Lithuania-Latvia-Estonia-July 2018 (beer and non beer related tips are welcome)

Greetings Ratebeerians

This year a friend of mine and I are planning for a roadtrip through the Baltics.

The plan we sort of envisioned:

Day 1: Fly from The Netherlands (or Belgium/Germany) to Vilnius, stay in Vilnius.

Day 2: Whole day in Vilnius.

Day 3: From Vilnius to Trakai and to Kaunas, stay in Kaunas.

Day 4: From Kaunas to the Hill of Crosses, then to Klaipeda.

Day 5: Curonian spit and Klaipeda.

Day 6: From Klaipeda to Liepaja, on the way there is some cold war museum in Plateliai.

Day 7: Liepaja to Kuldiga and then to Riga.

Day 8: Riga

Day 9: Riga to Sigulda/Gauja National Park/Cesis and in the end to Tartu.

Day 10: From Tartu to Parnu and Kuressaare

Day 11: From Kuressaare to Talinn

Day 12: Talinn

Day 13: Talinn to Narva

Day 14: Narva to Talinn

Day 15: Talinn to Helsinki

Day 16: Helsinki

Day 17: Flight from Helsinki back home.

.
So ofcourse i would love to hear your beer recommendations BUT… all touristy stuff is welcome also. (Hotels etc too)

Now we have some questions to people who live here, or have been here.

  1. Kaunas, is it worth to stay here for the night? Or should we drive from Vilnius straight to Klaipeda and spend only a few hours exploring Kaunas. Or is it better to stay here for half a day atleast?

  2. Hill of Crosses… is it a must do? I sort of want to go, but my travel companion isn’t too thrilled.

  3. Is it worth to stay in Liepaja for the night, or is it better to find a hotel in Kuldiga?

  4. Should we skip a night in Kaunas, is an extra day in Kuressaare an option?

We will drop helsinki if the costs get too high in the end.

On your way to Tartu, don’t forget to go to https://www.ratebeer.com/p/kabliku-pruulikoda-polvamaa/72512/78296/
You can stay the night there as well.

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I’d say Kaunas is more of a draw than Kuursaare if you want a beer, but Kuuresaare is more of a draw if you want a castle. Never been to Klaipeda or the spit, so can’t offer an opinion on those. Nor Liepaja.

The hill of crosses does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a metric fuckton of crosses. On a hill. I’m glad we went there, as it was in interesting curiosity. WEre you not hitting the coast, your route would take you through Siauliai, and then it’s so small a detour, that there’s no need to avoid it, you can easily turn it into just a 10 minute distraction if you so desire. But your coastal diversion seems to be drawing you away from Siaulia.

Parnu is a perfectly OK place for a lunch stop, in particular as you are forced to go right through the middle of it, but is mostly a beach/spa resort, in particular at that time of year. You might want to consider coming back from Kuuresaare via Hiiumaa and Haapsalu, which is another historical summer spa resort. Alas that requires more ferry smarts, and thus more risk.

Similarly, on your way from Tallinn to Narva, there are worse places to stop off and have lunch than Rakvere. Tick another castle, if that’s your thing. Make sure you’ve got a Russian phrasebook with you for your trip east, Estonian and English isn’t guaranteed to be enough.

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Great plan! Don’t skip Kaunas, certainly worth a visit. Check out «Places» here at RateBeer. And, one more day and you can visit Minsk! Only a short flight from Vilnius.

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@Borresteijn Thnx for the tip.

@FatPhil Thank you for your tips, but what do you mean with with the risk of the ferries? and thnx for the Russian phrasebook tip. How is the level of English in the rest of the countries?

@Bryne Any tips for non beer stuff in Kaunas? And Minsk… well needs to be for another trip, we are hard pressed for days off and money as is haha

We focused on a hardcore beer crawl when we visited Kaunas. It was a day trip from Vilnius by train. Kaunas has one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe and an old town with a small castle or fortress. Nice enough, but not a must see.

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HI!!

I was working in Kaunas two years ago. There you can find some good bars to drink many Lithuanian craft beer. Highly recommended places:

  • Gyvas Pub
  • Nisha
  • Vingiu Dubingiu
  • Alaus KultĹ«ra Ă–L

Regarding tourism, you can visit the city and have a good overview in one day. Any way there are some good places to visit near Kaunas, v.g. Ninth Forth.

I was visiting Klaipeda one day, I didn’t find any interesting bar for my main focus: Lithuanian craft beer. Any way there are some good places were you can eat a well-cooked fish. Don’t forget to take a ferry to visit Neringa. To have a good overview you need one day for Klaipeda and Neringa.

In Vilnius… regarding tourism, too much to visit. About beer:

  • Kaimiško Alaus Baras Ĺ nekutis
  • The Beer Museum
  • Vilniaus alus

Also I spent a weekend in Riga. Highly recommended places to have good local beer:

  • Alus Seta - Lido (Highly recommended to visit not only for the beer but also for the food
  • Taka Bar

I think it’s all.
Any way if you understand Spanish this is my beer-blog where I wrote some posts about my travel there…

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Klaipeda is quite small so one day is the perfect amount of time to budget to spend there and not feel rushed exploring the beer places, as far as I remember theyre all mostly central or in the Old Town which itself is central.

Herkus Kantas I remember as my favourite place in the city, it had a lot of fresh Dundulis beer to choose from and a nice selection of food. Not far from there is not strictly a beer bar as such but the place had some Belgian gems - The Fat Duck or Two Fat Ducks was the name. A short walk from the front entrance of the Svyturys brewery (which is in the Old Town) is a hybrid shop/bar called Gero Alaus Parduotuve which has a selection of bottles both local and international as well as draught beer.

