I’m back from an impulsive trip to the Baltics! In a quest to find a Christmassy wonderland, my friend Z and I flew to Riga, Latvia, headed north to Tallinn, Estonia, and finally travelled to Helsinki, Finland. And we found snow, Christmas markets, and fir trees in abundance!
As with all my eco-travel escapades, we went off in search of sustainable restaurants, vintage stores, and more… But I’ll be honest, it was more of a holiday than anything, and for the most part, we simply took in the culture, architecture, and attractions! Find out how we got on in this guide, and my three-part posts about each specific city below…
How To Travel Safely During The Pandemic
The pandemic has affected so much in the last two years. For the most part, I’ve avoided travel altogether, sticking to staycationing in the UK. So this was my first trip abroad since 2019! And while Covid-19 safety measures continue to be in place, we found that it is possible to travel safely abroad.
We planned our trip to the Baltics and Finland during a time where all three countries – Latvia, Estonia, and Finland – were open to UK visitors travelling for tourism. In each country, there were slightly different protocols, but for the most part we were required to show our Vaccine Passports, as well as recently-done negative tests, and locator forms. If you’re planning on travelling to the Baltics from the UK, I recommend following the Government’s up-to-date advice for travelling abroad during the coronavirus pandemic rather than my own potentially dated advice.
Five Days, Three Baltic Cities, & So Much Snow
So onto our Baltic trip! In the run-up to Christmas, we decided to take a week out to visit the snow destinations of Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. (For those of you who are clued-up on your geography, you’ll notice that we swapped out the third Baltic state of Lithuania for Finland instead, simply for the extra snowiness and easy access).
Our journey consisted of the following travel:
- Day 1: Fly out of London to Riga, Latvia (3.5 hours)
- Day 2: Take a coach from Riga to Tallinn, Estonia (4 hours)
- Day 3: Full day in Tallinn
- Day 4: Take a ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki, Finland (2 hours)
- Day 5: Fly from Helsinki to London (4 hours)
While it may look a little hectic, we were able to make the most of each city by spending a minimum of 24 hours in each. It required us taking an early flight out and a late flight back, with in-between travel across the middle of the days to ensure a smooth check-in and check-out at our hotels. But overall, it was worth it – we even got to see each city in the day and at night.
24 Hours In… The Baltics & Finland
To read more about each city, and our top recommendations for places to visit, have a read of each city guide below:
Also for anyone looking to visit just one of these cities for longer than 24 hours, I would highly recommend Tallinn or Helsinki – both had plenty to do and many more attractions we wished we could have visited! However, for a backpacking trip, these three in a row are great. As an extension, perhaps consider starting in Vilnius, Lithuania, or heading to Lapland, Finland, or St Petersburg, Russia, afterwards.
What To Pack For A Trip To The Baltics
Finally, I thought it might be useful to share my kit list! On this trip, Z and I agreed to go make-up free, focusing more on vital cosmetics that could fit into our carry-on bags, as well as warm clothing. The weather during our trip was cold, but still relatively mild, ranging from -2°C to 2°C. I took the following, and wore everything at least once:
- 1 x Merino wool base-layer top
- 3 x Lightweight long-sleeve tops
- 2 x Warm jumpers
- 1 x Merino wool base-layer leggings
- 1 x Fleece-lined waterproof trousers
- 1 x Pair of jeans
- 5 x Pairs of hiking socks
- 5 x Underwear
- 1 x Set of pyjamas
- 1 x Pair of hiking boots or snow boots
- Down jacket or similar warm coat
- Hat, gloves, and scarf
- Face cleanser
- Lip balm
- Hair oil
- Hand gel
- Phone charger cable and phone bank
- 1 x Travel adaptor
- Covid tests (refer to Government guidance)
- Medical-grade masks
- Headphones and/or earphones with jack (for in-coach entertainment)
For my carry-on cosmetics, I prioritised skincare and haircare because the cold really affects my skin and hair. The cold air (and equally harsh indoor heat) tends to dry my skin out, so I brought along a good quality facial moisturiser with SPF that would look after my face, hands, and body, as well as moisturising shampoo, conditioner, and hair oil.
And that’s it! As a practical guide, this is everything you’ll likely need to know. It’s so much easier to travel light when on a trip like this, and can be done any time of year (although seeing each city in the snow was the cherry on top!)