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Lithuania (Lietuva) is a Baltic country in Northern Europe. It has a Baltic Sea coastline in the west and is surrounded by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east, Poland to the southwest, and Russia's exclave, the Kaliningrad Oblast, to the west.
Honour Guard dressed in 11th century armour in front of President's Palace in Vilnius
Lithuania has been an active member of the European Union since 1 May 2004 and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since 29 March in that same year.
Lithuania is the only Baltic country with more than eight hundred years of statehood tradition and its name was first mentioned one thousand years ago, in 1009. Wedged at the dividing line of Western and Eastern civilizations, Lithuania battled dramatically for its independence and survival. Once in the Middle Ages (15th century), Lithuania was the largest state in the entire continent of Europe, where crafts and overseas trade prospered.
In 1579, Vilnius University, an important scientific and education centre of the European scale, was opened. In the 16th century, Lithuania adopted its First, Second and Third Statutes. The Statutes were not only the backbone of the legislative system, they also had a major impact on the legislation of other European states of the time. Despite losing its independence, Lithuania managed to retain its Third Statute in force for as many as 250 years, which was instrumental in the preservation of national and civic self-awareness. The Constitution of Poland-Lithuania together with the French Constitution, both adopted in 1791, were the first constitutions in Europe (The Polish-Lithuanian constitution was adopted a few months earlier than the French).
Transitional, between maritime and continental with wet, moderate winters and summers.
Lowland, many scattered small lakes, fertile soil. The fertile central plains are separated by hilly uplands that are ancient glacial deposits. 30% is covered in forest. The highest point isAukštojas Hill at only 294m (967 ft), about 24km southeast of Vilnius and lying just off the main highway to Minsk and within sight of the Belarus borders.
Medininkai Castle: the upper construction of the walls was wooden and it was badly damaged by a major fire in the late 15th century.
Lithuania, first formed in the middle of the 13th century, was a huge feudal country stretching from the Baltic to the Black sea in the middle ages and in 1569 entered into a union with Poland to form a commonwealth.
Lithuania was part of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth until the Polish Partitions in the 18th century when it became part of the Russian Empire.
Modern Lithuania gained its independence from Russia in 1918 following World War I and the dissolution of the Czarist monarchy. However, in 1940 Lithuania was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, but this proclamation was not generally recognized until September 1991, following the abortive coup in Moscow. The Soviet Union recognized Lithuania's independence on 6 September 1991. A constitution was adopted on 25 October 1992. The last Russian troops withdrew in 1993. Lithuania subsequently has restructured its economy for integration into Western European institutions.
There are State Holidays which all are days off by law, and there are red letter days which usually are regular weekdays honored or celebrated in different ways.
- New Year's Day (1 Jan) — typically starts in the evening of previous day (the last day of a year) like a private party; then, closer to a midnight, people go to the street or square to "meet the New Year" in a crowd. Depending on whether the winter is cold or mild, celebration is either enthusiastic or rather formal. The rest of day is spent like a regular weekend.
- Independence Day (16 Feb) - independence from Russian Empire in 1918 following World War I. Officially celebrated with all the ceremonies.
- Restitution of Independence (11 Mar) - restoration of independence from the Soviet Union. Focus on national consciousness and both national and universal values emphasis. Usually various political and cultural debate are organized at various levels and broadcast live across the country. Some official ceremonies take place as well.
- Easter (Sunday and Monday in March or April) — Catholic religious holiday.
- International Labor Day (1 May) — political holiday, mostly spent like a regular weekend. Some minor political rallies usually are expected but they not always take place.
- Mother's Day (1st Sunday of May) — main holiday when various events for families are organized and attended.
- Father's Day (1st Sunday of June) — another holiday when various events for families are organized and attended.
- Saint John's Day (Joninės) (24 Jun) - the most favorite national holiday, celebrated by all and everywhere. Despite its Christian name, celebrated mostly according to Pagan traditions (Midsummer's Day), thus often is called by its ancient name Rasos (Dew Time).
- Statehood Day (6 Jul) - commemorates the coronation in 1253 of Mindaugas as the first and only King of Lithuania (later rulers of Lithuania were called Grand Dukes). Officially celebrated with all the ceremonies. Additionally, various events with the historical trend are organized and enthusiastically attended: reenactments, jousting, live archaeology events, various concerts. If weather is good there may be traffic jams on all highways closer to the coast.
- Assumption Day (15 Aug) — superposed and virtually merged with the Pagan holiday called Žolinė (Flower Time). It is harvest time when medical herbs, flowers, vegetables and cereals used to be processed through the special rituals during Pagan times, and later they used to be sanctified in churches by Catholic priests. Various Christian and Pagan events are organized in tradicional locations.
- All Saints' Day (1 Nov) — time to remember loved ones. Although it is a Christian holiday, traditionally it is perceived as an Eve of All Souls' Day and superposed with customs of ancestor veneration, often in Pagan manner. May be traffic jams everywhere near any cemetery.
- Christmas Eve (24 Dec) — considered main holiday of a year. Celebrated at home, families and close friends exchange gifts; Pagan-style observances. Almost everything (business and offices) is closed.
- Christmas (25, 26 Dec) — smooth continuation of the Christmas Eve. Almost everything (business and offices) is still closed. Religious people attend churches.
Red Letter Days
- Day of Freedom Defenders (13 Jan) — commemoration of January Events in 1991.
- Shrovetide (46 days before Easter, usually in February) - celebrated the closest weekend before the actual Shrovetide Tuesday, then the Tuesday is commemorated by eating pancakes.
- (Saint) Valentine's Day (14 Feb) — a popular commercial holiday of romance and love. Most restaurants are crowded; advance reservations usually are required.
- Saint Casimir's Day (4 Mar) — anniversary of the death of Saint Casimir, the patron saint of Lithuania. Time for the biggest fairs all over country and especially in Vilnius. Central streets of city are closed for all kinds of transport, everything alloted for vendors.
- Mourning and Hope Day (14 Jun) - for remembrance of whose who were exiled to Siberia by Soviet authorities. Remarks the anniversary of the first June deportation in 1941. Some official events and ceremonies usually take place.
- Black Ribbon Day (23 Aug) - commemoration of the victims of totalitarian regimes. Political events and debates often are organized in a manner that attract public interest.
- Balts Unity Day (22 Sep) - commemorates 22 Sep 1236 when the Samogitians and the Semigallians defeated the Knights Of Sword. Various events are organized, especially in Semigallia and eastern Samogitia. Most of events take place near and on the hill forts which are common places alloted for such kind of events all over the country.
Regional differences of Lithuanian culture reflect the complicated historical development of the country. Since the thirteenth century five ethnographic areas, or regions, have historically formed in the current territory of Lithuania:
|| Aukštaitija |
Literally Highlands, northeastern and eastern region.
|| Žemaitija |
Samogitia, literally Lowlands, north-western region.
|| Dzūkija (Dainava)|
These ethnographic regions even today differ by dialects, ways of life and behaviour styles, while until the turn of the last century there were pronounced differences in dress and homestead styles as well as village planning.
Lithuania is justly proud of its unfailing treasures of folklore: colorful clothing, meandering songs, an abundance of tales and stories, sonorous dialects and voluble language. This ethnographic heritage is nourished by ethnographic and folklore companies and barn theatres. Recent years have witnessed the revival of ethnographic crafts and culinary traditions. Folk craft fairs and live craft days are organized during many events and festivals.
Passenger train interior, there also are older type and compartment-type cars in the same train. Note another train outside: a double-decker EMU EJ575
which run exclusively Vilnius-Kaunas-Vilnius route; any other suburban routes are served by regular low-floor DMUs. The regular passenger trains (depicted interior) have steep stairs, disabled persons will need assistance, details on LitRail website
Much of Lithuania's natural beauty is well preserved. The eastern part of the country Aukštaitija, is famous for lakes, hills and forests.
- Vilnius — the capital of Lithuania. Cultural, educational, financial and political centre of the country. Known for its spectacular Old Town and its unique architecture.
- Alytus — largest city of Dzūkija region, its center and unofficial capital
- Kaunas — second-largest city, former citadel of Russian Empire, temporary capital of Lithuania during the interwar period, point of intersection of all main roads
- Klaipėda — third-largest city and a seaport, stopover point for cruise ships, famous for various summer events
- Palanga — resort on a coast of the Baltic sea, the most popular spot for Lithuanians or tourists to visit in summer. City's population in summer grows from 10,000 to 600,000 in July and August
- Panevėžys — largest city of Aukšatitija region, its centre and unofficial capital
- Šiauliai — fourth-largest city situated between two main regions of the country
- Telšiai — centre and unofficial capital of Žemaitija (Samogitia) region
- Trakai — small town 28km away from capital. A former capital of the country with a residence of medieval rulers. Centre of the Historical National Park and resort area
- Kupiškis — the most beautiful small cozy town in the North-Eastern Lithuania. You can take a chance to discover Kupiškis for yourselves. If this is your first time here, prepare to be amazed, if you have been here before, prepare to be amazed again. Kupiškis is always ready to welcome newcomers and to proudly show the richness of culture and the beautiful places of nature. So that‘s why we are saying that if you want get know our city, you must visit us, visit our historic buildings and meet our amazing landscape.
- Curonian Spit — unique peninsula in the Baltic sea with sand dunes, seaboard forest, white sanded beaches and old ethnographic villages. A UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Hill of Crosses — site of religious significance, north of Šiauliai city
- Jonava — city named after John, which makes St. John's Day, the biggest national holiday, really special. Quirky town with vintage industrial buildings and structures, and a modern factory away from the city itself
- Kernavė — former (first known) Lithuanian capital on the bank of Neris river; now a well-preserved archaeological site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Kėdainiai — city in the centre of the country, has rather large old-town close to Nevėžis river. Famous for annual Cucumber Festival
- Molėtai Lakeland — abundance of homesteads and mini-resorts scattered among more than 200 lakes of various size. Paradise for vacationists
- National Parks — each region has its own national park which protects and represents the most valuable environment. Free and open all year round
- Purnuškės — small village 26km north of Vilnius where according to measures of Institut géographique national is the geographical centre of Europe
- Žemaičių Kalvarija — famous pilgrimage site in Samogitia region
Non-Schengen sector at Vilnius airport
Lithuania is a member of the Schengen Agreement.
There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty - the European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs checks but no immigration checks (travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country) or you may have to clear immigration but not customs (travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country).
Please see the article Travel in the Schengen Zone for more information about how the scheme works and what entry requirements are.
Most airlines arrive at the main Vilnius International Airport and some at the smaller, seaside Palanga Airport, while budget carriers such as Ryanair land in Kaunas International Airport. Kaunas airport also has a direct link with Warsaw by LOT.
For destinations in Northern Lithuania, Riga Airport is an attractive option.
There are train connections to Vilnius from Minsk, Moscow and Kaliningrad.
There are weekend trains from Kaunas to Białystok that are also connected with trains to Vilnius and Warsaw.
Via Baltica passing Kaunas' suburbs
Major "Via Baltica" road links Kaunas to Warsaw and Riga/Tallinn. The Baltic road, which links Vilnius to Tallinn, was just reconstructed. It is a very easy and pleasant route.
Overall, the major roads between the cities are of decent quality. Be extremely cautious when getting off the main roads in rural areas, as some of them may contain pot holes and general blemishes which could damage a regular car if you go too fast.
While driving between cities there are usually cafes and gas stations with bathrooms and snacks.
There are several passenger/car ferries from Klaipeda to Sweden, Germany, Denmark. See DFDS Seaways
Lazdėnai train stop at the edge of Neris Regional Park, an outdoor recreation area
Litrail has services to major cities in Lithuania as well as to some small towns and villages which are difficult to reach by other public transport (eg popular holiday/weekend destinations in Dzūkija and Aukštaitija National Parks, Neris Regional Park and, Kretinga town, a final stop for those who are travelling to Palanga seaside resort by train). Fares are low compared to Western Europe: Vilnius-Kaunas costs about €5.20, with Vilnius-Klaipėda at approximately €15.
Marijampolė railway station (built in 1924)
Many of the long distance trains have compartments which can accommodate six seated passengers or four sleeping passengers. The headrest can be lifted up to form a very comfortable bunk bed, which can be used while people are seated below. The seats themselves form the other pair of beds. As some journeys are quite long (about 5h in the case of Vilnius-Klaipėda), it is common to see people sleeping on the upper bunks during daytime journeys as well.
Generally the railway network is not considered as an alternative to the road network as it does not exactly duplicates the roads. As a result some places are more convenient to reach by train, some other places by bus, even if the railway and the highway are not far apart. Examples of the destinations which are more convenient to reach by train: Ignalina, a main point where the trip to Aukštaitija National Park begins; Kaunas' eastern part around the dam where several recreation areas and tourist objects are situated (one have to get off at Palemonas suburb). This makes the question "which one is better, train or bus?" rather hard to answer because it depends on the specifics.
Narrow Gauge Railway in Anykščiai offers short trips to a near-by lake. In summer it runs on regular schedule, rest of the time tours must be booked in advance.
Hitchhiking in Lithuania is generally good. Get to the outskirts of the city, but before cars speed up to the highway speeds. The middle letter on the older licence plates (with Lithuanian flag) of the three letter code usually corresponds with the city of registration (V for Vilnius, K for Kaunas, L for Klaipeda, etc.). Newer licence plates (with EU flag) are not bound to city of registration in any way.
Bus stop road signs for the three types of buses that provide passenger transport services between cities.
In Lithuania it is easy to move by buses and in practice, all the bigger even a little places can be reached with buses. The buses usually run more slowly than where a Western has got used due to if it is not a question of Ekspresas, the bus stops at every stop exactly. To be more precise, there are two types of bus lines (see below) and three types of the bus stops: "red" stops for "Ekspresas" buses (very few, the journey with "Ekspresas" is quick), "yellow" stops for the regular intercity buses, and the "blank" stops for suburban buses (very frequent, the journey is slow). The color is a color of a road sign for the bus stop. For example 40km the trip by suburban bus can last thus an hour. Some buses are old cars that have mainly been brought from the Nordic countries, some are new ones, it is not predictable which one you will get. Practically, when you travel the time is most important factor and the best decision is to take the closest bus which runs in the right direction.
There is usually its own bus company on every town (district centre) and more than one company in the largest towns. Just to name few, TOKS (long distance routes) and mini bus company Transrevis which will drive turns between Kaunas and Vilnius, are based in Vilnius; KauTra (Kaunas Transport) additionally specializes in bicycle transfer service, though luggage compartments vary in size and not all types of bicycles always can fit in. The company offers the option to transport the bike to the agreed stop by the next bus with capacious compartment, informing you about the delivery by the short message to your cell phone. However, during the high season in summer popularity of this service is enormous, one should have that in mind if planning the trip by bicycle. Šiauliai company Busturas, in addition to the regular routes, offers the tours to and from Riga (Latvia) via Rundale which otherwise is inconvenient to visit from Lithuania. Klaipėda Bus Fleet (Klaipėdos autobusų parkas) is based in Klaipėda and serves mostly the routes in the Western part of the country as well as some international routes. There are also several smaller intercity and suburban bus companies in all the cities mentioned above.
For university and college students with Lithuanian student ID or ISIC (international student card), bus companies grant 50% discount.
The bulk of Lithuania's bus routes and turns have been listed in an address from which you also can reserve the tickets for certain routes. However, pay attention to the fact that the payment system supports only some of the Lithuanian banks for the present and the credit card at the moment does not suit.
