill the hillside with a testimony to the symbolic power of Lithuanian Catholicism.

We then drive the short distance across the Latvian border to Rundale Palace, considered by many to be the most important architectural monument in the Baltics. Construction began on the palace in 1736 for Ernst Johann von Buhren, Duke of Courland, under the direction of Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. In 1738 Rastrelli began work on another palace for Buhren, at Jelgava, the seat of the Duchy of Courland. Although work on the two palaces was halted with Buhren’s exile to Siberia in 1740, and not taken up again until he returned to favour under Russian Empress Catherine II in 1763, the structural work had been completed and offers an impressive example of early St Petersburg Baroque architecture on a grand scale. Over forty rooms of the Rundale Palace have been restored to their original 18th-century interiors, and we take a guided tour of the palace, with its Golden Hall with beautifully decorated ceilings and chandeliers, Grand Gallery, intricately stuccoed White Hall, Room of Roses and private apartments. We take lunch at the palace café.

Next, we drive past the second of the two palaces in Jelgava, now the Latvian Agricultural University. The nearby Orthodox Church of St Simeon and St Anna, magnificently restored, was also designed by Rastrelli and contains an altar piece by Riga artist Janis Rozentals.

In the afternoon we drive to the port of Riga via the Jurmala Coast. The Jurmala coast offers an unspoilt stretch of beaches giving us our first view of the Baltic Sea. (Overnight Riga) BL

Day 7: Monday 2 July, Riga
  • Walking Tour: Riga Old Town
  • Mentzendorff House
  • Brothers’ War Cemetery
  • Ethnographic Open Air Museum

Riga was founded by Bishop Albert in 1201, and joined the Hanseatic League in 1282, thriving on trade across the Baltic Sea. Riga has been an important city ever since its founding as a major Hanseatic port, once the third largest city in the Swedish Empire, and a Russian outpost. Our exploration of the old city begins with the 13th-century city walls, including the well preserved Powder Tower and Riga Castle. During our stay we walk through medieval streets filled with Hanseatic warehouses, guildhalls and Gothic and Baroque churches such as the Dome cathedral. Our morning’s program concludes with a visit to the beautifully restored Mentzendorff House. Once belonging to a wealthy Riga merchant, it now offers a reconstruction of life in the 17th and 18th centuries.

After a lunch break, we depart by coach and travel to the outskirts of Riga where we briefly visit the striking Brothers’ Cemetery, constructed to commemorate those who fell in World War I and the ensuing War of Independence. We then continue to the Ethnographic Open Air Museum, opened in 1932 and now covering 100 hectares with a vast heritage collection of Latvian rural villages, farmhouses, windmills, pubs, equipment and domestic material, including complete homesteads from various regions. (Overnight Riga) B

Day 8: Tuesday 3 July, Riga
  • Walking Tour: Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) Architecture
  • Riga Art Nouveau Museum
  • Latvian National Museum of Art

This morning we commence a walking tour of Riga’s magnificent and distinctive Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) architecture. Almost a third of the surviving buildings of central Riga were built in Art Nouveau style between 1896 and 1913, many incorporating traditional Latvian folk elements into a variation that became known as National Romanticism. The most extravagant buildings are found in Albert Street, a number of them designed by Mikhail Eisenstein, father of film-maker Sergei. It is here that we visit Riga’s new Art Nouveau Museum, actually the apartment of the famous Latvian architect of this style Konstantins Peksens (1859-1928). In a period of vigorous creativity, architects like Peksens and Eisenstein, father of the great film-maker, experimented freely with a wide variety of forms, marrying figurative sculpture to architecture in new, highly innovative ways. Leading to the rooms of Peksen’s apartment is one of Europe’s most fascinating and aesthetically successful spiral staircases. Within the apartment, you’ll enjoy a wonderfully restored interior with its original fittings and furniture. It will provide insights not only into the aesthetics of Rigan art nouveau, but also into the lifestyles of the city’s fin de siècle innovators.

This afternoon we visit the Latvian National Museum of Art, one of the most beautiful architectural monuments in Riga and the largest depository of professional art in Latvia. The museum has recently been entirely renovated, restored and enlarged. The Museum’s new permanent collection offers a comprehensive exposé on Latvian art in both the 19th and 20th centuries, with emphasis on the various stylistic periods and the artists who were instrumental. (Overnight Riga) B

Day 9: Wednesday 4 July, Riga
  • House of the Blackheads (exterior only)
  • Occupation Museum
  • Afternoon at leisure

In the morning we continue our walking tour through parts of Riga’s Old Town. We pass the House of the Blackheads, dating from 1334. The Blackheads were an association of bachelor merchants in Riga and Tallinn who became a powerful trading force in the Baltic States. The current building is a restoration of the original, destroyed in the Second World War.

