Baltics - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania

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  • Going over on Thurs with very vague plans - Tallinn to the coast, round the islands, down the coast to Riga, end up in Vilnius at some stage. Anyone familiar with the route/area? Specifically:

    • Camping - good facilities/good idea this time of year?
    • Have heard of bothy-type huts you can pitch up at - are they common, esp on this route?
    • How bad is the wind - have heard it's strong and constant?
    • Anything that can't be missed?

    Any experiences/opinions very gratefully received!

  • This might be of interest.

  • Looks like temperatures are staying above 0C in the region, similar to England in recent weeks. I've heard that snow has melted in Lithuania, but expect the ground to still be wet and covered in last years' fallen leaves (which had plenty of time to rot too, yuck).
    LT: Generally speaking wild camping next to lakes is the way to go. Country guest houses are plenty in the summer, not sure about this time of year. Keywords: rural tourism, kaimo turizmas.
    Just found out mosquito forecast is a thing lol. You should be good now. Anyone attempting this in summer beware!

  • Don’t ‘look’ Jewish.


    I've been riding there a few times. The wind isn't that bad really, though of course you can have bad luck and as the landscape is so open and flat, there's nothing to block it really, so it's free to blow from the sea.

    Avoid the the biggest roads, like the 4/E67/Via Baltica along the coast south of Pärnu. The smaller roads are mostly very qiuet, from what I've seen.

    The islands are nice, might be pretty quiet now before the tourist season. There's castles and everything. I ended up in a monastery having tea with a greek nun there too once, was interesting. As are the ferries, simple old things.
    The abandoned prison and mine in Rummu are interesting. Kind of an unofficial tourist attraction.
    There's lots of interesting little villages. People are moving away from the countryside it seems, so rather empty if you choose smaller roads. Smaller roads tend to be gravel occasionally.

  • @Samuli @Lolo @yakut - thanks very much for that, v useful. Much excite at this point!

  • It's illegal to wild camp in the mostly around the coastline in Latvia and Lithuania, as the moss or smth is under protection. You can spot the signs at the start of the protected areas, but… it isn't that well marked. We had an encounter with police (no clue how they found us tho) last year doing a one night camp in Lithuania I think.
    PS! It's okay to camp on the sand or at the beach, but not in the forest next to it.
    In Estonia it's relatively simple—you can walk/camp everywhere, where there's no fences or anyone shooing you away. And as it's been mentioned before, RMK provides heaps of cozy camping sites all around the country. There was a similar organisation also in either Lithuania or Latvia or at least a some sort of map. If you're hammocking, then I think you are safe everywhere in the Baltics.
    Keep away from the bigger roads, the islands and coastline is beautiful! Beer gets cheaper the more South you go.
    Also–Riga Biketours, Baltic camping

  • So, Estonia is a bit good:

    Tallinn - lovely old town, great architecture, quite sleepy - glad we were only there for a night and leaving early on Friday morning, as the beer for breakfast Brits stag brigade were already getting on it. Wouldn't fancy it at the weekend.

    Shedloads of cyclists in Tallinn, boku slvlss (they've got an Ironman there now), but not a single one to be seen once out of Tallinn. Roads are mainly very good, with the very odd little patch of unsurfaced stuff on the islands. In the rural areas, you'll see a car once every 10-15 minutes, and they'll universally give you plenty of space. Not a single car horn or close pass the whole time. Pretty much all you hear is constant birdsong.

    Navigation is a piece of piss - get on the Eurovelo route, stay on it for a week or so, then hang a left for Vilnius.

    The ferries out to and between the islands are cheap, quick, efficient and have reasonable food, even for vegans if you ask nicely.

    Weather - we got ridiculously lucky. Apparently it's usually about 10 degrees max at this time of year, so temps hitting the mid-20s much of the time were bigly flukey. It still went down to subzero at nights though - it was hard to sleep because of the cold. We were certainly the only people camping at this time of year, and it was really hard to sleep for the first few nights.

    The Estonians have camping sorted out - every few kms, there's a site - just a long drop toilet, fire grate and logs, but that's all you need. And it's free (you may have to pay later in the season, but there's no-one around now). Running water would have been nice, but we got by with swimming in the Baltic, which isn't at all salty.

    The Baltic is still quite cold.

    Food is surprisingly (to the ignorant tourer) good, even for weirdo vegans. In some places, where they had no English, I'd virtuously order potato dunplings and they'd come with a knob of butter, but that's hardly the end of the world. Most places had pasta and other types of options.

    It is very flat, you could easily tour fixeh skiddereh if you wanted. We didn't go crazy and maxed out about 140kms a day - you could easily do plenty more if you were so inclined (and much fitter than me). There are plenty of shops for essentials.

    Almost every place you go is obscenely pretty - little wooden houses with sheds and saunas in the gardens, old churches, streams and trees. You see very little that screams of Soviet brutalism, though the flats in the suburbs can be a bit grim. Nothing worse than Tower Hamlets though.

    Wildlife spotted - couple of reindeer, couple of (grass) snakes, frogs and toads, huge numbers of birds. jillions of ladybirds.

  • I cycled from Riga to Gdansk some years ago taking the he coastal route...was good but was longing for something not quite so flat. In retrospect I wish I'd gone inland a bit.

    Photos from the trip here

    I went through Kaliningrad which was both odd and interesting...was like stepping back 20 years compared to its Baltic neighbours. It does have the complication of needing a Russian visa.

  • Sounds wonderful! "Very flat" pleases me. Going to pitch Estonia as part of the next cycle tour.

    Kudos for swimming in the sea in April.

  • Very flat indeed - my bike got knocked a bit in transit and I was stuck on the middle ring for the whole trip without feeling the need to go to a mechanic to get it fixed. I doubt we climbed more than 100m above sea level at any time.

    Me and my mate both swim year round over here, so dipping in wasn't really an issue when we needed to get clean after a day's riding.

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Baltics - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania

Posted by Avatar for kl @kl