Before coming to Estonia, I had never even heard of the Baltic states. The Baltic States are the three countries Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all of which are located on the Eastern Coast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe. All three of these countries were previously under control of the former Soviet Union with all of them becoming sovereign nations in the early 1900’s.
Now I can happily say I have visited all three of the Baltic States as well as the country that previously played such a large role in influencing them, Russia.
Here are a few of my impressions of Latvia, Lithuania and Russia in the order that I visited them in:
I would definitely recommend a visit to Latvia, specifically the capital city of Riga. In comparison to the United States, Estonia is already a relatively affordable country. However, Latvia is much more affordable than Estonia! In Riga there are many great and cheap restaurants and also very interesting museums and cathedrals . Russian language and culture is also very prevalent in Latvia, arguably the most out of any Baltic State. In my opinion, Latvia is a perfect destination for anyone trying to travel affordably who may also be interested in learning a bit about Latvian or Russian culture or language.
My personal favorite capital city out of the three Baltic States is Vilnius in Lithuania. It is an absolutely captivating place. Vilnius has an extremely beautiful old town with incredible architecture. Also, Lithuanian culture is very prevalent in the city. All the people I encountered were extremely kind and warm and always willing to help you out with directions or anything else you may need. I even had locals personally walk me to where I was wanting to go. However, even though Vilnius is an amazing city, Lithuania has even more to offer like the Hill of Crosses in Šiauliai Lithuania.
I was only able to visit the city of St. Petersburg in Russia, so I definitely cannot speak for the whole country of Russia. However, St. Petersburg has so far been my favorite city I have been able to visit. The population of St. Petersburg is over five million people, making it the second largest Russian city only behind the capital of Moscow. St. Petersburg is considered very “European” in its architecture and atmosphere whereas Moscow is extremely “Russian” in architecture and atmosphere. During a city tour in St Petersburg, I was told St Petersburg is often considered the soul of Russia and that Moscow is considered the heart of Russia.
During my four days in St. Petersburg, I was able to visit so many beautiful and culturally significant sites. I often found myself in awe of just how beautiful the buildings were in this city. I extremely recommended anyone coming to Northern Europe to visit St Petersburg as it is an extremely affordable city with amazing cultural significance, architecture and endless amount of events and things to do!
The city at night is so well lit, it is almost brighter than during the day!
Overall, the Baltic States and St Petersburg are absolutely amazing. Even though I greatly enjoyed each country and city, I feel like my time was best spent in St Petersburg.
Thanks for reading my blog and contact me with any questions!