hill-fort NE of Anykščiai
Aukštaitija is a region of Lithuania.
- Kaunas — the second biggest city in the country and one of the four cities that are not assigned to any ethnographic region; formally its southern half (left bank of Nemunas river) is in Suvalkija, while the main part with both historical Old Town and the centre belongs to Aukštaitija
- Panevėžys - the second largest city of the region, its centre and unofficial capital
- Kernavė - former (first known) Lithuanian capital on the bank of Neris river; now a well-preserved archaeological site, a UNESCO World heritage site
- Aukštaitija National Park — the first National Park, popular for water tourism and rural tourism
- Zarasai — a central town of country's lake-land and resort area
district in northern Aukštaitija: the last summer day features still warm weather but the sun does not rise high already.
An old bridge across the dry moat outside the Renaissance castle in Biržai
town, northern Aukštaitija.
district, Krekenava Regional Park
. Coordinates 55°36'54.45"N, 24°6'7.42"E.
Confluence of Ukmergėlė
town, 430m from its very centre. Coordinates: 55°14'52.42"N, 24°46'6.77"E
View to Alksnaitis
lake from Ladakalnis
Hill in Aukštaitija National Park
Wayside shrine (koplytstulpis
in Lithuanian) and a mythological stone with pit in Stripėnai
village, coordinates 55.51092, 25.772442.
Aukštaitija (pronounce: owksh-tuy-TEE-ya), literally "highlands", is an eastern ethnographic region of Lithuania which roughly coincides with the geographical and historical entities known in written sources as “Terra Eustoythen” and “Austechia”. Its traditional bounds are marked by the Nevėžis river on the west, Šiauliai city on the north-west, the Latvian border on the north, river Nemunas on the south, and the obscure line which divides the Baltic and Slavic cultures on the east. The latter one currently is one of the most firm borders which divides the European Union from Belarus.
The definition Aukštaitija has two basic meanings – Aukštaitija in broad sense and Aukštaitija in narrow sense, and only the latter meaning is used here. Short explanation: Aukštaitija in broad sense is almost identical to what was called the Duchy of Lithuania, or Lithuania Proper, and encompasses three current ethnographic regions (Aukštaitija, Dzūkija, Suvalkija) which have one Aukštaitian dialect which is divided into three subdialects, each of which is subdivided into more subdialects. Meanwhile Aukštaitija in narrow sense defines the eastern area of Lithuania Proper and in daily language is called just Aukštaitija. It also is determined by ethnographic peculiarities that distinguish this region from other regions which linguistically belong to the same dialect.
Geographicaly the name refers to the northern stretch of the Baltic Heights, which in turn is the part of a large stretch (c. 1.500km) of heights (c. 200-300m) from Jutland in the west up to Russia in the east. The vast portion of Aukštaitija actually constitutes the Lithuanian Middle Plain, and the heights as such are rather smooth in general. One should have in mind that the name comes from the characterization of the upper reaches of two main rivers, Nemunas and Neris.
Historically the territory of Aukštaitija was mostly inhabited by Aukshtaitinans, that is Highlanders, and only the north was settled by Selonians who later assimilated with Lithuanians. Among historians there is a suspicion that “Selonians” was a German version of the Livonian name "Highlanders".
Administratively the ethnographic region Aukštaitija is not a separate unit. A virtual border in some cases coincides with the administrative boundaries of either districts or elderates, however there are villages and hamlets on the west where a homestead on the one side of the street belong to an Aukshtaitian and the next door homestead on the other side of the same street belong to a Samogitian, and both fiercely demonstrate and defend their identity; the eastern boundaries with Dzūkija region are “flexible”, there is no trend for strict identity within the area of boundaries, traditions are rather transitional too. Similar trend is in SW corner by the Nemunas river: although the settlements along the bank belong to Aukštaitija – their looks are turned towards Suvalkija.
The capital of Aukštaitija is considered Panevėžys, although there is a constant friction between Panevėžys and Utena: the latter aspire to represent at least the whole eastern part of Aukštaitija claiming that the actual heights are only on the east while Panevėžys is in the middle of plains. Anykščiai claims that it is the most genuine representative of the region due to its natural geographical position between Panevėžys and Utena. Biržai and Rokiškis claim that they represent Selonia therefore they deserve the different status, while Joniškis and Pakruojis claim that they represent Semigalia and therefore they deserve their own different status. Jonava, Kėdainiai, Ukmergė, Ignalina and Molėtai consider themselves exceptional enough to represent themselves on their own. In short, this is Aukštaitija, you choose.