The list above is only for the intercity buses, which generally is sufficient. There are two types of bus lines in Lithuania: intercity (tarpmiestiniai) buses and suburban (priemiestiniai) buses. This is reflected in the structure of the bigger bus stations, for example Vilnius bus station has two sections, a suburban "blue" one (blue color dominates in the timetables, destination plates on buses are written in blue) and a intercity "red" one (red colour dominates in the timetables, destination plates on buses are written in either blue or red). Thus, for example, "Trakai" direction has two platforms, a "red" one where intercity buses leave directly towards Trakai, and a "blue" one where suburban buses leave to Trakai but run different routes, zig-zagging from village to village and finally arrive to Trakai. Similarly, at the Trakai bus station there are two platforms for "Vilnius" direction: blue one and red one. It is important to know that the "red" (intercity) bus always is faster. At the same time, intercity bus does not stop everywhere, for example the bus stop near the Hill of Crosses is for suburban buses only, if you wait there you can see many buses passing by but they won't stop there, you have to wait for a "blue" (suburban) bus. Schedules for suburban buses usually are put up separately from the schedules for intercity buses.
For buses and trolley-buses on routes within towns and cities it is usual to buy the ticket from the driver. Recently the electronic ticketing has been introduced in major cities, but still the ticket can be obtained from the driver, though the types of tickets vary from town to town, for example in Vilnius you have to validate (stamp using one of the punches for paper tickets) the ticket obtained from the driver (thus you can buy several tickets and use them later), in other cities you get a one-ride ticket which already is valid for this particular ride. Inspectors periodically check tickets and will issue a fine if you cannot produce a correctly punched ticket or your electronic ticket is not valid. The bus is exited by the middle door and it is important to head for the door before the bus has stopped - it can be impossible to leave once people have started boarding; and if the driver sees that the bus stop outside is empty and nobody waits to leave the bus, the bus can skip the stop.
In addition to common buses run by municipality, many towns have private minibuses which usually operate express routes.
Taxis run on a meter and can be booked by the phone numbers shown on the door of the taxi. Taxis are relatively cheap compared to western Europe. Some companies may not be as honest as others, common sense will keep you safe in this regard. It is common to ask about the approximate price to your destination in advance before boarding the taxi. If the answer does not satisfy you, you are not obliged to board this vehicle. Therefore, Lithuanians prefer to call the taxi by phone in order to know the price and the time of journey, and at the same time to be sure that the driver who will take them is aware of destination and the agreed price. However not all operators speak fluent English, nor drivers. On the other hand, people typically know more than one or two languages and know how to explain the relevant information without being fluent, this applies to drivers and passengers as only a minority of travellers from abroad are native English speakers.
Taxi can also be booked online. Be aware that some inaccuracies may occur as the infrastructure construction and renovation works are carried out in all largest cities, the works affect the traffic. Depending on your destination there may be a necessity to choose a longer way, compared to that which was calculated. If you suspect some dishonesty you must know all circumstances for sure before starting the dispute with company or driver, otherwise it is common that you will be simply ignored as unreliable customer.
Each company has different prices, but roughly expect to pay around 30-75 cents/km. All taxis have also a fixed boarding fee in addition, so one should have that in mind before reaching any final conclusions.
Taxi prices are highly dependent on fuel price which is constantly increasing recently, therefore all the figures above should be interpreted as approximate.
Bicycle path along the "Old Road" to Trakai.
Cycling in Lithuania is quite popular, however it depends on the exact location as in major cities pavements usually will have a bicycle pathways with numerous signs, although getting around by bicycle in rural areas might become a bit of a challenge. Two international EuroVelo cycling routes across the country, EuroVelo No 10 and EuroVelo No 11, the former one equipped with quality signs and is of excellent quality, the latter one requires to have a map.
- EuroVelo-10 leads along the coast from Curonian Spit in the south to Latvian border in the north. Keep in mind that only on several occasion you are able to see the sea from the bikepath: usually you have to do a short detour to the beach itself in order to see the water. The beach is sandy, the sand is very fine and often powdery that makes riding the bicycle rather difficult or impossible. There are no roads or paths on the beach, the coast itself is a natural value and under the State protection, there are various restrictions on the development of infrastructure. Therefore the beach all along the sea retains its natural, sometimes genuinely pristine characteristics and appearance. The bike path is constructed slightly away from the sea, softly winds across the dunes and forests allowing to see the most interesting corners of the area.
- EuroVelo-11 crosses eastern part of the country from south to north, with the capital city Vilnius in the middle. The southern end is at Lazdijai border crossing point (N54°9'25.88" E23°28'21.84"); after entering the country you soon have to make a sharp turn to the south (before the lake, N54°10'5.67" E23°28'39.13") and ride along the border down the unpaved border track. This one was a part of Soviet Union external border zone infrastructure, now not in use for its intended purposes. There is a possibility to make a shortcut using a recently recreated ancient connection between Berżniki (PL) and Kapčiamiestis (LT) villages, border crossing point at N54°2'46.49" E23°31'31.32" (road No 2505) in the middle of a large Dzukian forest . You soon cross the same border track and proceed to ride to Kapčiamiestis.
Northern end of EuroVelo-11 bikepath crosses Latvian border at N55°40'30.59" E26°34'59.98" just before Grivočka hamlet on Latvian side. Before the border the path is meaningfully winding across the pleasant environment among the lakes and hills and leads you through the town of Visaginas and village of Tilžė, both of unusual history, towards Latvian city Daugavpils.
Keep in mind, that although it is possible to get from Vilnius to, say, Riga, taking a road A2 which leads directly from Vilnius towards Riga, there hardly can be worse and more senseless decision as the road is designed specifically for cars across the flat and boring environment, away from any object that can distract the driver. It is equally true about all the other main roads.
When staying in the country it is more common and reasonable to get to the certain region or area and explore it in more detail, rather than cycling across from one end to another. In the latter case, the most of time would be spent on roads that are friendly for cars and not very healthy for cyclists; distances between the outdoor recreation areas are rather long and not too scenic, whilst recreation areas, in contrast, are quite diverse and often puzzling. This adds attractiveness to recreation areas, but requires more time and flexibility, also some basic knowledge about the place itself.
State Department of Tourism has issued a booklet for domestic needs with a description of 16 most attractive cycling routes all along the country. A downloadable English version of a booklet introduce you to them and also supply with the maps of all of them.
Essential tip: don't leave your bicycle outside without locking it in, unless you are riding outside the settlements. Within any city or a smallest village always lock your bicycle, even if you are going to the store for cigarettes, even if you know for sure that your bike will constantly be in a field of view.
More detailed information and help can be provided by the international bicycle project BaltiCCycle. It also can give you ideas about the other and more sophisticated routes in different regions of the country or within the cities that are not described in the booklet or elsewhere. Lithuanian version of this website, Veloland.Lt, can be investigated using online translator – what you need to find there is the detailed maps of the routes (you have to select the region first from a drop-down menu “Maršrutai”). Many of the routes are remote but, surprisingly, often accessible quite easily and are no less attractive than more popular ones. For example, this downloadable map describes a 35km/5h route in a very attractive area of Dzūkija forest: the starting/ending point is in Marcinkonys village which can be reached from Vilnius by train, the bikes can be brought with you or hired in advance at Marcinkonys itself.
Blizzard on the A1 road between Vilnius and Kaunas
Road Kaunas-Prienai in October
Lithuanian traffic moves on the right and, as with most of the world, all distances are posted in km.
Headlights are mandatory and must be kept on at all times when driving.
Wearing the seat-belt is mandatory for both driver and passengers.
A vehicle is required by law to stop at a zebra crossing if there is a pedestrian who obviously is going to cross the street but still didn't step from a sidewalk.
The alcohol limit is up to 0.4‰ for the drivers who have at least 2 years of driving experience of category B vehicle; 0.0‰ for others.
The road network in Lithuania is fairly good, especially the motorways. The quality of road surface on minor roads can vary. The improvement work hampers traffic in many places. The Via Baltica road goes through Lithuania from south (Poland) to north (Latvia). Other important roads are the A1 (Vilnius-Klaipėda) and the A2 (Vilnius-Panevėžys).
The A2 (European route code E272) road has motorway status with 130km/h speed limit during summer and 110km/h during winter, the road length is 136km. There are 6 spots along the road where the speed is reduced from 130 to 110 km/h: the U-turns with separate deceleration lanes are constructed there. These are needed for sparse local inhabitants and emergency services, while regular traffic is not supposed to use them.
The A1 (European route code E85) is the longest (311km) highway in the country, completed in 1987. Its western section between Klaipėda and Kaunas has motorway status with 130km/h speed limit during summer and 110km/h during winter, and its eastern section between Kaunas and Vilnius has expressway status with 120km/h speed limit during summer and 110km/h during winter. It is planned that this section too will be given the status of the motorway in c. 2018, when the installation of connecting roads and overpasses and the reconstruction of individual stretches of this section will be fully completed. There are two relevant U-turns left on this road: one at the western edge of Vilnius, another one at the western edge of Kaunas.
Most of the other highways and regional roads have 1+1 lanes and a 90km/h speed limit outside settlement limits. Within settlement the speed limit usually is 50km/h.
Moving domestic animals and roe animals may cause dangerous situations on the rural roads. The motorways are almost entirely fenced up to protect from wild animals, secondary roads have the signs warning about possibilities of such collisions. Drivers who are not used to that must be very alert as collisions with elks, although rare, may be lethal. Potentially the most dangerous time, when even the fence can succumb, is in May and October, between 18:00 and 01:00.
Deceleration lane before the U-turn on the A2 motorway near Raguva
Fixed speed cameras are frequent along country roads and motorways, usually near crossroads or pedestrian crossings, and in cities. These are usually announced by a sign. Many of them appear to be designed to be turned around from time to time, watching the opposite direction.
Roundabouts are a feature of the Lithuanian road network, particularly in the cities. Recently many small (or "midi-") roundabouts were installed at the crossroads of regional roads. Visitors from countries where this type of junction is uncommon or not used at all, may find the Wikipedia article on roundabouts useful.
In the cities: unlike many European countries, but similar to North American practice, turning right at a red traffic light is allowed where indicated by a "green arrow" (square white sign next to the red light, containing a green arrow indicating the permitted direction), after a full stop and provided that it does not endanger pedestrians and other traffic. Be aware that the absence of such a sign means that turning right on red is not allowed, and the police will stop any driver seen breaking this rule. It is scheduled to remove all "green arrows" until 2020, while gradually installing the smart traffic lights.
Many bigger city junctions have a separate green light for traffic turning left, but no red light. The green light for the other directions shows arrows going straight and to the right, but you need to look closely to make them out.
Traffic rules equally apply to both pedestrians and drivers, therefore the pedestrian violator has no advantage over the vehicle driver. This especially is relevant in cities: if you walk on a carriageway part of the street, you have to be alert and leave this part of the street if the car is approaching, otherwise it's your fault if accident happens.
Driving: on two- or three- lane roads, it is polite to move out of the right-hand lane (if safe to do so) when you intend to travel straight ahead; this keeps the right-hand lane clear for right-turning traffic. When moving back to the right hand lane watch out for fast-moving vehicles approaching from behind.
On 1+1 lane highways without barrier be careful of the overtaking cars: the driver behind you may suddenly find the oncoming car is coming too close and decided to get back to your lane - you have to predict that. You are supposed to keep the speed and move a bit to the right so that the car behind could see what's in front of him clearly, and he will overtake you when it's feasible. When driver overtakes you, he wants to get back to the lane as fast as possible, and this may seem as if he is tailgating you. Keep calm, it's not hostility.
The official language of Lithuania is Lithuanian, making up one of only two languages (along with Latvian) on the Baltic branch of the Indo-European family. Despite the kinship of Lithuanian to many other European languages, the archaic nature of its grammar makes it hard for foreigners unfamiliar with the language to form even basic sentences.
English is generally well spoken and preferred foreign language by the younger generations. The older generations might have just the very basic spoken English skills and it be especially difficult for them to understand strong English accents (written English might help). Most people of the older generation know Russian (this is not necessary the case amongst the youth, who might know only very basic Russian), especially in Klaipėda, Vilnius and eastern districts of the country. Polish is somewhat understood in certain areas of Vilnius as well as south-east and southern districts of the country. German is spoken or understood better than elsewhere in Klaipėda, Neringa, Palanga and Šventoji. Keep in mind that all this is just a generalization and should be not applied blindly. For example, if you're in Vilnius and the young person you try to talk to in English language can't understand you and shakes his head, it does not mean that information provided above is inaccurate. You can't know all specifics: this young person may be a student who arrived from the northern district of the country where the French traditionally is taught as a foreign language at schools. He may not know English or can't understand your pronunciation. There may be elderly person just next to you who may be fluent in English only because he or she worked in UK for several years. This applies countrywide: communication skills in foreign languages depend on the person and vary greatly. Differences and specifics by regions and cities are provided above, it means that chances to communicate in one or another language are greater in a corresponding region or city. Whether you will be understood depends on concrete person and your pronunciation. Those travelers who learn a few basic phrases of the local language are always amply awarded with good will and appreciation for their efforts, however sometimes it may be tricky: if your accent makes those local phrases unrecognizable you probably will be awarded blank face and a shy smile.
In case you managed to master some spoken Lithuanian, it may be extremely beneficial if you have any long-term or deeper interests. Just be prepared, that you will be learning the so called Standard Lithuanian, understood by all. However if local people respond in a local dialect you may understand nothing, especially outside the largest cities. You have then to say: I'm from city, I have only learned the "city Lithuanian" - and the wide smile on local person's face will testify that you are on a right way.
In case you're quite indifferent to national identities, simply remember that you are in Lithuania, not in a Russian colony and no longer in the Soviet Union: Lithuanians won't appreciate your efforts to stress your indifference.
Foreigners interested in reading English news can access the Lithuania Tribune (which is a part of Delfi, the most successful online news portal in the Baltic states) and VilNews (photos & short stories related to everything Lithuanian).
The most southern of the Baltic countries, Lithuania's historic heritage sets it quite apart from the other two. Visiting this small but colourful country today, few travellers might guess that this was once the largest nation in Europe. A few monuments remind of those golden ages, when the Grand Duchy of Lithuania stretched out far into modern day Russia, Poland and Moldova, but even fewer are still inside the Lithuanian borders. The archeologic site of Kernavė, long ago a medieval capital, is now a World Heritage Site and has historic hillfort mounds as well as a museum. The Trakai Island Castle in Trakai is sometimes called "Little Mariënburg". It's located on an island and was one of the main strongholds in the prime days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Although it was severely damaged in 17th century wars with Muscovy, the castle was beautifully restored in the 20th century and is now a popular tourist sight. Kaunas Castle in Kaunas is even older, but only a fourth of the original building remains.
The country's lovely capital, Vilnius, is a small but pleasant place with a UNESCO listed historic centre. It's the perfect place to admire a range of architectural styles, as it boasts a mixture of gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical buildings. Stroll through the narrow streets and cosy courtyards and kick back for a coffee in one of the many cafés on Pilies Street. Then, walk down Gediminas Avenue, the town's main street lined with governmental buildings and theatres, towards the old neighbourhood of Žvėrynas. With some 65 churches, the famous Gediminas Tower, the Cathedral Square, the Royal Palace, the Presidential Palace and many other monuments and museums, you won't run out of things to see in Vilnius any time soon.
