Sorting transport for your road trip
As far as I see it, you have two main options for getting around the Baltics:
- Hiring a car and staying in hotels each night
- Hiring a campervan (or convert your own van) and staying at campsites/wild camping each night
Luckily for you, we have done both of these! So here’s how to go about each one!
1. Road tripping the Baltics by car
We hired a car in Vilnius for our Lithuania road trip, and it was very easy to do.
- Complete freedom over where you go
- Cheap to run
- Access to tonnes of hotels to stay in
- Great if you’re not a fan of camping
How to hire a car
Hiring a car is pretty straightforward, and there are lots of active rental firms, particularly in the capital cities.
The best way to start your search is online with Rentalcars.com.
They will give you a clear overview of all major local car hire firms and allows you to filter the results based on your needs and requirements.
Once you find a car you like, simply go ahead and make your booking there and then, and your car will be ready for pick-up.
In the end, we hired a 5 seater Toyota and the price was slightly under €50 a day, this uncluded no excess damage cover and a secondary driver.
There are tonnes of hotels and guesthouses located all across the Baltics, with a bigger variety being available in major cities and tourist areas.
For all of our hotel bookings in the Baltics we used Booking.com.
That’s because they offer the biggest variety of accommodations and are always the cheapest in our experience.
In fact, we use them for pretty much 90% of our bookings everywhere around the world, so recommend them to you as well.
2. Road tripping the Baltics in a campervan
Our journey through Latvia and Estonia was completed in a campervan and it was … EPIC!
- It’s free to camp, so can save you a lot of money
- Wild camping in the Baltics is a LOT of fun
- Most tourist sites are campervan friendly
- Complete freedom over where you go each day
How to hire a campervan
If you aren’t planning on visiting the Baltics in your own campervan, then that’s fine as it is possible to rent them.
When road tripping in our campervan, it was in collaboration with Tinggly, so we were using their awesome Blogger Van (check out the photo below).
As such, we have no direct experience of hiring campervans from Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia; however, a quick Google search for “campervan hire in Baltics” turns up plenty of options.
More specifically, search for wherever you are planning on beginning your journey, like “campervan rental in Lithuania/Latvia/Estonia”.
One of the most enjoyable parts of our trip through the Baltics was wild camping.
We did a lot of wild camping on our trip through Ireland, but there were very few sites actually purpose built for campervans.
What we loved was that there are tonnes of awesome campsites, situated in beautiful locations, designed specifically for wild camping in both tents and campervans.
In many you will find sites for campfires, benches and even toilets.
In our Baltic route below, we will tell you which campsites we stayed in each night, and you can try to find them if you wish; though we didn’t stay in a wild campsite every night.
But for a full range of what’s available, these are the sites we used to find campsites:
Our 2 week Baltic road trip
You can absolutely do this road trip in either direction, or even just take certain chunks and create your own route through the Baltic countries.
If I have any particularly good campsites to recommend, then I will mention them below.
Day 1: Experiencing Vilnius
Before beginning your road trip, you should spend at least a whole day exploring the gorgeous city of Vilnius.
We actually spent a few days discovering all of the things to do in and around Vilnius, and there’s plenty to keep you busy both in the day and night.
However, one of the best parts of being here is simply enjoying the unique architecture and overall feel of the city.
It’s particularly nice of an evening time, once work kicks out and the streets of the Old Town are lined with trendy bars, and you can sit out and enjoy the city passing you by.
Day 2: Vilnius to Kaunas
The drive from Vilnius to Kaunas actually takes a little over an hour, but there’s a reason to keep this day’s driving so short.
On the way, you need to stop off at the incredible town of Trakai.
Here, you will find one of the most fascinating castles I have ever seen (and we have seen a LOT of castles in Europe!).
It’s possible to simply walk over and into the castle, or to take things further with a romantic boat ride around the lake.
If you plan on eating here by the lake, then your stop could easily last a few hours.
But don’t leave too late, as there’s tonnes too see in Kaunas as well.
