If you've ever daydreamed about traveling Europe, I'd be willing to guarantee that the Baltic states wouldn't be at the top of your list. But why wouldn't they be? Sure, they're no Paris, Rome, or Vienna, but Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are entirely underrated for a quick weekend getaway. Smooshed between Russia and the Baltic Sea, these historic, peaceful countries offer unique trips away for hearty, meat-filled dishes, picturesque old towns, and a half-liter of beer for $2.50 (gasp). Citizens of the Baltic states are proud of their democracy and independence. After all, it did take ~800 years for them to get it!
There is typically a shortage of female travelers to the beautiful Baltics, but by no means are they unsafe. On the contrary, they are rapidly become popular destinations for "lads on tour" holidays, replacing cities like Prague and Budapest. Their cheap drinks and thriving nightlife make them the ideal destination for ladies looking for a great time, but without the prices of Barcelona nightclubs.
Sure, you may not get as many Instagram likes if you're posed in front of Riga's Old Town Square rather than Munich's Rathaus, but we're past that point in our lives, aren't we?
So here's a girl's guide to the Baltics! Enjoy!
I'm fresh off the boat from Estonia. Literally, I just got off the plane from Estonia a few hours ago. The old medieval city of Tallinn is likely the largest of the Old Towns (out of all the Baltic states) and the holy grail of cheap drinks. It cost me about $120 to get from London to Tallinn for a weekend on both EasyJet (there) and RyanAir (back). Fairly reasonably priced if you ask me, considering that your expenses for the weekend can be almost nothing (if you let it). Most our meals cost us under $10 for the entire thing (drinks included), and we were even able to snatch some $5 pancakes for brunch one day, and $5 pizza as well. There are several inexpensive museums around Tallinn as well, although perhaps only one worth your while - the Estonian history museum. At 5 euros a ticket, It takes less than an hour to get through the entire museum, but gives a fantastic overview of the largely unknown Estonian history.
What you can't miss: Tallinn Old Town, Estonian History Museum, Baltic Sea Port, Old City Walls, Toompea, city views
Where you have to eat: Rataskaevu16, Vanaema Juures, Kompressor
Where you have to go out: Monk's Bunk Bar Crawl, Clayhill Gastropub, NoKu (located at Pikk 5, you need a code to get in. I'll give you a hint: it's 2580).
When I visited Lithuania a year ago, I visited the city of Kaunas, which isn't the capital city. It's the second largest city in Lithuania, with more of a college town feel, making it ideal for young people. Kaunas meets at the confluence of two rivers, the Neris and the Nemunas, and is an incredibly cheap destination for its value (I even went shopping... oops!) You can easily survive in Kaunas on $50 a day if you want to live on the cheap, especially if you venture out of the Old Town into the less touristy areas of Kaunas. The colors of Kaunas are stunning in the fall (when I visited), and I imagine it to be quite cold in the winter, similar to the other Baltic states. However, during the summer, Kaunas comes alive! Don't miss the summer Pažaislis music festival, and the castle opera festival. There's also a fantastic shopping center located just over the river from the old town with excellent choices for cheap shopping. Some of my favorite pieces today are still from there (including a black faux-fur vest that I got from a designer boutique for $30!)
What you can't miss: St. Michael the Archangel Church, views of the river confluence, Kaunas old town, Kaunas Castle
Where you have to eat: BerneliU Uzeiga, Uoksas, Forto Dvaras
Where you have to go out: Kultura, Rock Pub, BO Bar
Ahhh Latvia, the land of my ancestors. I felt weirdly connected to Latvia when I arrived, even though the last member of my immediate family to live there was my great grandfather (who left when he was just a small child). Why doesn't everyone look like me!? What's your last name?! Other than trying to find my roots in Riga, this beautiful capital city is an amalgamation of culture from the former Soviet lifestyle, and its new life as its own independent state. Latvian cuisine is surprisingly divine, varying from heavy meats to potatoes, to different wheat products. Channel your inner college freshman by sampling the wide variety of Latvian vodkas the country has to offer. There are several wine bars in the city, for my wine gals out there, but I'm not going to comment on Latvian wine. Definitely easy to do on a budget, a pint costs around $2, many casual restaurants, especially as you exit the old town (and I recommend you do!), can be done for under $10. Don't forget this city's bumpin' nightlife, however. Like the other Baltic states, the city comes alive at night. Keep the vodka and the good vibes flowin' people.