For a day at the sea, the popular seaside resort of Palanga is the place to be. Although it gets crowded in summer, it has some great beaches and beautiful sand dunes. Sand dunes overgrown with pine forest is also what you'll find at the almost 100km long Curonian Spit, which separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. It's a World Heritage Site shared between Lithuania and Russia and is best explored from the large port city Klaipėda, though there is a possibility to stay on the Spit itself in one of the four fishermen villages. Not far from Klaipėda is the village of Juodkrantė, which is famous for its Hill of Witches, decorated with sculptures from the country's legends and tales. Farthermost on Lithuanian half is the fishermen's town of Nida, it is praised for its shores, ancient ethnographic cemetery and high sand dunes in vicinity. Klaipėda is also a good hub to other seaside resorts on the Baltic Coast, less known but equally cosy, such like Karklė. Nice bicycle path stretches north and south from Klaipėda, as well as along all Curonian Spit.
A few kilometers from the northern city Šiauliai you'll find the remarkable Hill of Crosses, which is an extraordinary and popular pilgrimage site. Over a 100.000 crosses - small, huge, simple and exuberant - have been placed here by faithful from far and wide. On the other side of the country, in the very south, you'll find the popular and classy spa resort town of Druskininkai, surrounded by largest pine forest in the country.
Like it's Baltic neighbours, Lithuania has a lot to offer for nature lovers. Dense forests, hills, beautiful blue lakes and rivers are the main base. The forested Aukštaitija National Park is perhaps the most popular of the country's national parks for its balanced diversity of natural and cultural values. Its forests are home to elk, deer and wild boar. Some of the pines you'll see here are up to 200 years old and the park is a safe haven for many plants and birds that are endangered in the rest of the country. The 126 lakes and countless streams in between them make the park a great place for water sports activities and the villages in the park have some interesting wooden churches. Southwest from the national park lies a one of the largest forests, famous Labanoras Forest, which is a part of Labanoras Regional Park - and there is more rare plants, more rare birds, including Black Stork, Capercailye, Crane and few species of eagles, more rare animals like Lynx and Wolf, 285 lakes (70 of them swimmable), mysterious swamps and numerous rivers and streams suitable for canoeing. No surprise that its popularity among holidaymakers exceeds even popularity of its neighbor Aukštaitija National Park.
Another favorite regional park, especially among the birders, is the Nemunas Delta. The vast wetlands around the place where Neman River reaches the Baltic Sea are a popular eco-tourism destination and an important bird habitat.
"Monkey" bridge over Minija river in Dituva village, south of Klaipėda
Lithuanians describe their land with the help of poetry. Poetry and songs are filled with romantic images of gently rolling hills, vast valleys and meandering rivers, somber forests rich of animals, meadows full of butterflies and the birds singing in the sky. This embodies what the Lithuanian is looking for and is happy when he finds it. This is what the Lithuanian is willing to promote and defend. And when Lithuanians abroad begin to feel homesickness – this is homesickness for all such scenery and everything else related to it. This is, according to many Lithuanians, the highest value of the country. Consequently, if you are after all this, you can experience more than you had expected, however this can be quite a challenging experience. You have to be well prepared and probably to rent a car. You can see, hear and touch everything that is described in Lithuanian poetry and songs, but how you will perceive it depends on you and circumstances, which often are unpredictable. And this is a part of modern Lithuanian myths and urban legends as well: unpredictable circumstances. One of the first things that travelers from the West notice is the lack of infrastructure and facilities in the recreation areas. And there is no reason to expect any improvements or changes in this respect in the future: Lithuanians tend to make the difference between the "urban habitat" and the "visits to the nature", the latter is supposed to be a rough experience, a visit to the natural, not necessarily pristine or well maintained, but naturally strong and lively environment without the attributes of urban life, it should contrast with the daily routine of the city resident. Visiting the nature is supposed to be a way of gaining vital energy. Therefore you must to "pave your path" through the woods as if you were a pathfinder – each time again and again – so that ultimately you are affected by elements of nature even against your will or laziness. Locals would tell you that if you don’t want to make any effort you don’t deserve to step outside the city. But if some effort is not a big trouble to you, all those gently rolling hills, vast valleys and meandering rivers, somber forests, meadows full of butterflies and the birds singing in the sky are almost every time guaranteed.
Widely spread inland dunes, mostly forested, cover about 2.61% of the territory of Lithuania. The most typical areas of the aeolian relief stretch in South Lithuania. This picture features the inland dune covered by cup lichen in Dainava forest, a part of Dzūkija National Park.
- Aukštaitija National Park (Aukštaitijos nacionalinis parkas) in the eastern region of Aukštaitija, both administration office and the Tourism Information Centre are located in Palūšė village (Lūšių St 16, Palūšė, Ignalina district; phone +370 386 47478, e-mail [email protected]).
- Dzūkija National Park And Čepkeliai Nature Reserve (Dzūkijos nacionalinis parkas ir Čepkelių rezervatas) in the southern region of Dzūkija, its administration office is located in Merkinė town (Vilniaus St 3, Merkinė, Varėna district, e-mail [email protected]), the park has two Visitor Centres: Merkinė Visitor Centre (Vilniaus St 2, Merkinė, Varėna district; e-mail [email protected]) and Marcinkonys Visitor Centre And Čepkeliai Visitor Centre (Šilagėlių St 11, Marcinkonys, Varėna district; mobile phone +370 672 46388, fax +370 310 44471, e-mail [email protected]). Čepkeliai State Strict Nature Reserve is a large bog, listed among Wetlands of International Importance, it is a part of a European Union network of protected territories and also a NATURA 2000 territory. It can be visited only accompanied by Reservation staff (in some cases only written permit is needed), without permission from the Reservation headquarters it is forbidden to visit Čepkeliai Bog.
- Samogitian National Park (Žemaitijos nacionalinis parkas) in the region of Samogitia; administration office and the Visitor Centre are located in Plateliai village (Didžioji St 19, Plateliai, Plungė district; phone +370 448 49231, e-mail [email protected]).
- National park Of Curonian Spit (Kuršių Nerijos nacionalinis parkas) covers a narrow peninsula of the farthest western edge of the country’s Lithuania Minor region, administration office is located in Nida (Naglių St 8; e-mail [email protected]), and the three Tourism Information Centres are located in Smiltynė (only in summer; Smiltynės St 11; e-mail [email protected] ), Juodkrantė (L. Rėzos St 8; e-mail [email protected]) and Nida (Taikos St 4; e-mail [email protected]).
- Trakai Historical National Park (Trakų istorinis nacionalinis parkas) is surrounding a former capital of Grand Duchy of Lithuania – a small town of Trakai near Vilnius. Administration office (Karaimų St 5, e-mail [email protected]) and the Tourism Information Centre (Vytauto St 69; e-mail [email protected] ) are located in Trakai.
- The south-west region of Suvalkija is represented by Vištytis Regional Park near Vištytis Lake. There were attempts to convert this Regional Park into Suvalkian National Park; however the local residents opposed to. Information and travel ideas about all Suvalkian region, which is divided between Lithuania and Poland, can be found at the Tourism Information Centre of the Šešupė Euroregion in Šakiai town (V. Kudirkos St 61/1; phone/fax +370 345 1262, e-mail [email protected]). Šešupė Euroregion is named after the one of most prominent rivers in the country, Šešupė, which marks the border between Lithuania and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast. Information Centre web site offers description of several different routes, some are translated to English: Walking in Šakiai, By bicycle around Šešupė Euroregion, Car route-1 (Wooden churches in Šakiai region), Car route-2 (Keeping traces of authors from Šakiai region), Car route-3 (Around Šešupė Euroregion), Hiking around Šešupė land, By canoe along the bends of Šešupė in Šakiai region, By canoe on the bends of the river Šešupė.
- Regional Parks: there are 30 Regional Parks in the country total. Some of them are mentioned in the text above, some can be found below. Regional and National Parks represent most valuable environments of the country and are popular outdoor recreation destinations among people of Lithuania and neighbouring countries. Some territories and areas within those parks have additional restrictions of various degree (nature reserves and preserves), like well-known Čepkeliai Bog and Nagliai Nature Preserve (also known as Dead or Grey Dunes), or lesser known ones like Viešvilė State Nature Preserve. Some parks are more oriented to the visitors in sense that the lower restrictions and characteristics of environment itself allow to install some kind of infrastructural, recreational and entertaining objects; some other parks prefer to leave the visitors on their own without the comforts of civilization. Visitor is supposed to be able to make a choice. This part may be difficult for people from the countries where the visitors should be offered.
- Fees: visiting both National and Regional parks is free of charge, with 3 exceptions: Curonian Spit NP has a fee for motor vehicles (car ~€6, camper van ~€20, bus over 30 seats ~€50; slightly less during off-season); Aukštaitija NP and Labanoras RP introduced the entrance fee of €1/5 days for all visitors since 2014, tickets can be purchased at the Visitor Centre of the corresponding Park, also in the largest cities at the lottery Perlas terminals.
- Accessibility: all areas of the outdoor recreation are reachable by car, and all their Visitor Centres are also reachable by public transport. One must have in mind that the network of public transport is designed to provide the service between the settlements and not between the areas, therefore the car (or rental bus for larger groups) is recommended.
The spring "Mary's Tears" by the bridge over Dubysa river, near Ariogala town.
Road No 141 crossing Dubysa river near Seredžius
- Scenery and the roads. Traveling down the main roads is dull and boring. The roads, among other features, are treated as the objects that damage and pollute the natural environment; therefore the modern roads are built across the former pastures and agricultural lands, bypassing smaller settlements at "respectable distance", which means that you can barely see them from the road. Older roads, with reconstructed pavement, are also in use. For example, the motorway A1 Kaunas-Klaipėda loosely duplicates the Samogitian Highway (Žemaičių plentas) which was opened in 1939, and which can be recognized as a winding secondary road connecting all the district centres slightly north of the road A1 on the section that begins before Ariogala (NW of Kaunas) and ends up after Gargždai near Klaipėda. To some extent such secondary roads are more diverse and more interesting, however the speed is lower and the time costs are higher. Some objects of interest are easy to miss, some others are still away from the road. Traveling by train reduces opportunities of sightseeing to a minimum: the rows of trees are planted along the railway tracks to form a green barrier in order to separate the railway infrastructure from the surrounding space. The rare breaks between the trees let to enjoy the scenery for several seconds or minutes.
- There are several roads in the country that are scenic and pleasant to drive. Regardless of what objects are or are not on these roads, they can be treated as a separate objects of interest: all you need is just to relax and drive. Lithuania is not a country of outstanding beauty or extraordinary objects; its natural beauty is soft, unpretentious and relaxing. The scenic roads are:
- Hill-forts. This is the one of most common objects of interest and type of landmarks for Lithuanians. If you want to go “somewhere” other than the lake or river for the outdoor recreation purposes and nothing comes to mind as “where to go”, there always is a hill-fort or its surroundings suitable for leisure pursuits. Total number of the hill-forts, or piliakalniai (nominative plural), in Lithuania is 840, the latest one was indentified in 1997.
- There are several types of early hill-forts that date from the Bronze Age BC to 13th century AD, they all have flattened hilltop defensive positions; and two types of hill-forts built for defensive purposes against the raids of German Crusaders between 13th and 15th centuries, their hilltop defensive positions are irregular. The latter type of two is motte-and-bailey castles, for example the Second Hillfort of Veliuona, now partially washed out by Nemunas river. Construction of castles and other elements of the fortifications were made of wood and stone, nothing has survived to date. Later the few brick castles were built, but by that time the firearms and new methods of warfare made such type of castles unsuitable for defensive purposes, they were abandoned and eventually only the hills remained. The scenery of Lithuania has changed: the settlements have “climbed down” from the hilltops to the foothills and hid in groves. This is what you see driving through the rural areas: the road winding among the scattered groves, several farms here and there in a distance, and eventually you see the steeple of the church above the grove, betraying the presence of town still hidden behind the trees. Somewhere aside an old hill-fort marks its previous location. You can climb it up and the view that unfolds before the eyes often (but not always) is a literal embodiment of Lithuanian songs and poetry.
- On the country’s and regional maps the hill-forts are marked with an icon resembling the shape of some kind of a mound from the side or from above. The map legends are typically bilingual or multilingual, in Lithuanian language only the one term is used, piliakalnis (nominative singular), and English translations vary: hill fort, mound or castle hill means one and the same, the hill-fort.
- Several notable hill-forts are widely known throughout the country, their names conclude the names of organizations, schools and companies, and of course they are in the spotlight of vacationists and organized excursions:
Medvėgalis hill-fort, a highest point in Samogitia region.
- Kernavė – a complex of the hill-forts and archaeological sites. South of Kernavė town, just behind the church.
- Medvėgalis – Samogitia region, Varniai Regional Park (north of the A1 motorway, south-east of Lūkstas lake near Karūžiškės village in Bilionys elderate, Šilalė district).
- Merkinė – Dzūkija region, Dzūkija National Park, south of Merkinė town by Nemunas river.
- Napoleono kepurė (Napoleon's Hat) – Dzūkija region, west of Aukštadvaris town near Lepelionys village. Conveniently located very close to the A16 highway (southern side).
- Punia – Dzūkija region, Punia village by Nemunas river in the Nemunas Loop Regional Park, Alytus district. Reachable from the road No 129, the hill-fort is just behind the church which stands in the village’s centre.
- Šatrija – Samogitia region, Varniai Regional Park, south-east of Telšiai, reachable by driving south from the A11 highway Šiauliai-Palanga or by local transport from Telšiai.
- Šeimyniškėliai – Aukštaitija region, Anykščiai Regional Park (north-east of Anykščiai, suburb of Šeimyniškėliai, west of J. Biliūno street / road No 120, coordinates 55°32'43.96", 25°8'21.03" ).
- European Bison, Petriškės village, Krekenava elderate, LT-38305 Panevėžys district (Forest between Kaunas and Panevėžys, specifically east of Krekenava and west of Ramygala, reachable from both), ☎ Call in advance +370 455 93339, mobile: +370 686 16434, +370 620 59809 ([email protected]), . Closed Mondays; Tu-F 09:00-16:00, Sa-Su 10:00-18:00; lunch break 13:00-14:00. Prices: adult – ~€1.50, kid, schoolkid – ~€0.75, tour guide services – ~€3. Reintroduction of European bison started in Lithuania in 1969; currently 17 European bisons live in paddock, and a free-ranging herd in 30-40km radius around the paddock. The paddock and the forest is a part of Krekenava Regional Park (established in 1992) which has 5 Nature Reserves, 1 Historical Reserve (Upytė village), 3 cognitive paths, 4 bicycle trails, motor routes to the all objects of interest, Nevėžis river canoe route, and Culinary Heritage program (call in advance +370 454 54040, +370 455 93648, E-mail: [email protected]). For the downloadable map click the line Priedai: Krekenavos regioninio parko schema.
- Papilė Jurassic Exposure (Papilės atodanga) - 2km Venta river section of Jurassic conglomerates with abundant remains of small fossils. Papilė town, Mažeikiai district (Samogitia region). Object of the Venta Regional Park, declared as geological monument since 1964, listed among the most valuable geological localities of Lithuania since 1997.
