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What to see and do in the Baltic capitals right now

The Baltic capitals of Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius have become firm favorites among trendsetters across Europe. This season they are all packed full of fresh things to do - and eat. Choose one city to explore or tour all three with our tips in mind.

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Tallinn

The Tallinn Fotografiska photography museum has established itself quickly as the prime destination for all culture lovers. Three new exhibitions by photography giants, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Maisie Cousin and Nick Brandt, are opening in September and October this year, so now is a good time to visit or revisit. 

Another interesting, although a bit more risqué, new exhibition has opened recently in the Tallinn City Museum. The exhibition called Indecent Tallinn focuses on the desires and sexual behavior in the city from the 15th century to World War II. If you are interested in learning even more about this shady side of history the museum also runs guided tours through the Old City.

One of Tallinn's destination restaurants Leib closed last year. Luckily the owners decided to launch a new concept in the same location. Restaurant Lee is focused on communal eating and serves food designed be shared. It continues Leib's tradition of supporting local artisan growers and producers as well as focusing on seasonality. 

Telliskivi area has been the home of the hipsters for several years. One of the effects of this has been a surge in small independent breweries with their very own bars. The newest to open its doors is Valmiermuiža brewery - which in fact originates from the village of Valmiera in Latvia. The bar has its own shop, and it also hosts regular tasting sessions.

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Riga

If you haven't visited the Kanepes cultural centre in Riga yet, do it now! The center has a lovely restaurant and a café, but the real attraction is its many cultural events. There is plenty to experience in art and music, and if you have a love of film, you are in for a treat. The inhouse cinema Kino Augusts does great theme nights such as Documentary Sundays and focuses on films you can rarely see on the mainstream screens.

The National Opera in Riga has started a varied season with opera and ballet, both traditional and modern. There are lots of classics from Swan Lake to La Cenerentola to choose from. If you however want to see something completely new you could opt for a ballet performance called 2 metres, tackling the subject of social distancing. When travelling with kids get tickets to Karlsson flies, a ballet based on the popular character by children's author Astrid Lindgren.

There is even something new happening in the hotel scene in Riga. If you are willing to splash out a bit book your stay at the newly opened A22 hotel. This luxury hotel is incredibly elegant with rooms full of design classics. It also has a spa, a gym and an a la carte style breakfast that's been receiving rave reviews from guests.

For something new to eat around town, you could head out to Space Falafel. Despite the name it is not just a falafel joint, but instead an authentic Israeli restaurant serving traditional dishes such as Shaksuhka and Pastrami sandwiches. In the evenings the restaurant adopts more of a bar vibe complete with cocktails, and some nights even a DJ playing music.

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Vilnius

Vilnius museum scene got an injection of new energy when MO museum opened its doors in 2018. It focuses on modern and contemporary art by Lithuanian artists. Even just the building designed by architect Daniel Libeskind is worth seeing but the exhibitions this year are equally interesting. The main exhibition is called Celebrate for Change and it explores celebration in its many forms. Later this winter the museum will host the exhibition of Young Painter Prize, a project for artists under the age of 30 working in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

For somewhere new to stay, try Kesminta Old Town Hotel. Guests have been loving this stylish yet no-frills hotel. It is ideally located bang in the middle of the old town very near many of Vilnius main sights. The staff has been commended for their exceptionally friendly and helpful service.

Nineteen18 offers one of the best fine dining experiences in the Baltics. Even if it opened its doors in 2018, it can still be labelled as something new - especially as the menu evolves constantly. The food is highly innovative and focuses on seasonal ingredients, some plucked directly from the restaurant's very own farm! You can find Nineteen18 in the luxurious Hotel Pacai, a truly opulent 17th century palace in central Vilnius.


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