Baltics, A Complete Guide: Tallinn, Riga & Vilnius.
Welcome to your complete guide to a trip through the Baltic states. These three countries nestled on the eastern side of the Baltic Sea offer a fantastic value and rich history for those willing to get away from the more traditional countries in Europe. From this all-encompassing guide, you'll get to know each city and what to expect from a trip through the Baltics, with tips on how to navigate the region. In order to cut down on the length of this guide, as it already includes nearly 300 items, some places of lesser importance have been left off this list, but are listed on the Google Maps version for each city. Feel free to reach out with any questions! thomas.abroadandco@gmail.com
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Baltic Basics

🏙️ Culture

Most locals will speak their native tongue (Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian). Everyone will speak at least one foreign language, for those under 40, that language will likely be English. Especially within the cities, there should be minimal communication issues when visiting restaurants or museums.

Fun Fact! While Latvian & Lithuanian are Indo-European languages, the same family as English. Estonian, is Uralic which is closely related to Finnish and the Finnic branch of the Uralic Family.

 

Safety is always a concern when travelling, especially to more unknown regions. All Baltic States are generally very safe. In the larger cities the only concerns are for pickpockets in crowded areas such as public transport or tourist spots.

 

The food has many similarities to those of their Slavic neighbors, A large diversity in Potato-based foods will be common, and Beets will be especially common in Lithuania. Smoked fish anywhere near the Sea will be a must-try and makes up a substantial part of the diet. Many dishes will seem strange, but make sure to give them a try!

 

Often locals can appear cold and unfriendly, but that's just due to their lack of over-emotion. Just because they smile less, doesn't mean they are unfriendly. 

Don't be scared, and once you get to know someone, they are quick to open up.

📆 When to Travel?

The late spring and summer (May-August) will be the best time to visit the region. Temperatures can reach 30*C during the day, but will cool off to around 15*C at night.

With the region being northern, the days are quite lengthy in the summer, daylight can last up to 18 hours a day.

December, around Christmas, is a gem of a time to visit the Baltics, as when they turn white with snow, they offer some of the most picturesque Christmas Markets in all of Europe. Tallinn is especially known for its market in the Old Town. 

💵 Money

All three countries have adopted the Euro. At this time €1 = $1.10 USD.

Tap payments (Apple/Google Pay), and cards are widely accepted in the major cities. Cash can be useful in rural areas and in smaller markets.

Prices you will find to be lower than in the rest of Europe, with minimal variation between the three countries.

A sit down meal with a drink can be about €20.

A coffee and pastry will cost about €3 each.

Tipping! While its becoming more common, it still is not a requirement, and only really used as a sign of gratitude for a nicer meal. 5-10% is more than enough.

🚌 Transport

Maps

Google or Apple Maps are widely available throughout the region, and will even include public transport routes and timetables.

Ferry

An extremely popular way to travel to Tallinn and the Baltics is through the Tallink Ferry. Tickets are roughly €35 and the crossing takes about 2hours. 

Both cities can be done as a day trip from one another. Tallinn is an extremely popular day trip from Helsinki for both tourists and Finnish people (Cheaper alcohol). If you plan on staying in Estonia, I'd highly recommend adding an extra day and crossing north to Helsinki.

Flights

Riga has the largest airport of the Baltic States with the operator Air Baltic having a vast and modern network of routes. However starting in the middle of the 3 countries isn't the most time efficient way of traveling, which means if flying into Tallinn or Lithuania aren't options, then Helsinki or Warsaw will be the best choices. 

As mentioned above, Helsinki, being the major city in the region has a larger network of connections through the airport, and getting from the Airport, to Tallinn takes about 3hours, via train, tram, and ferry.

Warsaw also offers fantastic connections to the Baltics from all around Europe and North America. LOT, Poland flag carrier has over 14+ daily flights into the region, with around half of them being to Vilnius, which you can fly into and make your way north and leave through Tallinn or Helsinki.

Buses

How will you get between the three cities? Until Rail Baltica becomes a reality, which will offer high-speed trains from Helsinki to Warsaw, the easiest way to get around the region is by bus. 

Both LUX Express & FlixBus offer fantastic services at reasonable prices. Tickets between capitals can be regularly be had from as low as €10.

Travel times between each capital are roughly 4h.

Tallinn - Riga: 4h

Riga - Vilnius: 3h:30min

BOLT

Available throughout the region, this rideshare app is the most common for locals. 

It also offers food delivery, grocery dropoff, car rentals, and bikes/scooters to get around on 2-wheels.

Uber is less used, as it's only available in Tallinn, and the whole of Lithuania. It does not operate in Latvia.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn sits at the top of the Baltics on the Gulf of Finland. It's a cozy capital city with under 500,000 inhabitants. The crisp, clean air makes traveling around the historic Medieval Old Town a very relaxing and enchanting experience.

 

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📆 How Many Days?

Old Town Tallinn can be seen as a day trip from Helsinki.

However, it's best to experience the city as a destination. With everything the city and surrounding areas have to offer, you can easily spend 2-4 days in Estonia.

🎫 Tallinn Card

If I have one tip for Tallinn, it's this card. The Old Town is littered with 43+ Museums, big and small, hidden around the town. With this card, you don't need to worry about paying €5-10-20 at each museum, and it gives you absolute freedom to explore in and out of any museum you pass by. It also includes free public transportation within the city!

Tourist Information Centre
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Be sure to stop by and get a paper map with more information of all the attractions of the Old Town.
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⛴️ Transport

Tallinn is incredibly walkable, especially within the Old Town. Travel around the rest of the city is easy with the large network of Trams and buses. Tickets are €2, but free with the above-mentioned Tallinn Card.

For Tourists, the main railway station won't be of much use as trains from here are primarily regional, and train travel to Latvia is possible, but requires a transfer near the border with separate tickets. 

Tallinn Main Station
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Slightly outside the city, the bus terminal can be accessed by tram. It's fresh and modern and tickets are generally cheap, this is where FlixBus & LUX Express depart from.