The Occupation Museum was established as the Soviet Union crumbled and Latvia regained its independence in 1991, taking over the ugly Communist era museum from Red Army soldiers previously ensconced there. The Museum displays strong material on the effects of Soviet policies from 1940 to 1991, including mass deportations, executions and long-term suppression of Latvian political and cultural life. The afternoon is at leisure. (Overnight Riga) B

Tartu, Estonia - 1 night

Day 10: Thursday 5 July, Riga – Gauja National Park – Araisi – Cesis – Tartu
  • Ligatne Soviet Army command centre bunker
  • Araisi floating fortress
  • Cesis
  • Evening meal at the Hotel Antonius A La Carte Restaurant

We drive from Riga through the picturesque, undulating Gauja National Park to visit a genuine curiosity – an intact Soviet Army bunker used by the Baltic Area Command when this region was heavily militarised and one of the closest points of the Soviet Union to the west. This bunker remained intact when the Soviet Army rapidly withdrew in the 1990s, and has recently been opened to the public.

We then proceed to Araisi, a reconstructed fortress that floats on logs in the middle of a lake. Archaeologists discovered this fortress submerged but recognisable, and the original is believed to have dated from the 10th century, giving a glimpse of life of the Latvian tribes here before Western European invasion of this region. We continue our drive a short distance to Cesis, where we will take lunch, and enjoy a walk around one of Latvia’s most beautiful towns. Cesis is known as a favourite spot for painters, and is incidentally also the beer capital of Latvia. After lunch we drive 300 kilometres north-east to the university town of Tartu.

Tonight we dine at the cellar restaurant of Hotel Antonius. The Antonius restaurant’s vaulted arch ceilings are adorned with rare frescoes and its atrium recreates the elegant atmosphere of a rose garden. (Overnight Tartu) BD

Tallinn, Estonia - 4 nights

Day 11: Friday 6 July, Tartu – Tallinn
  • Walking Tour: Town Hall Square & St John’s Church, Tartu
  • University of Tartu
  • Estonian National Museum

Tartu’s quiet charm reveals a distinctively Estonian city, centred on Tartu University, the cultural and intellectual heart of the nation since its foundation as the second university of the Swedish Empire. We begin the morning with a walk around the town centre, beginning with the Town Hall Square, and the Gothic St John’s Church.

Within the University we visit Tartu Art Gallery, including the beautiful Assembly Hall (subject to renovation works being completed) and student lockups – where a student would have spent two days for returning a library book late.

After lunch, we visit the new Estonian National Museum. Opened in October 2016 and located on the grounds of what was once a Soviet military airfield, the new museum traces the history, life and traditions of the Estonian people and presents the culture and history of other Finno-Ugric peoples and minorities in Estonia. The 34,000-square-metre museum is the largest in the Baltic States and its collections chart Estonia’s history and culture from the Stone Age to the present day.

In the late afternoon we continue north to the capital, Tallinn, on the shores of the Baltic Sea. (Overnight Tallinn) B

Day 12: Saturday 7 July, Tallinn
  • Walking Tour of Old Tallinn: City Walls and Towers, Toompea: Tallinn Cathedral, Parliament Building, (Tallinn Castle), Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
  • Church of St Nicholas and Niguliste Museum
  • Walking tour of Lower City: Town Hall & Apothecary, Pikk

Like Riga, Tallinn joined the Hanseatic League towards the end of the thirteenth century and flourished on Baltic trade. Largely built by foreign interests, it looks outwards towards the waters of the Baltic Sea. 17th- and 18th-century Swedish and German merchant houses embellish its medieval foundations, and Russian summer palaces lend a touch of grandeur. In the morning we take a walking tour of the old city, exploring its medieval streets, the surviving towers and gates of the city walls, and the warehouses and merchant houses of the lower town.

We begin our walking tour by climbing the Toompea to visit the Cathedral and Tallinn Castle. Nearby the neo-classical (and pink!) Estonian Parliament House provides a striking counterpoint to the Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral facing it across the street. The Cathedral was built at the end of the 19th century as a symbol of Russia’s domination of Tallinn, and named after Nevsky, who conquered much of Estonia in the 13th century. We also visit the St Nicholas Church, now a concert hall and home to the Niguliste Museum, which contains a small but valuable art collection preserved from the destruction of the Second World War.