Aukshtaitian dialect and its all subdialects.
Most convenient transport is a car, though public transport (buses and trains) are available and useful. The land is rather flat on the west and hilly on the east, all suitable for bicycling. Canoeing is common in the eastern lakelands, although it is not considered a mode of transport but it surely is a mode of traveling over there.
- Natural sites
- Historical objects
- Mythological sites and objets
- Sūpynės (Swing Set), forest by Kretuonėlė hamlet, Švenčionys district (100km NE of Vilnius, western side of a railway near Pakretuonė railway stop, by the Lake Žeimenys). End of June; lasts for 4 days on a closest long weekend after Saint John's Day. A striking festival of electronic music that takes place in outlying corner of Aukštaitija National Park during period of the three shortest nights and the four longest days. Also various workshops and lectures on electronic music production topics are organized within territory of the festival. The beach on a lake shore offers some water sports options, like windsurfing, canoeing, boating. Catering is always organized at the spot (no eateries in the forest), festival is vegetarian, vegan and raw food friendly. You can take your own food, and you must take a drinking water as it can't be supplied in this forest. Car parking lots as well as camping sites for tents are allotted within the festival territory. Car €10-25, camper van €40 (no water or electricity facilities as this is a wild forest around). It's your responsibility not to forget to take a tent, sleeping bag, warmer clothes for the night, rain coat, comfortable shoes for rainy days, swimming gear. No other kind of accommodation is available in the forest, except very few options away from the site, for that you need to contact via e-mail provided on the festival website section "Travel". Location: the festival is usually linked with 2 names - Švenčionys, an administrative district centre and closest major town which is 29km away from the festival site; and Pakretuonė, a railway stop in the middle of the forest which is 2.2km east from the festival site. These 2 well known names are the landmarks if you are going by train (Pakretuonė) or by car or bus (via Švenčionys). From the train stop Pakretuonė you have to walk 2.2km west up to the camp site at 55.27565, 26.05406 near the stage site. No roads suitable for cars here; by car you have to get to the other camp site on the other side of lake at 55.28038, 26.04258 (by hamlet Obelų ragas). Ferry operates between this camp site and the festival stage site. No alcohol, no glass containers, no any kind of weapons, only social and friendly pets, and generally no children. Special family camping site is allotted on the other shore of the lake. Strict security checks, inappropriate behaviour is not tolerated. Within both territory of the festival and nearby settlements only cash is accepted; closest ATM and grocery store are in the closest town of Švenčionėliai 17km south of the festival site. Ticket ~€50-80 for all days. (55.27605,26.05813)
- Tundra Aviliai II village, Zarasai district (NE part of the region, beach on the western side of Avilys lake), ([email protected]). Weekend on the beginning of July. The greatest annual alternative electronic music open air festival in the Baltics. Has four scenes named after particular music style: Techno, Bass, Psy Trance, Chill Out. The festival program usually is divided into daytime and evening part. During daytime: various entertainments, lectures and workshops, some sport activities (football and volleyball courts); participation in the workshops involves such things like making the dream catchers, mandala weaving, body painting in Aztec patterns, Gong sound therapy, yoga, massage sessions. Various practical and exotic goods brought from India and Nepal can be purchased from artisans and vendors. Evening program is dedicated to music. The food usually satisfies everyone's taste, doesn't matter whether you like raw, vegetarian, or traditional food. Ticket ~€30 for 2 days/1 person. (55.7618648,26.0268970)
- Velnio akmuo (Devil Stone), Dainuva Valley, Anykščiai (by Šventoji river 1km SW from Anykščiai centre, Central Aukštaitija, 114km away from Vilnius, 297km away from Klaipėda and 195km away from Riga (Latvia's capital)), ☎ +370 671 13542 ([email protected]). Weekend on the middle of July. Annual open air festival of contemporary rock and metal music. Live music, original production, positive emotions - the festival exposes the real rock’n’roll spirit satisfying both the contemporary rock music and pure metal fans. Prohibited: drinks in glass containers, any alcohol, professional video recording equipment, any type of arms or potentially harmful items, narcotic substances, any offensive merchandise and literature. Umbrellas are not advised. Face control. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Single day ticket €23, four day ticket €38. All vehicles are charged additionally: festival has a separate secured area for parking motorcycles which is available for camping as well; vehicle parking incurs a one-off charge: motorcycle €6, car €7, camper van €15, bus €20; camping space is free of charge. (55.511758,25.084014)
