ITINERARY

Explore our destinations. 

At each destination, we've chosen a hotel or guesthouse that reflects its history and personality - a stylish boutique hotel in Helsinki, an ultramodern hotel behind the facade of an 18th century building in Riga, and country manor houses dating from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries in Raseborg, Finland; and Mārciena and Daugavpils, Latvia. Each carries a 4- to 5-star rating;  each provides a hearty Baltic breakfast and free Wi-Fi. Each offers a unique travel experience.

DAYS 1-5 - FINLAND

DAY 1 - WELCOME TO HELSINKI

Our journey begins at the EU's northernmost capital and Finland's principal metropolitan area. You'll be met at the airport and driven to our hotel, where you can unwind from the rigors of travel. Our group will convene for a welcome dinner featuring the best of Finnish cuisine.

DAY 2 - HELSINKI

We start our day at the Finnish Bakery Federation (Suomen leipuriliitto) with a briefing on the current state of baking in Finland. From there, we'll board our chartered motor coach for a guided tour of the Helsinki. We'll visit Senate Square, the heart of the Old City, the underground Tempelliaukkio church, with its copper-sheathed 80-foot ceiling and amazing acoustics; and the Sibelius Monument. We'll have a free evening to explore Helsinki restaurants and enjoy its nightlife.

DAY 3 - HELSINKI

After breakfast at our hotel, we'll visit two of Helsinki's most highly regarded bakeries for a tour of their operations and sampling of their wares. In the afternoon, feel free to explore Helsinki on foot or take public transportation to Porvoo, a beautifully preserved seaside village where we can get a taste of Finnish life in times past. The evening will be free to spend as we please.

HOTEL FABIAN HELSINKI

Centrally located on a quiet street in the Kasarmitori neighborhood, which boasts some of Helsinki's best restaurants. A few steps from the Market Square, the Esplanadi gardens and the Museum of Finnish Architecture. Trip Advisor ranks Hotel Fabian as one of Helsinki's top hotels and has awarded it the coveted designation of "Traveler's Choice." 
Luxury boutique hotel, 4.5 stars

DAY 4 - RASEBORG

We'll get an early start for a 2-hour drive west along the Finnish coast, the main axis of its history and culture. In Raseborg, where two-thirds of the population are Swedish-speakers, we'll experience firsthand the profound Swedish influence on the culture of western Finland. Our first stop will be Wi-Box Bakery, which has been producing artisan breads and pastries since its founding in 1951. After lunch, we'll take a guided ramble through the fields and forests of 4,000-acre Västerby Outdoor Recreation Centre and finish with coffee and korvapuusti – traditional Finnish cinnamon buns – before returning to our hotel for a sauna and dinner of local specialties.

DAY 5 - RASEBORG

Located in a verdant valley just west of the Dragviksfjärden fjord, Mörby Gård is one of the oldest farms in the Raseborg area, operating continuously since the 1300s. Owner/general manager Anna Alm will show us around and talk about the rewards and challenges of growing rye. Our next stop will be a tour of Mustion Luomumylly (Mustion Organic Mill), whose products are sourced locally and sold both at retail and to local bakeries. Our baker's tour for the day will end at Backers Bakery, where owner Diana Nyberg-Lindholm will give us a tour and introduce us to the Swedish-influenced rye breads of the Finnish Archipelago. That evening, we'll be free to explore Raseborg and surrounding villages on our own.

SVARTÅ MANOR RASEBORG

A complex of five different 19th century buildings that formerly housed workers at the local ironworks, renovated into a luxury hotel. Built between 1783 and 1792 by Magnus Linder II, the manor house is the largest non-ecclesiastic wooden building in Finland. 
Historic guesthouse and spa, 4.5 stars

DAYS 6-11 - LATVIA

DAY 6 - WELCOME TO RIGA

Our motor coach will take us back to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, where we'll catch our flight across the Baltic to Riga. We'll have time to freshen up before getting together at a welcome dinner that will introduce us to Latvian cuisine. 

DAY 7 - RIGA

Riga often feels like the cosmopolitan city Europe forgot. Pinned at the base of the Gulf of Riga, it’s always been the only real city of the Baltic region.  And it's a city that invites exploration. After breakfast, we'll meet with the Latvian Bakers Association for a briefing on the history and current state of baking in Latvia. Following that, our guide will take us through the cobblestone streets of Old Town and the Central Market, and to the Art Nouveau District, centered on Elizabetes and Alberta Streets. In the evening, we'll be free to continue our exploration of Riga's innovative restaurants and hip nightlife. 

