Before you come. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia. Things to know.
Updated: Jan 24, 2018
Practical tips to orientate your self in the Baltics
As “Lonely planet” presents – Baltic countries “a land of crumbling castles, soaring dunes, enchanting forests and magical lakes – a trip to the Baltic proves that fairy tales do come true.“
Sometimes they are called Baltic states, mostly because of being so tiny and sharing recent history. However Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia are separate countries with different languages, religion, traditions and customs. You‘ll be surprised how in 8 hours you can travel from Vilnius to Tallinn via Riga by car and get different experiences. Exciting activities and sites will be presenter later. Now we are about to share hints you need to know before arriving to the region. Practical details are not always fun, but it’s smart to know it!
Location & main facts.
Baltic countries are situated in the Northern Europe on the eastern coast of Baltic sea. Neighbours: Poland, Belarus, Russia, Finland.
Lithuania: size: 65,300 km2
population: 2,872 mln.
capital city: Vilnius (appox. 620 000)
Latvia: size: 64,589 km2
population: 1,96 mln.
capital city: Riga (appox. 641 000)
Estonia: size: 45,339 km2
population: 1,316 mln.
capital city: Tallinn (appox. 440 000)
Time: Greenwich Mean Time + 2 hours
When to come? High season ( June – August), shoulder season ( 2nd half April-May/ September – 1st half October), Off season ( 2nd half October – 1st half April, except New Year period). Average temperature in January -5 C. In summer daytime temperatures reach 20-25°C, but sometimes quite higher, 30°C or more. In most of the time it is dry weather with sunny spells, rain often falls with sometimes heavy Thunderstorms that can occur at the end of the day. July is the warmest month with an average Temperature of 18°C. Required clothing: Light- to medium-weights are worn during the summer nonths. Medium- to heavyweights are needed during winter. Rainwear is advisable all year.
Money. In all 3 countries currency is Euro. ATMs are widespread. Cash preferred to credit cards for small purchases. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted for goods and services. The only place you may experience a problem is at markets, a very small establishment or for a very small transaction. American Express cards are typically accepted at larger hotels and restaurants, though they are not as widely recognised as other cards.
Phone calls and wi-fi. International phone codes: Lithuania ( +370), Latvia ( +371), Estonia
( +372). Majority of the hotels, cafes offer free wi-fi. To ensure internet connection elsewhere, it is advised to buy local SIM card. You can then use your smartphone to create personal hotspot and get your other gadgets connected. Baltic countries have one of the fastest internet in the world.
Emergency numbers. You have to remember European emergency number 112, which directs you to the medical/ police/ fire services.
Entry & exit formalities. Baltic countries belong to Schengen zone. Citizens of EU countries, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand don't need a visa for entering Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania. Travellers arriving from outside the Schengen border zone need a passport, valid for three months beyond the planned stay. If you’re travelling from within the Schengen zone (ie most countries of the EU, excluding the UK and Ireland), there are no longer any arrival formalities.
For other countries please check governmental sites:
Estonia Välisministeerium; www.vm.ee
Health and safety. For EU citizens European Health Insurance Card covers most of medical care, but not for non-emergencies or the cost of repatriation. For the others we strongly advice to get health insurance.
Electricity. In Baltic countries the standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. European type of power sockets (please check the picture). If you are traveling from North America, UK, please consider taking power plug adapters or you can buy it upon arrival.
Tap water is safe to drink in all three countries.
Smoking & alcohol. Smoking is not permitted in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and cafes in all three countries, although it is permitted on outdoor terraces or in closed-off smoking rooms (with proper ventilation). Drinking alcohol outside restaurants and bars is generally not permitted. The risk of being fined is high in larger capitals.
Tipping. In restaurants, tip 10% of the bill to reward good service. Leave the tip in the pouch that the bill is delivered in or hand the money directly to the waiter. Taxis drivers won’t expect a tip, but it’s fine to add €2 to €4 to reward special service. Tipping in hotels is essentially restricted to the top-end establishments, which usually have decent room service and porters, who all expect to be tipped.
Locals are always happy to hear visitors to speak their language. Some useful phrases:
English Lithuanian Latvian Estonian
Hi! Labas! Sveiks! Tere!
How are you? Kaip sekasi? Kā jums klājas? Kuidas läheb?
Thank you! Ačiū! Paldies Tänan
You are welcome Prašom Vienmēr laipni Pole tänu väärt
Good bye Viso gero! Uz redzēšanos Head aega