ESTONIA, LATVIA - Local Specialities and Beautiful Nature in Latvia and Estonia
Duration: 8 days
Transportation: Self-drive, hiking
Total length: ~865 km driving, ~50 km hiking
The tour from Riga to Tallinn combines natural, cultural and culinary heritage and includes lovely landscapes and 15 nature trails which cross marshlands, meadows and forests along the shores of the Baltic Sea. The itinerary brings you directly to where local specialities are produced so that you can enjoy them freshly made and authentic. You will watch lamprey being prepared for you on a grill, and you will savour treats such as home-made ice-creams where they use eggs from happy hens of the farm, smoked meat from local farms, and many others. On this tour, you will become a true expert of the traditional and modern Latvian and Estonian cuisine.
As the farms producing foods are often located in beautiful nature areas, you will combine culinary and nature experiences on this tour. There are many nature trails equipped with viewing towers for birdwatching. Randu meadow near Ainaži contains one third of Latvia’s entire plant species. A boardwalk leads through reeds to a viewing platform with views over the meadow and the sea. Saaremaa Island has a great variety of natural attractions that are different from those on mainland Estonia. There are dolomite cliffs, juniper heaths, a meteorite lake and rocky sea shore. The tour passes rural farms and traditional villages typical of the coastal areas. Hiiumaa Island is a laid back place and retains a very Estonian atmosphere with an important bird reserve at Käina Bay, unusual Sääre Tirp, as well as several small islets off its south-eastern coast. Back on the mainland, Paldiski peninsula gives a glimpse of the recent history with its former Soviet military base.
Arrival in Riga
Overnight Stay in a Hotel in Riga
Rīga - Garciems - Carnikava - Saulkrasti - Salacgrīva (~110 km)
Seaside Nature Trail Garciems - Carnikava (8 km, 2-3 hours)
A wooden walking trail leads through the pine forest, dunes and sandy beach. You can leave your car at Garciems train station and return to it by train after an invigorating seaside walk and the next visit in Carnikava.
Lamprey Producers in Carnikava
Excursion and tasting of Carnikava lampreys, famous for the original brand recipe. You will find out about lamprey fishing and cooking traditions around the River Gauja. Tasting lamprey in three ways - grilled on coal, lamprey in jelly, and lamprey sushi.
After the excursion, take a train back to Garciems to pick up your car.
Lunch in Saulkrasti café “Cietais Rieksts” www.facebook.com/cietierieksti
The Sunset Trail (ca 3.6 km, 1-2 hours)
A scenic trail for a walk in the dunes, which connects the River Inčupe and the River Pēterupe. You can return to Saulkrasti walking on the beach.
“Gogelmogels” Home-made Ice-cream
The farm keeps more than 250 chickens and produces home-made ice-cream according to a classic recipe and from natural ingredients. They offer tours of the poultry farm, ice-cream tasting, a story about the history of ice-cream.
This family run pub is hosted in a renovated historical wooden building. Next to the pub there is a meat processing facility where they smoke meats that are on the pub menu.
This is the most impressive and colourful set of cliffs along the Vidzeme coastline. Waves have created the steep shore that is 6 m high, with several hundred metres of red sandstone cliffs with narrow caves, niches, grottos and other formations.
Dinner and Overnight Stay in the Hotel “Kapteiņu Osta” in Salacgrīva www.kapteinuosta.lv
Salacgrīva - Ainaži - Pärnu (~75 km)
The Randu Pļavas Nature Trail (ca 4 km, 1-2 hours)
A scenic coastal area. Overgrown with reeds, full of seashore meadows, lagoons, muddy little lakes and sandy shallows, the Randu meadows are an important location for birds and plant life. There is a bird watching tower installed. The nature trail is in the Northern Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve.
Lunch in the Restaurant “Pļavas” in Ainaži
Ainaži is the last stop in Latvia. The restaurant offers an extensive menu, including vegetarian meals. A family-friendly place.
Kabli Nature Study Trail (2 km)
A trail with two sightseeing towers, changing scenery and birds’ nests. The trail starts in front of the RMK Kabli Nature Centre.
Jõekalda kohvik (Café Jõekalda)
Country cuisine. In the summer season, they offer home-made dishes made from local vegetables and fish. Hand-made salty and sweet cookies available.
Hoidised Riinalt (food producer)
Delicious home-made canned food, such as cucumber jam, home-made ketchup and other culinary specialities for everyone who appreciates local products. Local cuisine is served and canned food can also be purchased.
Pärnu Coastal Meadow Hiking Trail (600 m, ca 1 hour) - There is a viewing platform right by the sea in the middle of Pärnu Beach. Visitors can walk above the backwaters and find unique protected plants.
