Ahti Arak Tours
  • In Estonian
  • In Russian

Private shore excursions in Tallinn, also in Helsinki

Private tours for solo travelers, couples, small parties and larger groups
in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Poland and Belarus

Assistance for independent travelers

Ancestry tours

PO Box 937, 13402 Tallinn, Estonia /
Ploomi 30, 71017 Viljandi, Estonia
Fax: +372 43 43 157
Cell phone: +372 53 420 361
E-mail:

What do we provide?

We organize private customized tours and shore excursions for cruise ship passengers visiting Tallinn (capital of Estonia) and Helsinki (capital of Finland). Ahti Arak Tours also offers travelers the opportunity of longer tours to discover Estonia and neighboring countries Finland and Latvia, also countries not so far from Estonia- Lithuania, Poland and Belarus.

Ahti Arak Tours offers the possibility to learn about the past of these countries, and become familiar with their present through the eyes of historian Ahti Arak or with the help of local tour guides. Our guides are experts in the history, culture, nature, and daily life of Estonia and the Baltics. Our tours are tailored to our guests' needs and interests, and can range from exploring busy inner city life to discovering intriguing niches off the beaten path that are inaccessible to larger and more commercial tour groups.

In addition to providing basic tour services, we also provide assistance in finding accommodations anywhere in the Baltics and can arrange for other recreational activities, such as hiking, fishing, boating, culinary experiences, etc. We also offer services to people with special needs (young children, elderly, differently-abled, etc.) Transportation is available for both small and large groups as we can use cars, vans, and buses of all sizes. We can begin the tour at a point in Estonia or another aforementioned country and end it at another. Our route plans are always flexible and may be altered at any time during the tour to accommodate your interests and wishes.

The majority of our visitors have come from the USA, but we also have helped holidaymakers from Great Britain, Germany, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Austria, Ukraine, China, Brazil, Turkey, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Bangladesh, Chile and many other countries.

Destination Guide

Estonia

The Republic of Estonia is one of three Baltic States which include Latvia and Lithuania. With a total land area of 45,215 square kilometers, it is the smallest Baltic State (see the maps). The Gulf of Finland borders Estonia on the north, the Russian Federation on the east, and the Republic of Latvia on the south. The western border consists of the Gulf of Livonia and the Baltic Sea, where two of Estonia's largest (and some say, most beautiful) islands reside. Most of Estonia rests at about 50 meters above sea level. It is a lowland country, with many marshes and wildlife areas. The longest of Estonia's 420 rivers is the Pärnu, at 144 kilometers. While Lake Peipsi, which covers 3,555 square kilometers, is one of the largest lakes in Europe, there are over 1,000 lakes scattered all over the landscape of Estonia.

There are many interesting places to visit in Estonia, from medieval Old Town Tallinn to the famous University town of Tartu, to the seaside resort town of Pärnu with its beaches and sanatoria. A short distance from Pärnu, a scenic ferry ride can get you to the Estonian islands, where a variety of interesting sights and experiences await you, from the thatch-covered dwellings of a fishing village on Muhu, to the steep cliffs, meteor craters, and Kuressaare castle on Saaremaa, to the rich folk culture of Hiiumaa. Back on the mainland, a tour of Southern Estonia will reveal many types of landscapes and natural interests such as caves and rock formations, as well as fascinating remnants of history, including old manor houses and castle ruins, along with their often mysterious stories and legends.

Finland

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is so close to the capital of Estonia Tallinn that sometimes people speak of Tallinn and Helsinki as twin cities because they are separated only by 82 kilometers of the waters of the Gulf of Finland. Fast hydrofoils cover the distance between two capitals in an hour and a half at summertime, larger ships cover the distance in few hours throughout a year, and a helicopter can fly you from one capital to another in 18 minutes. Finland is the most important trade partner for Estonia and most of the tourists visiting Estonia come from Finland. Relations between Estonians and Finns are essentially facilitated thanks to the affinity and similarity of the languages - both Estonian and Finnish belong to the same Finno-Ugric group of languages.

Finland is the seventh-largest country in Europe. Finland is a good country to enjoy wilderness - Finns have 187,888 lakes, 179,583 islands and 5,100 rapids and 69% of the territory is occupied by the forest.

