While the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are great 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 during 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, Jurmala, 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. Most of the region, though, experiences temperatures between the low 40s and 60s 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 perfectly dismal overnight. November starts to welcome winter weather, with temperatures creeping close or 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, pack for autumn weather, but pack clothing you can layer so you can remove or add them 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 V, 50 Hz frequency, Latvia)
- Travel documents and identification
- Printed or "saved offline" 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 you venture into the countries’ 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, Estonia, which takes place every September since 1994. Choirs from across the country gather to perform during this annual event.
- Light Walks Festival: This two-night event of "fire, magic, and romance" takes place in Tallinn's Kadrioru Park on September 19 and 20, 2018.
- The Autumn Chamber Music Festival: Latvia's longest-held music festival dedicated to this style of performance, featuring concerts and multimedia projects at various venues in Riga, Latvia, on October 11 through 20, 2018.
- Capital Days: Also known as "Sostinės dienos" in Lithuanian, Capital Days usually takes place in Vilnius between June and September (June in 2018) and features concerts, movies, theatre, fashion shows, and a street market to showcase the culture of Lithuania.
- Autumn Equinox: Vilnius celebrates the autumn equinox and Public Unity Day with a traditional burning of effigies on September 21 and 22, 2018.
- Vilnius Jazz Festival: The capital of Lithuania will also host its annual celebration of jazz music with concerts from local and international artists on October 11 through 14, 2018.
- St. Martin's Fair: 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 from November 16 through December 2, 2018, this annual event showcases the best in Dutch-speaking cinema in Tallinn.
- Winterfest: A series of chamber music concerts in Riga that begins in November and runs through February.
- Porta World Music Festival: Artists from around the world gather in Riga in early November for a series of concerts. Featured artists this year include DakhaBrakha (Ukraine), Tautumeitas (Latvia), Kalakan (Basque Country), Shishani & the Namibian Tales (Netherlands), and Sam Lee (United Kingdom).
While many of the concerts are free to attend, be sure to check each event's website for ticketing information. You should also plan your trip early during these festivals as hotel and restaurant reservations fill up quickly due to an influx of local and international visitors coming to experience the events.
Fall Travel Tips
- The Baltic capitals are easy to see during one trip if you have the time, and it's best to start in Vilnius and work your way up to Tallinn via Riga—or vice versa.
- While flights are inexpensive and frequent, traveling the Baltic capitals by bus is convenient, comfortable, easy, and even less expensive than flights between the cities.
- You can 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.
- Since September is considered shoulder season (medium traffic, 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.