Overview

Are you interested in learning how the Soviet occupation shaped the architectural, cultural and societal landscape of the Baltic states? Then join this 12-day tour, which will take you to some of the most significant Soviet-era monuments and relics – from Estonia to Latvia to Lithuania!

Highlights

  • Rummu Quarry
  • KGB Prison
  • Secret Soviet Bunker
  • Underground Printing House
  • Moonshine tasting at Forest Brothers’ Farm
  • Karosta Prison

This ultimate 12-day adventure begins in Estonia and proceeds to explore Soviet-era sites in Latvia and Lithuania. During this tour, you will visit places of great significance, such as KGB prisons, quarries that served as prison labor camps, museums and cultural monuments that represent the Soviet legacy as well as several completely unique places, such as guerrilla fighters underground bunkers! After this tour, you will have a great understanding of how the Soviet occupation impacted the Baltic states. Plus, you’ll have a chance to spend a night in a real Soviet prison, but only if you wish to! 

  • Personal Experience
  • Trusted Tour Operator
  • Small group
  • Local Guides
Availability All Year
Duration 12 days
Departs from Vilnius
Difficulty Easy
Accommodation Included
Meet on Location No
Pick Up Yes

From

1 600
Per Adult
    • No booking fees
    • Fast & secure booking payment
    • Best Price Guarantee

What's included

Included

  • Accommodation + breakfast
  • 1 homemade dinner
  • Transportation on days 2-11
  • Tour leader on days 2-11
  • Local guides in Tallinn and Vilnius
  • Entrance to: Patarei Communism Museum, Rummu Quarry, Laitse Rally Park Classic Car Exhibition, Ligatne Secret Soviet Bunker, Irbene Radio Astronomy Center, Karosta Prison, Cold War Museum (former missile base), 9th Fort Museum, underground printing house, Grutas Park and the KGB Prison Museum
  • Tour of the Classic Car Exhibition at Laitse Rally Park
  • Forest Brothers’ farm tour with moonshine tasting
  • Secret Soviet Bunker tour with lunch at Soviet-style canteen in a group
  • Riga Central Market food tasting
  • Tour the Radio Astronomy Center in a group
  • Tour at the Karosta Prison in a group
  • Tour at the Cold War Museum in a group
  • Tour at the 9th Fort Museum about Soviet occupation in Lithuania
  • Tour of the KGB Prison in Vilnius

What to bring

  • Comfortable hiking shoes

Not Included

  • Flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Accommodation before and after the tour
  • Meals and drinks not specified as ‘included’
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Optional activities and tours

Contact us for more Information about this tour

Itinerary

Day 1:

You’ll begin your ultimate adventure with a Soviet-Era Tour in Tallin, which will give you a glimpse behind the former Iron Curtain and introduce you to what it was like to live under the occupation. You’ll visit some key locations in Tallin Old Town as well as Kalamaja District and end the tour in Patarei Prison. Although it was initially built to be a sea fortress and then transformed into an artillery battery, this building housed inmates from 1919 to 2002. It remains a virtually authentic monument representing the conditions under which incarcerated resistance fighters lived. 

Day summary: 

  • Walking tour of Soviet-era Tallin with local guide 
  • Patarei Prison (no guided tour inside) 
aerial view of rummu quarry in a lake in estonia

Day two is when you visit the highly photographed Rummu Quarry. The miners who worked there at the time came primarily from Murru Prison. When the prison was closed, the pipes and equipment keeping the area dry were shut. The building and the mining excavator were flooded, creating a rather peculiar site of an abandoned building in the middle of a lake. 

Later comes a top-notch experience for all car enthusiasts. You’ll visit a theme park where you’ll get to take one of the Soviet era’s jewels – MoskvitchZaporozec, Volga and others – for a ride. The difference between these cars and the cars we use to go to work is incredible! For those not too keen on driving, there will also be an exhibition with a guided tour of classic cars in Laitse Rally Park. 

The remaining part of the day will include driving to Tartu, where you’ll stay for two nights. 