Tallinna Bussijaam
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A Major way people visit the city is through the port. Just a short 15min walk from the Old Town gates. It is separated into different terminals (A-D), so if you depart, be sure you arrive at the correct one. Terminal D is typically the departure for Tallink to Helsinki.

Port of Tallinn
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A 20min Tram or Train ride to the edge of the city, the Tallinn airport has flights to and from all over Europe. Most rental car agencies will be located at the airport.

Tallinn Airport
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What To Do

👣 Local Tour

🏰 Tallinn Old Town

The Old Town is what most people will visit when in Tallinn. It is truly a living museum, loaded with museums and landmarks that you can wander around for days.The Visit Tallinn website is fantastic and loaded with knowledge so you can pre-determine what is worth checking out.

Vanalinn - Tallinn Old Town
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Within the Old Town walls, be sure to check out:

Viru Gate
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Built in the 1300s, 2 large, ivy-covered watchtowers mark the entrance to Tallinn's Old Town
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Tallinn Town Hall Sqaure
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Absolutely go up the tower, it has incredible views to the southwest towards the Aleksander Nevski Katedraal.
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Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
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Designed by Mikhail Preobrazhensky, this soaring edifice was funded by public donations.
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St Mary's Cathedral
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Originally dating from the 13th century, this medieval church has a Baroque bell tower.
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St. Nicholas' Church and Museum
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Its spire can be seen throughout the Old Town
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⭐ Kiek in de Kök Museum and Bastion Tunnels
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Restored cannon tower from the 15th century, is now a museum with exhibits & tours of secret tunnels, which is well worth it.
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Tall Hermann
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Toompea Castle tower built ca. 1370 & rebuilt in the 15th century, with 215 climbable stairs.
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Stable Tower and Town Wall Walkway
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⭐ KGB Prison Cells
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The Parliament Of Estonia
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Home to Estonian Parliament building in the baroque, salmon-colored 13th-century Toompea Castle.
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🔭 Three popular viewpoints in the Old Town:

Kohtuotsa viewing platform
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'The Times We Had' lookout point. The best spot to overlook the old town. 
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Patkuli viewing platform
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Piiskopi viewing platform
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📍 Places of Interest

Outside The Walls:

Balti Jaama Turg Food Market
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A must-visit in Tallinn. Modern and renovated market hall on 3 levels with fresh food, clothing & antiques vendors, plus hip eateries.
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Keskturg Street Market
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Local street and indoor market. Lots of fresh fruits and items to browse. 
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Nautica Keskus
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This mall is on the way from the Cruise terminals, into the old town. It is a great spot to stop and buy a quick snack or groceries.
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T1 Mall
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Large and modern mall with a giant Ferris wheel
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⭐ Lennusadam
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The location is split between the Fat Margaret Tower in the Old Town, and by the water about a 15min walk down the street. It is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Tallinn, an incredibly well done Maritime Museum.
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⭐ Eesti Kunstimuuseum - Art Museum
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One of the largest museums in the country. It has an expansive art gallery, the main branch of the five that are apart of the Art Museum of Estonia.
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Rottermanni soolaladu
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Art museum. Mainly check this out for the neat street art and statues around the building. 
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Kadriorg Art Museum
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Foreign art museum in a baroque palace erected in the 18th century by Tsar Peter the Great.
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Kadriorg Park
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The park, created in the 18th century sits on the grounds of the Kadriorg Palace & Museum. It expands outwards and includes lots of fountains, and art installations.
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⭐ Telliskivi Creative City
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Art-focused cultural centre. Lots of studios and galleries to pair well with hipster cafes and bars.
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St. Charles's Church
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Only double spired church in Tallinn. Nothing overly remarkable, but is free and worth a stop in. 
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Freedom Square
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A very important symbol for Estonians, you'll see them gathered in the square and enjoying their days. State functions and concerts take place here.
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The War of Independence Victory Column
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Russalka Memorial
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Statue of an angel holding a cross on a granite base memorializing victims of the Rusalka shipwreck
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Tallinna Linnahall
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5,000-seat concrete amphitheater built in the Soviet era for 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics.
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Radisson Collection Hotel, Tallinn
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Anyone can head to the top-floor restaurant where there is a Skydeck open to the public with great views of the old town and downtown. Oh and it is also a great hotel to stay, situation in the heart of downtown Tallinn (not Old Town)
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☕ Cafes & Bakery

RØST Bakery
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Cinnamon Buns. Rost is a fan favourite for sweet and savory pastries and buns.  Handcrafted right in the bakery, the sweet aroma drifts around the shop and makes for the most incredible experience.  Hands down the best bakery in Tallinn, dare I say Europe. A must try. 
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Pavlova
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Kalamaja Bakery
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Precious café
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Fika Cafe
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Very good & fresh quality coffee and delicious savory pastries. 
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Paper Mill Coffee
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Gourmet Coffee
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Cafe KIOSK NO 2
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Värav - Coffee and Toast
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Surfcafe Tallinn
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The Brick Coffee Roastery
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🍬 Sweet Treats

Chocolate Shop - Kalevi Rotermanni šokolaadipood ja meistritekoda
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Chocolate heaven. Large variety of choices for candies and high-quality chocolates.  Despite being in the old town, it is not a tourist trap.
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Jeff de Bruges
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La Muu
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the flavours are super refreshing and extremely flavourful. Not just sweet like other ice creams. Price is very decent, very worthwhile
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🍽️ Where to eat

