Picture this: you are in Riga. Now what? I say, go to Vilnius! It is only 300 km away. Maybe you are thinking that after Riga (and maybe also Tallinn) you don’t want to see another Baltic capital. Think again! Lithuania in general is very different from Estonia and Latvia. History, religion, and culture; you will not be disappointed to discover that Vilnius is nothing like the others. Lithuania has royal history and Vilnius represents that: the grand architecture, the wide streets, the Catholic churches, and the Central European feel. And, if you thought that Tallinn and Riga are cheap than Vilnius is even a more affordable destination.
Don’t skip Vilnius!
In no particular order, here are some options for getting from the Latvian capital to the Lithuanian 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 = not worth it), how much fun you will have on the trip on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = no fun and 5 = epic fun).
1. Have a road trip!
Photo credit: Gytis Cibulskis
TIME: min 3,5 h
COST: fuel (from 35€) + renting a car if needed
HASSLE: 3 (easy + renting pain)
FUN: 4 (fun)
AKA drive it! Driving in the Baltic countries is easy. We mostly keep to the laws and rules, the roads are pretty okay, and if you get lost then you are never really too far away from where you want to be because these countries are small (unless you are in the wrong country… oops). All you really need now is a car, any car; rented, borrowed, or owned. But if you are expecting to have petrol stations every ten kilometres then think again, don’t leave tanking up to the last moment, and prefer Statoil for those important toilet stops. Okay, maybe I have become a bit of a car enthusiast over the years but the freedom to pull over at any random village is very appealing to me. So, don’t shoot straight from Riga to Vilnius (too easy!). Wonder around! See stuff! Be adventurous!
2. Take an airplane!
Photo credit: Aero Icarus
TIME: flight 0,50 h + transfer = min 2,5 h
COST: starting from 30€ AirBaltic
HASSLE: 2 (easy)
FUN: 2 (not really)
Fly, baby fly! A little boring in my book but fast, easy, and … well that is it, it’s fast and easy. In truth it probably doesn’t save you that much on time. Flight is short, yes, but the extra time in airports and getting to and from them takes about the same time as it would if you go over land. And it costs more. But hey, who am I to criticise your use of frequent flier points or the size of your ecological footprint. Fly away! Enjoy the overpriced and inedible airport food and security control! Really, bring your own snacks for the flight. Whatever it is that they try to serve you on board should not be called food and you should not have to pay for it. As we all know nothing on cheap flights is cheap.
3. Take a bus!
Photo credit: Simple Express
TIME: 4 h
COST: starting from 7 €
HASSLE: 1 (very easy)
FUN: 2 (not really)
I never thought I would say it, but this bus is dope! Lux Express or Ecoline whichever is your choice both are good and cheap. This is probably the most sensible and painless way to go from Riga to Vilnius. The bus stations for both cities are close to the centre, the buses are fast, and comfortable. And they have way more leg space than an airplane. Okay, you don’t stop for anything really and you just go from A to B but if that is all you need then why not. Bring plenty of snacks and max out the free on-board WiFi. You can watch a movie, listen to an audio book, read a real book, or (do it like I do it) snooze. Fall asleep in Latvia and wake up in Lithuania, awesome!
4. The lack of trains
Photo credit: Justin Kiner
TIME: unknown (forever and then some)
COST: unknown (priceless probably)
HASSLE: 5 (maximum hassle)
FUN: 0 (none)
There is no direct train connection at the moment. So, don’t, just don’t. If you are from anywhere else in the world than you think that trains are a great way to travel between countries. And you are right! Almost everywhere else but here. In the 1990s with the local trains systems being privatised and nationalised and bankrupted left and right the links between the three Baltic countries via train collapsed.
Okay, you can do it if you are ready for a cross-countries odyssey. If you are the type to insist then, please: take a train to Russia and from there to Belarus and then to Lithuania… Hey, you know what, this actually sounds like a great idea. Do it!
Photo credit: Leif Harboe
TIME: several days
COST: unknown (bikes, accommodation, food)
HASSLE: 3 (some hassle is to be had)
FUN: 4 (so worth it)
Because why not?! The roads are easy, we have no mountains whatsoever and no trolls under our bridges. In the summer time cycling is a great way to see the Baltic countries. There are several different routes you can take. You can follow the coast line and then turn inland for Vilnius – a very long way around. Or you can short-cut by train to Daugavpils and then cycle south towards Vilnius so that you pass through Aukštaitija National Park. Admire the beautiful lakes there and take in some of the quiet beauty that nature in the Baltic countries can offer.
Photo credit: Kalev Külaase
TIME: 12 h
HASSLE: 1 (just book here!)
FUN: 5 (all the funs)
You want a road trip but don’t want to drive? You want to make cool stops but don’t know where? Think no more! Traveller Tours does all of this for you. We have a driver/tour guide in a small van with a small group of like-minded travellers to take you around. You start in Riga and end up in Vilnius; on the way you learn about the local history, take in some awesome architecture, and see the nature. The tour visits important landmarks like Rundale palace in Latvia, the Hill of Crosses and the city of Kaunas in Lithuania amongst others. What more do you want?!
If you are looking for tips on how to get from Riga to Tallinn than check out this post: 6 Ways How to Get from Tallinn to Riga (or from Riga to Tallinn)
Cover photo credit: Mantas Volungevicius
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