- Žagarė Cherry (Žagarės vyšnių fetivalis), Miesto Sq 40, Žagarė, Joniškis district (whole town and surroundings, NW Aukštaitija, 260km away from Vilnius, 177km away from Klaipėda and 95km away from Riga (Latvia's capital)), ☎ +370 426 60809 ([email protected]). Weekend on the middle of July. A mouth-watering festival dedicated to famous variety of local cherry. Town turns into a fair, traditional to any lithuanian festival but with special focus on cherries and other garden goods: one can buy and enjoy old-fashioned cherry marmalade, homemade cherry wine, traditional cherry dumplings, still warm cherry pie. Some concerts, performances of guest and local artists take place in various locations, mostly in the park of Žagarė manor estate. Festival usually is superposed with Baltic League Show Jumping phase which takes place in local hippodrome. Most events are free of charge. ("56°21'33.14"N"","23°15'15.84"E")
- Roko naktys (Rock Nights), Zarasas island, Zarasai town (W of bus station or NW of town centre - walk down Pakalnės Street NW direction up to the end, then enter the island), ☎ During festival only: +370 645 30688 ([email protected]). Last weekend of July, or slightly later until the middle of August. Entrance to the territory is open since F 09:00, closed since Su 18:00. International heavy rock fiesta, lasts for two nights in the island of Zarasai resort area, NE corner of the country. Distance from Vilnius 147km, from Šiauliai 220km, from Daugavpils (Latvia) 28km, from Riga (Latvia) 247km. Accommodation: in local camp site (tents can be rented at the spot), for other options contact Zarasai Tourism Information Centre, address Sėlių Sq 22, LT-32110 Zarasai, e-mail [email protected] Prohibited: drugs or other psychotropic substances, alcohol, food or liquid in a glass container, any type of weapon, professional audio/video recorders. Dogs must have a muzzle and a collar with the owner's contacts. Catering available in town and at certain points on the island. Only persons over 16 years of age are allowed. Single ticket ~€30, cheaper few months in advance, more expensive closer to the event. Parking fee: motorcycle ~€3, car ~€9, bus €26, camper ~€18. Camp site free of charge. (55.73527,26.2263)
- Granatos Live L. Lekaševičius St 2, Rumšiškės, Kaišiadorys district (Rumšiškės Open Air Museum, 2km SW from the A1 motorway), ☎ HQ: +370 5 210-7591 ([email protected]). First weekend of August. International open air popular music and entertainment festival. The name is a pun in Lithuanian: the full word "granatos" means "grenades", and its second half "natos" means "musical notes", hence why you may come across the name styled like "Gra'Natos". It also is a hint as what one should expect from festival itself - explosion of music and positive emotions. Event starts in F and lasts for 3 days/2 nights. Reach: by car from the A1 motorway; buses from Vilnius and Kaunas run more frequently than every hour, get off at the stop Rumšiškės by the motorway itself, you have to walk 2km to the site then; by train - get off at the stop Pravieniškės, then go south 4.87km from the railway station to the festival site entrance. Entertainments: morning exercises (including zumba, tai chi, capoeira, kung fu), bubble football, poker and chess, army day camp, slackline, hot-air ballooning. One-day ticket €29, three-days ticket €38, three-days ticket with access to the camp site €42; parking fees: car €3, camper van €24.
- Saulėtosios naktys (Sunny Nights), Gataučiai village, Joniškis district (as soon as you enter the village look for the festival signs by the left hand side; NW Aukštaitija, by the road A12 south of Joniškis; 258km away from Vilnius, 207km away from Kaunas, 30km away from Šiauliai), ☎ +370 673 65434 ([email protected]). Second half of August. Open air, non-commercial, ideological festival bringing together like-minded artists, musicians and other creative people. Mission: express yourself. Events: Lithuanian and foreign musical performances of different genres (singing and poetry, rock and reggae, folk and rap), lectures on various topics, ideas on ecology, sport competitions, various creative projects, installations, dance, short movies. One of ideas of the festival is that each participant at the same time is the organizer. Catering: traditional and vegetarian meals at any time, possibility to prepare your food on the open fireplace. Facilities: bio toilet cabins, shower cabins. Event takes place within the territory of ~100 year-old homestead, camping zone alloted in the apple-tree garden. No pets allowed. ~€15. (56.154046,23.524376)
- Canoeing - Aukštaitija, especially its east, is rich in water tourism routes. Here below are presented main lakes and rivers:
- Lakes - Aisetas, Alaušas, Asveja (most narrow lake in the country), Baluošas, Dysnai, Drūkšiai (largest lake in the country), Kiaunas, Lakajai (both Baltieji and Juodieji), Lūšiai, Rubikiai, Sartai, Tauragnas (deepest lake in the country), Zarasas, Žeimenys.