$$$ ⭐ Rataskaevu 16
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The most popular restaurant in Tallinn. Be sure to book a reservation well in advance.  Excellent contemporary food, with a local menu of dishes, and drinks. The friendliest service in town. Can't say enough good things, you will just have to try it for yourself.  Better get in to try it before it gets on the Michelin list! While I do give it a $$$ price, the value is incredible and the mains range from €20-30eu
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$$ ⭐ Taqueria
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$$ ⭐ Peatus
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Great burgers but an even better location. Very unique eating in (or outside) old train car.  Highly recommend. 
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$$ Vapiano Foorum
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Euro-chic chain for fresh pastas, pizzas & more, set in modern surroundings with an open kitchen.
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$$ Resto&Baar LaTabla
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A warm and inviting atmosphere. The food is amazing. Everything is deliciously seasoned, and presented.
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$$ Estonian Burger Factory
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$$ Rohe Kohvik
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$ Restaurant Moon
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$ Jahu Tänavagurmee
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$ Grenka
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$ Grill ja Pruul Vanalinn
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$ Hanköök
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As authentic as you can get in Estonia. Watch for the spice, they mean it.  Recommended: Seasoned Fried Chicken, Cheese Chicken galbi, and Gimchi soup! *Beware of opening hours, they can close early. 
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$ Kodused Toidud
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Cheap diner, good for travellers on a budget. Big portions of normal food. Soups, potatoes with meat, sausages, cabbage. Don't expect too much of an exquisite taste and you won't be disappointed.
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$ Pub Kompressor
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Delicious crepes and pancakes. 
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$ Restaurant Munga Kelder
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Cozy and affordable underground restaurant for traditional Estonian food.
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🍻 Bars, Breweries & Clubs

Club Hollywood
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BrewDog Tallinn
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Humalakoda Pub Restaurant Brewery
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Nudist Winery
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St. Vitus
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Uus Laine
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Local live music bar.
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Whisper Sister
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Amazing cocktails with lots of variety. On the more expensive side.
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Sigmund Freud Bar
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Hell Hunt
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Kochi Aidad
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Day Trip Outside Tallinn

🏕️ Lahemaa National Park

Lahemaa National Park
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Large national park east of Tallinn. It's a beautiful day trip and the park has a plethora of natural sights to see like Bogs, Waterfalls, and Villages. It is a great place to get out of Tallinn and explore more of Estonia, especially for hikers.
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Viru bog
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Boardwalk nature trail with an observation deck above a landscape of mosses, dunes & heath forest.
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Altja Fishing Village - paadikuurid, rand, looduse õpperada
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Small fishing village on the Sea. There isn't much infrastructure here, however, it is very picturesque and the locals nearby are welcoming.
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🏨 Where to Stay

Fat Margaret's Hostel
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Meriton Old Town Garden Hotel Tallinn
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My City Hotel OÜ
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Citybox Tallinn
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Park Inn by Radisson Central Tallinn
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Riga, Latvia  

Situated at the mouth of the Daugava River. Riga is known for its wooden buildings, art nouveau architecture, and colorful old town!

 

The more in-depth map can be saved below:

The Basics

🍷 Black Balsam

The national drink of Latvia, it has a very unique flavor. A mix of earthy tones, with more punchy notes of citrus and ginger, with an assortment of spices. It isn't for everyone, but its worth a try!

📆 How Many Days?

Riga's gorgeous Old Town is smaller in area size than Tallinn. The city itself has more to offer and the Latvian nightlife is something to experience. 

2-3 days will ensure you have plenty of time to visit the Old Town and get out to see the sights that Riga has to offer.

🌊 Beaches?

Surprisingly yes! Especially during July-August, the Baltic Coast offers fantastic beaches, and getting outside Riga and is extremely easy.

Jurmala is just 35min outside Riga, and very accessible by train. Both the town and beaches make for a fantastic day trip!

Jurmala Beach
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✈️ Transport

Air Baltic is based out of Riga. They have an expansive fleet with the largest network of destinations of anyone in the Baltic States. 

The bus takes about 30min to the city center.

Taxi or rideshare take about 20min.

Riga International Airport
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The Latvian train network is quite useful, this is where you can catch trains throughout the country.

Rīga-Pasažieru Central Station
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Intercity buses will arrive and depart from here. This is where you can catch LUX Express or FlixBus. Stop by the market hall for snacks before the journey onward.

Riga Central Bus Station
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What To Do

👣 Local Tour

📍 Places of Interest

⭐ Riga Central Market
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A personal favorite market in the entire world, it's comprised of four massive hangers that were used to house German Zeppelins in WW1. The market has anything you could ever want. Each building is themed for different products; Meats, Fruits, Clothing, and even an upscale Food Hall. Outside the market, there are streets lined with vendors as well (Bazaar in Latvian).
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⭐House of the Black Heads
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The original building was erected in 1334 as a warehouse, meeting and celebration place for merchants. It was the biggest public building of Riga.
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⭐ Riga Castle
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On the banks of the River Daugava, it was founded in 1330, and rebuilt between 1497 and 1515.
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⭐ Bastejkalna Park
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Partial ring park around the running around the old town.
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The Freedom Monument
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Powder Tower
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Riga Art Nouveau Center, museum
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At a minimum, stop by the exterior for its beautiful facade. Art lovers will enjoy the interior of the museum.
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Albert Street - Art Noveau masterpieces
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Street full of historic and artsy houses
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Rozena iela
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Narrowest street in old town Riga, lined with star-shaped lights.
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Latvian Museum of Natural History
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Art Museum Riga BIRŽA
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Riga Cathedral
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St. Gertrude's Old Church
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Riga Nativity of Christ Orthodox Cathedral
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St. Saviour's Anglican Church
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St. Alexander Nevsky Church, Riga
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St. Peter's Church
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Imposing medieval church, dating from the 15th century, with a distinctive, 123m-high steeple.
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Cat House
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Built in 1909, this medieval-inspired building is known for its 2 cat sculptures on roof turrets.
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Latvian National Opera
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Latvian National Theatre
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Laima Chocolate Museum
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⭐ Latvian Academy of Sciences
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One of seven copies of towers built across the USSR, Others can be found in cities like Warsaw and Moscow. Can go up the tower. 
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Spīķeri
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Creative district where lots of events are held and hosts to unique shops.
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Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum
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Rīgas Jēzus evaņģēliski luteriskā baznīca
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National Library of Latvia
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On the opposite side of the river, the massive building is striking to look at and looms over the riverbanks. IT has exhibitions on Latvian literature, tours, and an observation deck looking back over the city.
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Vanšu Bridge
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Shopping Center Origo
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Typical mall to pickup snacks or do last-minute shopping before getting on a train or bus elsewhere.
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Daudzfunkcionālā halle "Arēna Rīga"
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As a native Canadian, I can always vouch for watching a hockey game. Something about watching a game in Latvia is different, the fans and crowd bring excitement to the game that even non-hockey fans are sure to enjoy!
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🍽️ Where to Eat

