Yes, the age-old question – how to get from Tallinn to Riga? If it was the Middle Ages we would probably tell you to wait for the right wind and to set sail. But times have moved forward and there is no ship that would take you south unless you rent one. So what is left?
In no particular order, here are some options for getting from the Estonian capital to the Latvian one. We have brought out the estimated time of travel and cost, how much hassle you will have making travel arrangements on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = super easy and 5 = you should get paid to do it), how much fun you will have on the trip on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = bored to tears and 5 = most fun that can be had).
1. Take a plane
Photo credit: Olli Vainio
TIME: 3 hours (1 h of flying + 1,5 h at airports + 0.5h transport from or to city centre)
COST: from 60€ (basic) to 400€ (business class)
HASSLE: 2 (easy)
FUN: 2 (not really)
Flying, aah… the modern mode of transport, AirBaltic will fly you from Tallinn to Riga. It is no luxury airline but they will get you there and if you are flying for only about an hour then you can suffer through the lack of legroom. Naturally there is the added pleasure of navigating through airports and shuttling to city centre but by now all travellers are probably used to it. Fun-wise… well, we all pack our own fun, don’t we? Whatever book or movie is at hand. But outside of that it’s a plane. Flying is a little bit of fun in and of itself.
2. Take a train
Photo credit: Phil Richards
TIME: 7 to 8 h
COST: about 20€
HASSLE: 4 (a headache but you can do it)
FUN: 2 (just because its trains)
Trains are romantic – you cannot argue with that – and therefore fun by default. This train trip has the added benefit of going through half of Estonian and Latvian countryside but the downside is you will only see it through a window. The trip is so time-consuming because it takes a longer way of getting to Riga through Tartu and Valga. In Valga you have to switch trains and the layover can be quite long, also you have to buy tickets from two different train companies. Good luck with this one, you are going to need it!
3. Take a bus
Photo credit: Simple Express
Taking a bus from Tallinn to Riga is a long trip. There is no way around this fact. We all have ways of making this tolerable – reading a book or watching something or, the tried and tested favourite, sleeping. Thus, already engaged, you will probably miss most of the countryside that the bus passes through and not look out the window much. By the time you get off the bus you are exhausted from doing nothing at all, still this is probably the way most people make the trip from Tallinn to Riga.
Photo credit: Indrek Kasesalu
TIME: 12 h
HASSLE: 1 (pick up a phone)
FUN: 5 (most fun you can have)
Traveller Tours will take you from Tallinn to Riga (or from Riga to Tallinn). Not only will you see the countryside fly by from a window but there are stops along the way at cool places where the history and the people involved will be told about. The tour takes an alternative route to Riga via the picturesque small towns of Viljandi and Cesis. You’ll be able to get inside Helme sand caves, explore the authentic Soviet military theme park in Valga as well as visit the sandy cliffs of Sietiņiezis. Oh, and did we mention the bobsleigh track in Sigulda – a Soviet construction masterpiece that’s still used nowadays.
Capital cities of any country tell you only half the story. You should see the small towns, the nature preserves and hear the stories about the people who actually live there.
This tour does it all and is super easy to book.
5. Take a car
TIME: 4 to 5 h
COST: €20 for gas + renting the car
HASSLE: 1 (super easy)
FUN: 1 to 5
Does not matter if you drive yourself or hitchhike. It’s a road trip! If you need to get to Riga the fastest way possible then this is probably it. Just drive South until you hit Riga. Mind-numbingly boring. If you want to take your time then the car gives you the most liberty to explore anything and everything on the way. You have to do all the research and it will take you a long time, but it is totally worth it.
6. Take a walk
TIME: about a month
HASSLE: 3 (can you plan and pack a bag that will sustain you for such a time?)
FUN: 5 (because you are crazy)
Walk it, just walk it! Maybe there is an apocalypse, maybe you need to keep off a radar (spy!) or maybe you just really-really like to hike. Whatever the case – Riga is only about 300 km away, going straight. That is nothing! But, while you are at it, we will recommend going all out and taking the scenic route. The Estonian Centre for State Forest Management (RMK) has made a hiking route all through Estonia that takes you through the most beautiful untouched nature we have (Oandu-Ikla hiking route). It is only 370 km long and will take to the Latvian border. From there on, there is no official hiking route but you can walk along the seaside which will be gorgeous (only additional 116 km).
You can book the Tallinn–Riga Sightseeing Bus here. Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments section.
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