We start the trip in Vilnius, our base for two nights. Vilnius is known for its old town of beautiful Baroque architecture, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. It has a strong historical Jewish influence and Napoleon named it 'the Jerusalem of the North' as he was passing through in 1812. In the year 2009, Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture, together with the Austrian city of Linz.
The Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7.00pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner.
If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Vilnius Airport (VNO), which is a 20-30 minute drive from the hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. Stay: Panorama Hotel (Comfortable)
This morning we drive 28 kilometres from Vilnius to Trakai Historical National Park. Outside the capital we find a peaceful land of forests, lakes, rivers and farmsteads. Our first stop is to see the impressive setting and fortifications of Trakai island castle. Trakai was an important seat of power in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania during the 14th and 15th centuries, ruling an empire that stretched all the way down to the Black Sea. For those interested there is the option to go inside the castle. After our visit we continue to Senieji Trakai, or Old Trakai, to prepare our bikes for the first ride and check that everybody is happy and comfortable. We cycle back through town and the Trakai peninsula, where there are many cafés and restaurants to choose from for a lunch break. Our ride continues away from Trakai and around the shores of the lake, along a mixture of asphalted back roads with light traffic and dedicated cycle paths to Uzutrakis Manor House.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 13 kilometres. Stay: Panorama Hotel (Comfortable) (B)
This morning we see more of Lithuania's countryside with a 4 to 5 hour drive towards the Baltic Sea to Kintai village where we have lunch before getting our bikes ready. After lunch we cycle for about 10 km on the flat and beside the Curonian Lagoon, along a quiet paved road to Vente Cape. Vente Cape is a small peninsula on the eastern side of Curonian Lagoon. More than 50,000 visitors come each year in order to get acquainted with one of the most important spots for bird migration in the region. We make a visit to Ventes Ragas and 19th century lighthouse and the Ornithological Station where the migration patterns of many bird species are tracked and recorded. Huge nets are used to catch the birds they tag. We then cycle back the same 10 km route to Kintai village. From here we join a forest bike track and continue along this bumpy gravel track through the fishing villages of Priekule, Surmai to Dreverna where the group ride finishes and we rejoin our vehicle for the transfer to Klaipeda. Klaipeda is the third biggest city in Lithuania, an important port and Lithuania's chief gateway to the Baltic Sea. It has a long history from a tribal fishing village and later arrival of German Crusaders who seized this land and built their castle here in 1252, later known as Memel.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 39 kilometres. Stay: Amberton Klaipeda (Comfortable) (B)
Today we take a short ride by bus to the harbour and take the 5 minute ferry ride to Curonian Spit National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site) then drive for about 1 hour to Nida. We stop en route briefly at the Hill of Witches in Juodkrante to see a colony of grey herons and cormorants. Nida is a charming fishing village with a number of well-preserved old wooden fisherman's houses. A peaceful and relaxing atmosphere pervades throughout the Curonian Spit. We get on our bikes in Nida to explore the village, visiting a giant sundial and the highest dune for views over the surrounding landscape. We continue by bike along the spit through forests on paved bike paths mostly on the flat. We will cycle alongside giant sand dunes, hundred year-old pine forests and white sand beaches; learning about its unique culture and architecture and you may like to try some of the typical local smoked fish. We leave the bikes for a short walk up the Dead Dunes beyond Pervalka where a panoramic view of both the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon opens up. After relaxing in Juodkrante you have the choice to take the bus to our hotel or cycle the remaining 12 km from Juodkrante to Smiltyne then take the ferry back to Klaipeda harbour, ending with a final 2 to 4 km to the hotel.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 36 kilometres, with a further optional 22 km available. Stay: Amberton Klaipeda (Comfortable) (B)
After a short drive from our hotel in Klaipeda we cycle along the coastline on a dedicated and paved cycle route through the Giruliai Forest to the popular summer resort of Palanga. Along the way we visit the Seaside Regional Park including the Dutchmen's cap - a 24-metre-high cliff - the fishing village of Karkle, Plaze Lake and the former lifeguard station in Nemirseta. Before lunch we explore Palanga Botanical Park and the biggest Amber Museum in the Baltics. Palanga's population swells enormously in the summer months as it is the premier beach destination in Lithuania and boasts a beautiful sweeping beach. From Palanga after lunch we continue cycling a further 15 km on cycle paths and finish in Sventoji town before we drive to Riga - a journey of 4 to 5 hours. Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia and the Baltic States. It boasts superb architecture spanning over six centuries and has an impressive collection of beautifully decorated Art Nouveau buildings.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 37 kilometres. Stay: Islande Hotel (Comfortable) (B)
After breakfast we drive to Jurmala - one of the largest resort towns in the Baltics with 32 km of white sandy beach fringed by pine forests old wooden summer cottages and more recently built villas. Jurmala's reputation as a spa destination began in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as many sanatoriums were built to take advantage of the sea breeze, pine aroma, mineral springs and beach. We explore the town by bike for around 12km, followed by some free time for ice cream, coffee, a cycle on the beach on hard packed sand or even a swim. We return to Riga by bus or there is the option to cycle the 25km back to the city. The rest of the day is left free to discover beautiful Riga.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 12 kilometres, with a further optional 25 km available. Stay: Islande Hotel (Comfortable) (B)
This morning we drive for about 6 hours to Lahemaa National Park, Estonia's first and largest national park. The park is an interesting mix of coastal bluffs, dense forest, 7000 year old bogs, 18th century manor houses, fishing villages and numerous lakes and rivers. The rocky coastline is strewn with erratic boulders, some very large, that were carried here by glaciers thousands of years ago. Most of the cycle routes are on well paved roads that have little traffic. Once we arrive we check into our hotel then head out on our bikes on a circular route to explore the park.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 41 kilometres. Stay: Palmse Distillery Guesthouse (Comfortable) (B)
This morning we continue to explore the vast natural beauty of Lahemaa National Park by bike. Established in 1971, it was the first national park in Estonia and two-thirds of the land is covered by forest. There are four large peninsulas in Lahemaa and one of them constitutes the northernmost point of continental Estonia. The park is home to moose, boars, brown bears, lynxes, foxes, beavers, the Ural Owl and Black Woodpecker. We plan to cycle another circular route before rejoining our bus. When we have finished in the park after a short lunch in a local cafe we drive for about 1.5 hours to Tallinn. Todays cycle route is planned first thing in the morning so we can check into our hotel in Tallinn in time to enjoy a free afternoon in this wonderful city.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 37 kilometres. Stay: Hotel Go Shnelli (Comfortable) (B)
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Tallinn.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Tallinn at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Tallinn Airport (TLL), which is a 20 minute drive away. (B)