We didn’t have the chance to spend a day in Kaunas (which I’m sure would be great as there’s a lot to see); however, we did get to see one of the most important sites …
This is a large memorial site with a fascinating statue dedicated to the 50,000 jews and other Lithuanians who were massacred here in WW2.
Day 3: Kaunas to Klaipeda
This was perhaps my favourite day of driving in Lithuania, as much of the route takes you close to the Neman river.
The views alongside this river are hard to put into words, especially if you have clear skies, which we did!
They are more than worth a visit, especially the surrounding gardens of each one.
Klaipeda itself isn’t a particularly impressive city, and it acts more as a crucial shipping location for the country.
However, just outside the city you have long stretches of gorgeous beaches, where you can stroll and check out the abandoned WW2 bunkers.
Day 4: Day trip to Nida
Another crucial reason to visit Klaipeda is to go on a day trip over to Nida.
It is a small town located on a long spit-like island, just a short ferry ride away from Klaipeda.
It then takes around 45 minutes to drive along to Nida, and along the way there are numerous points to stop off at.
They have beaches along much of the western coast and just past Nida you then have the Russian-occupied part of the small island.
It’s up to you if you want to spend a night here, and it could certainly be good fun!
After enjoying a meal in town (we had the fish & chips) they have a fire in the middle of the park, where you can relax and drink late into the night (I'm not sure if this is on all year round or not).
Just be warned, the queues for the ferry back over to Klaipeda can get very long, and we were waiting for well over an hour until we could board one; so leave plenty of time.
Day 5: Klaipeda to Šiauliai
Before heading into Latvia, it’s worth taking the time to stop off at Siauliai, located about 3 hours from Klaipeda.
Here, you’ll find one of Lithuania’s biggest attractions, The Hill Of Crosses.
This is a large hill covered in literally thousands of crosses, small and large.
I’ve never seen anything else quite like it, and it makes for a very unique mix of a religious spot and an artistic display.
Day 6: Šiauliai to Baldone
Located not far outside Riga, Baldone isn’t particularly noteworthy in itself, except for the fact that there is an incredible campsite just 5 minutes down the road.
Situated on the shores of a large lake, there are campsites located all around, most reachable by car.
This day was pretty chilled, not requiring more than an hour or two of driving, but it’s great to arrive here early and enjoy a few hours walking around the lake and taking in the forest.
That night, light up a fire and enjoy a few drinks, or even go for a swim like some locals did when we were there!
Here are the coordinates of the campsite we stayed at: 56.784831,24.441661.
Day 7: Experiencing Riga
As the capital of Latvia, Riga is a city well worth visiting on your Baltic road trip.
Like many cities in Europe, many of the best places to visit here are located in the Old Town.
Including Riga Castle, House of The Black Heads & St Peters Church.
My favourite part of our visit was visiting a local bakery and coffee shop where we sat outside on the cobbled streets enjoying the goings on of the city.
On the way in or out of the city, there is another site to stop off at: The Salaspils Memorials.
It is the old site of a Nazi prison camp, now home to a number of large, fascinating scultpures built when the Russians occupied Latvia.
Day 8: Riga to Sigulda
Hands down, Sigulda is one of the most charming and wondrous towns in Latvia.
As a part of the Gaujas National Park, it’s home to endless woodland, streams and a number of castles.
As a part of this day, you can spend hours exploring the area, with a trip to Sigulda Castle and the local bobsleigh park being two highlights.
We arrived here the day AFTER the bobsleigh had closed for public use and we were absolutely gutted!
For not a lot, you can have a go, with an experienced driver tearing you down an actual bobsled track!
Sigulda Castle was another lovely place to stop, and offers wondrous views out over the national park it lies amidst.
Even around the castle there are a number of lakes and walking paths, as well as cafes and shops to explore.
Day 9: Exploring the Gaujas National Park
I recommend taking a whole another day to stay in the Gaujas National Park and explore the sites here.
Amongst other things, popular sites include Gutmanala Cave, Turaida Castle and the Soviet Bunker.
Covering more than 350 square miles, it’s an outdoor paradise and a truly beautiful part of the country.
In October, it turned out that many popular attractions had started closing down for the summer.
