Packing for a trip to the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia can have you asking, “What should I wear?” or even, “What the heck am I supposed to wear?” After all, the weather in these countries is famously unpredictable (especially if you plan on visiting the coast!), and you can’t count on “normal” weather any season of the year. So, what’s the best way to pack for the weather for these countries so that you stay dry and, depending upon the season, warm or cool?
While weather varies slightly between the three countries, with Lithuania being the most southern and Estonia occupying a more northern latitude, you can certainly follow some rules of thumb.
What to Wear in Summer in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
What should you wear for summer travel to the Baltic countries? In short, pack clothing that breathes, preferably made from natural fabric. While Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia can see temperatures in the 80s or more during summer, such temperatures are not as common as they are in other parts of Europe. You may very well land in July and experience temperatures in the 60-degree range.
Summertime showers in the region can be sudden and torrential, leaving anyone who hasn’t found shelter wet and bedraggled in an instant. In these cases, an umbrella hardly helps (though it is good to have one on you for lighter showers), and shoes can easily be ruined. If you don’t want to have to worry about your footwear, choose mesh sneakers that cushion your feet and dry easily. Packing a second pair that will serve the same function is also good in the case you need to leave the first pair to dry overnight.
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June, July, and August in the Baltics see the longest days, and temperatures don’t vary too much between night and day, but you may still want to carry a jacket or wrap if the evenings get cool or the day is gray and wet.
When in doubt, take a cue from the locals. Lithuanian linen clothing, for example, offers supreme breathability, room for movement, and stylishness—if you plan to shop while you travel, this may be one item to put on your list to look for that you can put into use during your trip.
What to Wear for Autumn Travel to the Baltic Countries
Fall in the Baltic countries starts off glorious, with warm light, golden leaves, and pleasant daytime temperatures. As September turns to October and October to November, a drastic change occurs as colder temperatures are ushered in, made to feel even more chill by the shortened days and the absence of sunlight.
So, what should you wear if you’re visiting Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in the fall? If you’re traveling during the beginning of the autumn season, lighter clothing is in order—think jackets and sneakers, slacks and light shirts. As the season wears on, however, you should think about layers and heavier outerwear, as well as insulated shoes, and possibly gloves, scarf, and hat. You may not see snow during the autumn season unless you catch the tail end of it, but you will almost certainly see rain, so bring an umbrella and other weather-proof clothing.
What to Wear in Winter for Travel to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
Winter in the Baltics is as you would expect. It’s cold. And it can get really cold, with temperatures dropping and hovering well below freezing for lengths at a time. Though with climate change, winters have recently been less dramatic than they were in the past, there isn’t any guarantee that this trend will continue, so it is best to be prepared to wear warm clothing, especially if you plan to spend most of your time out of doors. If you are limited by space to packing only your warmest coat and are afraid of overheating, consider packing lighter shirts to wear underneath, such as long-sleeved tees.
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While insulated coat (a long one is preferable), gloves, scarf, and hat or hood may be taken for granted as essential for winter travel to the Baltic countries, you should also spend time thinking about footwear. Good socks, such as those made for hiking, are the best choice, and shoes should have soles that grip to guard against falls on the ice and be waterproof in the event of snow. Whether it’s December and you’re enjoying the Christmas markets or you visit in January or February to take advantage of the low travel season, you’ll be glad you packed smartly for wintertime.
What to Wear for Spring Travel to the Baltic States
Spring is another unpredictable season in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Winter weather can last until April in Northern Europe, so it’s best to pack a variety of types of clothing that can be layered so you won’t be caught off guard. Of course, March will typically be the coldest with May often seeing almost summertime conditions. Raincoat or umbrella, sweaters (and shirts to wear underneath), jeans or slacks, and weatherproof footwear are a must.
Baltic Beach Wear
So, you plan on going to the Baltic Sea coast when you visit Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia? Be prepared for wind. And probably rain. Definitely chilly weather, which is even worse on the off season. People still swim when the water is cold in the summer, and if you want to try, you’ll blend right in (so bring a swim suit). But any other time of year, the water will be frigid—sometimes even too cold for your feet! The Baltic coast is worth seeing, so don’t let gales from the sea stop you from checking it out, but do not underestimate the weather you will encounter!
What to Wear for a Wedding or Special Event in the Baltic Countries
Like anywhere, what to choose to wear for a wedding in Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia will vary according to the time of day of the wedding, the season, and the location. Northern and Eastern Europeans like looking smart, but they don’t typically overdo it. Choose clothing that fits you well, isn’t flashy, and can be paired with classic jewelry and shoes. In the best circumstances, you would also have outerwear that suits the level of formality of your attire, but if you’re flying from abroad and have limited luggage space, don’t sweat it if you can’t take your outfit to this level.
Men typically wear suits or shirt-and-slack combos that complement their body shape, and women wear dresses, hosiery, and matching accessories depending upon the event. In winter, some women even wear furs, and though you will see plenty of heels, these are not obligatory. If you’re uncomfortable about underdressed, go with basic and classic that can be glammed up or toned down.
Packing for Baltic travel can seem like a lot of guesswork, but the trick is to give yourself options for what to wear. Don’t doubt that you’ll need that jacket or sweater, and don’t trust the weather forecast 100%. Cities by the sea, such as Riga, Tallinn, or Klaipeda will be windier than inland cities such as Vilnius, and a rainy day will always feel cooler than a sunny day even if the thermometer doesn’t change.
And due to the northern latitude, days are extremely short in the winter (in Vilnius, for example, in the deepest part of winter, the sun begins to set at 3 or 4 pm, and this effect is more extreme the more north you go!), which means that the sun, already weak, has little opportunity to create any extra warmth. On top of that, the humidity can make a moderately warm day feel uncomfortably hot and create the illusion that cold days are colder than they really are. Learning how to dress for Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia may seem tricky—even the locals don’t always master it!—but these few points should get you off on the right foot.