Poland & the Baltics Explorer

Poland & the Baltics Explorer

From $ 5,825 AUD

Description

Uncover the cultural riches and historical intrigues of four fascinating countries on a journey through Poland and the Baltic states. This 18-day highlights tour of Poland and the Baltics will get you in the know with Soviet history, inspired by the variety of architecture and cultural richness of the country, and full of as much pierogi and vodka you can manage. Let Poland please you with a journey through its urban attractions, then cross into Lithuania, before exploring the Baltic capitals of Riga and Tallinn. Encompassing both historical attractions and outings for the active, a bit of Europe both old and new, this is the trip for travellers wanting to check out a side of Europe often overlooked.

Trip Name
Poland & the Baltics Explorer
Last Updated
2020-03-26
Days
18
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Discover the Orwellian neighbourhood of Nowa Huta – an alternative district in Krakow that showcases the communist influence in Poland.
  • Take a guided tour of maritime Gdansk, walking through the old town and understanding how this main trading port has been important in Poland’s history.
  • Feast on Kashubian specialities with an included meal at Tawerna Mestwin – you’ll feel like you’re eating in a traditional farm cottage!
  • Tour the remnants of Wolf’s Lair – an important military headquarters during the battle for the Eastern Front.
  • Enjoy a farm stay experience and home-cooked meal on Estonia's largest and largely untouched island, Saaremaa.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. MUSEUM VISITS & OPENING TIMES Please note that many sights, attractions and museums are closed on Mondays (and sometimes even Tuesdays). We recommend you carefully consider which sites and museums you are going to want to visit and that you do some research and make your reservations in advance where required/possible.