- Cow's Cave (Karvės ola) - a well-type almost round funnel-formed sinkhole, the most notable one out of 9,000 sinkholes that have been identified in the area of Biržai district, Northern Lithuania. At the top its diameter reaches up to 10m, the depth is about 19m, of which 7m is under the water. In the bottom of the sinkhole at the depth of 9.5m there is an underground cavity opened instead of melted gypsum; this cavity splits up into several caves that were explored by speleologists and cave divers from Kaunas in 1973 and 1978. There are five caves: the Wet Cave (Šlapioji ola), the Narrow Burrow (Siauroji landa), the Bat Burrow (Šikšnosparnių landa - several bats have been found here), the Toad's Cave (Rupūžės ola) with a small underground lake of about 1.5m depth and the Lustrous Cave (Blizganti ola). The water level in the bottom of underground cavity is variable, the water temperature reaches 4.5°C. In 2007 the joint expedition of Lithuanian caving club "Aenigma" and caving club "Sokolniki-RUDN" from Moscow explored the Cow's Cave in detail and discovered a new hall, 15m in width. It was noted that cave diving in sinkholes is extremely complex and requires a high level of professionalism, this also means that average cave diver with good skills can't get a permit to explore this sinkhole. Cow's Cave is an object of the Biržai Regional Park, it has been declared as geological monument since 1964.
- Devil's Pit (Velnio duobė) - a pit of unknown origin. Its diameter is 60-65m at the bottom, 200m at the top with a depth of 30-40m. The total area is 0.04 ha at the bottom and 4.5 ha at the top. It's located about 4km north of Aukštadvaris town, Trakai district in the Aukštadvaris Regional Park, 54°36′41.96″N, 24°30′55.45″E. The bottom of the pit is walkable, however it is rather soft as that what looks like a bottom is a top of 9.5m height peat layer which is still in early stage of formation. A light fog, supposedly slightly toxic, tends to form early in the morning and in the evening. It is not recommended to stay for a long time at the bottom as you may start to feel yourself a little weird, though there is no official statistics or researches about the consequences of such an effect. Research conducted by Physics PhD's reveal that "This is especially active place where intersects the structures of strong and diverse geological biofields". Around and inside the pit there is a number of virtually healthy trees with the growth anomalies. The pit is ready for visits; there is an observation deck at the edge and a path leading around and inside it. Devil’s Pit has been declared as geological monument since 1964.
- Stelmuzhe Oak (Stelmužės ąžuolas) – a Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) which grows in Stelmužė village near the church (Imbradas elderate, north of Zarasai near Latvian border at the north-east corner of the country). The oldest plant in Lithuania, at least 1,500 years old, it measures 3.5m in diameter, 958 cm in girth at waist level and 23m in height. Declared a natural monument since 1960 and included in the list of protected objects in Lithuania. The skeleton of Napoleon's army soldier and gun were found in one of its inner hollows. The oak grows in the park (10 ha) of the former Stelmužė Manor which is known since 17th century when estate owner was a German baron Folkerzamb. Distance from Vilnius 160km.
- Oak of Thunder God (Perkūno ąžuolas) – a Pedunculate oak which grows in a park of Ogiński Manor Estate, Parkas St 1, Plungė. Legend tells that priestess Galinda stoked a sacred fire near this oak. One day her lover went forth to war against Crusaders, and never returned back. The chief priest, seeing Galinda’s tears and heartache, began to teach her that only a sacred fire can quench her earthly pain. Once, when Galinda was weeping under the oak, a thunder struck the tree. Oak shook, some soil has poured into its trunk – and soon the flower of incredible beauty has sprouted out of the trunk of the oak. Since then people started to call it on behalf of Thunder God. Trunk girth 530 cm, height 21m, has 2 trunks, several hollows. Declared as natural monument. Distance from Vilnius 286km, distance from Klaipėda 59km.
Major parks and gardens
Vilnius University Botanical Garden at Kairėnai Estate.
Lentvaris Park designed by Édouard André.
Manor stud in Žagarė Park.
- Vilnius University Botanical Garden (VUBG) (Vilniaus Universiteto botanikos sodas), Kairėnų St 43, LT-10239 Vilnius-40, ☎ Information +370 5 219-3139 ([email protected], fax: +370 5 231-7933). Summer - daily 10:00-20:00, winter - Mo-Fr 09:00-16:00, last admission 1h before closing. Prices (cash only) 1 May to 31 Oct for adult ~€2.50, concession ~€1.20, family (2 adults + children) ~€6. 1 Nov to 30 Apr for adult ~€1.50, concession ~€0.60, family (2 adults + children) ~€3. Vilnius University Botanical Garden was founded in 1781. Today the Garden resides in two areas, Vingis Park and Kairėnai Estate, it is not only the largest in Lithuania (with combined total area of 199 ha) but also have the most numerous collections of plants. Guide-led tours in English, additional services (horse riding, horse-drawn carriage ride, rent of gazebos and picnic tables) must be booked in advance by phone +370 5 219-3139.
- Landscape parks designed by Édouard André - there are 4 parks in Lithuania: Palanga Park in the seaside resort of Palanga, Užutrakis Park (Užutrakis, Trakai district), Lentvaris Park ( Lentvaris, Trakai district), Trakų Vokė Park (Trakų Vokė, Paneriai elderate, Vilnius municipality).
- Palanga Botanical Park (Palangos botanikos parkas), Vytauto St 15, LT-5720 Palanga (Palanga, south of the centre), ☎ +370 460 49270, +370 460 49271 ([email protected]). The best preserved, best kept and most popular park in Lithuania, total area 101.3 ha.
- Trakų Vokė Manor Estate (Trakų Vokės dvaras), Trakų Vokė, Paneriai elderate, Vilnius municipality (Outside Vilnius on the way to Trakai, between Vilnius and Lentvaris, north of A4 highway, near Vokė river). The park, total area 23 ha, is surrounding the Neo-Renaissance manor of Count Tyszkiewicz family. The park was completed c. 1900. During WWII the manor was occupied by colonists from Holland. Later it was used for various purposes, the park declined. Currently the park is partially renewed, the feasibility study is prepared by European Institute of Cultural Routes, the park is being under the early stage of complete restoration.
- Žagarė Manor Park, Šiaulių St 28, LT-5467 Žagarė, Joniškis district (When you go from Joniškis to Žagarė, you enter the Park first (the road divides it into 2 parts) and as soon as you leave it behind you suddenly find yourself in the centre of the town). The park is rather neglected now, it was second-magnificent park in Lithuania, after Palanga Park. Founded by Naryškinas noble family who were descendents of Tatars, developed from 1898 spring to 1900 autumn to design of dendrologist George Friedrich Ferdinand Kuphaldt (1853-1938), covers area of 70ha. Belongs to Žagarė Regional Park. 56°21'44"N, 23°16'9"E
- Japanese believe: if someone intrudes into nature and attempts to change it, so this should be perfectly done, just raised to the heights of art. So. This is the biggest (16 ha) Japanese garden in Europe. It was started to develop by Japanese Garden Master Hajime Watanabe in Oct 2007 and (almost) finished in 2009. Though it actually can’t be finished as it continues to live and grow and develop in its own natural way….. for only the death can confirm that something is finished. Japanese Garden Samogitia Mažučiai village, Darbėnai elderate, Kretinga district (Lithuania seaside: from Palanga head east up to Kretinga, then turn north (road No 218) up to Darbėnai, then turn left (west) towards Laukžemė right after the church in Darbėnai, you'll see signs to the garden then), ☎ +370 616 18530 ([email protected]). Daily 09:00-21:00. Admission fee: children ~€1.50, adults ~€4.50, family (2 adults and children) ~€10. (56.0300039,21.208963)
- Arvydai Manor (Arvydų dvaras), Pakalnės St 26, Bezdonys, Vilnius district, ☎ +370 614 41947 ([email protected]). The manor is known since 1415 when King Jagiello paid a visit during the hunt. The present appearance it gained when Samuel Goldstein, a German merchant of the 2nd Vilnius Guild, has bought the manor around 1900; the style of architecture since then is Neoclassicism. The next and last known landlord was polish duke Koscialkowsky, who was best known for his favorite activity shooting cows from the castles belvedere tower. During soviet times the manor was turned into a dorm with a cinema hall. In 2002 the manor was sold to a businessman from Vilnius, fully restored and now offers a variety of entertainment (hot-air balloon flights, hunting, fishing, bicycling, horse riding, golf, paintball, photosessions, spa procedures), accommodation for up to 18 people in 8 double rooms, services of wedding planner, premises for the banquets, weddings, conferences and various business events.
- Norviliškės Castle (Norviliškių pilis), Norviliškės, Šalčininkai district (86km south-east of Vilnius, road A15 up to Šalčininkai, then turn east, road No 104 up to Dieveniškės, turn left (road No 3904) up to Ureliai, then to the right (road No 3915) and drive some 5km up to the castle which stands several metres away from external EU border), ☎ +370 682 41155 ([email protected]). M-F 08:30-17:00. According to romantic story, the castle was built in the beginning of 16th century by a wealthy Prussian merchant and warrior who fell in love with the local beauty, Countess Darata Zienovičiūtė… and her brave warrior from Marienburg decided to stay in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The castle was built in a Renaissance style, same look it has today. During the centuries the castle served a variety of purposes, including barracks and a monastery. There are known many stories about the hidden treasures (silver and gold, specifically mentioned in written source of 1933), secret tunnel from the castle to Halshany (a town in modern Belarus), however only a tunnel from the castle to the belfry was found. Fully restored in 2005 it now offers active relaxation services, business conference facilities and cultural tourism services, accomodation, dining facilities, rental of the premises, event organization, horse-riding, hunting, extreme off-road adventures with four-wheel drives and motor-cycles, hot-air balloon rides, paragliding and helicopter rides as well as orienteering. The castle is situated in the territory of Dieveniškės Regional Park.
- Ogiński Manor (Žemaičių dailės muziejus – Museum of Samogitia Fine Arts), Parkas St 1, LT-90117 Plungė (North of Plungė centre, north of Babrungas river, west of the train station; there are 3 entrances to the manor park: from the west (Parko St 1), from the north near the railway (Stoties St), and from the east (Dariaus Ir Girėno St)), ☎ +370 448 57643 ([email protected], fax: +370 448 52492). 1 May–31 Oct W-Su 10:00-17:00; 1 Nov–30 Apr Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00. Price: adult ~€2, kids ~€1, guide (foreign language) for group of 25: ~€15 (temporary price during renovation only). The manor was first time mentioned in 1568, reconstructed in 1879 by Count Ogiński, since then the manor house has a Neo-Renaissance style and is surrounded by 58.3 ha park. Since 1994 the manor premises are used for Museum of Samogitia Fine Arts.
- Pakruojis Manor (Pakruojo dvaras), Pakruojis Manor, Karčiama St, LT-83166, Pakruojis (Northern Lithuania, between Panevėžys and Šiauliai, north-east corner of Pakruojis town, west of the road No 151 (Linkuva direction)), ☎ +370 686 86376, Rest and Tourism Centre office +370 681 88151 ([email protected]), . Tavern - Tu-Th, Su 12:00-20:00, F-Sa 12:00-22:00; Windmill - F-Sa 12:00-19:00, Su 12:00-18:00. First mentioned in 1531, its heydays began since 1780 when Baron Wilhelm von der Ropp from Livonia married local Countess Aleksandra Miunsterytė. Baron was the initiator who financed the new extensive construction of Pakruojis Manor, which was completed in the third decade of the 19th century and remains up to date, it has Late Neoclassical style. Fully restored in 2009 it now offers guided tours in the main palace and territory (price ~€3 per person), introductory and educational program “Visiting Miller – Cognition of the Bread Path” (4h 30min, price up to €20 per person for groups from 20 individuals), 5 different size and interior halls for business events and weddings, catering in tavern “Traktierius”, horse-riding; for rent: bicycle, scooter, boat, kite; accommodation in hotel “Stadala” (hotel reservation [email protected], bed and breakfast price: single ~€40, triple ~€80, extra bed ~€25). (55.986079,23.879326)
- Raudonė Castle (Raudonės pilis), Pilies St, Raudonė, Jurbarkas district (South of Raudonė town, on a hill by the highway A141, surrounded with the park). Castle construction works started in late 16th century. In the first half of the 19th century Prince Zubov family transformed the castle according to the design of architect Cesare Anichini, the building now has a style of Neo-Gothic architecture. During tourism season visitors are allowed to climb up the tower. The Castle is a highlight of Panemunė Regional Park.
- Šešuolėliai-1 Manor (Šešuolėlių I dvaras), Šešuolėlai I village, Zibalai elderate, LT-19032 Širvintos district, ☎ +370 672 92377 ([email protected]). Offers: eight luxuriously-decorated sleeping apartments, a Jacuzzi bath, luxurious living and dining rooms, sauna, soiree room, a ballroom with capacity for 400 people. The surroundings are well-suited for occasional and cultural events.
- Žeimiai Manor (Žeimių dvaras), Draugystė St 28, Žeimiai, LT-55066 Jonava district, ([email protected]). Visiting time: weekdays 12:00-18:00, weekends 10:00-19:00. Offers: Artist-in-residence programs and other residency opportunities which allow artists to stay and work elsewhere..
20th century military heritage
Lithuania was a part of Russian Empire and bordered Germany. Various small fortifications are sparsely scattered across the country, but most of them are concentrated in two places: around Kaunas and in Zarasai (Novo-Alexandrovsk at the time) - Ignalina area.
Tenth Fort in Romainiai, Kaunas municipality: shelf with ammunition niches.
- Kaunas Fortress, originally built in 19th century. Since 1912 an expansion and reconstruction has begun, its completion was scheduled for 1917. In 1915 only one fort, the Ninth, was completed, while the Tenth was partially built and 3 others were left in the early stages of construction. In 1915 Germany began an offensive against Russia and reached Kaunas Fortress in July 1915. The fortress and Kaunas city were taken by Germans in August 18, 1915.
- Tenth Fort (Romainių fortas). Directions: west of Kaunas, west of A5 highway, north of a junction of Šilainiai and Romainiai streets, Romainiai elderate, 54°55′39″N, 23°49′50″E . Partially flooded up, cave diving skills and equipment is needed to get into the underground premises.
- Kaunas - Germans planned to use Kaunas Fortress for the defense from Russian counter attack. Further expansion and reconstruction has begun, line of defense (Vaišvydava-Palemonas-Narėpai-Domeikava) protecting the city from the North-East was started to construct. The works lasted from 1916 to 1917.
One of casemates in Narėpai: iron observation cupola.
Inside the observation cupola in Narėpai: armoured hasps on the lookout hole.
- Kleboniškis Casemates Directions: Kaunas municipality, Kleboniškis forest north of motorway A1 Vilnius-Klaipėda, reachable by paved path from pedestrian overpass near "Tėvynė" restaurant-motel, west of a main viaduct, the path leads to Naujasėdis settlement. South of Naujasėdis, 300m away from the site with the sculptures of wooden gnomes. 54°56'38"N, 23°57'59"E .
- Narėpai Casemates Directions: Kaunas municipality, between the road A6 Kaunas-Jonava and Neris river where the river makes a loop, north of Narėpai village. The path (north of a ditch wind) leads north to the forest. 54°57'9"N, 24°0'1"E .
