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When I first heard about the Baltic Trails I decided to pack my stuff and spend the summer exploring and hiking the paths myself.
My journey started in Sweden. I stepped on the train in Malmö, went over the 7.8 km long Öresund bridge and through the 4 km long tunnel under Öresund. I then took a flight from Copenhagen airport towards the Baltic states.
The Baltic Trails
There are two main trails running through the Baltics: The Baltic Forest Trail and the Baltic Coastal Trail.
The new Baltic Forest Trail is 2,141 km long and it passes through the forests of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. This trail is now part of the E11 (European long-distance path) which runs 4,700 km through the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
It’s a beautiful forest trail that starts from the Polish/Lithuanian border near the town of Lazdijai. The path then leads through Latvia and the capital city of Riga and finishes in Tallin, Estonia. Completing the entire route would take 102-114 days.
Then there is the Baltic Coastal Trail. This coastal hiking path is part of E9 (European long-distance path) known as the European Coastal Path.
The Baltic Coastal Trail stretches for 1,420 km along the Baltic Sea coast and takes about 70-72 days to finish. It starts at the Lithuanian-Russian border in the village of Nida in Lithuania, leads through Latvia, and finishes at the Port of Tallinn in Estonia.
The trails are divided into 20 km long sections with accommodation and transport options along the way. This makes it easy to tackle portions of the trail if you don’t want to complete the entire thing.
The Baltic Forest Trail
The Forest Trail is marked with white-yellow-white signs on trees, stones and other natural materials. In urban areas, the trail is marked with stickers.
There have been marking events where both locals and international visitors have walked along the trail with a bucket of paint and helped with the marking.
The marking events were held in order to involve locals and help them get to know the new trail. The organizer understood the importance of the local community embracing the new trail.
Along the Baltic Forest Trail, you will find the sign “Hiker-Friendly. ” These signs show locations and services that cover hikers’ needs.
This includes info about public transport, maps of the trials and Wi-Fi details. There is also information on where to fill up drinking water, charge electronic devices, clean and dry wet clothes and shower.
At some accommodations, it’s also possible to talk with the owner and organize transport to and from the trails.
The paths surface consists of forest roads and trails, country roads, edges of asphalted roads, seaside meadows, and sandy or rocky beaches. Closed footwear is the best option for the stony and rocky sections. In places with overgrown coast, I would recommend water-resistant footwear.
Baltic Forest Trail in Lithuania
In Lithuania, the Forest Trail is called Miško takas. It’s 747 km long and takes about 36-38 days to complete. Some highlights along the route are Dzūkija and Žemaitija National Parks, Nemunas Loop Regional Park, and Kaunas.
Dzūkija National Park is the most forested region of Lithuania.
Žemaitija National Park has a hilly terrain with forest and lakes which is a nice contrast to the otherwise relative flat Lithuania.
From the Birstonas observation tower, you can enjoy the panorama of the river valley in the Nemunas Loop Regional Park. The tower is 55 m high and free of charge.
In Kaunas, you can visit the Old Town and Kaunas castle.
Baltic Forest Trail in Latvia
In Latvia, the Forest Trail is known as Mežtaka and is 674 km long. It takes about 31-38 days to complete this trail.
Over half of Latvia’s territory is covered by forest and here you can find a rich birdlife. Some of my favorite places along the Forest Trail in Latvia are Kuldiga, Abava River Valley Nature Park, Kemeri National Park, and Gauja National Park.
Kuldiga has Europes widest waterfall. It’s a charming old town from the 16th-17th centuries. The town has many small cafes where you can enjoy cakes or a glass of locally brewed beer.
In Abava River Valley Nature Park you can find vineyards, steep-sloping banks, deep ravines, sandstone and dolomite outcrops plus a mosaic of meadows and forests.
Kemeri National Park has one of the largest wetlands in Latvia with high biodiversity. Close to the national park you can find Jūrmala, which is a popular resort town with white-sanded beaches.
Gauja National Park has the most impressive ancient river valley in Latvia with colourful sandstone. The largest part of the trail leads along the river. If you are tired of hiking, you can also go canoeing on the river.
Baltic Forest Trail in Estonia
In Estonia, the Forest trail is called Metsa matkarada. The trail is 720 km long and takes about 35-38 days to finish. The highlights along the trail are Jägala waterfall, Lahemaa National Park, Alutaguse National Park, Suur Munamägi, and Lake Peipus.
Making a stop at Jägala waterfall is definitely worthwhile. It’s the highest natural waterfall in Estonia with a height of about 8 m. In the northern part of Estonia, you can find glacial boulders that are as big as a house.
Lahemaa National Park is characterized by many bays, peninsulas, forests, and villages of rich cultural heritage.
Alutaguse National Park consists of around 50% bogs and 50% forests. It’s a home for many rare species like the black stork. It’s a nice place to enjoy the wildlife.
In Haanja Upland you can find the highest point of the Baltic State. The peak is called Suur Munamägi and is 318 m high. There is also an observation tower located. Along the trail, you will pass the lake Peipus which is one of the largest lakes in Europe.
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The Baltic Coastal Trail
The Coastal Trail is marked with white-blue-white signs or stickers which help to stay orientated in the landscape.
