I am looking to go to one of the Baltic capitals over the Christmas period just for a few days before i head off on my second SEA trip in January, so which city would you recommend the most?
Criteria - Architecture, Price, Good food, Bars and general nice ambiance.
So, Tallinn, Riga or Vilnius?
I will maybe be going alone or maybe with a girl.
Hmm. I went to them in a row in winter and I enjoyed Tallinn most. For some reason Riga didn't do much to me (was enjoyable though), but I am sure I need to go back sometime in summer. Spend few hours in Vilnius and it looked great in the layer of snow.
Tallinn old town is beautiful and the night life good (or was 5 years ago) but you might get bored pretty quickly there.
I would say Riga has the most to do and the old town is also nice + there is some cool old soviet buildings.The night life is good too.
I wouldn't bother with Vilnius. It's pretty boring in all aspects.
If you are hoping to get laid I would say Tallinn is your best choice. The girls are very used to foreigners and very willing to ride them and also the best looking of the three in my opinion.
As for food, there are some good cheap ones in central Tallinn, not sure about the others but the whole region isn't too expensive (although is more so now due to the euro).
Vilnius is the cheapest of the three. I don't think it's boring. The architecture in the old town is different to Riga's - more diverse and more of it, in my opinion. Tallinn is okay, but it's a lot more expensive because of the tourists from Finland.
Vilnius has the biggest and most beautiful Old Town out of three.
Riga is the night town for sure if you're the party guy.
Vilnius has lot's of churches and pubs, also it's the greenest and most compact out of the three, probably also the cheapest (not so much though), it's definitely worth a visit.
I'd rank Tallinn slightly behind the other two. Riga is so different in character to the other two, it's a throbbing metropolis in comparison, and has a great cultural life, great art deco architecture as well as real and reconstructed medieval stuff. Vilnius has loads of character and eccentricities, and beautiful.
I spoke Russian in Vilnius (where, actually/ there are not that many Russians ) and Riga, but preferred English in Tallinn (Estonians speak Russian with a really odd accent, anyway).
For Christmas I might be inclined to favour Vilnius.
The city centres should be fine, in all three. Maybe be careful in some high-rise suburbs, but why would you even be in such places?
Lithuania has an extraordinarily high suicide rate, but, that apart, these are not violent cultures or countries.
Riga is the best in my opinion. It has a beautiful old town, but also has a great modern feel and nice modern buildings, apart from that I enjoyed it the most because it is the biggest of all three. The size is around the same as the capitals of the nordic countries. I defenitely recommend a visit.
Watch out for some bars/clubs that are scams. Their names are usually well published (such as on US embassy sites). And yet the police does nothing about them. In particular be wary of any strip clubs/brothels, they're mostly run by Russian mafia and you'll be forced to pay huge amounts of money in order to not be beaten up.