- Tverečius - 1915 autumn marks an extensive battles in the eastern Lithuania in Zarasai-Ignalina region. Some of the constructions built during that time still can be found near the small town of Tverečius, Ignalina district, near Belarus border. Details on accommodation in vicinity: this part of the country, Eastern Lakeland, is heavily forested and sparsely populated, therefore a hotel/hostel-type accommodation is unavailable; only a mini resort-type places which range from very simple to very sophisticated. There are 3 modest options rather close to the objects of interest: Trys ežerai (Three Lakes) – 5 cottages, 20 beds total, Ligita Kindurienė Homestead – 2 cottages, 21 bed total, mob. phone +370 652 70651, Ramūnas Bubnys Homestead – 2 cottages, 12 beds total, mob. phone +370 686 49009.
- Military hideout Directions: in Tverečius, several metres behind the bus stop near cemetery.
- Artillery firing positions Directions: from Tverečius head south some 7km Adutiškis direction down the road No 4402 up to Katinautiškės village by Svyla stream.
- Military village of concrete camp huts Directions: the road No 4402 from Katinautiškės turns south-west along the Svyla stream, go some 2.8km up to Guntauninkai village. A bit further east some hideouts can be found.
- Pillboxes Directions: Further south-west 1.78km away from Guntauninkai you find a village of Radžiūnai where 3 pillboxes can be seen in the fields near the road: the first one before the village (55°14'42.27", 26°34'44.69"), then you walk across the village, pass the bus stop and cross Svyla stream, and almost immediately see another one by the left hand side (55°14'27.62", 26°34'29.81"), then 130m further (55°14'23.63", 26°34'27.37") you see a third one.
- Vilnius Entrenched Camp – a complex of Vilnius defensive fortifications, constructed between 1923 and 1928 by Second Polish Republic. Fortifications were aimed to defend the city from increasing military power of Soviet Union, in case of conflict. However, irony of fate, only Wehrmacht used it fighting Armia Krajowa which was attacking by the end of World War II. The main tourist attraction is several objects situated in the outdoor recreation area of Sapieginė Forest, Antakalnis district, and belong to Pavilniai Regional Park . They are sparsely scattered from Šilo (5 ammunition depots) and Žolyno (batteries) streets up to Rokantiškės (2 batteries and 2 observation points) near Pūčkoriai outcrop which can be seen from Belmontas Entertainment And Recreation Centre.
- Nazi German Fortifications in Memel-Klaipėda – there are 9 remains of military constructions and 20 military hideouts in Klaipėda area total. One battery north of Klaipėda on the beach near Giruliai, called Black Fortress (Juodoji tvirtovė), is a popular and well known spot among holidaymakers. There are other three in different locations which are rather easy to find.
- Memel Nord
- Batterie Försterei aka Black Fortress (Girulių baterija), Giruliai, Klaipėda municipality (Giruliai beach), ☎ +370 630 20263 ([email protected]). 12:00-20:00, to contact beforehand is required. Anti-aircraft battery, modified Fla2 type. Premises are used for various events, exhibitions, entertainment and sightseeing excursions.
- Batterie Mellneraggen (Melnragės baterija), Melnragė, Klaipėda municipality (Melnragė beach). Anti-aircraft Fla2 battery.
- Memel Süd (on Curonian Spit)
- Baterrie Bachmann (Kopgalio baterija), Smiltynė, Klaipėda municipality (Curonian Spit, Smiltynė, dunes near men’s beach). Anti-aircraft Fla2 battery.
- Batterie Schweisbrücken (Alksnynės baterija), Smiltynė-Nida Highway, Neringa municipality (Curonian Spit, 6.07km from the 1st ferry terminal at Smiltynė, then turn left to the road closed for vehicles and go 480m). Anti-aircraft Fla2 battery. In order to visit underground premises call in advance, phone +370 611 22111.
- Molotov Line (Molotovo gynybinė linija). The line of Soviet hardened field defences of World War II, its section of 328km stretches between the Lithuanian seaside near Palanga up to Polish border and marks the former border between Germany and Lithuanian SSR in 1941. Construction of the pillboxes started in 1941 April, some 100 out of 1641 objects were more or less completed until June 22, 1941 when Wehrmacht unexpectedly invaded Soviet Union, violating the non-aggression pact of 1939.
- Oflag 53 (subcamp of Buchenwald concentration camp), Pagėgiai (German: Pogegen) district, Lithuania Minor (From the centre of Pagėgiai turn west (from Vilnius St to Jankus St which soon turns into the road No 4230) and go 1km 83m Anužiai direction, then turn to the right (road sign “Oflager-53”) to the forest, the site is 410m away from the road), ☎ +370 656 18551 ([email protected]). Established 15 Apr 1941, closed Jun 1944. A memorial complex for prisoners of war who died in Pagėgiai concentration camp erected in 1977, rebuilt in May 2005. For more information contact Pagėgiai Region Tourism Information Centre, Šereikos St 3-3, LT-99254 Vilkyškiai, Pagėgiai district.
Building of Macikai Lockup.
- Macikai Village Concentration Camp - Lockup (former German WW II POW camp Stalag 1C / Soviet prison for internal enemies GULAG department No 3), Macikai village, LT-99156, Šilutė district (1.15km down the road No 4235 which branches off from the main road No 141 east of Šilutė, Lithuania Minor region), ☎ +370 441 62207 ([email protected], fax: +370 441 62207). Tuesday-Saturday 11:00-15:00. Once it was a manor. Then, in 1924, its territory was used for the barracks of Lithuanian Army. 1939 Germans established the WWII POW camp. 1944-1948 Soviets continued to use the camp for the German POW. 1948-1955 it was renamed to "GULAG department No 3" and served as a prison for "internal enemies". 1995 the Museum of Macikai Concentration Camp was established.
- Urban Exploration. 31 Aug 1993 the last Soviet soldier left the territory of Lithuania. Vast areas that have been used for military purposes, has been abandoned. Thereafter Lithuanian military took over some objects and territories, redesigned and reconstructed them to meet NATO standards, and this represents about 40% of the territories and objects previously used by Soviet military. Some 60% of enemy's military bases were left to decay. Today, all of them yet to be explored, but the ruthless effects of time and Mother Nature are already clearly visible. The sites suitable for Urban Exploration consist of 2 main groups of the former Soviet military objects and territories: 1 - KGB object in Linksmakalnis and its affiliate, and 2 - properties of Soviet 58th Missile Division (HQ in Karmėlava) and 29th Missile Division (HQ in Tauragė, later in Šiauliai) of 5th Missile Army. Some of the former firing grounds were converted into the biosphere grounds and recreation zones suitable for the eco-tourism.
- KGB Radio Intelligence Center
Linksmakalnis Officers Clubhouse built 1944-1950 by German prisoners of war who were then executed at the spot. Building design is a replica of the manor stable. Soviet symbols on the facades were an obligatory.
- Linksmakalnis aka Lustberg. It was a former manor estate turned into the KGB radio intelligence center which was served by the secret military unit 71272. One non-combat subunit was responsible for the infrastructure, three combat subunits were responsible for political and economical intelligence in West Germany and Scandinavia. Preconditions for the existence of such a center were created by Europeans themselves: in order to save the state budget it was decided for confidential communications not to use the separate wireline channels (very expensive), but to use the ordinary commercial channels instead, encoding messages with a special chip. However, the chip did not become an obstacle. In 16 Jun 1993 the secret unit was moved to the new unknown location and changed its subordination and number. Directions: 20km south of Kaunas, the road No 130, before Išlaužas turn east across the pool. As you cross the bridge and enter the town, go down the main street (Liepų St) till the end. The town soon ends up, and as soon as it disappears behind you, you start to see something ahead: a "brain center", address Liepų St 25, 54°45'32.38"N, 23°56'25.84"E. Platform for satellite antenna can be seen on the roof, this building was a technical centre. Two other buildings (No 27 and No 29) served for other purposes. The territory is still fenced up. It remained abandoned for almost 10 years until 2000. Since then, the two latter buildings are occupied by public institution “Sugrįžimas” (“Comeback”) and remains so to date. Urban exploration is allowed by agreement at the spot, the technical building is still left as is.
- “Neman” – it had to be a new satellite communications center near Piliuona town. The large building of the technical center, staff office with an underground hideout, boiler, power generator, garage and some other structures has been almost fully completed. Apartment building for the staff was started to construct. In 1989 it was decided that the place has become unreliable for such an object. Dismantling works started, however only engineering infrastructure has been dismantled and transferred to the new unknown location of the same center. Directions: east of Linksmakalnis near Nemunas river, between the towns of Pakuonis (south) and Piliuona (north), east of the road No 1901 and south of Redimistis stream. The platforms for satellite antennas on the roof of the main building are visible from the road, also can be seen on Google Maps and Street View. 54°45'4.1", 24°6'24.64"
- SS-4-type intermediate-range nuclear missile launch facilities – there were 4 pairs of missile bases in Lithuania (8 total, not counting the Dvina type silo complex in Plokštinė which was converted into museum).
Abandoned Soviet nuclear missile storage hangar at the Surface Launch Base near Šateikiai, Western Lithuania.
- Šateikiai (79 Regiment, 29th Missile Division of the 5th Missile Army) – two surface launch facilities with 4 launch pads and accessory infrastructure each, constructed in 1962. Directions: west of Samogitia National Park, Plungė district, north of the road Šiauliai-Palanga, Šateikiai village (intersection of the roads No 169 and No 3216).
- Šateikiai North – forest north of Šateikiai, entrance from the road No 169: 56°0'37.53"N, 21°40'3.41"E, turn north (displayed on Google Maps Street View).
- Šateikiai South - forest west of Šateikiai, same crossroad on the road No 169, turn south.
- Tauragė (637 Regiment, 58th Missile Division of the 5th Missile Army) - two surface launch facilities with 4 launch pads and accessory infrastructure each, constructed in 1960. Directions: Lithuania Minor region, both bases located south of Tauragė city.
- Tauragė North – south of Tauragė city, reachable from Tauragė (by the road No 4505) or from the south (near Viešvilė from the road No 141 Jurbarkas-Klaipėda), 55°9'23.24"N, 22°20'44.59"E.
- Tauragė South – west of Viešvilė, same crossroad from the road No 141, turn south-west and go till the end, two sites surrounded by dense forest - 55°5'12.45"N, 22°21'18.39"E and 55°4'51.62"N, 22°19'24.2"E.
- Karmėlava (42 Regiment, 58th Missile Division of the 5th Missile Army) - two surface launch facilities with 4 launch pads and 6 underground hangars for missiles, construction completed in 1976. Missiles SS-4 later were replaced with SS-20. Directions: north-east of Kaunas, north east of Karmėlava town, east of the road to Jonava.
- Karmėlava South – east of Kaunas air port (former Soviet air-force base which served as a cover for the missile base). Reachable from the road A6 north of Karmėlava, turn to the right before Turžėnai bus stop (54°58'44.09"N, 24°5'36.12"E) and round the forest and the air-port territory to the very end by the fence, then turn left, cross the cover base (54°57'39.4"N, 24°6'20.41"E), then "S" shape bend, remains of tripple checkpoint, enter the base, 54°57'15.2"N, 24°5'26.45"E.
- Karmėlava North – same road A6 further towards Jonava, turn to the right to Gulbiniškiai (a road sign "turn right" at 55°2'38.51"N, 24°13'57.09"E, no directions), pass through Gulbiniškiai village, cross the railway (unused); then see two roads branching to the right - turn to the second one and go till the end at 55°0'43.69"N, 24°14'18.6"E.
- Ukmergė (324 Regiment, 58th Missile Division of the 5th Missile Army) - two surface launch facilities with 4 launch pads and accessory infrastructure each, constructed in 1959. Directions: north-west of Vilnius near Ukmergė, both bases are located south-west of Ukmergė.
- Ukmergė North – reachable from the road No 231 south of Ukmergė, via Vaitkūnai suburb turn west towards Kopūstėliai village, pass it through, go straight to the end near Šventoji river, 55°11'1.03"N, 24°42'12.53"E.
- Ukmergė South – direct access from the northern base is impossible, located south-east of Vepriai (road No 4809) and north-west of Bagaslaviškis (road No 4303). From the road No 4809 at Kelmai hamlet turn north, pass the farmstead, go on up to the end, turn left, then turn right, 55°7'51.93"N, 24°38'30.5"E.
- Seimas Barricades - Remains of the barricades built around the Parliament building to protect the newly-democratic Lithuanian parliament from Soviet troops in 1991. Gediminas Ave 53, LT-01109 Vilnius.
Pagan heritage: sites and artifacts
Puntukas, a most prominent and the 2nd largest boulder in the country. Named after warrior Puntukas
who was killed and then burned on the stone.
Cursed Maiden (Užkeikta merga)
in Akmuo village, Varėna district.
- Thunder God Temple (Perkūno šventykla). The biggest known Lithuanian pagan temple constructed supposedly by Duke Gerimundas in 1265. Archaeological investigations in 1986 have revealed the exact location of the temple and confirmed the legends and texts of chronicles which say that Vilnius Cathedral was built at the site of the pagan shrine. Remains of the temple can be seen in the cellars of Vilnius Cathedral. Tours only accompanied by a guide.
- Birutė Hill (Birutės kalnas), Palanga Botanical Park, LT-5720 Palanga (Some 200m away south-west from Amber Museum, at the southern end of Love Alley (Meilės alėja)). 55°54′20″N, 21°03′10″E . The relict dune at the seaside of Palanga, linked with a story of priestess Birutė, who married to the Grand Duke of Lithuania Kestutis and gave birth to Vytautas, the most famous Lithuanian Grand Duke. In 1989 the archaeologists found the evidences of a pagan sanctuary, observatory and elements of wooden fortifications which had existed on the top of Birutė hill in 14th-15th century. Best known place of worship in Samogitia, although every settlement had its own one.
- Samogitian Sanctuary (Žemaičių Alkas), Šventoji, Palanga municipality (North of Šventoji, east of beach, west of the path to Būtingė). 56°02′28″N, 21°04′28″E . Reconstruction of pagan paleoastronomic observatory found at Birutė Hill. Constructed in June 1998.
- Karmazinai Mound ((Karmazinų piliakalnis)), Karmazinai, Dūkštos elderate, Vilnius district (Some 0.8km northwest of the Karmazinai village, 40m from the right bank of the Dūkšta river, close to its confluence with Neris). 54°49′09″N, 24°55′52″E. Early type hill-fort (600-800 AD), used as a place of worship (lith. alkas). Numerous legends tell the stories about the temple standing on its top in the past, stone idol, hidden gold, drowned bell and giant oaks of size that made people wonder. Oaks, although rather sparse, still grow in the area fulfilling the hearts of Lithuanians with warm feelings and chills…. and probably making foreign guests to wander why. If you stand on the top of the hill, and coincidentally hear the sound of bells in the Dūkštos church 4km away, you can feel that the hill echoes under your feet as if it was hollow. One of the endless highlights of Neris Regional Park.
- Mythological stones. Are probably most tangible witnesses of the pagan past that survived until modern times. It is known about the 600 mythological stones in the country. Their origins, shapes, purposes and associated legends vary. Lithuanian soils are unevenly podzolized, mostly fertile and cultivated, while sandy soils cover about one-fourth of the country’s territory – you are supposed to make sure that Lithuania has no rocks, and even stones are rather rare birds. Majority of them partially or entirely rest beneath the ground, some protrude outward. And some are quite sizeable. These are well known and held in respect just as a cool natural phenomena, but among them there are stones which are something more than just that. Even in 19th until the middle of 20th century during Christian religious holidays many people used to gather by the mythological stones in large numbers, sacrificing various items and money, praying for health and happiness. Even today you can wing the sacred Bradeliškės Stone in Airėnai, Vilnius district, and you will always find the coins left on it. All regional maps have an icon “mythological” or “prominent stone” in the legend’s section “objects of interest”; the more detailed is the map, the more of mythological stones are marked on it. During short one or few days trips Lithuanians like to visit country's famous and mysterious places, and stones here go without saying. Such trips are done by combining various modes of transport, also on foot. Some even famous stones are quite remote or just are hard to locate, so attempts alone to find them are quite an adventure.
