As 2015 draws to a close I can’t help but get excited about where to go next year. Now that I’ve gained the confidence to travel solo I feel that the world is – excuse the cliché – literally my oyster… well, within reason, as finances permit! By the end of 2015 I’ll have visited five countries – Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Barbados, which I think is quite a reasonable start to my part time travelling journey! So, what does 2016 have in store? Read on to hear about the first trip I’m planning…
There is something about Eastern Europe that just captivates and intrigues me. Two things that are likely to draw me to a destination are a) a medieval old town, with cobbled streets and interesting architecture, and b) if it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site (as I’m steadily ticking those off). First on my list is Riga, the capital of Latvia, which ticks both of those boxes. It was crowned the European Capital of Culture 2014 and is home to the largest collection of art nouveau buildings in the world. It has plenty to keep you occupied – museums, cafes, churches, parks, nightlife options and even a beach nearby. Best of all – it’s very affordable and direct flights from the UK are fairly cheap (between £45-£65).
Photo credit: Latvian Tourism Development Agency
What to Do in Riga
Number one on my list of things to do is an art nouveau walking tour in the Quiet Centre to check out all those opulent building façades, followed by the House of Blackheads (pictured in the middle photo above). Latvia is one of the Baltic states along with Estonia and Lithuania and as the nations are relatively small and well connected it is easy to visit Riga in tandem with another city. My plan is to visit Riga, stay in the Old Town for 2/3 days (for me, location is always the most important thing – especially when on short trips) and then go on to visit Tallinn, the capital of Estonia for 2/3 days (another UNESCO World Heritage Site – tick!).
Getting to Tallinn
The quickest way to reach Tallinn from Riga is by plane (approximately one hour) and based on current prices for April 2016, will cost £47 for a return flight (with checked baggage costing another €28.99… sorry, but 8kg is just not enough for me!) with Air Baltic. There is also a budget option, the bus (€39 for a return ticket with Lux Express, 4 hr 30 mins journey).
Where to Stay in Tallinn
Again, for me it is important to stay in the Old Town of Tallinn and there are a selection of moderately priced hotels in this area. I found some 3* hotels in the Old Town priced at £60-65 for 2 nights on Booking.com.
Credit: Toomas Volmer – Source: Tallinn City Tourist Office & Convention Bureau
What to do in Tallinn
I plan to spend my time exploring the pretty streets of the Old Town such as St. Catherine’s Passage, along with seeing the main sights of St.Olav’s Church, Toompea Castle, the incredible looking Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and nearby Kadriorg Park.
Have you been to Riga or Tallinn? What else should I see?
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