Spunka is another place that comes to mind - it is a modest bottle shop with a big local selection which also does growler fills; there’s a chain shop which does growler fills at several shopping centres throughout the city as well as throughout the rest of Lithuania called Alynas.

Lithuanian cuisine pairs quite well with beer, don’t have any restaurant recommendations as such but Cepelinai is the national dish and “Zemaitiski blynai” is the dish the city/region claims as (one of) its own. Both feature potatoes and pork, as do most of the rest of Lithuanian dishes. “Saltibarsciai” is a really nice cold beetroot soup - which is quite different to the dish called Borscht.

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To be honest if you want to make a very interesting side trip to experience beer and beer cultural like you could never imagine, you should check out Pakruojis, Pasvalys and Panevėžys. It’s a real eye opener and an area that few people venture into, but not that far from Hill of Crosses (1-2 hrs max). You won’t regret it if you love beer.

Kuursaare has a cool vibe and wildness to it that I love, but it is not a beer destination.

Tim

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@SVD what’s your goal? just take a walk or museums, entertainment … ??
to taste traditional cuisine?

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You’d need to coordinate two ferries in order to take the Hiiumaa/Haapsalu route back, so either you need to book in advance and stick to your timetable accurately, or risk there being non-reserved places on each ferry. Hiiumaa’s worth it for the traditional farmhouse brewpub restaurant on Kassari - get growler fills, and definitely grab some smoked fish.

English use is very strongly correlated with age. Everyone under 30 will speak it well, anyone over 50, you’re at risk of blank looks. It’s also correlated with latitude - Estonia and Finland are very multilingual, Latvia and Lithuania less to.

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I would say a day in Kuressaare is enough, and if you have an extra time go to Hiiumaa instead. There is a direct ferry between Saeremaa and Hiiumaa, but like FatPhil said - prebooking the tickets and sticking with the timetable will be the smart move.

I assume you are driving a car? If yes, then I recommend guesthouses on the countryside for overnight stay instead of hotels, especially in Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. The keyword you should search for is Estonian “turimistalu” (direct translation: tourism farm, some are literally farms, some are just bed and breakfast places). The best part of those “farms” is that they sometimes offer homebrewed koduõlu and local fresh smoked fish. I’m sure @MartinT can give you some hints about koduõlu brewers. Beer wise in Saaremaa Pihtla mekituba ( https://www.ratebeer.com/p/pihtla-ollekoeoek-mekituba/43024/ ) is a must visit place.

If you are interested in meeting up, I’m sure Tallinn’s RB crew can join in the crawl and show you beery places around here.

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@Bryne Thnx for the reply, considering we drive through it we’ll stop. Any recommendations beer wise? Where did the crawl lead to?

@teddybeer I will try to descipher the spanish, should be doable… and thank you for the tips.

@GlasgowTAD thank you, will see what i can do there.

@time Hmm… will check the three places out, any recommendations for what to do there? I saw some places on ratebeer but i a traveling with someone who isnt into craft beer that much so i need to keep the beer stuff down a bit haha

@remALUS All what you just said, its just a regular touristy vacation where i want to see the country, its not exclusivly a beer vacation.

@FatPhil Ah thnx, will need to plan that in advance then, would suck if we cant enter or leave the island hehe. And will bring some translation books in case of, luckily there is free roaming in the Baltics. Gotta love the European Union.

@martjoobolut Thank you, will check it out. Yes we will rent a car and drive around. Guesthouses could be an option, will take it up with the other guy. Thnx for the beer tips. And yeah maybe ill post it in the local forums when the plan is final.

It’s less of a case that you can’t leave the island (unless there is a storm or something), but more of the case of waiting a couple of hours in the ferry line. If you for some reason can’t buy the tickets in advance, I would recommend planning the trip so that you arrive to Saaremaa on Sunday or in the beginning of the week.

@SVD I hope you know that in Lithuania you can buy and drink alcohol only from 20y? I if you are older, but looks younger a bartander can ask for Identity card. At the shop alcohol you can buy from 10 A.M till 8 P.M (on Sunday till 3 P.M.)

I think that it’s not necessary decipher the Spanish. In the aforementioned link on my beer-blog there are many links with all interesting addresses I discover during my two months trip

@martjoobolut ah ok well i think we arrive in sarramaa on saturday. But i think we can book in advance. Thnx!

@remALUS dont worry, im 26 so… but thnx for the tip on selling times.

@teddybeer haha fair enough but reading what you wrote sounds interesting so… but thnx ill check it out.

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Hey, a frined of mine is a travel bloggerin and she is currently travelling through the baltics. This is her newest post:

Expect some more stuff in the next weeks. She and her friend are well in to craft beer aswell so she might even do a beer-related post.


I was in Riga last year and we did a daytrip by train to Jurmala which was quite nice.

https://www.ratebeer.com/p/easy-beer-riga/68623/2/0/ is interesting if you wanna quickly tick some stuff as they have a self pouring station where you pay by milliliter. I did really like the atmosphere at Labietis and Alus Celle is also a nice spot.

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@rhoihessegold Oh thnx!, will check the blog out

I would definitely do Saaremaa. As well nice sauna complexes there of that’s your thing.

Narva you could drive in a day and back. The castle is nice, but the rest of the town lacks a historic feel I thought (to be fair the fact it was all but levelled by the Soviets in WWII could have smt to do with that.