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.
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.
I was working in Kaunas two years ago. There you can find some good bars to drink many Lithuanian craft beer. Highly recommended places:
Alaus Kultūra ÖL
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 Šnekutis
The Beer Museum
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
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
@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 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.