$$$ Fabrikas Restorāns
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$$ ⭐ B Bārs Restorāns
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Quiet spot tucked off a main street.  Offers a large selection of spirits, wines and cocktails.  Has great cheese and meat boards. 
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$$ ⭐ This Place Doesn't Need A Name Negroni Bar Šķūņu
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This place does have a name! Along with a large selection of alcohols at night, and a fantastic brunch menu in the morning.
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$$ ⭐ Kozy Eats
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$$ Boar BBQ
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$$ Cydonia Gastropub
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$$ Oak'A Burgers
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$$ Pētergailis, restorāns
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$$ Province restaurant
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Classic gastropub serving authentic Latvian dishes. 
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$$ RamenRiga
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$$ Katkevich
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Small bistro with reasonable prices for fancy dishes. 
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$ ⭐ Big Bad Bagels
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Must try bagel shop of Riga. Packed with flavour and made right in front of you. 
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$ ⭐ Late Night Munchies
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$ LIDO Vērmanītis Bistro
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$ Street Burgers (Blaumaņa)
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$ Street Fries Kitchen
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Don't be fooled by the name, they serve all sorts of food, breakfast is popular, and of course, fries. 
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$ Tbilisi Restorāns
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Incredible Georgian restaurant with a simple and condensed menu with lots of taste. They even make their own cheese!
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$ Wok to Walk
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Walk up noodle bar. 
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☕ Cafes & Bakery

Caffeine LV
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Ezīša Kofīšops
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⭐ Kalve Espresso Room
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Mierā, Kafejnīca
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MiiT Coffee
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Mīkla
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Rocket Bean Roastery
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⭐ Rocket Bean Roastery Dzirnavu iela
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Stars Coffee
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STRADA Coffee Bar
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THE NED
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Zvaigzne CAFE
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Ze Donats
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Kūkotava Pastry Shop
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🍻 Bars, Breweries & Clubs

⭐ Skyline bar
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Expensive rooftop bar with creative drinks and a fantastic view. Worth going up for just a drink.
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⭐ Gimlet Nordic Cocktail Bar
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Fantastic cocktail bar that focuses on nordic tastes and uses high-end ingredients and aromas to enhance the experience.
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⭐ Stargorod Riga - Czech brewery
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Labietis
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Krokodils Bar
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8 Lounge, kokteiļu bārs
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Draft Bar
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Bar Six
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The Armoury Bar
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Reggae Bar Riga
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🏨 Where to Stay

Naughty Squirrel Hostel
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Tree House Hostel
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Pullman Riga Old Town
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Wellton Riverside SPA Hotel
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Radisson Blu Latvija Conference & Spa Hotel, Riga
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Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga
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Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius is seen especially for its large and well-preserved medieval Old Town. Named after the city, Vilnian Baroque architecture can be seen throughout the city.

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The Basics

🥣 Pink Soup - Šaltibarščiai

Pink soup is a must when visiting Lithuania. All Slavic countries have their own version of a cold borscht, and in Lithuania, the pink soup is theirs!

Perfect for a hot summers day, the soup is made of fermented milk and beetroot, which gives it the pink color. 

Lithuanians are so in love with the soup, it has its own 'Pink Soup Fest' annually in Vilnius during the first weekend in June.

📆 How Long To Stay?

Vilnius, like Tallinn, has a well-preserved medieval Old Town. Unlike Tallinn, there are more neighborhoods in Vilnius to explore, including Užupis which is a separate republic within the city.

Visitors can easily fill 2 full days of items into their itinerary and should have no problem stretching it into 3 or 4.

🎫 Vilnius Pass

Free coffee while you tour the city? Sign me up! The Vilnius Pass is a must-have for touring around the city. It gives free or discounted access to every museum in the city, it also provides discounts at shops and restaurants throughout the city!

Vilnius Tourist Information Centre
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https://www.govilnius.lt/
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🚆 Transport

Vilnius Train Station
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Vilnius Bus Station
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Vilnius International Airport
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What To Do

👣 Local Tours

Lukiškės Prison
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Escape into Lukiškės Prison, a historical complex in Vilnius that was once used to incarcerate people, has been transformed into a vibrant cultural hub.
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📍 Places of Interest

Vilnius TV Tower
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⭐ Vingis Park
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⭐ Bernardine Garden
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⭐ Užupis
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In 1997, the residents of the area declared the Republic of Užupis, along with its own flag, unofficial currency, president, cabinet of ministers, a constitution written by Romas Lileikis and Tomas Čepaitis, an anthem, and an army of approximately 11 men. The army has since been retired. The residents of the self-declared republic celebrate this independence annually on Užupis Day, which falls on April 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U%C5%BEupis
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Portalas
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Portal camera to the city of Lublin, Poland.
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⭐ Paupio Turgus
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⭐ Gate of Dawn
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Dating back to 1500, the gate is a prominent landmark for pilgrims to the city. It houses a chapel with an ornate portrait of the Virgin Mary.
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Halle Market
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Dating back to 1906. It’s where you’ll find produce sold by both small farmers and larger-scale businesses, remnants of the Soviet-era, as well as trendy new spots with delicious food, like bakeries, butchers, cheese and wine shops, a bagel deli, and a bistro.
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Benedikto Turgus
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This modern food market is a little bit outside the city centre but definitely worth a visit. You will also find all sorts of Lithuanian products and edible souvenirs at a non-touristy price. In total, there are 32 shops and 9 places to eat.
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Kalvariju Market
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Full of very different people selling all kinds of different things. Kalvarijų is where you can find a lot of local produce. Part of the market is located in pavilions, while the rest of the stalls are outside
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⭐ Gediminas Castle Tower
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National Gallery of Art - Nacionalinė dailės galerija
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MO Museum
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Modern art gallery of lithuania.
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Vilnius Cathedral
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Orthodox Church of Our Lady of the Sign
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⭐ Glass Quarter
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Its purpose is to organise cultural routes, tell hidden stories about Vilnius Old Town, establish traditions, improve infrastructure, and attract investors and individuals interested in Old Town culture. 
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⭐ open gallery
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An open-air gallery around the new town of Vilnius brought in local and foreign artists to liven up the area with sculptures, and art installations.
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Kazys Varnelis House-Museum
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Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
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Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights
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Auto muziejus Vilnius
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Vilnius Museum
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Toy Museum
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Museum of Applied Arts and Design
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The New Arsenal of National Museum of Lithuania
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Lietuvos meno pažinimo centras TARTLE
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Vilnius Town Hall
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The Love Arch
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When walking along Vokiečių Street, turn into the small alley next to Restaurant La Provence and you’ll soon find yourself in a small courtyard that leads to an arched tunnel between two buildings known as the Love Arch. Take the person you love by the hand and walk together.
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Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania
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Seimas Palace
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Jono Meko skersvėjis
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Three Crosses Monument
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Žvėrynas
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🍽️ Where To Eat