There are different types of mythological stones; all of them have their given names. There are several large stones in different locations, called Mokas, the name’s meaning is a cross between a soothsayer and a scholar. It is supposed that the sorcerers and priests used to gain certain knowledge from them. Stones named Mokas possess some ancient wisdom, so what Lithuanians do is just visit them, or, like they say, “see them”. You don’t need to do anything, Mokas will do what must be done, that is, your biofield will be (or will be not) affected in certain way, and whether you gain something entirely depends on your inner self. Apart those large stones there are many slightly smaller ones with attributed healing powers, it is supposed that healing effects can occur when there is a necessity.
There are stones with pits. During 14-17 centuries the pagan shrines had in their sites the stones of cylindrical shape with engraved flat-bottomed bowls which gathered sacred water. It is supposed that the stones were also used to stoke a sacred fire. Later were prevailing the midsize flat surface stones with the pointed-bowls, it is believed they had to safeguard the grain, livestock and happiness of home. They now are sparsely scattered everywhere across the country, some can be found in the churchyards.
A separate group is foot-printed stones. The truth is that they are lacking of scientifical data. Their origins are usually associated with minor goddesses and gods, such like woodland fairies - the Laumės (nom., plur., feminine) and devils - the Velniai (nom., plur., masculine). Other Baltic deities and elementals also may be involved, depends on particular stone and location. The Laumės Akmuo (Woodland Fairy Stone), for example, has several indentations of supposedly not artificial origin: the smaller ones remind the footprints of the fairy and the baby, the largest one, although sometimes is called a “cow’s footprint”, is shaped rather like a devil’s footprint. Here it is worth mentioning that Baltic devils were rather common creatures living in the woods and swamps throughout the country, you should not be mistaken by other definitions. One of the stories tell that the intendation was left by cow who managed to imprint it, another tale tells rather standard story about the devil who carried a stone and lost it. People were witnessing the woodland fairies washing clothes near the stone in the river, not only at night but even in day time. Once a local hireling girl saw a soldier who suddenly disappeared as soon as she crossed herself. Near the Laumės Akmuo on the other side of the river there is a Christian site of Lourdes, installed supposedly on the pagan sanctuary. The stone is located approximately 300m to the west of Kartena hill-fort with archaeological site of the ancient settlement which dates back to 600-1100 AD. Coordinates 55°54′38″N, 21°28′15″E, easily accessible by the A11 highway.
Finally, there are cursed and turned to stone humans. Some of them probably are the echo of romanticized love stories, some others – who knows now - may be the outcome of the actual curse… At first the curse causes a sudden death, the next moment an actual sorcery comes into force: the inner self of a man is trapped into something solid that crystallizes and acquires the appearance of something that visually reminds a hard piece of the earth's crust. Lifeless body is buried in the cemetery or outside it, while the fate of trapped soul remains uncertain. Sometimes it haunts, sometimes it moves, and sometimes everything calms down.
- Tverai Sacred Site. Tverai elderate, Rietavas district. Although Tverai village, an ancient capital of Samogitia, can be a very interesting place to visit in itself, Lithuanians link this name to a place which, although still in Tverai elderate, is 3km 400m east from Tverai central square and situated in Ruškis Landscape Reserve, which is a strange hilly forest with a lake Ruškis in the middle. South-west corner of this forest, framed with a medium-size 25m height hill-fort, is probably one of the most mysterious places in Samogitia. The hill-fort is separated from the forest with a deep ravine of a narrow stream that springs slightly further, its murmur you can hear all the time. Winding deceptive paths leads you between the hills from one stone artifact to another, until you finally start to understand the stories that local people tell about the spells of this place that makes people to get lost. Directions: head east Varniai direction, road No 3203, as soon as you leave the village you already see the forest in a distance by left side of the road, and a serpentine stream that flows across the fields by the right side of the road. When you reach the stream turn left, the road takes to the entrance to the forest where you find a parking lot and a sign that informs that this is a Ruškio valstybinis kraštovaizdžio draustinis. As you enter the forest, there are other info shields with the scheme of the object locations and some other information.
Rokiškis town square and the church
Vilnius University central entrance
Concerning religion, Lithuanian rulers were very flexible. Some tended to Catholicism, others to Orthodox, and some were changing religions like clothes depending on trend. Finally, on 19 April 1389, Pope Urban VI recognized the status of Lithuania as a Roman Catholic state. A direct consequence of this was that German Orders lost any legal reasons to continue their crusades to Lithuania. Some say that Lithuania was forced to accept Christianity, some others can say that Christian Europe was forced to recognize Lithuania, but if the measure of progress is human life, then it was beneficial for all.
- Vilnius University ((Vilniaus universitetas)), Universiteto St 3, LT-01513 Vilnius, ☎ +370 5 268-7001 ([email protected]), . Established as the Jesuit Academy of Vilnius by King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Stephen Báthory in April 1, 1579, complex of University buildings is one of the highlights of Vilnius Old Town. The model of Vilnius University, as a symbol of European civilization in a broad sense, was chosen to represent Lithuania in Mini-Europe Park in Brussels, Belgium.
- Churches - Virtually every town and small settlement has its own church, let alone the largest cities. There are about 800 Catholic churches all over the country. Other Christian denominations are less represented: Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church has about 35 churches, Lithuanian Evangelical Reformed Church has 6 churches, all of them are in different towns. Russian Orthodox Church in Lithuania has about 60 churches all over the country (among them 13 in Vilnius, 4 in Kaunas, 3 in Klaipėda). Old Believers (mostly Pomorian Old Orthodox Church of Lithuania) since 17th century traditionally have sought refuge in Grand Duchy of Lithuania. They used to settle mostly in the NE region (with the main centre in Degučiai village, Zarasai district) and in the central part (around Jonava town) of the country. There are about 50 Old Believer churches in Lithuania total.
Liškiava monastery in southern Lithuania.
- Monasteries - There are about 75 monasteries in various locations of the country, some 40 of them are operating up to date. In sense of the architectural expression there are two significant monastery complexes: Pažaislis Monastery in Pažaislis suburb east of Kaunas, and Tytuvėnai Monastery in Tytuvėnai town, Kelmė district, Samogitia region. Both are examples of Italian Baroque architecture, and Pažaislis complex is the most magnificent one. It also is famous for its annual international Pažaislis Music Festival, it lasts for three summer months and offers about 30 different concerts. Between Kaunas and Tytuvėnai, almost in the middle, few km north of Kėdainiai there is a complex of Dotnuva Monastery and Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, both constructed in the end of 18th century in the style of Late Baroque. The monastery have played rather significant role during 1831 and 1863 uprisings against the Russian Empire: Bernardine monks themselves organized the insurgent squads, led them, and supported other insurgents. Some of the priests were imprisoned or exiled to Siberia after the collapse of the uprising in 1864, the monastery was closed same year by tsarist government.
- Pilgrimage sites - See below Do: Pilgrimages.
The basic data on most common Lithuanian tourism routes (19 total) can be found on presentation which was created with the help of the project funded from EU structural funds. It can provide some ideas of where to go and also gives idea about EU funds absorption in Lithuania for the needs of all travellers. Also see below for more ideas on what to do in different places of Lithuania.
- Kaziukas Fair (Kaziuko mugė) — the largest annual folk arts and crafts fair held in the streets of Vilnius’ centre and Old Town on the Friday-Sunday nearest to March 4. It is a Saint Casimir's Day, the anniversary of the death of Saint Casimir, the patron saint of Lithuania and Poland. The fair also features music and dance, attracts tens of thousands of visitors and craftsmen from all over the country as well as from neighbouring countries. To the lesser extent it is celebrated also in Kaunas and Klaipėda. Information, among the other sources, is provided on the official website which usually is created in the beginning of every year. The Internet address typically consists of two lithuanian words kaziuko muge (meaning Little Casimir's Fair) with some extension which can vary from year to year. Note: it works only a month before and after the event.
- Shrove Tuesday (Užgavėnės) — traditional Lithuanian annual festival that takes place during the seventh week before Easter. It takes place in all cities, towns and all countryside.
- The biggest event traditionally is organized near Kaunas at Rumšiškės Open Air Museum L. Lekavičiaus St 2, LT-56337 Rumšiškės, Kaišiadorys district, ☎ Information office +370 346 47392, Events +370 346 47245 ([email protected]).
- Sartai Horse Racing (Sartų lenktynės) Hipodromas St, Didžiadvaris village, Dusetos elderate, LT-32300 Zarasai district. — This is annual fest which takes place in Aukštaitija National park, by Sartai lake near the small town of Dusetos since 19th century. Traditionally it is held on the first Saturday of February, it offers an exciting day to see the trotter horse race on the ice of the lake Sartai (when ice is too thin the race is held in hippodrome near the lake). The event has become one of the most spectacular winter events in Lithuania. Besides the race itself, the traditional fair always takes place as well. You are able to try traditional Lithuanian food and hot beverages to keep you warm. The guests of the fair are entertained by local music and dance groups. For visitors and participants: detailed information how to arrive, relevant weather conditions, as well as all other important information is provided at the official website of Sartai Horse Racing.
Hanseatic Days in Kaunas 2009
- Kaunas Hanseatic Days (Hanza Kaunas) — annual festival that takes place in Kaunas. First celebrated in 2005, became very popular and one of the biggest events in Kaunas. Recently the festival is superposed with Kaunas City Day and celebrated in the middle of May.
- Days of Live Archaeology, Kerniaus St 4a, LT-19172 Kernavė, Širvintos district (Kernavė, about 40 km North-West of Vilnius. Drive down the A2 highway up to Bukiškis (in fact still outskirts of Vilnius), then turn west on the underpass to the road No 171. Buses go regularly from the Vilnius bus station to Kernavė), ☎ Information +370 382 47385 ([email protected], fax: +370 382 47391). Festival lasts 3 days. This is annual International Festival of Experimental Archaeology which is dedicated to commemorate the King Mindaugas’ coronation day – Day of the Statehood. It takes place in Kernavė Archaeological Site which was included into UNESCO world heritage list in 2004. Usually it is held three days including weekend nearest to July 6. During the event visitors may become acquainted with re-created crafts and lifestyle of prehistoric period and the Early Middle Ages. Visitors have a chance to chop off piece of flint, to throw and to burn out a clay pot, to mint a coin, to shoot from a bow, visitors have a possibility to enjoy an impressive natural and historical environment, to listen to archaic music, to taste some ancient Lithuanian dishes. One of the main non-profit public organizations which helps to organize and participate in this events is "Pajauta", their website is alternative reliable source of information in addition to the official website of Kernavė State Cultural Reserve. Besides that, the tourists can get all needful information at the Vilnius Tourist Information Centre.
- Blues Nights (Bliuzo naktys) — traditional annual Blues and Rock festival that take place near Varniai town in Samogitia (Žemaitija) by the lake of Lūkstas. This is one of the best known and most popular such kind of events held in Lithuania. Details on location: Varniai is a central town of Varniai Regional Park (for the map click “Žemėlapiai”), which is one of two most interesting and attractive areas in Samogitia. The site of the festival is situated 2 km west of Varniai town on the northern shore of Lūkstas lake, the place is allotted for wild camping, scouting, outdoor recreation and various kinds of local festivals. Varniai Regional Park is situated almost in the very centre of Samogitia (Žemaitija) region, south of Telšiai and north of Šilalė, in Telšiai district. From the south it is accessible from the Kaunas-Klaipėda motorway A1, from the north you can arrive using Šiauliai-Palanga highway A11, enter Telšiai and head south some 32 km down the road No 160. By train: you have to get to Telšiai first, then get a bus to Varniai. By bus from major cities: there may be buses that go via Varniai, though it may be more convenient to get to Telšiai first and then get a local transport to Varniai from there. The date of event is the weekend on the first half of July. The ticket price for all days is around €15.
- Galapagai ☎ information +370 645 30688 ([email protected]). First weekend of August. One of the biggest international music and entertainment open air festivals in Lithuania, known for its high-quality music and a wide choice of entertainment; has four scenes at a time. Used to take place in various locations but recently bases in Lake Zarasas Island, Zarasai resort area, NE corner of the country. Distance from Vilnius 147 km, from Šiauliai 220 km, from Daugavpils (Latvia) 28 km. 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] . Ticket ~€30 for 2 days/1 person. Family tickets available. Price varies a little depending on the purchase method. (55.735266,26.226299)
- Visagino Country — annual Country music festival that takes place in Visaginas town NE of the country. Country music is a least favorite style of music in Lithuania, however this particular festival gained the enormous popularity, regardless the quality of music itself. Visagino Country evolved from the first Lithuanian country-music festival, named “Once Upon a Time on Easter” in 1990, which unfortunately was almost ruined by politicians. Since then, things have changed for the better, for the much much better…. and the beer runs free every year in the middle of August in a small town of Visaginas, situated north of Aukštaitija National Park in a beautiful corner of the country, surrounded with forests and lakes. Contacts: Draugystės St 12, LT-31222 Visaginas. Phone/fax +370 386 32411, e-mail [email protected] . Ticket for 1 adult costs around €10.
- Mėnuo Juodaragis (Black Horned Moon or MJR for short) — this is an annual Lithuanian music festival for various post-folk, neo-folk, neo-pagan, alternative, experimental music and contemporary Baltic culture. Festival mostly is focusing on the heritage of pagan tradition, post-folk trends and avant-garde of contemporary music. Every year the festival is organized in picturesque locations of nature and stretches through three days and nights and has several scenes at a time. In the beginning, since 1997, it took place in different locations, recently Black Horned Moon bases in the forested Lake Zarasas Island in Zarasai resort area, NE corner of the country. Since 2010, every 4 years the festival temporarily change its location and format, thus 13th and 17th editions were unique and had a limited number of tickets. The 13th edition in 2010 took place by two beautiful Škilietai (Skeletons) lakes near the Devil’s Pit (Velnio duobė), and the 17th edition in 2014 took place in the middle of the country, in Skinderiškis Dendrological Park west of Kėdainiai. The date of event is the long weekend on the second half of August. Single-day ticket costs about €7-25, ticket for 3 days for 1 adult person costs about €35, the Family ticket covers all festival days for 2 adults and their child/children up to 12 years of age and costs about €65.
