Best Way To Travel Between Riga and Tallinn; An Amazing International Crossing
Disclaimer: This is not a promotional article and it is based on personal experience with no endorsement from Tour company.
Crossing borders is usually quite a boring, laborious process and when I started looking for the fastest, most convenient way to go from Riga to Tallinn, I came across this amazing tour. The tour took me from Riga to Tallinn in a single day and within those 12 hours, I have had the chance to explore many beautiful places along the way with a knowledgable guide. Killing a few birds with one stone, I’d say.
There were no long queues and custom checks, no border checks, no snoring travel companions and no one took their shoes off on the way to entertain me with their feet stink. Hallelujah!
Note: You can take the same tour in the opposite direction from Tallinn to Riga as well and the stops just come in reverse order.
If you want to read about another amazing border crossing, check out the Andes Cruise between Argentina and Chile.
Details of the Tour
Price – €69 one way
- The tour must be booked well in advance especially in summer when the tourist season is at a peak.
- Bring yourself some comfy shoes and clothes, it is a full-day tour.
- Do check the details from the links above, on official pages.
- Lunch is not included in the price of this Riga to Tallinn Tour but the lunch restaurant is pre-chosen by the tour operator which is very nice and reasonable.
- Do not forget to bring your passports because you will be crossing an international border (unless you are an EU citizen in which case an I.D is sufficient).
- You can do this tour between Riga and Vilnius in both directions as well with the same company. The price is the same.
A Fun day from Riga to Tallinn
The day started fairly early and I met our lovely guide (forgive me for forgetting her name, I feel bad about that too) at the meeting point in Riga Old town around 7:45am. The shuttle bus was ready, I loaded the luggage and after some checks and introductions, we headed to our first stop on our Riga to Tallinn journey.
I had woken up half an hour ago and made the mistake of not eating anything in my rush not to be late. It came back to bite me big time because there was nothing for about 2 hours to eat. I eventually got some snacks from a petrol station to stop myself from biting anyone.
The drive was very pleasant with very little traffic on the way, rural Latvia is very beautiful and full of lush greenery. It took us an hour and 15 minutes and we arrived at our first stop; Sigulda.
Sigulda and the Bobsled Track
Distance – 52km
Drive Time – 1 Hour 15 minutes
Our guide explained everything and then gave us a few minutes to walk around and enjoy the views. The clouds had dispersed by this time.
Old Town of Cesis
Distance – 38km
Drive Time – 30 minutes
Cesis is everything you expect from a medieval town, a gorgeous castle, sprawling green grounds, small winding roads and alleys, beautiful squares and adorable churches snuggly located between colourful houses.
We arrived in Cesis and got a bit of an idea about the castle and the town from our guide in the gardens of the Castle of Cesis. The grounds were beautiful and well maintained and due to beautiful weather, there were plenty of locals and tourists enjoying the gardens. Dotted with fountains and sculptures, the gardens would make for a perfect spot for a first date, I kept thinking.
We headed up towards the town and through the streets, we arrived in the Square of Roses which was full of flowers except they weren’t roses but oh well, who cares, it was pretty. We got an hour to explore the place, the church, the streets.
It is a beautiful, romantic town and this was the first time I really patted myself on the back for not taking the direct bus or plane from Riga to Tallinn.
Gauja National Park
Distance – 20km
Drive Time – 30 minutes
Gauja National Park is quite big and starts right from Sigulda but we were headed to a special spot; the sand cliffs of Sietinezis. Another absolutely gorgeous spot for nature lovers. There are plenty of hiking trails here. We arrived and left the van in the parking to head to see these impressive rocks.
There is a defined track that takes you around the rocks, wooden stairs and all. Through the dense tree line, the iron-rich waters of River Gauja peeked and said hello before shyly turning away and minding its own business.
I could spend an entire day here but my sigh at the lack of time turns into exciting hurrah when I saw wild blueberries. I checked with the guide about whether they were safe to eat and then jumped on the teeny tiny berries with fervour like I’d never seen blueberries before.
It was a fun hour we spent there before heading back to the van to head to the border town of Valka or Volga for some lunch and border crossing
Valka to Valga In a Minute
Distance – 66km
Drive Time – 1 Hour
On the Latvian side, we entered Valka. It is a small beautiful town but quite different from Cesis. It is modern and functional but with rows of flower beds and colourful houses. Our guide told us we were crossing into Estonia and in a few seconds, we arrived in Valga, which is the name of the same town in Estonian. The town is located in two different countries. There were no border checks, the border crossing checkpoint was devoid of any human presence altogether.
We stopped at a restaurant for lunch which was our first official food stop from Riga to Tallinn. The restaurant was small but adorable. The name of the restaurant was Lilli Kohvik. The staff was friendly and we soon had food in front of us. (I vaguely remember our guide asking us about what we wanted to eat beforehand and ordered it in advance). A hearty soup, main course and a large dessert later, we all headed back to the van.
The sun had started to descend and there was new excitement about seeing the Estonian side now.
Military Theme Park
Distance – 1km
Drive Time – 5 minutes
I am no fan of military museums, guns, weapons or glorification of war so I was naturally not very excited about this stop. I had to be respectful though because the museum covers a lot of independence history of Estonia. I wandered with my tour mate Corrie from room to room watching this hodgepodge of military equipment and war paraphernalia. It was quite boring, to be honest, but then I discovered something interesting.
A helicopter and big f*ck-off military vehicles like tanks, it was a game-changer. Corrie also found an apple tree and despite not being hungry, I felt it was my duty to eat a naturally grown, pesticide-free, organic apple. It was pretty delicious.
Distance – 82km
Drive Time – 1 Hour 15 minutes
I woke up when we were almost in Viljandi. The day was still beautiful with the sun shining splendidly. Viljandi was the Cesis of Estonia; beautiful, small, quaint and romantic. The castle was desolate and ruined but the view over the Viljandi Lake took all our worries away. We stayed there for a bit while our guides told us about the town and a brief history of the castle.
I half-listened, taking a mental picture of this place in my mind.
We got another half an hour to roam around the town and finally meet the guide near the main church of the town. There was some festival on at the time and quite a lot of locals were out, the music system being tested in the stadium and kids running for candies and balloons. It was as if the world had no problems and nothing could ever go wrong.
I walked around the town, grabbed some green tea from a small cafe with some cheesecake and got lost again in the bohemian vibe of Viljandi. Soon I realised I was late and ran to the church where our guide and everyone was patiently waiting for me.
Distance – 160km
Drive Time – 2 Hours
The road to Tallinn was interesting at first but then we merged into a highway and things became dull. We finally arrived in Tallinn around 8pm and stopped outside the tourist office in Old Town. The guide was smiling as ever, she had so much energy I was a little jealous of her seriously. she gave us some maps of Tallinn and said goodbye to us.
It was a perfect day exploring the beauty of these two Baltic sister countries, I cannot imagine a better way to do this and I was very lucky I got some amazing tour companions as well as a great guide for the day. I found the best way to go from Riga to Tallinn and Tallinn to Riga indeed.
Tallinn to Riga
As I mentioned before you can do this tour in the reverse direction as well. The stops will become reverse. You will drive from Tallinn to Viljandi, then to the Miltary theme park followed by lunch in Valga and then border crossing to Valka. The next stop will be Cesis and the last stop before Riga will be Sigulda.
Have you experienced this tour from Riga to Tallinn or Tallinn to Riga? I’ll love to get your comments as well on your experience. If you haven’t and you’re not sure about this tour, I’d highly recommend it whether you are going from Riga to Tallinn or Tallinn to Riga.