Riga (pictured here) will no longer have a regular direct ferry link with Stockholm (photo © Alexander Tolstykh / dreamstime . com)
We hear that Baltic ferry operator Tallink will not be reinstating their Riga to Stockholm route which was temporarily suspended in mid-March 2020. This is a real blow to travellers following Route 51 in our Europe by Rail book; that route relies on the ferry link. Tallink did operate a limited number of services out of Riga last summer, with sailings every other day between the Latvian capital and Helsinki as well as very occasional sailings to Stockholm.
Tallink have announced that only the Riga-Helsinki route will return for summer 2021. The route will be served by the MS Isabelle, which will leave both ports on alternate days in the months of June, July and August. All sailings in both directions will be overnight. Passage time from Riga to Helsinki is 18hrs 30mins.
Those with a real enthusiasm for ferry travel will be able to connect in Helsinki onto an onward Silja Line sailing to Stockholm. The schedule allows plenty of time for a leisurely lunch in Helsinki before boarding the late afternoon sailing to Stockholm. The overall journey time from Riga to Stockholm via Helsinki is 42 hours. We could be tempted.
For those wanting to avoid such a long (and potentially pricey) ferry diversion, help is at hand. There is an alternative route from Riga to Stockholm, relying upon a neat combination of a bus, a boat and a train. Direct buses run every two hours from Riga to Ventspils, which is on the Latvian coast about 175 km west of the capital. Trains are available as far as Tukums, but beyond that the railway to Ventspils is closed, so the direct bus from Riga to Ventspils is the best bet.
From Ventspils, Stena Line sail once or twice daily to Nynäshamn in Sweden. Most sailings are overnight, normally with an eight to ten-hour crossing time. But there are daytime crossings on certain days, usually leaving Ventspils sometime between 10 and 12 in the morning. The overnight ferries leave Ventspils at either 22.00 or 23.59 – and just occasionally, when there are two overnight sailings, at both times.
From Nynäshamn it is an easy onward journey by local train into Stockholm. Train departures are at least hourly, often even every 30 minutes, from Nynäshamn. The journey into Stockholm City takes 56 to 66 minutes. So it is perfectly possible to leave Riga in the morning, have time to look around Ventspils, then board a ferry in the evening and be in Stockholm the following morning. Allow about 24 hours from Riga to Stockholm via this route.
About The Authors
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
Nicky and Susanne manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers and the authors of the book Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide. The 17th edition of that book will be published in mid-April 2022. You'll find a list of outlets that sell the book on this website.