If you’re visiting with kids, or are a big kid yourself, then you should check out Tarzans.
We ended our visit here at the city of Valmiera.
Day 10: Valmiera to Karula National Park
In the southernmost part of Estonia, you have the Karula National Park, just an hour and a half from Valmiera.
Like the other national parks in Estonia and Latvia, it is dotted with wonderful walking trails, as well as numerous public campsites.
We spent the latter half of our day at this campsite here.
It’s well worth staying at, and we enjoyed fire-roasted ribs and chicken wings as we saw the last hours of the day out.
Learn more: 14 Amazing Things To Do In Latvia
Day 11: Karula National Park to Tartu
We took the longer, windy route, which took us deeper through the Karula National Park.
There aren’t many houses, but those that are there are located in some of the nicest scenery we’ve seen in Europe.
On the way north to the city of Tartu, there are numerous places to stop off at and explore, including Otepää looduspark and Sangaste Castle.
In Tartu, there are a few noteworthy places to visit, such as the KGB Cells Museum.
Day 12: Tartu to Lahemaa National Park
With just a few days to explore the beauty of Estonia, we decided to head north and stay in Lahemaa National Park.
We were not disappointed as, not only is the drive itself lovely, but once you arrive at the far north, you experience the rugged nature of the Baltic Sea.
Once again, we were the only ones here, so had the nature and campfire all to ourselves!
You can walk right to the seafront from here, and you’ll find a memorial to all those who died as a part of an evacuation mission during WWII.
Their ships lie just off the coast in what is now a mass graveyard for ships lost on both sides of the conflict.
Day 13: Lahemaa National Park to Tallinn
Though not too far, the route into Tallinn is dotted with a few great spots well worth a visit.
Including Jagala Waterfall, Tallinn Botanical Garden, Tallinn TV Tower and the Kadriorg Art Museum.
Before entering the busy city of Tallinn, you could always swing past and stop off at Keila Waterfall first.
We didn’t visit, but it seems to have nice reviews and if you’ve got the time, then why not?
Day 14: Experiencing Tallinn
Once again, it’s well worth taking a whole day to visit the final capital city as a part of your Baltic road trip.
Tallinn is perhaps my favourite of the 3, and the medieval Old Town is really charming, somewhere you could spend hours endlessly walking.
We saw a LOT of places in Tallinn, so I recommend checking out this guide that Cazzy put together on the best things to see and do in Tallinn.
Road tripping the Baltic states: All Your Questions Answered!
What are the roads like?
In one word … FLAT!
The great thing about road tripping across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is that they are remarkably flat, with great roads everywhere you go.
They don’t have large, multi-lane motorways like many other European cities, however they are great to drive on, with scenic views almost all day long.
Just whack the car in cruise control and away you go for hours on end.
Are the countries expensive?
No not at all.
We found fuel to be slightly less than in the UK, so below the overall Eruopean average.
If you plan on staying in hotels or local homestays, you can pick up a room for maybe 30 to 40 Euros a night on the cheaper end.
Food is relatively cheap, as is alcohol.
On that note, if you plan on heading north from Estonia to Finland (like us) then be sure to stock up on alcohol before heading over, as it’s a lot pricier up there.
When is the best time of year to visit the Baltics?
On our first trip, we visited Lithuania in late May/early April and the weather was very hot, about 30 Celsius and above most days.
On our second trip, we were in the 3 countries in early October when it was much colder, but still bearable.
From what we've been told, The Baltic states experience extreme cold in the winter months (December to February) and extreme heat in the summer months (June to August).
So it’s probably best to avoid the winter months, when it’s much colder and many of the popular tourist sites are shut.
In the shoulder months of May/June and September, the weather should still be nice, but without all the summer crowds.
Well, that’s about it!
If you have any more questions about our 2 weeks in the Baltics, then just drop me a comment below and I’ll help where I can.
Similarly, if you’ve been on your own Baltic road trip and have any other places you’d recommend visiting in Lithuania, Estonia or Latvia then I’d love to hear from you!
Be sure to check out our other guides to help you plan your trip to the Baltics! These include ...