The three pearls of the Baltic are Europe's most well kept secret, as they remained isolated from the rest of the continent for a very long time during the dark years of the Soviet occupation. After the fall of the Soviet empire the three Countries underwent a process of modernization which fostered the opening of frontiers and drew the attention of tourists and investors. However, mass tourism only began in recent times, favoured by the entrance of the three Countries in the Schengen agreement, which made the access of foreign visitors easier.
European tourists have seemed to immediately appreciate these new destinations, thanks to the charm of their Old Towns, with cobbled lanes and red-coloured roofs, the well preserved medieval fortresses and the fairy-like landscapes swept by the Nordic breeze, all within a few hours flight from most of European capitals.
Today Vilnius, Tallin and Riga have conquered the first positions among Europe’s top destinations, either for short weekends and longer stays, as they represent a good compromise between the charming but distant Russian capitals, Moscow and St. Petersbourg, and the “usual” European metropolis such as London, Paris, Berlin. A good alternative then, for those looking for a touch of exotic not too far from home.