Day 6: Vilnius, Lithuania to Riga, Latvia

Due to the extremely long and exhausting drive yesterday, we simply didn’t have the strength to head out for any Christmas Markets at all. Besides, it was raining, which kind of didn’t improve the energy at all. But not all is lost! As today’s drive will be significantly shorter, we take some time and go around Vilnius before departing towards Riga.



(C)Two Queens Travel Blog, 2017

I have to say that we both were really pleasantly surprised by Vilnius! I, as a northern European, have had the misconception that somehow Vilnius would be poorer cousin of Riga, which would, again, somehow be a poorer cousin of Tallinn, which has done drastic improvement since regaining their independence! And this was one of those moments, that made me rethink my misconceptions!

I cannot say how wrong I has been for all this time! Of course Vilnius has some areas that are in need of renovation, but some areas in the city are as grand and beautiful as Vienna. And my pictures here don’t do justice to this beautiful city.

(C)Two Queens Travel Blog, 2017

I can only imagine, how nice and beautiful Vilnius would look if there was plenty of fresh and fluffy snow! But alas, we didn’t get to see that. However, we parked our car near the Gediminas Tower and Vilnius Cathedral to take some photos of the Christmas Market. Market itself is bustling with people, and quaint. Sadly, it is also quite small, as it is concentrated on one area of the square only. The feeling though.. very christmassy! Can recommend that as a part of any trip to Vilnius!

After a late lunch we start our way towards Riga, stopping to wash the car on the way. It is the first time that Mika, our puppy, is in the car when the car wash happens, and surprisingly he doesn’t bark! Instead, he decides to sit on my lap and look at the machine doing its work! I wonder what he is thinking of.

From Vilnius to Riga


Initially, when we did the planning for this leg of the drive, we pondered about making a detour to Siauliai, for the Hill of Crosses, which apparently is one of those places to definitely visit. But as it is the darkest time of the year, we do have to leave this detouring to another time (which makes it a perfect reason to do another road trip here during summer!). So instead of Siauliai, we turn the Toyota towards Riga and off we go!

(C)Two Queens Travel Blog, 2017

So, as mentioned before, our drive today starts with a car wash, and the Toyota shines together with the setting sun! And then, as the night falls, we make our way nicely towards Riga.

On the way towards Poland we encountered the roadworks on the Via Baltica, and on the way back we do encounter them again, which of course means slower driving and slightly longer drive times (a recurring theme on this trip?) But as the drive today really isn’t that long, the time lost also isn’t that bad, and we still have plenty of time to spend in Riga in the evening!

Riga in the Evening

This time, the arrival to our AirBnB accommodation is a slightly different experience than the ones before; parking is conveniently situated almost in front of the door, but between the lanes of the road, and there are no zebra crossings. And our hosts have gone to a concert for the evening, which means that the old mother of one of them lets us in and shows us around. She makes absolutely sure, with a mixture of English, Latvian, and German, that we know how to lock the doors and that we remember to switch the lights off in the apartment whenever we don’t need them. Bless her. I have to say that she reminds me of my grandmothers with that doting attitude of hers.

Once we have finished with the tour (and locked the doors) we head back to the car and take our luggage into the apartment. After a quick freshening up (and dinner for little Mika), we lock the door, and rush out to see the Christmas Market before everything closes for the night.

(C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2017

The Christmas Market At Riga

The Christmas Market here might actually just be the highlight of our road trip! Even before we actually enter the market, we can smell the wood smoke coming from many fires that are being used to cook fresh food, some of which actually look quite medieval in style. The plentiful stalls are brightly lit and the people minding them are smiling and friendly. And the wares they sell aren’t your typical things that you can get from all over the place, they seem really to go for the artisan goods from local artisans.

And it is not just about Christmas things here! Among all the other things there is, in the middle of the market, a multi-national food stall, selling traditional foods from different countries – including my native Finland! The people minding the stall are all chef students cooking all orders there and then!

The only downside is that there aren’t any Christmas Market mugs on sale, so we end up having our warming mulled wine from a paper cup, which is just as fine as the wine is local! And at the same time it keeps us warm as the night is quite chilly.

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