Day Highlights
  • Tour leader all day
  • Rummu Quarry
  • Driving Soviet cars
  • Guided classic car exhibition tour at Laitse Rally Park
  • Private transportation, 275 km (171 mi), approx. 4 h
buildings architecture in estonia tartu city in summer

Tartu was lucky to escape the brutal Soviet construction period, so there isn’t much Soviet-era architectural heritage here. 

Tartu is worthy of a lengthy stay for different reasons. It is fabled to be Estonia’s spiritual capital with Tartu vaim (a special spirit) created by idyllic wooden houses, parks and riverfront. You will join a sightseeing tour during the first part of the day and later on you’ll get to explore Tartu on your own. 

Day Highlights
  • Tartu sightseeing tour
  • Free afternoon
  • Overnight stay in Tartu
cesis town castle aerial view in latvia

Today we’ll learn about the opposition. The Forest Brothers farm was founded by Meelis Mottus, whose father and uncle were both guerrilla fighters – partisans fighting against the Soviet forces after the end of World War II. The name Forest Brothers was coined at that time, mostly because the fighters used to hide deep in forests, in underground bunkers made out of wood.  

The farm is dedicated to educating people about the partisan movement in the Baltic states. You’ll see reproductions of hiding places inside the farm and in underground bunkers, sample moonshine and listen to partisan songs.  

Up next we’ll cross the border into Latvia and arrive at Cesis, a lovely medieval town. 

Day Highlights
  • Forest Brothers’ farm
  • Learning about the partisan movement
  • Private transport 210 km (130 mi) approx. 3 h
russian soviet style cafeteria in latvia

While day four was all about resistance bunkers, today we begin digging deeper into the Soviet legacy. We start with the secret Ligatne bunker, located 75 km (47 mi) east of Riga. It was built as a shelter that could support 250 top-level Latvian government officials and leaders in case of chemical or nuclear war. For lunch, you’ll get a taste of the food the Soviet elite in Latvia would have enjoyed had they been forced to lock themselves in this bunker. 

Your afternoon will include numerous stops in the beautiful Sigulda region before you arrive in Riga late in the evening.  

Day Highlights
  • Tour leader all day
  • Tour in Ligatne Soviet bunker
  • Lunch in a Soviet canteen
  • Private transport, 100 km (62 mi), approx. 1.5 h
riga old town souvenir market in latvia

Today you will discover the side of Riga that appeared during the 45 years of Soviet occupation, starting with the former KGB Museum. The sightseeing tour will introduce you to an otherwise forgotten side of Riga. You’ll walk through a maze of streets and try food from local food stalls to understand the neighborhood better. 

The highlight of the day is the one and only Riga Central Market. It’s the biggest one in Europe and is made from old Zeppelin hangars. It was considered to be among the top Soviet markets and around 60,000 customers flocked to the market each day. 

Day Highlights
  • Riga walking tour with local guide
  • Local food tasting at Riga Central Market
irbene radio astronomy centre in latvia

The day begins with a picturesque 3-hour drive through thick pine forests toward the west. Interestingly, during the Soviet era a fully active military town known as The Starlet (now Irbene) existed there. The main purpose of this top-secret location was to intercept radio signals and conversations between or in NATO countries. After Latvia regained its independence in 1994, the site was abandoned. Unfortunately, almost everything except for giant antenna dishes was destroyed by the retreating military so that there would be no evidence. 

During the tour, you can simply walk around or choose to climb up to the external platforms and take in some jaw-dropping views of the Kurzeme forest. Exploring an underground tunnel connecting the technical headquarters and radio tower is also an option. 

Day Highlights
  • Tour leader all day
  • Tour at the Radio Astronomy Centre in Irbene
  • Private transport 225 km (140 mi), approx. 3 h
abandoned karosta prison buildings near baltic sea

After another beautiful drive south along the westcoast of Latvia, we will stop in Liepaja and visit the renowned Karosta Prison. 