Finland has a lot of the towns and areas worth of your visit - Helsinki, the capital and largest city in the country, Porvoo only 55 km (30 miles) from Helsinki to enjoy relaxing atmosphere of small, but charming historical town wooden houses from the 18th-19th century. In addition some other names of destinations: Turku - historical capital of Finland, Rauma - pearl of traditional wooden architecture in the Nordic countries included into the UNESCO world heritage list, Pori- largest jazz festival in Europe, Savonlinna- Medieval fortress and internationally well know opera festival, Seinäjoki- one of the largest tango festivals in the world. We can not miss semi-independent Åland archipelago or journey to Lapland's tundra area located "back of" arctic circle.

And we can not forget that Finland is known to the world as the homeland of Santa Claus. Finnish sauna is also well known and the word sauna exists in many languages of the world.

Latvia and Lithuania

Latvia has been, and still is, the Southern neighbour to Estonia. A relatively similar history links these two countries together. However, Latvians, together with Lithuanians, are members of the Baltic linguistic group, differently from Estonians who belong to Finno-Ugric nations.

Latvia is larger than Estonia, both by population (there are currently 2 million people living in Latvia), and by territory (the area of Latvia is approximately 65 000 km).

What is interesting in Latvia? Well, let's start with Riga, the capital, which celebrated its 810th anniversary in the summer of 2001.. The historical Old Town is undoubtedly the main tourist attraction in Riga. Latvia's houses in Art Noveau style attract special interest, as they are a rarity in the Baltic region. One of the most beautiful sight-seeing spots in Northern Latvia is the Sigulda area - the deep valley of River Gauja, ruins of several old castles, including the partially restored Turaida Castle, sand caves, etc. Jurmala, located near Riga, together with its numerous hotels, sanatoria, bars and restaurants is the largest resort area in the Baltics. The gorgeous Rundale Palace is also worth visiting. Similarly worthwhile is Latgale, which, compared to other parts of Latvia, is predominantly Catholic. The beaches in Kurzeme attract tourists as well.

Lithuania is the southernmost Baltic country, which has developed differently from Latvia and Estonia. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was founded in the 13th century and developed later into one of the most influential countries in Eastern Europe. Even today, Lithuania is the largest country on the Eastern shore of the Baltic, of course, excluding Russia. There are 3 million inhabitants in Lithuania and the territory covers 65 300 km..

Lithuania is a predominantly Catholic country. For proof, one needs only to visit the unique Hill of the Crosses. The historic part of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, differs from the old city of Tallinn, which was influenced by the medieval Gothic architecture, and from the old town of Riga, bearing the atmosphere of the 19th century. Kaunas, the second largest town in Lithuania, has also been the capital of the country, a surprise when considering the dimension of its old city. It is also necessary to mention the Grand Duke Castle in Trakai, which, after 25 years of careful renovation, is one of the most romantic places in Lithuania, and should definitely be visited. Lithuanian amber, and sand dunes on the Nida peninsula are equally famous. The sights of Lithuania are never-ending!

Poland

In the medieval town of TorunPoland is a country in the Eastern Europe, its territory of 313,000 km2 makes Poland the 9th largest country in Europe. Poland has a rich history, dating back to more than a thousand years ago. Namely in 966 ruler Mieszko I accepted Christianity and the foundation of Polish states was laid. Later Poland became kingdom and signing Union of Lublin Poland created Poland - Lithuanian Commonwealth - one of the largest and most populous states in 17th century Europe (excluding the states not completely in Europe, i.e. the Russian or Ottoman Empire. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent occupied also Latvia and even large part of Estonia. Later Poland's destiny changed. Three military partitions of Poland by powerful neighbors-Russia, Austria, and Prussia ended the existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Nevertheless, hopes for restoration of Polish independence were kept alive throughout the nineteenth century (rebellions 1830-1831, 1863-64). But the opportunities for regaining independence emerged only in the end of the World War I when the three conquerors -Russian, German, and Austrian empires collapsed. Independence was not only the result of external circumstances. An equally important factor was an independence movement both within the divided country and abroad. Poland became independent again in November 1918.

But the destiny changed again. The history of Poland from 1939 to 1945 encompasses the German invasion of Poland (and in autumn 1939 Soviet invasion). World War II caused enormous destruction and suffering in Poland. Close to six million Polish citizens - half of them Jews - were killed and many cities were left in ruins. Polish people rebuilt the devastated country. But they had to do this under the control of communist party. After WW II Poland like other East European nations became Communist states under the control of Moscow. The Solidarity movement led to the downfall of communism in Poland in 1980s. Now Poland is a member of NATO and Poland is playing important role in EU.

