(Eastern) European Vacation
May 16, 2016 8:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm headed for Riga, Latvia for work for the second time. On the first go-round, I had very little time off, so this time I wised up and tacked a couple vacation days onto the end of my trip so I can do some traveling. But where should I go, and how?! I'm overwhelmed with the possibilities.

I thought about doing the St. Peterline ferry tour to St. Petersburg from Tallinn, but the dates don't really line up with my travel.

-The other Baltic capitals, Vilnius and Tallinn (although to be honest, by this point I will have spent almost a month in Latvia so I'm looking for something a bit different and these, while lovely, don't seem as exciting as some of my other options)
-Slovenia (Lake Bled!)
-Croatia (I'm much enamored of the Dalmatian coast, but will it be overrun with tourists?)

Things I'm interested in experiencing:
-local food and wine

Limitations/other pertinent info:
-I will only have 3-4 days
-I will be laden down with 2 weeks worth of luggage from my work trip. I pack fairly light (2 carry-ons), but still.
-Solo, tiny, female American traveler
-This will be in June, from the 11th to the 14th or so.
-Flying back to Washington, DC.

I'm making my way through the European travel threads, but any ideas or practical tips you can provide will be much appreciated! In addition to destination ideas, I'm also looking for: (1) tips on the best way to get from one place to another, (2) whether I can (or should) pack more than one country into this whirlwind tour, and (3) any safety concerns since I'm (literally!) flying solo.
posted by leeloo minai to Travel & Transportation around Eastern Europe, Russia (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm guessing you'd be better off staying on the northern end of Eastern Europe, or checking out Scandinavia. Traveling all the way down to the former Yugoslavia is quite a trip, and since you're on a pretty tight schedule, the travel time required won't leave you much time for actual sightseeing.

With that in mind, St. Petersburg has tons of history and architecture, and would be a quick trip from Riga.

Krakow, Poland has history and architecture as well. I've heard it called "the Boston of Poland".

Finland would also be quick, and there's tons of nature.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:23 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Gdansk, Poland. Seriously. Lots of history, lots of nature. Much less touristy than either Krakow or Prague. Prague is beautiful but I personally could never shake off that touristy vibe.
posted by M. at 11:19 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

2nding that ex-Yugoslavia is too far for only 3-4 days. OTOH, it seems there are direct flights from Riga to Dubrovnik, if you really want to do it. (The tourist situation is still bearable in June. It starts getting crazy toward the end of July.)
posted by gakiko at 12:14 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

FWIW, the old town of Tallinn has a very different look and feel to Riga. I suspect it feels more different from Riga than quite a few Polish cities. Estonian, and Estonians, are Finno-Ugric, closely related to Finns, and the country has quite a Scandi feel to it (yes, I know the Finns aren't really Scandi, but I think Estonia looks that way more than it does towards the rest of the Baltics).
If you do decide to stay in the area, I've always meant to check out the stunning Curonian Spit, and you could have some proper adventures on the Estonian islands, including Kihnu, where the women still wear traditional skirts and drive their kids about in motorcycle side-cars.
posted by penguin pie at 1:05 PM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I always jump at a chance to extol the many awesome virtues of Riga, so of course I suggest you spend a relaxing and interesting few days in Riga, instead of trying to jam in another city.

Where abouts are you staying? Are you on a budget?
posted by glitter at 4:50 PM on May 16, 2016

glitter, I really loved Riga! But I spent 2 weeks there last time and I will be there for another 2 weeks on this trip. After that, I think I will be ready for somewhere new. :) I'm staying just outside old town. Not really on a budget; this is a rare opportunity to travel for me and I'm willing to splurge a bit to make the most of it. Work is paying for return flight. The only thing I'm short on is time, as I had to wrangle a dogsitter for an extended period.

All super helpful answers so far! Thank you for walking me back from "visit ALL the places!"
posted by leeloo minai at 5:50 PM on May 16, 2016

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