- Apuolė Festival (Apuolė 854) — traditional annual festival of ancient Baltic Warfare and Crafts that take place on and around Apuolė Hill-Fort at the remote North-West corner of the country in Apuolė vicinity, Aleksandrija elderate, Skuodas district (12 km south-east of Skuodas: head some 6 km east (road No 170), then turn to the right (road No 4603) Barstyčiai direction and drive 4.72 km, as soon as you leave Apuolė village you’ll see a big stone by the left hand side, turn left (400m), then leave the vehicle and walk to the right, cross Brukis rivulet and walk to the left). Apuolė is the oldest Lithuanian settlement mentioned in written sources; viking attack in 854 AD is commemorated by the annual medieval reenactment since 2004. Apuolė was an important wooden fortress of the Curonians, its hill-fort is situated on the confluence of Luoba and its tributary Brukis rivulet. There was a large settlement situated east of the fortress. The conflicts between the Curonians and Vikings were described in Vita Ansgari written by Saint Rimbert, archbishop of Bremen-Hamburg. According to Rimbert, King Olof of Sweden organized a large expedition into Curonian lands in 854, the sieg of Apuolė lasted for eight days, then both sides reached an agreement. The site of the hill-fort is situated in Apuolė Landscape Reserve which covers the area of 318 ha. During the festival the guests and participants can wild camp right at the southern foot of the hill near Bukis rivulet. The traditional fair always takes place as well; the guests can buy the food and drinks at the spot. Accommodation options available in vicinity several km away from Apuolė: motel-café Gintagnė in Aleksandrija, 8.5 km away; mini resort Mažosios Laumikės in Laumės, 16.4 km away; Gandrinė in Skuodas north-west suburb (Statybininkų St 20, Skuodas, phone +370 616 03376), 12.8 km away. Catering in Skuodas: "Skuodiškių Užeiga" at Vilniaus St 21, "Vespera" (catering and takeaway) at P. Cvirkos St 4. Public transport from Klaipėda: direct bus to Apuolė (F-Mo) departs 13:50, arrives 16:28; some 8 direct buses to Skuodas every day (journey takes 40 min less than to Apuolė). Buses from Skuodas to Apuolė: 06:40, 08:10 (M, F, Sa, Su), 15:05. Taxi by phone +370 682 16063. Official website of the festival is updated approximately 1 month before the event, alternative source is a site of Skuodas Region Culture and Tourism Office, information about the event appears at the “Renginiai” section (in Lithuanian), use online translator if necessary.
- Hunting and fishing — Commercial hunting and fishing is allowed, popular, well organized and under control, and virtually does not make damage to nature. Poaching is strictly illegal, though still happens, even to the extent of organized crime. However it has a very negative attitude among entire society, intolerance to such kind of crimes is constantly increasing.
- Horse riding is fairly popular among Lithuanians and some foreigners, Germans in particular. The "Yellow Pages" website lists about 50 stud-farms and other companies involved in this service. One of the best known and situated in attractive recreation area near Šiauliai is Kurtuvėnai Horse Riding Centre Parko St 2, Kurtuvėnai, LT-80223 Šiauliai district (Kurtuvėnai is a village near Šiauliai: from Šiauliai centre drive South-West down the A12 highway (Kelmė direction) about 15 km, then turn right after Bubiai village (road No 215) and drive about 5 km, then turn left to Kurtuvėnai), ☎ +370 640 33444 ([email protected]). "Open. Price for 2 h sightseeing horseback riding tour ~€30, many other services (short rides in a ring, private riding lessons, guided tours), posibility to rent equipment, premises etc for affordable prices, roughly ~€5-150.
- Water tourism in warm season is one of the most popular forms of leisure activities among lithuanians. Depending on place, chosen water route and preferences you can choose specifically canoeing, kayaking, boating or rafting.
Canoeing in Minija river near Raguviškiai, Kretinga district.
- Lithuanian terms:
- raft – plaustas (nom., sing.) or plaustai (nom., plur.);
- boat – valtis (nom., sing.) or valtys (nom., plur.);
- kayak – kajakas (nom., sing.) or kajakai (nom., plur.);
- canoe – baidarė (nom., sing.) or baidarės (nom., plur.).
- Rafting usually involves using inflatable rafts and is popular among lovers of passive recreation: fishermen who spend their time angling in the lakes, and groups of holidaymakers who are travelling down the largest rivers (Nemunas, Neris, Nevėžis and Žeimena) in a low pace.
- Boating is common everywhere in the countryside in all water bodies; homesteads of countryside tourism typically are equipped with boats that allow the visitors to enjoy the lake and scenery by slowly rowing the boat. This activity doesn't require much effort, is safe and suitable for all family members.
- Kayak in Lithuania is mostly comprehended as a one seater whitewater kayak specifically. It is used for creeking in the fast-flowing rivers, particularly during spring tides. For example, river Dūkšta (incline 12 m per km) every spring becomes almost like a mountain rivulet and is used by extreme sports enthusiasts to exercise before more serious expeditions. The list of other rivulets suitable for creeking in high tide period: Tenenys, Veiviržas (both tributaries of Minija), Luknė, Kirkšnovė, Gynėvė (all 3 are tributaries of Dubysa), Alovė, Armena, Lapainia (all 3 are tributaries of Nemunas), Širvinta and Rausvė (tributaries of Šešupė), Anykšta, Armona, Indraja (all 3 are tributaries of Šventoji), Plaštaka (tributary of Siesartis), Bražuolė and Saidė (tributaries of Neris), Nedzingė (tributary of Merkys), Šventelė (tributary of Žeimena), upper reaches of Venta.
- Canoeing is a most common and universal type of water tourism in the country. A short explanation of Lithuanian general name of a boat “baidarė”, and how it differs from “kanoja”, may have some practical value if you are going to rent the one. The name baidarė comes from the Aleutian kayak and applies to both racing and recreational kayaks, and to both frame and inflatable kayaks. It is a name of a narrow two seater boat which has a cockpit. The other Lithuanian name “kanoja”, it is canoe, applies exclusively to "sit-on-top" kayaks. Therefore the names “canoe” and “canoeing” is used here as a general term in order to distinguish it from the “whitewater kayak” which is not common in Lithuania.
- There are many different companies across the country that offer canoe rental, usually you can choose from several different types and models. Pay attention that English translation may be rather loose and the name “baidarė” may be translated differently on different websites. You should focus on the pictures and decide whether you need a “two seater cockpit kayak” (baidarė), "sit-on-top" kayak (kanoja), or a proper “one seater whitewater kayak” (kajakas).
Canoeing in Ūla River, Dzūkija National Park.
- Since canoe rental is a seasonal business, some companies switch to the ski rental during the winter time and appear with a different name next spring. You may want to search for canoe rentals independently, so here below are the four main key words to search in Lithuanian language and their literal English equivalents which may differ from what you are used to:
- baidarės (canoes),
- baidarių nuoma (rent of canoes),
- baidarės nuomai (canoes for rent),
- vandens turizmas (water tourism).
Places to go canoeing
Usually every rental company offers the certain routes in certain rivers. You can choose the desirable region or a concrete river or lake and arrange your stay in some larger town there, the boats will be delivered to the agreed point and taken back after your journey. Alternatively, if you plan to stay in the certain city and have no concrete idea about the rivers, there always is some suitable water route not so far away from any city, just ask the company for suggestions.
If you want to plan the trip yourself and need something to start with, one of the practical ways is to select your river or lake route using series of the 9 water-proof/tear-proof maps issued specifically for canoeists: you will know for sure that you have a map, you’ll be sure that all of those nine places are the most popular places for such kind of activities, and you’ll know where exactly you have to start and where you are supposed to finish.
- The list of the names of the nine maps with short water route explanations (these are full routes which can be shortened according to your own preference):
- 1 — Dubysa (scale 1:40,000) – a prominent Samogitian river that flows in the middle of the country. The route from Mosteikiai village (N55°36'8.91" E23°4'57.67") east of Kelmė town up to Dubysa confluence with Nemunas near Seredžius town.
- 2 — Ignalinos ežerynas (scale 1:30,000) – an Ignalina Lakeland, the routes are divided to sections between relevant points across the numerous lakes in Aukštaitija National Park. Usual starting/ending point is a lake shore at Palūšė village (N55°19'38.45" E26°5'54.68").
- 3 — Jūra (scale 1:40,000) – Jūra, a river that flows across Samogitia into Nemunas River, already in Lithuania Minor region. The route from Kvėdarna (N55°33'1.73" E21°58'0.93") village up to the river mouth east of Rambynas Regional Park.
- 4 — Lakajai ir Lakaja (scale 1:30,000) – two lakes Baltieji (White) Lakajai and Juodieji (Black) Lakajai, and the river Lakaja are the main landmarks in Molėtai Lakeland. The route across the lakes and rivers from the beach in Molėtai town (N55°13'56.46" E25°25'42.28") up to the train stop “Žeimena” (N55°5'0.66" E25°55'46.4"). It also is convenient to finish 4.25 km earlier, soon after the confluence of Lakaja and Žeimena at Liūlinė village by the bridge (N55°6'4.08" E25°56'53.45") - the place is easily reachable by vehicles so it's possible to arrange your pick-up from here.
- 5 — Merkys (scale 1:30,000) – a Dzukian river that begins not far away from Vilnius and flows into Nemunas, south of the country by the town of Merkinė, a centre of Dzūkija National Park. The route from Valkininkai (N54°21'30.66" E24°50'42.16") up to the river mouth in Merkinė.
- 6 — Minija (scale 1:50,000) – a picturesque river that flows across the western Samogitia. The route from Stalgėnai (N55°49'56.59" E21°52'56.92") up to the river mouth in Nemunas Delta area.
- 7 — Šventoji (scale 1:50,000) – a prominent river in the middle of Aukštaitija region, the route from Žalioji village (N55°37'21.84" E25°25'40.13") NE of Anykščiai town up to Šventoji confluence with Neris, east of Jonava town.
- 8 — Ūla ir Merkys (scale 1:30,000) – Ūla, the famous river in Dzūkija National Park that flows into Merkys River north of Madrasavas village (N54°9'50.18" E24°20'1.26"). The route from Dubičiai (N54°1'45.11" E24°41'43.62") village up to Merkinė, a centre of Dzūkija National Park. The section from Dubičiai up to Pauosupė village (N54°5'35.58" E24°34'42.41") is free (takes about 9h), starting from Pauosupė up to confluence with Merkys a permit from National Park office is required, visiting is allowed since 1 May to 1 Oct, reservation at least 2 weeks prior to trip is recommended. “Ūla Region Canoe Rentals Association” (address Šilagėlių St 11, Marcinkonys village, Varėna district; phone +370 619 51451) is authorized to issue the permits, so only a local canoe rental company can do that. The whole route down Ūla River up to Merkys takes 3-4 days, down Merkys River up to the end takes about 2 days.
- 9 — Žeimena (scale 1:30,000) – a larger river that flows from Aukštaitija National Park down south into Neris. The route from Palūšė (N55°19'38.45" E26°5'54.68"), a centre of Aukštaitija National Park, up to the river mouth near the train stop ”Santaka” (N54°54'1.84" E25°38'36.29").
- Additionally, you can look into a downloadable booklet of 23 water routes with maps and descriptions in English language, it gives a broader range of options to choose from.
- Abandoned tunnels, Being led astray in the forest, Ghost tour, Tour in the swamp Various locations in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai and vicinities, ☎ Mobile +370 652 16600 ([email protected]). Several options of guided adventure activities, can be booked in 4 cities. If EN page is empty use same page in LT version and online translator. Certain degree of physical fit and special dressing may be required. Some of the places may be found and visited on your own, however activities without a guide in some cases can cause serious injuries because of the lack of knowledge of the place specifics.
- Dog Sledding - most suitable areas are in the eastern Lithuania, although there are several places in Samogitia too. The lithuanian portal of extreme sports Xteam lists some 4 companies all over the country offering this service. These companies are mostly so called "homesteads" which run countryside tourism business and offer various kinds of entertainment. There is no need to highlight any, they all good in their own way. Same applies to locations, practically the choice depends on personal preferences, financial and time factors and also on mood. One of the clubs seriously involved into this sports is Top Dogz (Rogių Šunys) L. and I. Daujotai, Vičiūnai village, Kernavė elderate, LT-19170 Širvintos district, ☎ Mobile +370 650 99985, +370 650 34844 ([email protected]). Among other companies which offer dog sledding all year round, is one especially attractive due to its superb location, south-east of Kernavė in a most mysterious part of Neris Regional Park, called Devil's Corner (Velniakampis) - Adventure Academy (Nuotykių akademija). Contact phone +370 699 86767, address Žalgiris village, Vievis elderate, Elektrėnai municipality.
- Hot air ballooning (Oreivių klubas “Antis” - Ballooning club “Duck”), Every city and countryside (Exact conditions depend on weather at the moment of the event), ☎ Mobile +370 699 34154 ([email protected]). Orders: choose menu option “e-parduotuvė”, conditions should be agreed in advance via e-mail. For other options in the cities of Vilnius, Kaunas, Alytus see the corresponding city article. Regular flight €75-100 per person, special or VIP flight €300-450 per person.
- Military Entertainments (Kariauk), LT Staff HQ: Ratnyčios St 58, Vilnius (Šnipiškės district), ☎ Mobile +370 655 11157, no SMS ([email protected]). M-Su 12:00-23:45. Has a 40 ha firing ground in the guarded territory of an actual former Soviet firing ground, address Vismaliukų St 18, Vismaliukai village, Vilnius municipality; two interactive fire ranges in Vilnius (details on Vilnius article); Klaipėda region Staff HQ, phone +370 653 87889, e-mail [email protected]
- Recreational shooting - some related legal info: 1) all firearms of categories A, B and C that are or occur in the Republic of Lithuania must be registered at the Weaponry Fund, 2) all category D weapons are purchased without a permit; 3) airsoft “guns” are not considered weapons and may be purchased by persons under 18 years of age.
- Archery HQ: Savanorių Ave 180, LT-03154 Vilnius (Top floor of the 4 storey industrial building in Žemieji Paneriai district), ☎ Mobile +370 698 40861 ([email protected]). Tu, Th 16:00-17:00, Sa 12:00-16:00; any time by prior arrangement. Info and registration by phone +370 614 31288. Has an indoor range in Vilnius, a summer archery range in the souther suburb of Trakai and another one within Trakai Castle. Entertainment can be also arranged in any other location, price ~€300 plus transportation expenses. Offer some extra entertainments: arcuballista target shooting (~€300 for up to 4h), axe throwing (~€120), slingshot shooting to clay pots (~€150 - 5 pots to smash for each person) for unlimited number of participants; seminar on Medieval warfare (~€120), photo session with personal cameras (~€150). Target shooting (indoor or outdoor range): individuals and small groups can join the tournaments, €15,00/3h to 4h for 1 person; 3D target shooting while walking in the chosen environment (or along the prearranged forest archery course) from €300/1.5h-3h for unlimited number of participants (shootings are being performed according to IFAA rules). Preordered organized entertainments ~€300 per 3h. (54.64848,25.21623)
- Combat weapons:
- Indoor Range Žemaitė St 6, LT-03117, Vilnius (New Town district near Rimi Hypermarket, 3rd floor of the Physical Culture and Sports Department), ☎ Reservation +370 616 26712 ([email protected]). Advance reservation required. Also has premises suitable for celebrations and conferences. For 1 person: rent of one shooting-place €10/h, instructor €5/h, rent of a gun €3/h, single shot €0.7 (handgun)….€1 (rifle). (55°6′20.97″N,23°26′20.36″E)
- Outdoor Range Malūno St 25, Padubysis village, Seredžius elderate, LT-74423 Jurbarkas district (W of Kaunas / N of Seredžius, 5 km to Nemunas river; 25 min by car from Kaunas, or 1 h 30 min by car from either Vilnius or Klaipėda), ☎ Reservation +370 676 36114 ([email protected]). Advance reservation required. The largest (9 ha) outdoor shooting range conveniently set away from inhabitants. Shooting range rental for person: short sector €9/1h, 100-200m sector €7/1h; weapon rental without rounds €5-7. (55°6′20.97″N,23°26′20.36″E)
- Hunting weapons Administration: J. Biliūnas St 4-8, LT-29114, Anykščiai. Shooting range: Džiugai village, Anykščiai district (Central Aukštaitija), ☎ Shooting range +370 699 14451 ([email protected], fax: +370 381 50702). M-F 09:00-18:00. Advance registration required. Offer shooting various moving and stationary targets. For the gunmen who do not have own weapons and ammunition: instructor for 1 person up to 1h - €10, rifle rent up to 1h - €12, clay pigeon (2 rounds 1 cup) - €1, shooting the moving/stationary target (1 round) - €1, area for rifle shooting - €10/30 min... €15/1 h, safety equipment for up to 1 h - €1-2. (55.383673,25.047370")
- Riding the armoured car, there are two tankodromes that offer this entertainment: one near Jurbarkas, another closer to Vilnius.