What to see in Poland?

Poland is one of the most interesting countries in Europe. Mountains, forests, sandy beaches, culture and more than thousand years of history - all that attract millions of tourists every year from all around the world. Main Polish attractions are the largest cities, such as Warsaw, Cracow, Wroclaw or Poznan, Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains, Gdansk with Sopot on the Baltic Sea, and the city of Kazimierz on the Vistula river. But there are much more to see in Poland.

Numerous castles, palaces and manors (only in the western-central part of the country named Great Poland count them more than 800), pilgrim sites, Augustow canal, sites of WW II (Westerplatte, The Wolfsschanze or Wolf's Lair - Hitler's headquarters, Death Camps of Third Reich, prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III - kwown known for two famous prisoner escapes depicted in the films The Great Escape and The Wooden Horse), national parks, Jewish heritage and more.

There are thirteen sites in Poland inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage, including:

Belarus

The Republic of Belarus (Belarus) is located in the eastern part of Europe. In the west it borders Poland, in the north-west - Lithuania, in the north - Latvia, in the north-east and east - Russia, in the south - Ukraine. The territory of Belarus has an area of 207,600 squarkilometers (80,000 square miles), which is approximately equal to the area of England + Scotland, about 20 per cent larger than Washington State in the USA, or for Australians, some 3 times the size of Tasmania. As of 2013 population of Belarus is over 9 million people.

Belarus is a really unique country. After the failure of the Soviet Union, all former Soviet republics faced a deep economic crisis. Belarus which had one of the highest standards of living among former Soviet countries, chose its own way of overcoming this crisis. Alexander Lukashenko as the first President, launched the country on the path of "market socialism" as opposed to what Lukashenko considered "wild capitalism" chosen by neighboring countries, including Russia and Ukraine at that time. Combination of private initiative and competition with an active role of state, economic efficiency with a high level of social security for population has been adopted as a national development model.

Active role of the state means: Important elements of the central-planning system are still in place. As in the Soviet Union, a "five-year plan" targets critical areas and dictates what percentage the gross domestic product will increase by. More than two-thirds of the economy remains in government hands. Most of large industries are state-owned and operated. Large agricultural enterprises- former state farms ("sovhozes") and collective farms ("kolkhozes") (collective farms) which were established by the Soviet authorities in the Stalin era- are under government control. Key foodstuffs are subjected also to price caps, so that they remain accessible to the population.

This is why Belarus sometimes seems like an updated and idealized version of the old USSR but without the Communist Party, for that matter. Belarusian people can travel freely. Their poverty level is the lowest in the former Soviet sphere, as is the gap between the richest and the poorest. Soviet social protections remain largely intact, and the population is guaranteed almost 100 percent employment.

It may seem quite amazing given the above economic circumstances, but Belarus appeared to be motoring along quite nicely, and it was possible to see some progress in the country. High rates of economic growth doubled the amount of the country's GDP between 2000-2009. Only in 2011 Belarus was facing financial crisis, Minsk had to devaluate its currency by more than 30 percent. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has stressed, that Belarus can overcome the economic crisis hit. As of early 2013, initial macroeconomic stability had been restored.

So it really is fascinating to see how an economy so heavily influenced by the state functions, and how such an economy manifests itself in the everyday life of the Belorussian people.

What to see in Belarus?

Soviet heritage - the main square in most towns and cities still bears Lenin's name, and many streets still retain names from the Soviet period. You can find monuments all over Belarus dedicated to Lenin or some other Soviet leaders and there are so many monuments to the Red or Soviet Army.

Belorussianan cities and villages can be a very pleasant. There are good, paved roads, clean streets, attractive parks, often adorned with floral displays, and smartly dressed people.

Of course the residential areas do have more than their fair share of ugly Soviet tower blocks, though these are offset by trees and lawns. Also, it is quite normal to see Soviet cars, trundling along the streets, but then Belarus is country of contrasts, so that much more recent and surprisingly many modern vehicles from Russia, France, Germany, or Belarus itself, can be found cheek by jowl with these older models.

Minsk is the capital (1,8 million people) of the country. The central part of Minsk, particularly the layout of Prospekt Nezavisimosti ( ), is a marvellous example of mid-20th century Soviet architecture, and can be considered amongst the finest and most elegant examples of Stalin's urban design, anywhere in the territory of the post-war Soviet Union.