Day 1 - Krakow
Czesc! Welcome to Poland. You will have an important welcome meeting at 6 pm, meeting your group leader and fellow travellers. Krakow is striking with contrasts: a medieval old town with a large youthful influence, renowned fine dining restaurants with food truck and casual riverside eateries, a vibrant Jewish quarter with some elegant speakeasies and hidden bars. You’ll have two full days to explore Krakow at your own pace, but if you would like to spend more time here, why not arrive a little early? After your important meeting, you'll have an option to head out with your group to dinner – your leader will know of some great options.
Day 2 - Krakow
This morning, begin getting to know Krakow from its relatively new history. Take a guided tour of Nowa Huta – a former communist town turned eastern Quarter of Krakow. Nowa Huta was prime Polish agricultural land but was swallowed up by the Soviet Union in an attempt to create an Orwellian settlement in contrast to the fairytale of central Krakow. An experienced tour guide will explain all the history hidden in its streets and buildings that otherwise would look like another sector of the city. In the afternoon, take a leader-led walk around the Old Town. Rynek (main square) is one of the oldest and most recognisable medieval squares in Europe. With the renaissance Cloth Hall in its centre, now home to the main market, touring the main square is a must. Later on, walk over to Jewish quarter and learn more about that part of town.
Day 3 - Krakow
Today, enjoy a free day in Krakow to do whatever you choose, and there is so much to see and do here, and beyond! You may wish to visit Wieliczka Salt Mines, magnificent chambers chiselled out in rock salt. There are almost 3 kilometres of meandering corridors, 800 steps to climb of which 350 have to be descended to reach the depth of 135 metres underground. Otherwise, a lot of travellers use today to visit the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz and Birkenau, where you can learn more about WWII and Europe's darkest days. Pre-booking is necessary to secure a place. If you would like to see some different sides of Krakow and the surrounding area, there is also the option to see what Urban Adventures can offer. From cooking classes to tailored shopping adventures, they’ve got you covered! Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Krakow-tours.
Day 4 - Warsaw
Today, travel to Warsaw on a high-speed train, taking approximately 3 hours. Warsaw is a capital of Poland and has a rich history shown in its mix of Gothic, neoclassical and Soviet-era architecture, and also a new, cosmopolitan touch. This afternoon head out on a guided tour all about Polish cuisine. Being one of the lesser known European foods, you’ll learn about Poland’s signature dishes and how to make them. To wash everything down, you’ll even get the chance to test out some local vodka with an included tasting. Na zdrowie!
Day 5 - Warsaw
You’ve got a free day to enjoy the wonders of Warsaw. From many options, one worth considering is a visit to the Uprising Museum. Dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, the museum is a tribute for residents who fought and died for an independent Poland, and a free capital. It was said that Warsaw survived its own death – learn about that part of history of this city in one of the most modern museums in Europe. Otherwise, sit back in one of the many parks, stroll past the Tamka street art, or head to a local eatery for a serving of pierogi (filled dumplings).
Day 6 - Gdansk
Travel onwards to Gdansk aboard a high-speed train (approximately 3 hours). After check-in to your hotel, your group leader will show you around the old town on simple orientation walk. After you’ve got your bearings, enjoy the rest of your day and soak up the atmosphere of this maritime, medieval city. Tonight, if you’re struggling to find somewhere to eat, take a walk down Dlugi Targ – it’s a lot quieter at night than during the day.
Day 7 - Gdansk
Today, head out on a guided tour of Gdansk. This will include a visit to most iconic sites of the city: the Crane (Zuraw), an iconic trading symbol located near the National Maritime Museum. Then, visit Olowianka, an island in the middle of the Motlawa River, to learn more about Gdansk’s maritime history. In the evening, experience a traditional Polish meal at Tawerna Mestwin, serving specialties of Kashubian regional cooking (north Poland cuisine). Interiors of this place look like a traditional farm cottage and the exposed beams and dark-green walls make for a cosy atmosphere.
Day 8 - Gdansk
With no activities planned for today, you are free to explore at your own pace. Aside from boasting some very grand architecture, Gdansk has a wealth of sites worth checking out. Pay a visit to the National Museum for a dose of fine art, follow in the footsteps of visiting royalty with a lap or two of the Royal Way, or travel a suburb over to Sopot and take a stroll along Europe's longest wooden pier. In the evening, meet with some new travellers at another welcome meeting at 6 pm to begin the next stage of your Baltics adventure.
Day 9 - Gdansk
This morning head out on an orientation walk with your leader and your new group members. After strolling through the city and taking in the sights, board a galleon-style ship for an old fashioned cruise on the waters of the Baltic Sea. Cruise along the peninsula of Westerplatte and get insight into the city's shipbuilding heritage and political history. See the Gdansk Shipyards, which are inexorably linked with Eastern Europe’s Solidarity movement, as well as the repair yards and the historic Wisloujscie Fortress, constructed in 1308 but rebuilt several times in the centuries since. There will be time for you to explore Westerplatte, considered to be the place where the first shots of WWII were fired. Return to Gdansk and enjoy a free evening. If you’re thirsty, think about grabbing a beer at one of the lively bars along the Elblag Canal.
Day 10 - Malbork Castle / Wolf's Lair / Gizycko