DAY 8 - SOUTHWEST OF RIGA

We'll get an early start that will take us to Riga's southwestern suburbs and beyond. In Zemgale, we'll see how Lāči, whose rye breads are known worldwide, has been able to meld the handcrafted character of its breads with the demands of large-scale production. In Jelgava, we'll visit Svetes Maize, an artisanal organic bakery that proudly declares that its breads are "baked like it was in 12th century." We'll spend the afternoon touring Rundāle Palace, the Duke of Courland's spectacular Late Baroque residence whose grandeur has earned it the title, "Latvia's Versailles." After our return to Riga, we'll have a free evening to continue our discovery of the city's delights.

PULLMAN RIGA OLD TOWN HOTEL

Located in a magnificent 1789 building merged together with a completely modern structure, the hotel is located in the center of Old Town, steps away from Dome Square, Parliament, the National Theatre, Freedom Monument and the National Opera. The hotel offers a broad range of amenities, including an acclaimed restaurant and bar and a luxurious spa that boasts a 20-yard swimming pool, sauna and gym. 
Luxury hotel, 4.4 stars

DAY 9 - EASTERN LATVIA

Our motor coach will take us deep into eastern Latvia's autumn countryside to Sigulda, where our guide will conduct us through the fields and forests of Latvia's largest and oldest nature preserve, Gauja National Park. We'll wander the grounds and galleries of Turaida Stone Castle, a Baltic red brick redoubt built in the early 1200s by Archbishop Albert, Riga's founder. Continuing on to Ranka, we'll visit Kelmēni Farm and Bakery, a field-to-oven organic bakery that preserves traditional baking methods and whose rye breads are considered by many to be Latvia's finest. Our day will end in Mārciena with two-hours of complimentary sauna and spa, followed by a dinner of regional specialties at Mārciena Manor's acclaimed restaurant.

MĀRCIENA MANOR HOTEL 

A complex of several buildings built around a manor house begun by Baron von Maidel in the late 19th century and completed by von Hanschmann in 1908. The manor and its surrounding buildings have been fully restored to their Belle Époque splendor.
Historic guesthouse and spa, 4.5 stars

DAY 10 - AGLONA

Today our journey brings us to Latgale, the majority Roman Catholic region in predominantly Lutheran Latvia. The region is a melting pot, with significant Russian, Belarusian and Polish populations leaving their imprint on the culture of the Latgalieši who've lived here for centuries.  We'll tour the expansive grounds and breathtaking interior of the Aglona Basilica, Latvia's most important Catholic shrine. We'll visit the studio of Aivars Ušpelis, a leading exponent of traditional Latgalian wood-fired pottery. We'll spend the afternoon at the Aglona Bread Museum, using 19th century tools and methods to bake our own rye breads. After our tour, we'll sit down to a traditional Latgalian dinner of foods such as fresh farm cheeses, dumplings and soups made of dried mushrooms or lake fish.  

DAY 11 - DAUGAVPILS

In Daugavpils, Latgale's largest city and second-largest in Latvia, we'll wander the galleries of the Mark Rothko Art Centre. The Centre houses exhibitions relating to native son Mark Rothko’s life and art, as well as works of other international and national artists. From there, our guide will lead us to the Daugava River Bends Nature Park, whose spectacular landscape has earned it the designation of UNESCO World Heritage Site. We'll end our day with a taste of rural Latgalian life at Slutiški, an open-air museum that recreates a traditional Latvian-Slavic log house village. The evening will be free, allowing us to explore Latgale on our own.

SVENTES MANOR DAUGAVPILS

Sventes Manor was built in 1912 by Count Michael Plater-Ziberg, heir to two well-known aristocratic Latgalian families. Before and after World War II, it was used as a school and renovated into a guesthouse in 2005.
Historic guesthouse, 4.5 stars

DAY 12 - RETURN TO HELSINKI

After breakfast we'll board our motor coach for the return trip to Riga. Enroute, we'll stop for lunch at Skrīveru Mājas Ice Cream Cafe. Besides standard natural flavors like berry, chocolate and vanilla, the cafe creates ice creams that truly push the envelope – blue cheese, beer, horseradish, even smoked sprats. At Riga airport, we'll catch our flight back to Helsinki, where our baker's journey of discovery will come to an end. 
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