Gomel is the second largest city in Belarus where the principal attraction is the palace and park ensemble dating from XVIII-XIX centuries.

Grodno in the north-west of Belarus counts 309,000 people, still preserving the largest number of architectural monuments (beginning from the 12th century) in Belarus. Grodno's Old Town is one of the most interesting sights, where the city reveals architectural styles from different epochs.

Mogilev is the centre in eastern Belarus, on the Dnieper River, 200 km east of Minsk. It is a pleasure to see how many buildings from the 18 and 19th centuries still remain in the City, and many of these cluster along either side of a lengthy and attractive, European-style pedestrian street in the Old Town. The central administrative buildings radiate the graceful, classic style of Stalin's civic architects.

There are much more places worth of the visit, incl natural parks, large rivers like Dnepr (third largest river in Europe), Pripjat, Bug, Dvina. Even just villages or small town can be interesting to see.

Belarus is a perfectly safe country if you respect the local laws and customs, but this country is still an undiscovered area in terms of its tourism. So it is quite customary to encounter few if any other foreign tourists during a visit there, which can make a very pleasant change from the situation in many other lands.

Read more about Belarus and our tours to this country: http://www.belarus.tours.ee/

Tour programs

Below you can find a brief listing of our private sightseeing tours and activities. But please remember these are only samples for orientation to make it easier for you to tell us where you want to go or what do you like to do! We will make a tailor-made offer, according to your preferences.

Tallinn and Estonia

Helsinki and Finland

Latvia

Lithuania

Throughout the Baltic countries

Poland

Belarus

Services and products for independent travelers

Independent travel is an alternative for travelers who want to travel on their adventure at their own pace. We are happy to offer our services and products for independent travelers to the Baltic Sea region and Belarus. We can help you to prepare an itinerary, we can make arrangements, plan a route, give advice on the sightseeing, find local tour guides in certain areas, we can collect and forward other information you need for your trip etc.

Car and bus rental

In co-operation with several car rental businesses and private entrepreneurs we offer you a rent of cars, vans, and buses of different size and state of comfort to travel in Estonia, Baltics, Scandinavia, Belarus, Poland and in certain cases in Russia too. Vehicles are available for rent with or without driver. In managing tours for groups of up to three persons we have used a car or a minivan. For groups consisting of up to 6-8 members we have used a van or a minibus. For larger groups we have rented minibuses 12 to 20 seats (Citroen Jumper, Mercedes Sprinter, Mercedes Various Lux etc) or bigger buses/ coaches 24 to 59 seats. On the opportunity we have tried to find a bus with a number of seats exceeding the number of members of the group which makes the tour more comfortable. For longer tours we have used modern and comfortable tourist buses, where it has been necessary. For tours and shore excursions in Tallinn and Estonia or in Helsinki (Finland) we have also used only modern buses/coaches.

Our other tours and services

Your ideas...

References of clients

Beginning of the tourAhti: Hope this finds you well! You may remember us from last August — you were our guide in Tallinn and Helsinki. Thanks again for a great time. We have recommended you to a friend, Sandra , who may be traveling the Westerdam in July. If she contacts you please take good care of her.
All the best!
Billy H.

Hi Ahti, I've been remiss in not writing before now to thank you for providing us a wonderful time in the Baltic area. Les claims it was the best part of our month away. I'll get busy and post my impressions on a variety of web sites this week. We do appreciate your kindness and your efficiency. Sincerely, Les and Gerrie R.

Read more...

Our prices

Due to number of tourists, specific tours and their requirements, as well as any additional services required, we cannot quote package prices. However, we will work with you to agree upon services prior to embarking upon your tour and will quote you our best price at that time. We look forward to working with you to make your experience a pleasant one!

Our enterprise

Ahti ArakAhti Arak Tours is an enterprise founded by a sole proprietor Ahti Arak and belongs to him. As the owner of the company, I would introduce myself in the following manner:
I am a native Estonian historian. I speak Estonian fluently, and have a good working-knowledge of English and Russian, and have participated in many courses for tour guides. Most importantly, I enjoy meeting people and sharing cultures and would love the opportunity to show you the homeland I love.

Ahti Arak Tours is registered in Estonian Commercial Register, No. 10789460, in the register of travel companies within the Ministry of Economic Affairs, No. TRE000219. We commenced our activities in the summer of 2000, offering tour guide services in a small southern Estonian town of Viljandi; but given the needs of our visitors, we soon expanded our business to Tallinn. A bit later, we began to provide our services throughout Estonia. Currently, our service operations include all three Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania + Finland, Poland, and Belarus.