$$$ Stikliai Restaurant
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$$$ Panama Food Garden
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$$$ Džiaugsmas
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$$$ Amandus
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$$$ Da Antonio
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$$$ Saint Germain
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$$$ El Mercado
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$$ Gaspars
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$$ Don Simon picos namai
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$$ Delta mityba
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$$ Pamella
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$$ Le Travi
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$$ Balzac
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$$ Sue's Indian Raja
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$$ Selfish Bistro Vilnius
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$$ Narushi
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$$ Saigon
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$$ Vegafè
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$ Beigelistai
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$ Valgykla Montuotojas
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$ Cafe-dining Broth
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$ Confetti valgykla
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$ Žilvino Restoranas
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$ Šnekutis
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$ Chačapuri @ Sodų gatvė
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$ Klaipėda Old Town
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$ Pirmas Blynas
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$ Briusly
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$ Wok express
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$ Vieta
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☕ Café & Bakery

⭐ Backstage Roastery Cafe
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⭐ Kavos Reikalai
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⭐ BREW. Specialty Coffee
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BREW. Specialty Coffee
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Espresinė
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Taste Map Rockit
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Vero Cafe (Her Excellency)
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Elska coffee
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Coffee spells
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Huracán Coffee
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Coffee1
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Kavos Reikalai
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Cuproom café
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Italala Caffè
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Taste Map Tech Cafe
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Strange Love Coffee
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Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories
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Raštinė
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Caffeine
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Holy Donut
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Chaika
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Druska Miltai Vanduo Stotis
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Patore Sesės
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🍻 Bars, Breweries & Clubs

⭐ Skybar
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⭐ Alchemikas
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⭐ Alaus Biblioteka | Beer Library
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Distilerija
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In Vino
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Drops Bar
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Plus Plus Plus
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The Bubbles. Champagneria
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Trinity Restaurant and Cocktail House
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Viskio Baras “King & Mouse - Whisky Bar & Shop”
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Gringo pub
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Peronas
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The Portobello
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Bardakas. Vilnius
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Opium Club
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🏨 Where to Stay

Downtown Forest Hostel & Camping
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Hotel "Centro Kubas"
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Novotel Vilnius Centre
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Hotel Vilnia
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Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius
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Hotel PACAI
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📍 Our Other Guides

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CURATED BY
Born from a passion for exploration, out of Toronto. Travel has taken me all over North America and Europe! I've gotten the opportunity to leave Canada, and live in Finland, Germany, and Poland! From those opportunities, I started crafting and sharing my maps which I feel provide a sense of exploration and recommendations that others can use to create their own memorable experiences. Each map is handcrafted, both from personal experience and local recommendations. They're a go-to way to learn what each new place you visit has to offer. Whether it's to help plan a dream trip abroad or explore more of what your own backyard has to offer, check out my collection of ready-to-go maps or let me create one for yourself. Feel free to reach out with any questions, additions, or corrections at (thomas.abroadandco@gmail.com).
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Baltics, A Complete Guide: Tallinn, Riga & Vilnius.
Welcome to your complete guide to a trip through the Baltic states. These three countries nestled on the eastern side of the Baltic Sea offer a fantastic value and rich history for those willing to get away from the more traditional countries in Europe. From this all-encompassing guide, you'll get to know each city and what to expect from a trip through the Baltics, with tips on how to navigate the region. In order to cut down on the length of this guide, as it already includes nearly 300 items, some places of lesser importance have been left off this list, but are listed on the Google Maps version for each city. Feel free to reach out with any questions! thomas.abroadandco@gmail.com
278 Places • 2 Saves • ago
Free

  

Baltic Basics

🏙️ Culture

Most locals will speak their native tongue (Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian). Everyone will speak at least one foreign language, for those under 40, that language will likely be English. Especially within the cities, there should be minimal communication issues when visiting restaurants or museums.

Fun Fact! While Latvian & Lithuanian are Indo-European languages, the same family as English. Estonian, is Uralic which is closely related to Finnish and the Finnic branch of the Uralic Family.

 

Safety is always a concern when travelling, especially to more unknown regions. All Baltic States are generally very safe. In the larger cities the only concerns are for pickpockets in crowded areas such as public transport or tourist spots.

 

The food has many similarities to those of their Slavic neighbors, A large diversity in Potato-based foods will be common, and Beets will be especially common in Lithuania. Smoked fish anywhere near the Sea will be a must-try and makes up a substantial part of the diet. Many dishes will seem strange, but make sure to give them a try!

 

Often locals can appear cold and unfriendly, but that's just due to their lack of over-emotion. Just because they smile less, doesn't mean they are unfriendly. 

Don't be scared, and once you get to know someone, they are quick to open up.

📆 When to Travel?

The late spring and summer (May-August) will be the best time to visit the region. Temperatures can reach 30*C during the day, but will cool off to around 15*C at night.

