B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Monday, 21 Aug 2017: Arrive Helsinki, Finland; Welcome Reception (R)
Schedule your flight into Helsinki to arrive no later than 3:00pm. It takes about 1 hour to travel to the city center. Finland's capital city is a vibrant, compact seaside city situated on the Gulf of Finland. It has served as the country's capital since 1812 when it was rebuilt by the Russian czars as a St. Petersburg-in-miniature. Our tour begins at 6:30pm in the lobby of our hotel with our Welcome Meeting and reception to get better acquainted. Overnight Helsinki - 1 night
Tuesday, 22 Aug 2017: Helsinki City Tour; Ferry to Tallinn, Estonia (B,D)
This morning we're off on a panoramic tour of Helsinki to explore the city's sights and major landmarks and learn about the city's past and present. Helsinki is one of Europe's youngest capitals and has become synonymous with modern design and architecture and is considered forward-thinking in terms of city planning, technology use and social progress. We'll take the comfortable ferry through the Helsinki archipelago and across the Gulf of Finland to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Tonight we'll enjoy a wonderful meal in lovely 15th-century Old Town. Overnight Tallinn - 2 nights
Wednesday, 23 Aug 2017: Tallinn City Tour; Afternoon Free Time (B)
Today begins with a tour of Tallinn where we'll stroll through the medieval cobblestone streets of the UNESCO-listed Old Town, considered to be the best-preserved medieval town in Northern Europe, as we listen to the stories and legends of this place so filled with history. We visit Upper Town—Toompea Hill—to see the "pink palace," an 18th-century addition to the Toopea Castle and the imposing onion-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral that was built over the supposed grave of an Estonian hero in an attempt to exert Russian cultural influence. We'll also visit the Lower Town to see the colorful houses and historic streets that reflect the city’s German and Scandinavian trading past and it's more recent existence under Soviet rule. This afternoon is at leisure to enjoy this wonderful town.
Thursday, 24 Aug 2017: Pärnu, Estonia; Cēsis, Latvia (B)
Today we travel by road to Cēsis, Latvia's "most Latvian town." On the way, we'll stop in Pärnu, a medieval city and an Estonian summer resort, to see the Tallinn Gate, which once defended the main road. We continue on through scenic Gauja National Park, the oldest and largest in Latvia, before arriving at our destination. After time to check into our hotel and freshen up, we're off on an evening tour of the charming Old Town. Overnight Cēsis - 1 night
Friday, 25 Aug 2017: Ligatne; Winery Visit; Pakruojis, Lithuania (B,D)
This morning we're on the road again. Here in the Baltics, it's impossible to escape the history of Soviet occupation during the Cold War. Our first stop is the former secret Soviet bunker in Ligatne, constructed 21 feet below ground and meant to serve as a shelter for Latvia's Communist elite in the event of nuclear war. Afterward, we will stop at a local winery to taste wines made from local fruits and berries. We'll explore the 18th-century Rundale Palace, dubbed the "Versailles of Latvia" and a flagrant display of bygone aristocratic excess, before traveling on to Lithuania. We'll have a light dinner together this evening. Overnight Pakruojis - 1 night
Saturday, 26 Aug 2017: Lithuania—Hill of Crosses; Trakai Island Castle (B)
This morning we visit the legendary Hill of Crosses, one of Lithuania's most awe-inspiring sights. Often referred to as "the Mecca of Lithuania," this is a small hill adorned with a vast number of rosaries and crosses. The crosses were repeatedly bulldozed by the Soviets, but each night, Lithuanians crept past the guardpost to plant more crosses in an expression of national and religious protest. Its then on to a most stunning medieval castle complex and a symbol of Lithuania—Trakai Island Castle, set on an island in Lake Galve. Overnight Vilnius - 2 nights
Sunday, 27 Aug 2017: City Tour of Vilnius; Afternoon Free Time (B,D)
This morning we explore the narrow winding streets of the UNESCO-listed Old Town of Vilnius, one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Northern Europe. We'll take in Vilnius Cathedral, the most important church in Lithuania, and the Gate of Dawn, the last remaining gate of the walled city. We'll also visit Vilnius University, one of the most elaborate architectural complexes. It claims to be the oldest continuously operating university in Eastern Europe, teaching students in these same Renaissance courtyards since 1579. The remainder of the day is free to further explore this fascinating city. Your WTT Tour Leader will have suggestions of how to spend your time, or simply accompany her on her planned itinerary. This evening we enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant.