In the afternoon we explore the lower town, including the Town Hall Square and Europe’s oldest apothecary, dating from 1422, and walk along streets of the lower town including Pikk with its mix of architecture from medieval to Jugendstil. (Overnight Tallinn) B

Day 13: Sunday 8 July, Tallinn – Lahemaa National Park – Tallinn
  • Lahemaa National Park: Palmse Manor, Sagadi Manor, Altja

Today we travel by coach through Lahemaa National Park, an unspoilt coastal region of forests and farmland, preserved by the Soviets as a buffer to the Baltic Sea, and home to a number of classical 18th-century manor houses built by German nobles and merchants from Tallinn. The most impressive and best restored is at Palmse, a memorial to the von der Pahlen family. The manor and surrounding gardens were begun in the late 17th century, but not finished until 1740 because of the intervening war between Sweden and Russia. We take lunch in Altja, a small fishing village on the shores of the Baltic with traditional wooden architecture and a fine inn. We then visit the Sagadi Manor, built in quite a different style to Palmse, to see the diversity of German settlement and industry in this region. Sagadi also houses a small but valuable forestry museum. (Overnight Tallinn) BL

Day 14: Monday 9 July, Tallinn
  • Pirita harbour – Song Festival Amphitheatre, Russalka Memorial, Forest Cemetery & Kadriorg Park
  • St Birgitta’s Convent
  • Afternoon at leisure in Old Town
  • Farewell Dinner: Mekk Restaurant

We spend the morning in the Pirita harbour area, 7 kilometres to the east of the old town, which is a green band of beaches, parks, palaces (some dating back to the time of Peter the Great), museums and monuments. We visit the Song Festival Amphitheatre, site of the huge song festivals held regularly in Estonia, the ‘Russalka’ memorial in the form of an angel pointing out to sea to mark the loss with many lives of a Russian ship, and the beautiful Forest Cemetery, where Estonian notables are buried. We stroll through Kadriorg Park, whose centrepiece is Kadriorg Palace, built following Peter the Great’s visit to Tallinn in 1718 by Italian architect Niccolo Michetti. It is now home to the Estonian President.

After briefly visiting the beach and boat harbour, we take a guided tour of the ruined convent of St Birgitta, destroyed in a siege in 1577 but still with one massive end-wall standing, and its extensive layout retraced. We return to the old town around lunchtime for a free afternoon.

Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner together at the new Mekk Restaurant, offering modern Estonian dishes and located in the Old Town. (Overnight Tallinn) BD

Day 15: Tuesday 10 July, Tallinn. Tour Ends.
  • Airport transfer for participants departing on the ASA ‘designated’ flight

The tour finishes in Tallinn. Participants on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to the Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport to take their flight home to Australia. If you wish to extend your stay in the Baltic Region, you may wish to consider taking the morning ferry across to Helsinki (contact ASA for further information). B

Accommodation

15-day Cultural Tour of Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia

Accommodation is in twin-share rooms with en suite bathroom in 4- and 5-star hotels. Each hotel is centrally located within the cities that we visit. Double/twin rooms for single occuopancy may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the Double (as Single) Supplement. Further information on hotels will be provided in the ‘Tour Hotel List’ given to tour members prior to their departure.

  • Vilnius (3 nights): 4-star Mabre Residence Hotel – housed in an old Russian Orthodox monastery in the historic centre. www.mabre.lt
  • Kaunas (2 nights): 4-star Hotel Kaunas – located on Laisves Aleja, the main pedestrian thoroughfare of downtown Kaunas. www.kaunashotel.lt
  • Riga (4 nights): 4-star Hotel Neiburgs  a modern apartment-hotel housed in an Art Nouveau building situated in a quiet and picturesque street in the heart of the Old Town. www.neiburgs.com
  • Tartu (1 night): 5-star Hotel Antonius – a charming 5-star boutique hotel housed in a heritage-listed 16th-century building, located in the heart of the old town of Tartu, directly opposite the university. www.hotelantonius.ee
  • Tallinn (4 nights): 5-star Hotel Telegraaf  housed in the former 19th-century exchange station for the Estonian Telegraph company, and located within the intricate streetscape of the medieval heart of Tallinn. www.telegraafhotel.com

Note: hotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

How to book

ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION FORM

Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport

Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Gallery Tour Map
Physical Endurance & Practical Information
Physical Rating

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 15-day Cultural Tour of Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia involves:
  • Exploring the Baltic cities on foot.
  • Moderate walking and standing during museum and other site visits.
  • Walking on uneven terrain, cobbled streets, and up and down hills and/or flights of stairs including some genuine medieval steps in old castles!
  • The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.
  • 4- and 5-star hotels with four hotel changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Visa Requirements

LATVIA, LITHUANIA & ESTONIA: Australian, New Zealand, and United Kingdom passport holders do not currently require a visa for one stay of up to 90 days. Travellers must have proof of valid travel insurance including cover for emergency medical evacuation. Note: visa conditions are subject to change. For updated information please refer to www.visalink.com.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $6180.00 Land Content Only – Early-Bird Special: Book before 30 June 2017

AUD $6380.00 Land Content Only

AUD $1050.00  Double (as Single) Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 4-5-star hotels
  • Breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Tour reference book
  • Entrance fees
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Vilnius, Tallinn-Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Terms & Conditions
Deposits

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**

  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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