The Baltic states include Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. They are situated on the Baltic Coast, close to Scandinavia. The Baltics are in fact very different countries, despite being frequently grouped together under this name. They are considered to be little populated countries of nature, amber and medieval cities, mostly former members of the Hanseatic League. Today, the Baltic states are dynamic countries with a young population and cities offering great cultural opportunities and cozy pubs and restaurants. Although they are situated close to Scandinavia and share a similar landscape with Sweden and Finland, they show a lifestyle that reminds visitors of Spain, France or Italy. The Baltic countries are known to offer affordable vacations.
Estonia is the northernmost country of the Baltics. It also is the smallest country with the smallest population. A favorite place to visit is the capital city Tallinn, an old medieval town with a cathedral, romantic little streets and a harbour with ferry lines to Sweden and Finland. South of Tallinn there is the famous old university town of Tartu. Estonia offers beautiful islands such as Saaremaa and Hiiumaa and lakes such as Peipsi järv. Estonia is ideal for recreation in free nature and in the woods.
Latvia is the central Baltic country. Its capital, Riga, is the largest city of the Baltics with about 800,000 inhabitants. Riga is famous for its Art Nouveau architecture, its broad boulevards and its cosmopolitan flair. The Latvian countryside is similar to that found in Scandinavia, but is much more affordable. Latvia offers a long Baltic Sea coastline with harbour towns like Liepaja and seaside resorts like Jurmala. The countryside offers picturesque little towns, often with medieval centres.
Lithuania is the southernmost and biggest Baltic country. Its capital, Vilnius, has been called the "Baltic Jerusalem" because of its many churches and its formerly significant Jewish minority. Remains of Lithuanian, Jewish and Polish cultures can be found in the old town, particularly in the form of places of worship. Close to the capital is the famous castle of Trakai. The second biggest city in Lithuania is Kaunas. It is more typically Lithuanian and offers a large old town dating from medieval times. The western harbour city of Klaipeda is also worth a visit. It has a picturesque framework-architecture similar to that found in Germany, England and Denmark. Popular Lithuanian seaside resorts include Neringa and Palanga.