We have met wonderful people from many countries all over the world. Our visitors have been all kinds of travelers - solo, couples, families, parties of friends, small groups, larger groups.

We are working on expanding our activities in the future, and therefore we are looking forward to cooperation with tour operators and travel agencies from other countries. We are interested in discussing any suggestions you may have.

Maps and Links of Interest

Maps

Useful links

Intermediated services

We have developed contacts with several tour operators and private guides of St. Petersburg and of other regions of Russia too. We do not organize tours in Russia, but with the help of our Russian colleagues it is possible solve your visa problems, find a suitable accommodation, hire a private guide, connoisseur in the sights of the gigantic town St. Petersburg, or find means of transport to suit your needs. And besides that, St. Petersburg and Moscow are not the only sights to bear in mind when planning a visit to Russia. This huge and somewhat mysterious country is full of attractive and interesting sights to discover.

Saint Petersburg and Russia

The second largest city of Russia St. Petersburg with a population of almost five million is only at a distance of 315 kilometers from Tallinn and about 100 kilometers from eastern border of Estonia. St. Petersburg has played an important role in Estonian history - many outstanding Estonians have chosen this beautiful city for a place of their studies or professional career. Tens of thousands of Estonians have lived in St. Petersburg during tsarist period in Russia. St. Petersburg still fascinates Estonians, even after Estonia has regained its independence and liberated itself from Moscow's supremacy more than a decade ago. Many Estonians visit St. Petersburg now in the status of foreign tourists, like thousands of other tourists from around the world.

St. Petersburg is world-famous mainly for its rich historical and cultural heritage. Right in the heart of the city is the State Hermitage, a marvellous museum that occupies six magnificent buildings situated along the embankment of the River Neva. The leading role in this unique architectural ensemble is played by the Winter Palace, the residence of the Russian tsars that was built to the design of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1754-62. The Hermitage collections of works of art (over 3,000,000 items) present the development of the world culture and art from the Stone Age to the 20th century. Visitors can enjoy masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, El Greko, and many others. Amongst numerous sights of St. Petersburg St. Isaac's Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost), Nevskiy Prospekt, the world famous Marinsky Theatre, the River Neva and its canals are perhaps most widely known. The main summer residence of Russian tsars Petrodvorets (Peterhof) and the summer residence of Russian Empress Yekaterina the Great in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkino) are worth of tourists' attention too.

Southwestern Russian cities Pihkva and Novgorod are perhaps not so widely known as their northern neighbour St. Petersburg. While the latter is one of the most occidental Russian metropolises, Pihkva and Novgorod are ancient Russian cities with a history dating back correspondingly to the 10th and 9th century. Pihkva with its historical Kremlin is located only 55 kilometers from Estonian southeastern border. Novgorod is located in the northwest of Russia on the banks of the Volkhov River, a little more than 200 kilometers from southeastern border of Estonia. The city has been known historically since the middle of the ninth century and no other ancient Russian town has so many outstanding architectural monuments from XI-XVII centuries as Novgorod has.

In case you are interested in finding out more about our eastern neighbor by visiting this country personally we are glad to send you information to contact Russian tour guides and operators we have worked together.

Scandinavia

We have collected information on several Danish, Swedish, Norwegian tour operators, and Scandinavian associations of tour guides. We can share that information with you.

Western Europe

We have contacts in the following European cities:

Amsterdam and Netherlands

We have co-operation with a professional guide from Amsterdam who is simultaneously occupied as a tour organiser. Her small business offers city excursions in Amsterdam, but she can provide tours to other sights of Netherlands too.

Berlin / Warnemünde

Our database contains contact data of several Berlin based tour operators. We also have information on several tour operators of Rostock (Warnemünde), their excursions take you to Warnemünde, Rostock, Schwerin and other areas. So you will be maked acquainted with sights and cities of the federal state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, one of Germany's leading tourist destinations.

General Contact Information

If you have some questions do not hesitate to contact us
Contact information:
GSM cellular: +372 53 420 361
Fax: +372 4343 157
E-mail:

Statistika
Sunday 04 December 2016 3:51:28 EET GMT +0200
Site Statistics
 
Total Visits
137826
Total Unique 
78254
Visitors Month 
179
Visitors Week 
359
Visitors Today 
8
Last changes: Tuesday, 28th October, 2014 @ 11:50am