- Rivers - Aiseta (very easy and very scenic river), Barupė (17km of lower reaches suitable for canoeing across interesting environment; then flows into Nevėžis which is suitable to proceed on), Dysna (flows mostly through very remote and wild environment), Saria (short, easy and nice river that flows into Žeimena which is suitable to proceed on), Dūkšta (suitable for creeking during floods), Kiauna (flows into Žeimena which is suitable to proceed on), Kriauna (very calm and easy), Lakaja, Laukysa, Ligaja, Lokys, Mera (flows into Žeimena which is suitable to proceed on), Minčia, Musė (most interesting section ~23km from Musninkai village up to the mouth), Mūšia (4km suitable for creeking during floods), Neris (second largest Lithuanian river; considered Aukshtaitian river although its middle reaches are in Dzūkija; one of two guileful rivers, additional vigilance and caution recommended), Nevėžis (class I of river difficulty, one of two guileful rivers, additional vigilance and caution recommended), Peršokšna, Siesartis (most interesting section from Antatilčiai village up to the mouth), Spengla (short, easy and nice river), Šventoji (prominent Lithuanian river, easy, nice and suitable all year round), Virinta (most interesting section from Kurkliai village up to the mouth), Žeimena (considered Aukshtaitian river, although its lower reaches are in Dzūkija).
- Mushroom/berry picking during the season
- Organized tours:
- Aukštaitija culinary tour
- Beer tasting tour in Northern Lithuania
- Ethnocosmology Museum excursion
- Two-day trip across Selonia, including visit to Latvian half near Daugavpils
- Įstra Aviapark (Įstros aviaparkas), Stanioniai village, LT-38436 Panevėžys district (11km north from Panevėžys), ☎ +370 616 86996 ([email protected], fax: +370 45 554-332). By prior arrangement. Offer: sightseeing flight, flights by individual route, organization of various events, professional photo sessions from air, also outdoor tennis in a new artificial grass tennis court. Aerodrome asphalt runway is 600m x 20m, and a primer (gravel) runway is 800m x 40m; opened all year round. Has an Aircraft Museum, cafe-bar, conference hall and a motel. Guests have adequate conditions for either shorter or longer stay. Reservation fee €15 (reservation form in English on the website). Accommodation prices: standard room with 1 or 2 double beds €40, double lux with double bed €55. All services are prepaid, payment methods: cash, credit card, bank transfer.
- Raudondvaris Aerodrome (Raudondvario aerodromas), Jaunimo St 14, Raudondvaris village, Pakalniškiai elderate, Radviliškis district (east of Šeduva town west of the region, 890m south of the A9 highway at 55°44'50.85”N, 23°48'3.78”E). Offer various entertainments in the air, provided by Šiauliai Aero Club and Šiauliai Parachutist Club: (55.74746,23.8011) edit
- Entertainment flights by glider or airplane, provided by Šiauliai Aero Club (Šiaulių aeroklubas), for correspondence only: Voveriškių St 39-5, Šiauliai, ☎ Info +370 659 75252, flights +370 686 20753 ([email protected]). The club founded on 1958; offer sport, sightseeing and training flights by gliders and airplanes, organize a variety of entertainment and celebration in the air. Flight around Raudondvaris and Šeduva towns (10min) by plane Wilga or Socata ST-10 - ~€60/per 3 passengers; flight around Raudondvaris, Burbiškis Manor and Daugyvenė Landscape Reserve (15min) by plane Wilga or Socata ST-10 - ~€80/per 3 passengers; sightseeing flight by glider L-13 Blanik (at least 15min, can last much longer) - ~€80/per 1 passenger.
- Parachuting, provided by Šiauliai Parachutist Club (Šuoliai parašiutu), Jaunimo St 14, Raudondvaris village, Pakalniškiai elderate, Radviliškis district (in the aerodrome), ☎ +370 681 11077 ([email protected]). Offer: Jump with an instructor from 3,000m, free fall for ~40s, then ~5min glide until you safely reach the ground. Independent jump (parachute deploys automatically) from 1,000-1,200m height with the wing-type parachute (instruction with the introduction to the airfield and such before the flight lasts for 2-3h), communication with a parachute instructor via radio. Jump w the instructor €110, same w HQ video filming €140; independent jump €65. (,23.8011)
Northern Aukštaitija is a some sort of subregion where authentic Lithuanian farmhouse beer is brewed (also commercially) and locally available on the market.