With the region being northern, the days are quite lengthy in the summer, daylight can last up to 18 hours a day.

December, around Christmas, is a gem of a time to visit the Baltics, as when they turn white with snow, they offer some of the most picturesque Christmas Markets in all of Europe. Tallinn is especially known for its market in the Old Town. 

💵 Money

All three countries have adopted the Euro. At this time €1 = $1.10 USD.

Tap payments (Apple/Google Pay), and cards are widely accepted in the major cities. Cash can be useful in rural areas and in smaller markets.

Prices you will find to be lower than in the rest of Europe, with minimal variation between the three countries.

A sit down meal with a drink can be about €20.

A coffee and pastry will cost about €3 each.

Tipping! While its becoming more common, it still is not a requirement, and only really used as a sign of gratitude for a nicer meal. 5-10% is more than enough.

🚌 Transport

Maps

Google or Apple Maps are widely available throughout the region, and will even include public transport routes and timetables.

Ferry

An extremely popular way to travel to Tallinn and the Baltics is through the Tallink Ferry. Tickets are roughly €35 and the crossing takes about 2hours. 

Both cities can be done as a day trip from one another. Tallinn is an extremely popular day trip from Helsinki for both tourists and Finnish people (Cheaper alcohol). If you plan on staying in Estonia, I'd highly recommend adding an extra day and crossing north to Helsinki.

Flights

Riga has the largest airport of the Baltic States with the operator Air Baltic having a vast and modern network of routes. However starting in the middle of the 3 countries isn't the most time efficient way of traveling, which means if flying into Tallinn or Lithuania aren't options, then Helsinki or Warsaw will be the best choices. 

As mentioned above, Helsinki, being the major city in the region has a larger network of connections through the airport, and getting from the Airport, to Tallinn takes about 3hours, via train, tram, and ferry.

Warsaw also offers fantastic connections to the Baltics from all around Europe and North America. LOT, Poland flag carrier has over 14+ daily flights into the region, with around half of them being to Vilnius, which you can fly into and make your way north and leave through Tallinn or Helsinki.

Buses

How will you get between the three cities? Until Rail Baltica becomes a reality, which will offer high-speed trains from Helsinki to Warsaw, the easiest way to get around the region is by bus. 

Both LUX Express & FlixBus offer fantastic services at reasonable prices. Tickets between capitals can be regularly be had from as low as €10.

Travel times between each capital are roughly 4h.

Tallinn - Riga: 4h

Riga - Vilnius: 3h:30min

BOLT

Available throughout the region, this rideshare app is the most common for locals. 

It also offers food delivery, grocery dropoff, car rentals, and bikes/scooters to get around on 2-wheels.

Uber is less used, as it's only available in Tallinn, and the whole of Lithuania. It does not operate in Latvia.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn sits at the top of the Baltics on the Gulf of Finland. It's a cozy capital city with under 500,000 inhabitants. The crisp, clean air makes traveling around the historic Medieval Old Town a very relaxing and enchanting experience.

 

The more in-depth map can be saved below:

The Basics

📆 How Many Days?

Old Town Tallinn can be seen as a day trip from Helsinki.

However, it's best to experience the city as a destination. With everything the city and surrounding areas have to offer, you can easily spend 2-4 days in Estonia.

🎫 Tallinn Card

If I have one tip for Tallinn, it's this card. The Old Town is littered with 43+ Museums, big and small, hidden around the town. With this card, you don't need to worry about paying €5-10-20 at each museum, and it gives you absolute freedom to explore in and out of any museum you pass by. It also includes free public transportation within the city!

Tourist Information Centre
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Be sure to stop by and get a paper map with more information of all the attractions of the Old Town.
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⛴️ Transport

Tallinn is incredibly walkable, especially within the Old Town. Travel around the rest of the city is easy with the large network of Trams and buses. Tickets are €2, but free with the above-mentioned Tallinn Card.

For Tourists, the main railway station won't be of much use as trains from here are primarily regional, and train travel to Latvia is possible, but requires a transfer near the border with separate tickets. 

Tallinn Main Station
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Slightly outside the city, the bus terminal can be accessed by tram. It's fresh and modern and tickets are generally cheap, this is where FlixBus & LUX Express depart from.

Tallinna Bussijaam
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A Major way people visit the city is through the port. Just a short 15min walk from the Old Town gates. It is separated into different terminals (A-D), so if you depart, be sure you arrive at the correct one. Terminal D is typically the departure for Tallink to Helsinki.

Port of Tallinn
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A 20min Tram or Train ride to the edge of the city, the Tallinn airport has flights to and from all over Europe. Most rental car agencies will be located at the airport.

Tallinn Airport
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What To Do

👣 Local Tour

🏰 Tallinn Old Town

The Old Town is what most people will visit when in Tallinn. It is truly a living museum, loaded with museums and landmarks that you can wander around for days.The Visit Tallinn website is fantastic and loaded with knowledge so you can pre-determine what is worth checking out.

Vanalinn - Tallinn Old Town
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Within the Old Town walls, be sure to check out:

Viru Gate
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Built in the 1300s, 2 large, ivy-covered watchtowers mark the entrance to Tallinn's Old Town
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Tallinn Town Hall Sqaure
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Absolutely go up the tower, it has incredible views to the southwest towards the Aleksander Nevski Katedraal.
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Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
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Designed by Mikhail Preobrazhensky, this soaring edifice was funded by public donations.
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St Mary's Cathedral
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Originally dating from the 13th century, this medieval church has a Baroque bell tower.
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St. Nicholas' Church and Museum
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Its spire can be seen throughout the Old Town
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⭐ Kiek in de Kök Museum and Bastion Tunnels
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Restored cannon tower from the 15th century, is now a museum with exhibits & tours of secret tunnels, which is well worth it.
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Tall Hermann
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Toompea Castle tower built ca. 1370 & rebuilt in the 15th century, with 215 climbable stairs.
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Stable Tower and Town Wall Walkway
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⭐ KGB Prison Cells
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The Parliament Of Estonia
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Home to Estonian Parliament building in the baroque, salmon-colored 13th-century Toompea Castle.
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🔭 Three popular viewpoints in the Old Town:

Kohtuotsa viewing platform
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'The Times We Had' lookout point. The best spot to overlook the old town. 
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Patkuli viewing platform
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Piiskopi viewing platform
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📍 Places of Interest

Outside The Walls:

Balti Jaama Turg Food Market
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A must-visit in Tallinn. Modern and renovated market hall on 3 levels with fresh food, clothing & antiques vendors, plus hip eateries.
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Keskturg Street Market
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Local street and indoor market. Lots of fresh fruits and items to browse. 
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Nautica Keskus
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This mall is on the way from the Cruise terminals, into the old town. It is a great spot to stop and buy a quick snack or groceries.
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T1 Mall
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Large and modern mall with a giant Ferris wheel
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⭐ Lennusadam
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The location is split between the Fat Margaret Tower in the Old Town, and by the water about a 15min walk down the street. It is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Tallinn, an incredibly well done Maritime Museum.
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⭐ Eesti Kunstimuuseum - Art Museum
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One of the largest museums in the country. It has an expansive art gallery, the main branch of the five that are apart of the Art Museum of Estonia.
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Rottermanni soolaladu
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Art museum. Mainly check this out for the neat street art and statues around the building. 
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Kadriorg Art Museum
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Foreign art museum in a baroque palace erected in the 18th century by Tsar Peter the Great.
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Kadriorg Park
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The park, created in the 18th century sits on the grounds of the Kadriorg Palace & Museum. It expands outwards and includes lots of fountains, and art installations.
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⭐ Telliskivi Creative City
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Art-focused cultural centre. Lots of studios and galleries to pair well with hipster cafes and bars.
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St. Charles's Church
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Only double spired church in Tallinn. Nothing overly remarkable, but is free and worth a stop in. 
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Freedom Square
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A very important symbol for Estonians, you'll see them gathered in the square and enjoying their days. State functions and concerts take place here.
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The War of Independence Victory Column
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Russalka Memorial
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Statue of an angel holding a cross on a granite base memorializing victims of the Rusalka shipwreck
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Tallinna Linnahall
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5,000-seat concrete amphitheater built in the Soviet era for 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics.
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Radisson Collection Hotel, Tallinn
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Anyone can head to the top-floor restaurant where there is a Skydeck open to the public with great views of the old town and downtown. Oh and it is also a great hotel to stay, situation in the heart of downtown Tallinn (not Old Town)
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☕ Cafes & Bakery

RØST Bakery
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Cinnamon Buns. Rost is a fan favourite for sweet and savory pastries and buns.  Handcrafted right in the bakery, the sweet aroma drifts around the shop and makes for the most incredible experience.  Hands down the best bakery in Tallinn, dare I say Europe. A must try. 
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Pavlova
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Kalamaja Bakery
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Precious café
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Fika Cafe
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Very good & fresh quality coffee and delicious savory pastries. 
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Paper Mill Coffee
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Gourmet Coffee
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Cafe KIOSK NO 2
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Värav - Coffee and Toast
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Surfcafe Tallinn
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The Brick Coffee Roastery
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🍬 Sweet Treats

Chocolate Shop - Kalevi Rotermanni šokolaadipood ja meistritekoda
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Chocolate heaven. Large variety of choices for candies and high-quality chocolates.  Despite being in the old town, it is not a tourist trap.
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Jeff de Bruges
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La Muu
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the flavours are super refreshing and extremely flavourful. Not just sweet like other ice creams. Price is very decent, very worthwhile
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🍽️ Where to eat

$$$ ⭐ Rataskaevu 16
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The most popular restaurant in Tallinn. Be sure to book a reservation well in advance.  Excellent contemporary food, with a local menu of dishes, and drinks. The friendliest service in town. Can't say enough good things, you will just have to try it for yourself.  Better get in to try it before it gets on the Michelin list! While I do give it a $$$ price, the value is incredible and the mains range from €20-30eu
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$$ ⭐ Taqueria
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$$ ⭐ Peatus
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Great burgers but an even better location. Very unique eating in (or outside) old train car.  Highly recommend. 
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$$ Vapiano Foorum
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Euro-chic chain for fresh pastas, pizzas & more, set in modern surroundings with an open kitchen.
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$$ Resto&Baar LaTabla
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A warm and inviting atmosphere. The food is amazing. Everything is deliciously seasoned, and presented.
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$$ Estonian Burger Factory
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$$ Rohe Kohvik
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$ Restaurant Moon
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$ Jahu Tänavagurmee
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$ Grenka
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$ Grill ja Pruul Vanalinn
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$ Hanköök
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As authentic as you can get in Estonia. Watch for the spice, they mean it.  Recommended: Seasoned Fried Chicken, Cheese Chicken galbi, and Gimchi soup! *Beware of opening hours, they can close early. 
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$ Kodused Toidud
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Cheap diner, good for travellers on a budget. Big portions of normal food. Soups, potatoes with meat, sausages, cabbage. Don't expect too much of an exquisite taste and you won't be disappointed.
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$ Pub Kompressor
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Delicious crepes and pancakes. 
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$ Restaurant Munga Kelder
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Cozy and affordable underground restaurant for traditional Estonian food.
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🍻 Bars, Breweries & Clubs

Club Hollywood
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BrewDog Tallinn
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Humalakoda Pub Restaurant Brewery
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Nudist Winery
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St. Vitus
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Uus Laine
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Local live music bar.
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Whisper Sister
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Amazing cocktails with lots of variety. On the more expensive side.
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Sigmund Freud Bar
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Hell Hunt
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Kochi Aidad
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Day Trip Outside Tallinn

🏕️ Lahemaa National Park

Lahemaa National Park
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Large national park east of Tallinn. It's a beautiful day trip and the park has a plethora of natural sights to see like Bogs, Waterfalls, and Villages. It is a great place to get out of Tallinn and explore more of Estonia, especially for hikers.
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Viru bog
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Boardwalk nature trail with an observation deck above a landscape of mosses, dunes & heath forest.
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Altja Fishing Village - paadikuurid, rand, looduse õpperada
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Small fishing village on the Sea. There isn't much infrastructure here, however, it is very picturesque and the locals nearby are welcoming.
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🏨 Where to Stay

Fat Margaret's Hostel
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Meriton Old Town Garden Hotel Tallinn
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My City Hotel OÜ
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Citybox Tallinn
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Park Inn by Radisson Central Tallinn
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Riga, Latvia  

Situated at the mouth of the Daugava River. Riga is known for its wooden buildings, art nouveau architecture, and colorful old town!