Sightseeing in Pärnu - Pärnu is a historic spa resort with a beach, promenade, the pier and old town.
Farmers’ Market of Lõunakeskus
You can buy freshly baked bread, sweets and a lot of other home-made products from the Pärnumaa region.
Evening Meal and Overnight Stay in Pärnu.
Pärnu - Liu - Tõstamaa - Varbla - Virtsu - Kuivastu - Muhu - Saaremaa (~220 km)
Tamme Talu (Tamme Farm Herb Garden)
The farm has a garden with medicinal plants and herbs, and a collection of vegetables and decorative plants used in cooking. Guided walks can be supplemented with delicious herbal teas and herb pies if booked in advance. The farm shop has a vast selection of preserves of berries, vegetables, herbs, herbal teas and herb mixes.
Vene Talu (Russian Farmyard)
This is a small piece of Russian culture on an Estonian farm with a long and captivating history. You will see Russian folk costumes from various regions, traditional household tools and a collection of “samovars”. In the farmyard you will see an authentic Russian oven and a high, lace-like fence. The hosts offer tea prepared in a “samovar”, which goes together with Russian gingerbread and ring-shaped cracknels (“baranki”).
Tõstamaa Walking Trail (5 km, 2 h)
The trail is equipped with informative signs indicating the closest attractions.
Ferry: Virtsu – Kuivastu
Lunch in Tihuse Hobuturismi talu (Tihuse Horse-riding Farm)
This farm on Muhu Island is engaged in horse breeding, but also offers authentic food; lentil cakes are their special treat, as well as dietary food. Visitors can have lunch and enjoy horse riding.
Koguva ethnographic fishermen’s village on Muhu Island
A walk in the Landscape Area on the road from Angla Windmills and Heritage Center to Karja church (5 km, 2 hours).
Evening Meal and Overnight Stay at Laugu Tourism Farm www.saaremaatalu.com or Ranna Villa www.highlandcattle.ee
Leisi - Kuressaare - Panga Cliff - Triigi - Sõru - Kassari (~195 km)
Sightseeing in Kuressaare.
Highlights: impressive medieval castle, town centre with art galleries, little shops, cafés and restaurants.
Lunch in the Restaurant Saaremaa Veski
It is the most popular restaurant amongst locals, offering the best and freshest products. The menu includes game from Saaremaa forests, smoked fish during summer, treats from berries, local apple wine, as well as the best wines of Saaremaa Island.
Panga Cliff on the Coast of Saaremaa Island
Mustjala Mustard (small producer)
The farm offers self-made mustard and chutneys; taste and choose the one that suits you best. They also organise masterclasses where you can learn how to make your favourite chutney yourself.
Ferry: Triigi – Sõru
Orjaku Boardwalk Trail on Kassari Peninsula (ca 1 hour)
Kassari peninsula is on Hiiumaa Island. It is actually a strip of land covered with junipers. The trail leads through an overgrown coastal area with an observation tower near Käina Bay. Good bird watching sites.
Sääretirp Nature Trail on Kassari Peninsula (ca 1.5 hours) - Good bird watching sites.
Evening Meal and Overnight Stay in Kassari Holiday Centre. www.hiiumaale.ee
Hiiumaa: Kassari - Kõpu - Kärdla – Heltermaa; Mainland: Rohuküla - Haapsalu (~135 km)
Triinu õunamahl (small producer)
Organic farm growing apple and sea buckthorn. Visitors will see the farm, gardens, production facilities and equipment, as well as taste and buy juices.
This is the oldest lighthouse in the Baltic states.
Lunch in Põhja-Tooma Puhkemajad (Põhja-Tooma Holiday Homes)
Peaceful atmosphere. Food is prepared from the local ingredients of Hiiumaa according to the preferences of guests.
Heltermaa Käsitöömaja (Craft House in Heltermaa)
A local Hiiumaa grocery and handicraft shop, open during the summer season. The selection is very wide, starting from ceramic dishes and ending with Hiiumaa lemonade.
Ferry: Heltermaa – Rohuküla
A Walk on Haapsalu Promenade (8 km both ways, 2-3 hours)
The walk starts at the African beach and ends by the Baltic Hotel Promenade. Near the promenade there are many sites to see and museums to visit, e.g. Haapsalu Town Hall, Ilons Wonderland, Haapsalu Resort Hall, Tchaikovsky’s Bench and Museum of the Coastal Swedes.
Evening Meal and Overnight Stay in Haapsalu.
Haapsalu – Paldiski – Tallinn (~130 km)
Overnight stay in Tallinn