Today involves a fair bit of driving with several interesting stops en route to break up the journey. The first stop, just a 30-minute drive out of Gdansk, is Malbork Castle. This beautifully-preserved fortress, completed in 1406, is a classic example of medieval architecture and the world's largest brick castle. Following an audio-guided tour of the castle, enjoy lunch before continuing on to Wolf`s Lair, the first military headquarters from which Hitler oversaw the fighting on the Eastern Front. You'll be shown around the site by a local guide then, following a refreshment stop, continue on to Gizycko (approximately 3.5 hours). The ‘summer capital’ of Poland, Gizycko is situated on the shore of Niegocin Lake and is considered the gateway to the Masurian Lake District. Tonight, maybe grab a well-deserved dinner at one of the local tawernas (taverns).
Day 11 - Masurian Lakes / Gizycko
Rise and shine for a morning boat ride on Niegocin Lake, the seventh-largest lake in the country. Take a gentle cruise to ‘Love Island’ on the other side of the lake, which is filled by yellow-faced cormorants and other wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for creatures that are trickier to spot like storks, swans, deer and wolves. The Masurian Lake District contains over 2000 lakes and was a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature initiative. Head back ashore and spend the afternoon however you wish, perhaps with a swim in the lake, or a hike or cycle to one of the neighbouring villages. History buffs might want to check out Boyen Fortress, the remains of a 19th-century Prussian stronghold used as a German military intelligence service during WWII.
Day 12 - Vilnius
This morning after breakfast, travel east into Lithuania and its capital Vilnius (approximately 2.5 hours). Settle into your hotel then join the group for a city tour led by a local guide. Pass through Cathedral Square and the Old Town, and learn about the famous Grand Duke Gediminas, the legend of Vilnius' creation and the prestigious history of Vilnius University. Continue to the painting of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, a famed painting of the Virgin Mary that adorns the 16th-century city gates. After the tour concludes you’re free to explore at your leisure. Consider joining the group for an optional dinner – your leader knows all the best spots to grab a bite.
Day 13 - Vilnius
Enjoy a free day to explore all that this lively city has to offer. There are plenty of optional activities on offer, so if you’re not sure what to choose remember that your leader is on hand to help you decide. Maybe take a hike to Gediminas Castle Tower for views over the city. Vilnius is also home to a unique bohemian neighbourhood, Uzupis, which residents declared a republic in 1997. With mixture of graffiti covered cafes and UNESCO-listed Old Town, Uzupis is a fascinating and photogenic place to wander. Historically minded travellers may be interested in an Urban Adventure that explores the Soviet Stories of Vilnius, a great way to see a different side of the city (including a Soviet-style lunch).
Day 14 - Riga
Hop aboard a comfortable public bus to Riga, Latvia (approximately 4 hours). On arrival, transfer to the hotel, located a short walk from the symbolic Freedom Monument – or, as she's affectionately known to the locals, Milda. Head out on a guided walk with your leader, navigating the narrow cobbled streets to discover the significant sights of the Old Town. Visit the Central Market, which just happens to be Europe’s largest, and taste a few local specialities along the way, such s the traditional Riga Black Balsam, an herbal liqueur.
Day 15 - Riga
Enjoy a free day getting to know Riga at your own pace. Most of the Art Noveau architecture for which the city is famed is located in a part known as 'the quiet centre'. A leisurely stroll along the canal that intersects the town's central park is another popular optional outing, as is a visit to one of its many museums. The recently renovated Art Museum, located only a few minutes walk from the hotel, is particularly impressive. Perhaps take in views of the city with a drink at a rooftop cafe (your leader will be able to make some recommendations) or, if the weather is right, make the trip to the popular beach resort town of Jurmala (30 minutes by train).
Day 16 - Saaremaa Island
Rise early for the trip to Saaremaa island, the largest island in Estonia, by private minivan and public ferry. This heavily forested island is known among Estonians as the perfect place to relax in nature, and you’ll see soon why. Arrive in the island's south by late afternoon and transfer to a local farmhouse – your accommodation for the evening. Enjoy a home-cooked dinner tonight.
Day 17 - Saaremaa Island / Tallinn
Transfer to the biggest town on the island, Kuressaare, and spend a few hours exploring. Then, hop on a public bus to the Estonian capital of Tallinn (approximately 4.5 hours). Tonight's accommodation is in Tallinn's atmospheric Old Town, which you'll get to know on an orientation walk with your leader. Tonight, why not head out with the group for an Estonian meal, then wash it down with a glass of kali, a fizzy drink made from boiled rye bread.
Day 18 - Tallinn
Your trip ends this morning after breakfast. There are no activities planned for today, though bear in mind you will have to comply with the hotel’s internal check-out rules and times. Tallinn has a lot to offer so we recommend you spend a few more days here. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you, subject to availability.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
15-07-202001-08-2020AUD $ 6,215-
19-08-202005-09-2020AUD $ 6,160-
02-09-202019-09-2020AUD $ 5,825-
16-09-202003-10-2020AUD $ 6,270-
19-05-202105-06-2021AUD $ 6,105-
14-07-202131-07-2021AUD $ 6,105-
18-08-202104-09-2021AUD $ 6,105-
15-09-202102-10-2021AUD $ 6,105-

Accommodation

Comfortable hotel (16 nights),Farm stay (1 night)

Transport

Train,Private vehicle,Boat,Ferry,Public bus,Taxi

Map