You’ve heard a lot about Iceland in the past month but on that same trip I also visited four other countries. I went to Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Why did I go to those places?
If you book a flight on Icelandair they give you a free stopover in Iceland on your way to another destination. There are 26 destinations that they fly to in Europe so I wanted to pick something that I had not been to before. Finland was on that list and from Finland I could go north and see more northern lights or I could go south and see some other countries. The cost of going north in Finland was what made me decide to go south this trip.
When I went to the Scandinavian countries before I learned they have a great ferry system (or five) across the Baltic and North Sea. You can ride across the water for not too much money and be in another country in a couple hours. It’s a nice way to travel as the ferries are like mini cruise ships. They have bars, cafes, restaurants, slot machines, duty free shops, sleeping bunks and sometimes live entertainment.
From Helsinki, Finland I was able to ride the ferry to Tallinn, Estonia beginning our travel in Northern Europe. In Tallinn we rented a car and drove down to Riga and then to Vilnius. We had a really great time checking out the old town in each of these cities. We wandered into the shops, through the alleys and sampled the local food and beverages. We even met some fun new friends.
Whenever you go into a city check to see if they have a free walking tour. It’s a great way to get to know the history of the city, make new friends and get the lay of the land.
Where did I stay in Northern Europe?
Outside of Vilnius we were fortunate enough to find a great resort. It all started because my husband uses the arrow launcher on his phone. Each day his background changes to a new picture. One day he saw a castle picture and thought it looked cool so he clicked to find out where it was. Turns out it was in Lithuania in a city called Trakai. Trakai is a little ways outside of Vilnius and surrounds a big lake. We knew we had to go and wanted to stay the night in the area. We found this great little resort that was more than perfect. The resort had a spa and a lake of it’s own! (Have you heard the story of why I went to Malaysia? If you like this story you might like that one too!)
If you are ever near Trakai or need an excuse to go please check out IDW Esperanza! It’s amazing and really well priced.
In Tallinn we stayed in this amazing old building right in the heart of old town. It had stone walls and large wood beams. It was something we found on Airbnb. You can find some amazing rentals on Airbnb and VRBO when overseas. In the states I’d also love to recommend Vacasa. All great home rental websites.
Speaking of hotels, when I returned to Finland I stayed in prison. Don’t worry it was a boutique prison. A place I would recommend to anyone that loves history and a nice place to sleep for the night. You’ll be begging for a late check out instead of an early release.
Why go to Northern Europe?
- It’s old and new! The Baltic States have been populated for some time but the countries are celebrating just 25 years of independence.
- It’s not expensive.
- It’s not crowded like Iceland with tourists. It might one day be the it destination so go now while it’s still a little quiet.
Other noteworthy items:
Don’t call it Eastern Europe or refer to them as Eastern Europeans. They prefer Northern Europe.
Winner of the best gas station coffee goes to Stat Oil. They have homemade whip cream and syrups to add to your drip coffee or machine made latte.
45 countries checked on the list…so many more to go… What’s next on your bucket list?