Clinging on the western edge of Europe are the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Rich in natural resources and strategically important, these small countries have been key players in the geopolitics. Formed in the rampage of the Crusaders, they have seen the rise, wrath and fall of many empires. Most recently, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union both left their mark on these three countries.
On our Budget Baltics tour we provide an action-packed journey through the countries of the Baltics in an affordable and time-efficient manner. Beginning in Lithuania, we head towards Estonia via Latvia. On the way we explore the military heritage and dark modern history of these ancient lands, from KGB prisons and micronations to Soviet nuclear bunkers and WW2 battlefields still littered with relics.
We also dive into the military history of the region by driving tanks, shooting Soviet guns and experiencing KGB treatment at the infamous Karosta prison. This is the quintessential Baltics tour in classic YPT style at an affordable price!
Arrival into Vilnius at your own convenience and head to our hotel.
Meet up with your YPT guide at 18:00 and the rest of the group in the lobby of the hotel before heading out for some classic Lithuanian food.
Round off the night with some world-renowned Lithuanian beer in one of the many great bars of Vilnius.
Overnight in Vilnius hotel
Friday October 2nd – Vilnius
After breakfast we’ll head out into Vilnius, our first stop will be the infamous KGB prison of Vilnius, part of the huge network of prisons and detention centres the Soviets implemented here. This NKVD “inner” prison was set up in the basement of the former courthouse in 1940. Now the prison looks the same as it did in August 1991, when the KGB vacated it.
We’ll then visit the self declared micronation Užupis which means “beyond the river” in Lithuanian. the district declared itself an independent republic (The Republic of Užupis) in 1998. You can even get your passport stamped with the coat of arms of the republic here!
We’ll ascend to the tallest building in Lithuania for evening dinner and drinks. The Soviet built TV tower is 326 metres tall!
Overnight in Vilnius hotel
Saturday October 3rd – Riga
We check out of the hotel and bring our bags with us
We grab some breakfast before meeting our driver outside who will transfer us out of the city to a military base deep in the forests of Lithuania!
We will then don army uniforms and helmets before being introduced to our vehicle for the day, a hulking military tank!
After a quick safety briefing from our military instructor we’ll get on board as he takes us on an epic off road trail.
Then each group member will have the chance to get behind the wheel themselves and take this 15 tonne beast for a spin! Don’t worry if you don’t have a driving license, we’ll teach you everything you need to know!
After the adrenaline fuelled activity we’ll have the chance to take as many photos around the base as you like before we transfer to our next action packed activity: the Soviet firing range!
On arrival, we’ll have our passports checked before being given access to an array of high calibre weapons, including AK-47’s, Mosin Nagant sniper rifles and other Soviet weaponry as well as modern military firearms.
A number of rounds are included in the tour price, but extra rounds can be purchased on site if you wish to shoot more. You can take as many photos and videos at the range as you like.
We then transfer to the bus station, grab some lunch and jump on the bus to Riga, Latvia! The bus will likely be fitted with TV screens so you can enjoy a movie on the way.
Nighttime arrival in Riga, we will check into our nearby hotel and head out for some food.
Overnight in Riga hotel
Sunday October 4th – Riga
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll meet our driver and head out into the Latvian countryside and stop at some long forgotten Soviet monuments on the way.
Our main destination is the Ligatne Bunker, built during the Cold War when the Soviet Union maintained constant high alert for a Western nuclear attack. Built under a sanatorium for discretion, it was designed to protect the Communist elite of Latvia in the event of nuclear apocalypse, the bunker was supplied with everything necessary to survive several months after a nuclear fallout.
We’ll descend deep underground and enter through a blast proof door to privately explore the entire bunker system with a local expert.
The Soviets left this bunker is a hurry so all of the interior is completely original, from the government phones with a direct line to Moscow to military canteen with peeling propaganda posters on the wall.
After a few hours in the bunker complex, we’ll ascend to ground level and enjoy lunch at the sanitariums Soviet style canteen with great food.
On the way back to Riga, we’ll stop at an abandoned Soviet Air Force base and explore the ruined buildings, forgotten Soviet art and Socialist nostalgia.
Free time in the evening before we head out for dinner and drinks
Overnight in Riga hotel.
Monday October 5th – Liepaja
After breakfast we’ll transfer to the city of Liepaja on the Baltic coast and on arrival we’ll walk through the gates of Karosta prison and be led by a guide dressed as a KGB officer.
Karosta prison was originally built to be an infirmary but ended up playing a much darker role as it was used as a military prison by both the Nazis and Soviets. Labelled as ‘’one of the most haunted places on earth, within these walls hundreds of Latvians were detained, sent to solitary confinement, tortured and shot dead.
After the tour we’ll grab lunch in Liepaja before meeting our local guide who will take us on a military heritage tour.
Liepaja became a secret city closed to outsiders and commercial maritime traffic as the Soviets set up their Baltic naval base and nuclear weapon warehouses and one third of the city was taken up with a Soviet naval base with 26,000 military staff. We’ll explore the former Soviet bunkers and remains of the submarine compounds.
Return to Riga for evening dinner
Overnight in Riga
Tuesday October 6th – Tallinn
After breakfast we’ll head to the bus station and stop for a brief look at the Riga market housed in buildings that were former Zeppelin hangars.
We’ll board our bus for the drive to Tallinn, Estonia.
On arrival, we check into centrally located accommodation before we explore the city.
We’ll explore Tallinn’s charming downtown, from it’s formidable medieval defence to the glorious examples of Soviet brutalist architecture.
See the hotel Viru. During the Soviet era, the top floor of the hotel housed a KGB radio centre, used to eavesdrop and spy on the hotel guests. 60 of the hotel rooms had concealed espionage devices, and even some of the tables in the restaurant had microphones. On the top floor is a KGB museum which we’ll visit.
Evening dinner and drinks
Overnight in Tallinn hotel.
Wednesday October 7th – Narva
We grab breakfast and some snacks for the road before we begin our trip up to Narva on the Russian border! For a day discovering hammers and sickles, Lenin statues and T-34 tanks which will take us from beautiful medieval castles and coastal cliffs to ash-hills, half-empty industrial ghost towns and a Soviet themed museum.
We will climb around the stunning ruins of Toolse fortress, Discover the Soviet industrial town & ash hills of Kohtla-Järve, enjoy amazing Stalinist architecture in Sillamäe, roam around the ghost town of Viivikonna.
During the day, we will grab lunch at a local Estonian tavern.
We’ll stop at an incredible WW2 battlefield in the wilderness, there is a museum here and it is littered with relics from Nazi tank turrets and vehicles to machine guns and helmets.
See the Narva-Jõesuu Tsarist beach resort and the Kunda Hydro plant ruins.
We’ll explore Narva castle and gaze over the border into mother Russia itself, inside the castle is one of the last Lenin statues left in the EU, now abandoned with his hand outstretched towards Russia.
We’ll drive back to Tallinn stopping at a Soviet T34 tank on the side of the road.
Dinner and drinks in Tallinn.
Overnight in Tallinn hotel
Thursday October 8th – Tallinn
Farewell breakfast at the hotel
End of tour with YPT able to arrange onward travel if desired, or join us as we visit the seldom mentioned side of Chernobyl in Belarus!