Baltic Coastal Trail in Lithuania
In Lithuania, the trail is known as Jūrų takas and is 216 km long. It takes about 10-12 days to walk the whole route.
One of the highlights along the trail is Curonian Spit National Park which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. There you can find high sand dunes and you can enjoy walking bare feet.
Other highlights along the Coastal Hiking trail in Lithuania are the Nemunas Delta, the Seaside regional parks, and the coastal resorts of Nida and Palanga.
The Nemunas Delta regional park is known as the “Bird Paradise” where birds are having migration flyway stops and nesting places. Don’t forget to pack your binoculars to enjoy some birdwatching.
In the Seaside regional parks, you can enjoy a picnic on top of the coastal cliffs. The coastal resort of Nida is a summer town with sand dunes. The coastal resort of Palanga is also a summer town.
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Baltic Coastal Trail in Latvia
In Latvia, the trail is named Jūrtaka and is 581 km long which takes about 30 days to finish.
Slitere National Park, Kemeri National Park, and the coastal resort Jūrmala are some of the highlights along the trail.
The trail leads through the Slitere National Park which is the smallest national park in Latvia. Here you can find the point of cape Kolka and enjoy a swim. It’s a place where two seas meet: the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga.
During the bird migration, you can see a lot of birds passing by. Along the coast, there are fishing villages where you can buy smoked fish.
In Kemeri National Park you can find bogs, forests, lakes, natural mineral springs and mud. The coastal resort Jūrmala is a very touristic place with historical wooden architecture and sandy beaches.
Baltic Coastal Trail in Estonia
In Estonia, the Baltic Coastal Trail is known as Ranniku matkarada It is 622 km long and takes about 30 days to walk.
I would recommend stopping at the Matsalu National Park, the coastal resorts of Pärnu and Haapsalu and the Western Estonian islands.
The Matsalu National Park is the largest wetland in Northern Europe and has around 50 sea islands. Visit one of the seven birdwatching towers and enjoy the birds traveling from the White Sea to the Baltic Sea.
You can also find deer, elk, foxes and other local wildlife in this area.
The coastal resort of Pärnu has many cafés and an Old Town perfect for taking romantic walks. According to the legend, new couples must walk together to the end of the pier and seal their love with a kiss.
In the coastal resort town of Haapsalu, you can find SPA hotels offering an opportunity to take a rest from hiking. Haapsalu is known for warm seawater and curative mud.
The Western Estonian islands can be visited by taking a ferry from the port of Virtsu or Rohuküla. You can also enjoy the Saaremaa, Vormis, and Hiiumaa archipelago.
If You Go
Where to find more information about the Baltic trails: Visit https://baltictrails.eu/en to find more information about the Baltic Forest Hiking and the Baltic Coastal Hiking.
Travel to the Baltic States: Several airports and ferries are going to the Baltic States. Check with AirBaltic for flights. For ferries look at Stenalines, Tallink Silja Line, Viking Line, Eckerö Line, DFDS, and TT-Line.
Travel within the Baltic States: It’s very easy to visit Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia their small size and because of the relatively short travelling distances between and within the countries. Options include renting a car, travelling with coaches (Lux Express: www.luxexpress.eu, Ecolines: www.ecolines.eu) or using the local buses and trains.
Best time to go: The Baltic Trails can be visited all year long. June, July, and August is the summer period with the best weather. However, to avoid the mosquitos I would recommend visiting the Baltics during the spring and the autumn.
How long time to plan for the trip: To walk the entire Baltic Forest Trail you need 102-114 days. To walk the entire Baltic Coastal Trail you need 70-72 days. The trails are divided into about 20 km long sections. This allows for a one-day hike, a weekend hike, or a long-distance hike depending on what you prefer.
Accommodation: There are many accommodation options along the trail. Accommodations marked with “Hiker-Friendly” specialize in hiker´s needs.
Local time: GMT + 2 hours
Language: Estonian/Latvian/Lithuanian. Inhabitants also speak English, German or Russian.
Good to know:
- There are Tourist Information Centres in cities, towns and many rural villages. They offer maps, guidebooks, guide services and advice to tourists.
- Both cash and card cards are accepted in most shops. However, when visiting the countryside, it’s advised to be prepared for using cash since cards might not be accepted in all places. ATMs are easy to find in cities and towns.
- Prepaid SIM-cards are available from grocery stores and other distributors.
- For the most part there is a good Wi-Fi network coverage, but, in some remote rural areas internet might not always be available.
- Tap water is drinkable.
Book This Trip
Start planning your journey through the Baltic trails today. Find more information on hotel and VRBO reservations, local restaurant reviews, and insider tips on each area on TripAdvisor and Travelocity. Book your flights to any of the baltic sites with discounts and car rental options through Kiwi.
Author Bio: Anna-Sara Reinisch is from Sweden and her big passion is hiking. After finishing high school she went to New Zealand where her hiking experience started. After that, she has visited Australia, the USA, Hong Kong, and countries in Europe to explore the hiking trails, local food, and culture. Her favorite quote is from Saint Augustine: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Currently, she is studying at university and has been the chairman of the outdoor committee for students. She organized hiking and canoeing trips for local and international students to take a break from studies, get some new connections and explore the surroundings. Anna-Sara loves to share her knowledge with others so they also can enjoy nature.