Monday, 28 Aug 2017: Beer in Biržai; Travel to Riga; Free Afternoon (B)
Today we are traveling to Latvia, but on the way to Riga, we will visit the Biržai region of Lithuania, famous for its traditionally brewed craft beer. In the past brewing was practiced in nearly every home, each with its own recipes, passed from father to son for generations. Today several breweries continue the production of traditional recipes. We'll make a brief stop to learn about the beer making process, taste home-made beer and listen to traditional ‘supper songs.’ Upon arriving in Riga, we'll check into our hotel and the remainder of the afternoon and evening are at leisure. Overnight Riga - 2 nights
Tuesday, 29 Aug 2017: Morning Tour of Riga; Afternoon Free Time (B,D)
This morning we're off on a tour of Riga, Latvia’s capital and the Baltics' largest city. It's considered a cultural center and is home to many museums and concert halls. The city is also known for its wooden buildings, art nouveau architecture and UNESCO-listed medieval Old Town. We'll stop at a bustling produce market to sample a variety of Latvian delicacies including smoked meats, pickled vegetables and crusty breads. After our tour, the remainder of the afternoon is free for you to explore further and just soak up the ambiance of this colorful city. Your WTT Tour Leader will have many suggestions for things to see and do.
Wednesday, 30 Aug 2017: Fly to St. Petersburg; Afternoon City Tour; Evening at Leisure (B)
We hop a morning flight to St Petersburg, Russia, considered to be one of the world's most beautiful cities. This was the Russian imperial capital for 2 centuries, having been founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, and is still a cultural magnet to this day. After checking into our hotel, we embark on a tour of this extraordinary city. We'll drive along Nevsky Prospekt, the city's main thoroughfare and one of the best known streets in Russia. We'll see St. Isaac’s Cathedral, whose gilded dome dominates the skyline and stop in at the Vodka Museum for a tasting of Russia’s "national drink." Tonight would be a good time to enjoy the ballet or opera if you're so inclined. Overnight St. Petersburg - 3 nights
Thursday, 31 Aug 2017: Peterhof; Catherine Palace (B,D)
Today is a long, yet rewarding day as we take in the gilded grandeur of Russia's czarist past. We'll begin by boarding a hydrofoil to the Grand Palace and park complex of Peterhof, Peter the Great's summer palace and gardens. France's Versailles was the inspiration for Peter's desire to build an imperial palace in the suburbs of his new city. Then its off to visit the Catherine Palace at Pushkin, named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia for two years after her husband's death. Originally a modest two-story building commissioned by Peter for Catherine in 1717, the palace owes its grandeur to their daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who chose it as her chief summer residence and had it completely redesigned to rival Versailles. Tonight we're in for a treat as we enjoy a dinner of classic Russian cuisine and a traditional folk show.
Friday, 1 Sep 2017: Neva River Cruise; The Hermitage (B,D)
This morning we're again off by boat enjoying the views of this city built across 42 islands from the vantage point of its rivers and canals. Almost all of the major attractions of St. Petersburg are either placed directly beside the water or can be easily seen from a boat. But the main attraction is the Neva River itself, the primary waterway of the city. We'll then make our way to The State Hermitage Museum, founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, to see one of the largest, oldest and most prestigious museums in the world. It has an unrivaled collection of European masterpieces and is truly a must-see for all visitors to St. Petersburg. We will return to the hotel early afternoon where you have free time until we meet for our farewell dinner.
Saturday, 2 Sep 2017: Depart St. Petersburg (B)
Sadly, our time in the Baltic region has come to an end. Schedule your departure at your convenience, remembering you will need to leave the hotel 3 hours before your flight departs. Your WTT Tour Leader will assist with coordinating ride-sharing to the airport based on flight departure times.
If you are continuing on the Moscow today you will be checking out and traveling with your Tour Leader to the train station. See below for the details of the pot-tour extension.