While the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea are nice destinations any time of year, they are particularly lovely in autumn, especially during the early part of the season. Tourists and locals alike come to the Baltics in Northern Europe from September through November to experience beautiful vistas of the changing foliage, cool yet mild weather, and a variety of events across the region.
Although you can expect fewer crowds in major cities like Tartu, Estonia, Jūrmala, Latvia, or Vilnius, Lithuania, residents return from their summer vacations in countryside villages to host seasonal events and outdoor markets, which is great for learning about the local culture and Jewish heritage of the Baltic states during your trip.
The Baltics Weather in Fall
Weather in the Baltics during the fall season can be unpredictable. While lingering warm, summery weather can last well into September, rainy, overcast, and windy weather can lower temperatures drastically throughout the season. However, most of the region experiences temperatures between 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) and the upper 60s Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) all autumn long. The average high and low temperatures and expected rainfall days in popular cities in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia each autumn are as follows:
- Riga, Latvia: 59 F (15 C) high in September, 34 F (1 C) low in November, with an average of 14 days per month of rainfall
- Vilnius, Lithuania: 61 F (16 C) high in September, 32 F (0 C) low in November, with an average of 16 days per month of rainfall
- Tallinn, Estonia: 63 F (17 C) high in September, 28 F (-1 C) low in November, with an average of 16 days per month of rainfall
- Kaunas, Lithuania: 61 F (16 C) high in September, 32 F (0 C) low in November, with an average of 13 days per month of rainfall
- Klaipėda, Lithuania: 61 F (16 C) high in September, 36 F (2 C) low in November, with an average of 15 days per month of rainfall
Weather can go from perfect to dismal overnight. November starts to welcome winter weather, with temperatures creeping close to freezing, and snow is possible later in the month across much of the region.
What to Pack
It is best to check weather forecasts directly before your trip—but not to depend solely on them—as forecasts can radically change from one day to the next. If you travel at the beginning of the season, prepare for autumn weather, but bring layers of clothing so you can remove or add items as necessary. Other things to pack include:
- Umbrella and raincoat since you can expect rainy days half of the season
- Comfortable walking shoes: All-weather and all-terrain types preferred
- Pants, long-sleeved shirts, light sweaters, and a light overcoat for chillier evenings
- Toiletries and personal needs essentials (many of your favorite brands aren't available abroad)
- Power plug adapter (type F, Latvia) and a voltage converter (230 Volts, 50 Hertz frequency, Latvia)
- Travel documents and identification
- Maps of destinations
- Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian language and culture guidebooks and resources
Fall Events in the Baltics
A variety of outdoor markets, festivals, fairs, and musical events occur throughout the Baltics during the fall season, especially in celebration of the changing of seasons in early September and late November. Whether you stick to the capitals or venture into the smaller cities, it pays to be aware of events taking place during the month of your visit.
- CREDO: The International Festival of Orthodox Music in Tallinn has taken place every September since 1994. Choirs from across the country gather to perform during this annual event.
- Wandering Lights: This free three-day festival of "fire, magic, and romance" takes place in Tallinn's Kadriorg Park and Old Town in September. Expect concerts and thousands of candles and light installations.
- The Autumn Chamber Music Festival: Latvia's longest-held music festival dedicated to this style of performance features concerts and multimedia projects at different venues in Riga and Jūrmala for various days in October.
- Capital Days: Also known as "Sostinės Dienos" in Lithuanian, Capital Days usually takes place in Vilnius between June and September and features concerts, movies, theater, fashion shows, and a street market to showcase the culture of Lithuania.
- Autumn Equinox: Vilnius celebrates the autumn equinox's longer nights and Public Unity Day with a traditional burning of effigies in late September.
- Vilnius Jazz Festival: The capital of Lithuania will also host its celebration of jazz music with concerts from local and international artists for four days in October. The event is the longest-running annual jazz festival in Vilnius.
- St. Martin's Day Fair: For four days in November, the city of Tallinn hosts Estonia's biggest outdoor market and fair for the annual St. Martin's Day holiday, which celebrates the end of preparations for winter. It also provides the best opportunity to snag hand-crafted objects and souvenirs.
- Black Nights Film Festival: Taking place in November and December, this annual event showcases the best in Dutch-speaking cinema in Tallinn. People from all over the world attend to see over 250 film screenings, including children’s and youth, shorts, and animation films from dozens of countries.
- Winterfest: This annual international music festival has gone on for 20 years and features a series of chamber music concerts in Riga beginning in November and running through February.
- Porta World Music Festival: For nearly 20 years, artists from around the world have gathered for a series of concerts for two weekends each autumn in several cities across Latvia.
While many of the concerts are free to attend, be sure to check each event's website for ticketing information. Plan your trip early during these festivals—hotel and restaurant reservations fill up quickly as an influx of local and international visitors come to experience the events.
Fall Travel Tips
- The Baltic capitals are easy to see during one trip if you have the time; it's best to start in Vilnius and work your way up to Tallinn via Riga—or vice versa. Break up your visit however you like: Spend one or two days in Vilnius, a day in Riga, and a couple more in Tallinn to get a feel for each city.
- You may also choose to spend your time in one of the Baltic States: Take a tour of Estonia, visit Latvia’s attractions, or enjoy seeing Lithuania’s cities. Each country has its own sights and culture to offer, and exploring any more thoroughly will be rewarding and eye-opening.
- While flights are inexpensive and frequent, traveling the Baltic capitals by bus is convenient, comfortable, and even less expensive than flights between the cities.
- Since September is considered shoulder season with medium traffic and great deals, and October and November are considered off-season, your travel costs should be significantly reduced, especially if you book special deals on flight and hotel packages.