 

The more in-depth map can be saved below:

The Basics

🍷 Black Balsam

The national drink of Latvia, it has a very unique flavor. A mix of earthy tones, with more punchy notes of citrus and ginger, with an assortment of spices. It isn't for everyone, but its worth a try!

📆 How Many Days?

Riga's gorgeous Old Town is smaller in area size than Tallinn. The city itself has more to offer and the Latvian nightlife is something to experience. 

2-3 days will ensure you have plenty of time to visit the Old Town and get out to see the sights that Riga has to offer.

🌊 Beaches?

Surprisingly yes! Especially during July-August, the Baltic Coast offers fantastic beaches, and getting outside Riga and is extremely easy.

Jurmala is just 35min outside Riga, and very accessible by train. Both the town and beaches make for a fantastic day trip!

Jurmala Beach
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✈️ Transport

Air Baltic is based out of Riga. They have an expansive fleet with the largest network of destinations of anyone in the Baltic States. 

The bus takes about 30min to the city center.

Taxi or rideshare take about 20min.

Riga International Airport
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The Latvian train network is quite useful, this is where you can catch trains throughout the country.

Rīga-Pasažieru Central Station
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Intercity buses will arrive and depart from here. This is where you can catch LUX Express or FlixBus. Stop by the market hall for snacks before the journey onward.

Riga Central Bus Station
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What To Do

👣 Local Tour

📍 Places of Interest

⭐ Riga Central Market
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A personal favorite market in the entire world, it's comprised of four massive hangers that were used to house German Zeppelins in WW1. The market has anything you could ever want. Each building is themed for different products; Meats, Fruits, Clothing, and even an upscale Food Hall. Outside the market, there are streets lined with vendors as well (Bazaar in Latvian).
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⭐House of the Black Heads
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The original building was erected in 1334 as a warehouse, meeting and celebration place for merchants. It was the biggest public building of Riga.
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⭐ Riga Castle
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On the banks of the River Daugava, it was founded in 1330, and rebuilt between 1497 and 1515.
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⭐ Bastejkalna Park
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Partial ring park around the running around the old town.
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The Freedom Monument
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Powder Tower
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Riga Art Nouveau Center, museum
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At a minimum, stop by the exterior for its beautiful facade. Art lovers will enjoy the interior of the museum.
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Albert Street - Art Noveau masterpieces
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Street full of historic and artsy houses
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Rozena iela
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Narrowest street in old town Riga, lined with star-shaped lights.
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Latvian Museum of Natural History
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Art Museum Riga BIRŽA
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Riga Cathedral
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St. Gertrude's Old Church
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Riga Nativity of Christ Orthodox Cathedral
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St. Saviour's Anglican Church
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St. Alexander Nevsky Church, Riga
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St. Peter's Church
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Imposing medieval church, dating from the 15th century, with a distinctive, 123m-high steeple.
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Cat House
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Built in 1909, this medieval-inspired building is known for its 2 cat sculptures on roof turrets.
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Latvian National Opera
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Latvian National Theatre
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Laima Chocolate Museum
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⭐ Latvian Academy of Sciences
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One of seven copies of towers built across the USSR, Others can be found in cities like Warsaw and Moscow. Can go up the tower. 
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Spīķeri
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Creative district where lots of events are held and hosts to unique shops.
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Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum
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Rīgas Jēzus evaņģēliski luteriskā baznīca
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National Library of Latvia
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On the opposite side of the river, the massive building is striking to look at and looms over the riverbanks. IT has exhibitions on Latvian literature, tours, and an observation deck looking back over the city.
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Vanšu Bridge
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Shopping Center Origo
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Typical mall to pickup snacks or do last-minute shopping before getting on a train or bus elsewhere.
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Daudzfunkcionālā halle "Arēna Rīga"
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As a native Canadian, I can always vouch for watching a hockey game. Something about watching a game in Latvia is different, the fans and crowd bring excitement to the game that even non-hockey fans are sure to enjoy!
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🍽️ Where to Eat

$$$ Fabrikas Restorāns
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$$ ⭐ B Bārs Restorāns
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Quiet spot tucked off a main street.  Offers a large selection of spirits, wines and cocktails.  Has great cheese and meat boards. 
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$$ ⭐ This Place Doesn't Need A Name Negroni Bar Šķūņu
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This place does have a name! Along with a large selection of alcohols at night, and a fantastic brunch menu in the morning.
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$$ ⭐ Kozy Eats
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$$ Boar BBQ
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$$ Cydonia Gastropub
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$$ Oak'A Burgers
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$$ Pētergailis, restorāns
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$$ Province restaurant
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Classic gastropub serving authentic Latvian dishes. 
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$$ RamenRiga
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$$ Katkevich
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Small bistro with reasonable prices for fancy dishes. 
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$ ⭐ Big Bad Bagels
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Must try bagel shop of Riga. Packed with flavour and made right in front of you. 
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$ ⭐ Late Night Munchies
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$ LIDO Vērmanītis Bistro
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$ Street Burgers (Blaumaņa)
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$ Street Fries Kitchen
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Don't be fooled by the name, they serve all sorts of food, breakfast is popular, and of course, fries. 
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$ Tbilisi Restorāns
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Incredible Georgian restaurant with a simple and condensed menu with lots of taste. They even make their own cheese!
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$ Wok to Walk
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Walk up noodle bar. 
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☕ Cafes & Bakery

Caffeine LV
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Ezīša Kofīšops
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⭐ Kalve Espresso Room
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Mierā, Kafejnīca
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