Join us for a pre-Christmas holiday taking in the beautiful capital cities of Tallinn and Riga. Tallinn is one of Europe’s newest capitals and boasts a rich mix of architecture and culture. The Old Town was almost untouched by war and remains perfectly preserved. A fine Christmas tree will be the centre piece of Old Town Square, where we’ll have some time to explore the Christmas market. We’ll visit the highlights of the city with our local guide and learn about Estonian handicrafts. Riga is the largest city in the Baltics and features a fascinating mixture of proud Latvian traditions and influences of the various countries that have occupied it. On a tour with a local guide, we’ll soak up the charms of the city and enjoy time to explore the magical Christmas markets. We’ll also explore the rich heritage of Latvian costume and take part in a mitten knitting workshop with a local expert. The tour is accompanied by our Stitchtopia expert Anna Nikipirowicz, who has designed a project which captures the spirit of this Baltic Cities tour perfectly.
Workshop information: During this holiday, we will work on a pair of mittens that combine the traditions of Latvia and Estonia. We will use traditional colourwork technique to create beautiful patterns, and then add embellishments. The mittens will have a modern twist, as we will be able to make them into fingerless gloves as well.
Meet Anna and your Tour Manager at London airport for your flight to Tallinn. With a late arrival in Tallinn, we will transfer direct to the hotel.
Today, we tour Tallinn on foot. The Old Town is divided into two areas, the Lower Town and the Upper Town. During our exploration of the Upper Town, we will visit the St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral, Toompea Castle and the Dome Church, Tallinn’s oldest church, before soaking up spectacular panoramic views from the Kohtuosa viewing platform. In the Lower Town, we will see the Danish King’s Garden, the Town Hall Square and the picturesque Viru Gates.
During the tour, we’ll have an opportunity to browse Tallinn Christmas Market and sample Vana Tallinn, a dark brown rum-based liqueur produced in Estonia. The walking tour continues to the Estonian Handicraft House, Eesti Käsitöö Kodu and the Katarina Guild Open Studios. Eesti Käsitöö Kodu is the largest handicraft centre in Estonia, where you can buy beautiful and high-quality crafted items. At Katariina Lane, we’ll see the various open studios of the Katarina Guild craftswomen.
This afternoon, we’ll enjoy a workshop with Anna at the hotel before dining together in the evening at a restaurant in the Old Town that specialises in modern Estonian cuisine.
We begin the day with a visit to the Jolleri Handicraft Chamber, a family-run shop and studio which sells yarns and unique knitwear to children and adults. Afterwards, we’ll continue to the Estonian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum for a guided tour. Whilst here, we’ll have the opportunity to try delicious Estonian food at the Kolu Inn, an authentic 19th-century road inn.
This afternoon, we will transfer by bus to Kadriorg Park and Palace, the grandest example of palace and park design in Estonian architectural history, before returning to the hotel.
This morning, we leave Tallinn and make our way to Riga. On route, we will stop at Tostamaa Crafts Centre handicraft shop. This authentic handicraft shop brings the stories of their ancestors to life through traditional prepared handicrafts, exhibitions, and hands-on workshops. You’ll have the opportunity to meet Anu here, a well-known knitter in Estonia who specialises in knitting of ethnographic gloves.
Next, we’ll stop in Limbazi for lunch and a visit to its wool factory which was founded in 1914. It has a long tradition of wool production and home textile design. The company produces woollen yarn, woollen and linen fabrics, blankets, rugs, plaids and tablecloths. The company is especially proud to be amongst just a handful of producers of ethnographic fabrics based on authentic examples from the rich cultural heritage of the Baltic region. We’ll watch the wool being processed using historical equipment.
This evening, we'll arrive in Riga, check into our hotel and head out for dinner together in Riga Old Town.
This morning, we’ll enjoy a guided walking tour of Riga’s Old Town. Explore the narrow-cobbled streets and old buildings that date back to the 15th century. See the Town Hall Square, House of the Blackheads, Dome Square, Riga Cathedral and Riga Castle. Whilst here we’ll visit Tines, a Latvian handmade knitwear company. Tines is a family run business and offers a wide range of high-quality knitwear. Only natural materials are used, 100% wool and linen. After, we explore the Christmas Markets and enjoy a hot drink.
This afternoon, we will visit Sena Klets and learn to knit traditional Latvian gloves, a very important part of several Latvian traditions. Here, you’ll be able to see a fantastic array of national costumes and see how every item here has been lovingly handmade by Latvian craftspeople. They also have a wonderful shop you can browse.
The Art Nouveau architecture in Riga makes up roughly one third of all the buildings in the centre of Riga, making it the city with the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture anywhere in the world.
Between 1897 and 1913, the city’s population grew by 88%. Between 1910 and 1913, 300 to 500 new buildings were built every year, mostly in the Art Nouveau style and most of them outside the Old Town. With our guide, we’ll explore Riga’s Art Nouveau ‘Jugendstyle’ area and visit a museum dedicated to the region’s Art Nouveau heritage. The museum features an authentic interior of an Art Nouveau apartment, which fully captures the essence of Art Nouveau. The interior displays furniture, tableware, artworks, clocks, clothing, embroidery and other items used in Riga.
We’ll return to the hotel in the afternoon for your second workshop with Anna. This evening, we will enjoy a farewell dinner at a gourmet restaurant in the city park; with a seasonal menu and beautiful views of Riga, this is the perfect end to our holiday.
Transfer to Riga airport for your mid-afternoon flight to London.
Tour Notes: You will need to have a reasonable level of fitness to get the most out of this holiday. On excursion days you will need to walk a short distance from the hotel to the coach and you should be able to board the coach unaided. On arrival at the excursion destination, you should be able to alight the coach unaided and there may be a walk between the coach drop off point and the excursion venue. By their nature, walking tours, museum visits etc involve being on your feet for a significant amount of time. Whilst our excursions are taken at a leisurely pace, for the enjoyment of everyone in the group you should be able to keep up with your fellow travellers.
Single Room Supplement from £369.00 (7 days).
You will stay for 3 nights at the 4-star Nordic Forum Hotel in Tallinn and 3 nights at the 4-star Neiburgs Hotel.
This 4-star hotel is located in the heart of Tallinn, only 150 metres from the picturesque Old Town of Tallinn.
Single Room Supplement from £369.00
Neiburgs is a family-owned hotel praised for its elegant fusion of the historical and the modern. The 55 bedrooms offer breathtaking views of the cathedral or the meandering medieval streets of the Old Town. For your convenience and enjoyment, there is a restaurant as well as a fitness room and SPA. Concierge service is quick and efficient and always at your disposal.
Single Room Supplement from £369.00