I'm interested in going to Estonia and Latvia for 8 days or so. I am in Kiev now, and would fly to Tallinn and then I was thinking to fly back from Riga or take a bus from Riga to Lviv, Ukraine. I would like to take the bus if it's not a big hassle. If it's much easier to fly then I will do that. Any suggestions?
I want to visit some places in Estonia and Latvia but have to pick and choose with only 8 or so days. Any suggestions for the best places?
I definitely want to see Tallinn.
Maybe: Narva or Tartu
Is it easy to get to Kurresaare and back to Tallinn or onto Tartu/Riga?
It will be May also, just thinking in terms of weather.
I have from 2 weeks to get from Tallinn to Kiev and definitely wanted to see Lviv also.
Has anyone rented a car? Or are the buses easy enough?
One problem with taking the bus from Latvia to Ukraine is that you'd have to go through Belarus (and that visa is a huge headache) or take a very long trip around, through Poland. Easier just to fly, I think.
With two weeks you can just do everything overland back from Tallinn, but you will have to travel through Poland (well, like madpoet said, it is less of a headache and probably has some nicer places to break your journey anway.
I would certainly skip Narva, as it's not the prettiest city anway so I've heard. Tartu on the other hand could be worth the trip for sure, but you might even better choose to have as many different experiences on your trip and skip that city.
I visited Viljandi village after Tallinn and took the bus to Valga from there. The next day I took the train from Valga across the border and stopped on the way in Sigulda, which was really nice. I guess Cesis which on the same trainroute is also nice. Then Riga and from there you could travel onwards south to Vilnius. Really, don't miss Vilnius, it is extremely beautiful in my opinion.
Than onwards across the border with Poland. Check the best train or bus connections, because some, again, go through Belarus. Bus is ok if I remember correctly. You could go to Warsaw, than stop in Zamosc on your way to Ukraine, to Lviv and back to Kiev.
I would say for that itinerary:
4 days Estonia
3 days Latvia
2 days Lithuania
3 days Poland
2 days Lviv
And save a day or so for incidental times elsewhere. Connections are good anywhere in these countries, with numerous bus and train connections.
Wow thank you both for all the information!. Sounds like I will be able to do it.
Tallin and Riga, both, are beautiful. Old Riga isn't big (you may see it all in 1 day, and if you have 2 days - then you even have time for a concert in Duomo, sitting in any nice cafe, going to art gallery, etc.) It's a big area arround Riga, called Jurmala, seashore and pines. There are many places, all perfectly connected with Riga by train. Daily trip can be a great pleasure, choose your one (station) carefully - it should b the perfect one for you, personally.
Going through Belarus (by bus) could be nice - there is a beautiful nature and some awsome historical castles in the way, but yea, if not visa - it is expensive and annoying. I have no idea about transit visa - if it's possible, then may be it's not that bad idea.
Once it was daily train, connecting Tallin - Riga - and Vilnus. Probably it still runs. It's comfortable and less costy then flight. Check it up.
Lviv is awsome but historical part is small as well.
I would not involve Poland into this trip, but give more time to Baltic countries. If you have never been in Vilnus and Kaunas (!) - it worth a vistit. And, may be sounds silly.. but if it will be my trip - I will "jump" to Finland from Tallin. I know that ferry runs there. I have to confess that i'm quite familiar with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but I have never been in Finland - so it attracts me very much, not sure it's good idea