Built at the beginning of the 20th century, it was mostly used as a short-term disciplinary establishment for the navy and non-commissioned officers by both the Soviet and Latvian forces. Some scratchings, messages and drawings on the walls of the prison still remain. They were made by those who faced their unfortunate fate there. Some were left as recently as 1997!  

Your tour will include exploring the authentic prison premiseslearning about the history of Karosta, hearing stories of everyday prison life, viewing prison and punishment cells and visiting a museum. 

Those that want the ultimate experience can exchange a comfortable hotel befor a prison bunk and spend the night in Karosta Prison – which is considered to be even more imposing than Alcatraz – as well as have a prison mealWe warn you – this experience is not for the faint-hearted!

Day Highlights
  • Tour leader all day
  • Guided tour in Karosta Prison
  • Overnight stay either at a hotel or the prison
  • Private transport, 120 km (75 mi), approx. 2 h
aerial view of a cold war museum in lithuania

Today we cross the border and begin exploring the Soviet legacy in Lithuania. We will begin in Zemaitija National Park, where a Soviet nuclear missile base is located. It was built as a quick response to the US’s underground military bases and was one of the first the Soviets constructed. Poor local farmers were paid 4,500 rubles (relatively little money) to leave their farms and that’s where the military base appeared. 

You will spend your afternoon and evening at a cozy family-owned guesthouse, where you’ll be treated to a delicious homemade dinner. 

Day Highlights
  • Tour leader all day
  • Tour at the Cold War Museum at a former Soviet missile base
  • Homemade dinner and overnight stay at a family-owned guesthouse
  • Private transport 120 km (75 mi), approx. 2 h
a woman walking near 9th fort monuments in kaunas

Visiting Kaunas and the legendary 9th Fort Museum is the first thing on today’s agenda. Not only is it a former strategic defense location, but it is also an architectural monument protected by the state. There are two parts to the tour around the massive museum. The first introduces visitors to Kaunas Fortress defense architecture, weapons and accoutrements of World War I. You’ll also explore inside of the defensive walls and posterns. The second part shows visitors what it was like to live in Kaunas Hard Labour Prison as it reconstructs episodes from prisoners lives 

Afterward, another unique site awaits: AB Underground Printing House. Printed press and books were crucial to resistance movements in the surrounding regions during occupation because the Lithuanian language was forbidden.  

The secret printing house was opened in 1980 by Vytautas Andziulis and Juozas Bacevicius – the initials of their last names serve as the title of the facility. It was constructed underground, hidden very well and only the two founders and one other person, Andziulis’ wife Birute, knew of its existence. 

Day Highlights
  • Tour leader all day
  • 9th Fort Museum Soviet Occupation tour
  • AB Underground Printing House
  • Private transport 230 km (143 mi), approx. 3 h
statue of Lenin in grutas park in lithuania

As the end of the tour approaches, we can assure you’ll finish strong. Grutas Park is an open-air museum located near Druskininkai, a small resort town. It is home to a vast collection of Soviet-era statues and other relics from that period. The museum was founded by a businessman who took an interest in the fate of these statues after Lithuania regained its independence. More features in this establishment include replicas of Gulag prison camps – wooden paths, guard towers, barbed wire fences. 

We will finally arrive in the capital city, Vilnius, which you’ll get to explore and enjoy at your own pace. 

Day Highlights
  • Tour leader all day
  • Grutas Park – Soviet-era statues and monuments
  • Private transport, 250 km (155 mi), approx. 3 h
kgb prison museum in vilnius lithuania

We saved one of the highlights for the last day. The KGB Museum is located in a former KGB prison. Just the aura of that place is an experience. You’ll see for yourself! 

We will finish this 12-day adventure with a walk along the Neris River. Both of its banks were urbanized by the Soviets but some buildings are very modern, so we will see a stark contrast. Your guide will tell you stories to help you better understand the Soviet legacy. 

Day Highlights
  • Local guide
  • KGB Prison Tour
  • Walking tour of Soviet Vilnius

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