- Tankodrome (near Jurbarkas) Žirniškiai village, Jurbarkas district (Private testing ground west of Kaunas and Jurbarkas, 3.10 km N of the 141 highway), ☎ Mobile +370 678 81155. 10:00-18:00. British Army armoured car FV432. Some additional entertainments. Riding the armoured car with driver, no less than 5 persons €11, driving the armoured car €60. (",")
- Tankodrome (close to Vilnius) 23th km on A1 Hwy, Trakai district (Testing ground right behind the Royal Old Kybyn Inn (Karališka Senoji Kibininė)), ☎ Mobile +370 699 19931, no SMS ([email protected]). By prior arrangement; in summer every Sa 11:00-18:00. British Army armoured car FV432 MK2. Riding the armoured car with driver, no less than 5 persons (15 min) €10, driving the armoured car €60 in advance, or €71 at the spot. (54.701707N,25.005004E)
Pilgrimage places define the geographical area within which the place is known and from which pilgrims are drawn. The location of nature objects, such as mounds, forests, trees, stones and water embodied the network of sacred places in the pre-Christian Lithuania. The ancient Balts had their own center of pilgrimage Rickoyto (Romuva), its geographical locality is still unknown. It is, that the trinity of Baltic gods – Perkūnas (Thunder God), Patrimpas (Fertility God) and Pikuolis (Underworld God) – were venerated under the old and high-powered oak at that place.
The 16th-17th centuries are the formative period of the network of Christian pilgrimage places in Lithuania. Trakai, Šiluva, Gate Of Dawn (Aušros Vartai), Samogitian Calvary (Žemaičių Kalvarija), Vilnius Calvary were the main pilgrimage centers as well as Vilnius Cathedral (veneration of Saint Casimir). The new pilgrimage places refreshed the network in the 18th–19th centuries, the Hill of Crosses, an ancient hill-fort of Jurgaičiai, became one of them when after uprising of 1831 and 1863 the crosses had been built in the memory of dead.
The places of apparitions of Virgin Mary complement the network of pilgrimage places in the 20th century exclusively. The obstruction for pilgrimage to the sacred places either places of apparitions was evident in the soviet era; several places (Vilnius Calvary, The Hill of Crosses, Janoniai Spring in Anykščiai district ) were destroyed physically.
The 23 main catholic pilgrimage places can be grouped at the present time. Most of them are bound with the cult of Virgin Mary (12 – the worship places of images of Holy Mary, 3 – places of apparitions, 1 – the place of coronet image and apparition). The second groups – Calvaries (5 places, the Samogitian Calvary has the miraculous image too), the places of saints and cult of holy persons (4 places, the Cathedral of Vilnius has the coronet image of Holy Mary too), the worship places of Cross (2 places) and holy spring (Mažučiai Spring 2 km away from Alksnėnai village, Vilkaviškis district).
The main and most popular places of pilgrimage today are included into the tourist routes.
Motor vehicle transport is one of the forms of travel mode to the most pilgrimage places in Lithuania (individual cars, shuttle or charter buses). Pilgrimage is travelling on foot too, this is popular among youth. Directions of traveling on foot can be divided into 3 large areas:
Sarcophagus of Saint Casimir at Vilnius Cathedral.
- 1 – in Samogitia: Samogitian Calvary (Žemaičių Kalvarija), Beržoras;
- 2 – in Central Lithuania: Šiluva, the Hill of Crosses (Kryžių kalnas), Krekenava (28.60 km south-west of Panevėžys), Pažaislis (Kaunas suburb);
- 3 – in Dzūkija: Gate of Dawn (Aušros Vartai) in Vilnius, Trakai, Pivašiūnai (23 km north-east of Alytus).
Lithuanians are proudest of one thing: Basketball. To them it is not just a sport, but a symbol of freedom. Lithuanians had been oppressed by the Russians for a long time, kept fighting against them and were the first to declare their independence from the Soviet Union. Basketball finalized this process when the newly independent country of Lithuania participated in the World Olympics in Barcelona: they barely managed to raise enough money to send the team to the tournament, but they returned as heroes because they came back with a bronze medal after besting the Russian team for it. This victory was even more meaningful because, in previous Olympic games, Lithuanian athletes had been forced to play for the Soviet Union, winning a gold medal for the Soviets in the 1988 Olympics. Lithuania also has the highest number of NBA players per capita of any country, and is consistently one of the top-ranked countries according to The International Basketball Association (FIBA).
Lithuania is as basketball-mad as the British are with football or New Zealand with rugby. Lithuania is one of the most successful teams in international competition, winning medals in three out of four Olympic tournaments, (bronze), and finishing fourth in 2008. Major domestic clubs are BC Žalgiris from Kaunas and BC Lietuvos Rytas from Vilnius. Basketball is so popular in Lithuania that you are sure to find a basketball court in almost every park and playground.
Be careful if some people challenge you to a basketball game. Common Lithuanians are very good in basketball, and you might just embarrass yourself.
Arvydas Sabonis is a legendary basketball player that earned a spot in Basketballs Hall of Fame.
Artūras Karnišovas is all time leading scorer for Lithuanian national team.
Swimming is also a sport that is gaining a lot of attention, especially after Rūta Meilutytė won olympic gold medal in women's breaststroke.
Žydrūnas Savickas is another person that Lithuanians are proud of. He is considered as the strongest man in the world.
Knowing Lithuanian sports will definitely help you win their hearts.
Major sports venues
- Siemens Arena Ozo St 14, LT-08200 Vilnius (Vilnius, north of centre, Baltupiai district), ☎ +370 5 247-7576 ([email protected], fax: +370 5 247-7578).
- Pramogų Arena (Former Ice Arena), Ąžuolyno St 9, LT-07171 Vilnius (Vilnius, north-west of centre, Viršuliškės district), ☎ +370 5 242-4444 ([email protected], fax: +370 5 242-4400). Weekdays - 14:00-20:00, weekends 12:00-20:00.
Basketball in Žalgiris Arena
- Žalgiris Arena Karaliaus Mindaugo Ave 50, Kaunas (Kaunas, south of the Old Town, near Akropolis mall, on the island of Neman river), ☎ Ticket Office in Arena +370 37 354-403 ([email protected], fax: +370 37 406-967).
- Švyturys Arena (Švyturio arena), Dubysos St 10, Klaipėda (Klaipėda, west of 2nd ferry to Smiltyne terminal, east of a roundabout at Taikos pr./Baltijos pr.), ☎ ticket office +370 46 241-500, mob. +370 640 23858 ([email protected], fax: +370 46 241-517). Tuesday-Friday 12:00-19:00.
"Šiaulių Arena" in Šiauliai, in winter.
- Šiauliai Arena (Šiaulių arena), J. Jablonskis St 16, Siauliai (Šiauliai, south-west of the centre, beyond the railway, head on down the main street (Tilžės gatvė) up to the major crossing, turn to the right, the park can be seen in a distance.), ☎ Information about tickets +370 41 540-151, Mobile phone +370 682 48822 ([email protected], fax: +370 41 540-755). M-F 8:00-19:00.
- Cido Arena Parko St 12, LT-37310 Panevėžys (Panevėžys, west of centre, from the main crossing Klaipėdos St/Nemuno St head north.), ☎ +370 45 440-252 ([email protected]).
- Utena Arena (Utenos daugiafunkcinis sporto centras), K. Donelaitis St 38, LT-28141 Utena (Utena, north of bus station, at the edge of the park), ☎ Info about tickets and services +370 389 70012, info specifically about swimming pool and gym +370 389 65143 ([email protected], fax: +370 389 52709). In 1958 the first children's Sport School in Utena was opened, it was a beginning of the sports complex gradual development which ended up by constructing this multifunctional arena (opened on 30 Apr 2009).
- Alytus Arena (Alytaus sporto ir rekreacijos centras), Naujoji St 52, LT-62381 Alytus (Alytus, north-west of the centre, by the main street), ☎ +370 315 37622 ([email protected], fax: +370 315 37622).
- Snow Arena Nemuno kelias 2, Mizarai village, LT-67308 Druskininkai municipality (Druskininkai, Nort-West from the centre, on the other bank of Neman river; walk North-East to the bridge, cross the river, then turn left.), ☎ ticket office +370 313 69699, Mob. +370 615 35415 ([email protected], fax: +370 313 69599). For adult 18+: 2h M-F - €12, 2h on weekend - €20; one full day M-F - €16, one day during weekend or holiday - €22.
- Žalgiris Rinktinės St 3/11, Vilnius (Vilnius, right bank of Neris river, north of Gediminas Castle).
- LFF stadionas (Former 'FC Vėtra' Stadium), Liepkalnio St13/2, Vilnius (Vilnius, south of the Old Town, south of Gates of Dawn, about 300 m behind the railway).
- S. Darius and S. Girėnas Stadium (S. Dariaus ir S. Girėno sporto centras), Perkūno al 5, LT-44221 Kaunas (Kaunas, north of bus station, north-east of the Old Town; the stadium is next to the legendary basketball arena Kaunas Sports Hall (Kauno sporto halė)), ([email protected]). (54.5350,23.5613)
- ARVI Football Arena Kauno St 125, Marijampolė (Marijampolė, north-east of centre, at the outskirts near the main highway A5. Driving from north go to the town directly, don't turn on a bypass. Driving from south, bypass the town (highway A5) and enter the town from north.). (54°34′28.37″N,23°21′55.41″E)
- Nemuno Žiedas (Motor racing circuit Nemunas Ring near Kačerginė), Racing circuit: Gaižėnėliai village, LT- 53455 Kaunas district. HQ: Vytauto pr. 23, Kaunas, ☎ +370 37 211-969, Mobile +370 682 51172 ([email protected], fax: +370 37 211-969). (N54.92475,E23.70147)
- Europos centro golfo klubas Girija village, LT-15010 Vilnius district (North of Vilnius, Molėtai Highway 26 km), ☎ +370 616 26366 ([email protected], fax: +370 616 34649).
- The V Golf Club P.O. BOX 2590, LT-03005 Vilnius, Lithuania (North-West of Vilnius, Highway A2,19th kilometre, Hotel 'Le Meridien Vilnius'), ☎ +370 5 273-9700 ([email protected]).
- The Capitals Golf Club (Sostinių golfo klubas), Pipiriškės village, Pastrėvis elderate, LT-21331 Elektrėnai municipality (Between Vilnius and Kaunas, specifically in the middle between Elektrėnai and Trakai), ☎ +370 619 99999 ([email protected]).
- "Elnias" (Red Deer) (Golf Club 'Elnias'), Didžiosios Lapės village, LT-54400 Kaunas district (North of Kaunas city, Kaunas district, on the right bank of Neris river), ☎ +370 37 470-237, Mobile +370 686 30777 ([email protected]).
- Wolf Golf Club (Vilkės golfo klubas), Kamorūnai village, Leipalingis, Druskininkai district. Club HQ: Vaistariškių St 7, LT-44104 Kaunas (Location of Golf course: southern Lithuania, 19 km away from Druskininkai, few km North-East of Leipalingis town, by Vilkė (Wolf) stream), ☎ Reception +370 611 45333, HQ +370 698 30658 ([email protected]). General information via e-mail [email protected] . First Scottish-style 18-hole golf course, a length of more than 6 km.
- National Golf Resort Stančiai village, Kretingalė elderate, LT-96336 Klaipėda district (North of Klaipėda, between Klaipėda and Kretinga, specifically 3 km north Kretinga direction from the crossroad of the roads A13 and No 168), ☎ +370 46 420-000, Mobile +370 655 22222 ([email protected]).
Lithuania has the euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money. These 24 countries are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (official euro members which are all European Union member states) as well as Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican which use it without having a say in eurozone affairs and without being European Union members. Together, these countries have a population of more than 330 million.
One euro is divided into 100 cents. While each official euro member (as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican) issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse, as well as all bank notes, look the same throughout the eurozone. Every coin is legal tender in any of the eurozone countries.
Lithuania adopted the euro on 1 January 2015, replacing the litas.
Lithuania has a lot of shopping malls for so few inhabitants but there isn't a big difference between Lithuania's shopping malls and those in other parts of Europe.
Vilnius recently became a shopper's paradise when plenty of massive shopping centres were opened all over the city. Akropolis (a chain of shopping malls in Lithuania) is one of them and definitely worth visiting if you are a shopping malls maniac, as it houses an ice skating rink, bowling lanes and a cinema.
Shopping centre Helios City in Savanorių Avenue offers to have dinner, to take a cup of coffee and to go shopping under the one roof. On the first and the second floors of the Helios City restaurants, cafes, small shops, beauty salon, dry cleaning and other service companies are located. The centre of the city or the Old Town and the new leisure and service centre are separated by less than 1.5km. It is convenient to access the Helios City from any place of the city – either by public or proper transport.
Gariūnai is the Baltic's largest open air market, located on the western edge of Vilnius. Thousands of merchants can be found there on a good weekend, from not only Lithuania, but also from as far away as Ukraine. Clothes, shoes, and even music can be bought there. Counterfeit goods still can be found, and it was a serious issue several years ago. But since it's illegal the demand has decreased significantly, and as a consequence profits decreased as well, therefore merchants are not really interested in such trade even without an effort of authorities. Overall, a low price is guaranteed, quality is not.
Kaunas is also a city of shopping centres, and the centre of the city, Laisvės avenue is a pedestrian thoroughfare. The main shopping centres in Kaunas are: Akropolis, Mega, Molas, Savas, HyperMaxima, and Urmas shopping area. There is even that symbol of "mall culture", which is new to Lithuania, Akropolis. Actually, Mega has the biggest aquarium in whole Europe that could be find in a mall. It has more than 800 fishes from every ocean and various seas. It is more than worth seeing.
Klaipeda is a major shopping centre for people from Latvia and Kaliningrad. The main shopping centres are: Akropolis, Arena, Studlendas and BIG. Many people coming to the city on cruise ships shop in Klaipeda, due to the good value and price combination.
Amber shops are very popular in Lithuania, which is found in the Baltic Sea.
The cost of living in Lithuania is cheaper than Western European Countries, some of the other Baltic Countries have similar prices, with some being even cheaper.
Lithuanian dinners usually include meat, potato, vegetables and sometimes a curd sauce of some sort. Case in point: the cepelinai, or zeppelins, which are meat filled potato-starch based zeppelin-shaped masses traditionally slathered in a sauce of sour cream, butter, and pork cracklings. Pork is traditionally eaten, beef much less so. Needless to say, vegans will have a hard time eating out, although some large restaurant chains will have vegetarian dishes on the menu.
Some fast food in Lithuania, such as Kibinai, (from the Karaim people) small turnovers usually filled with spiced lamb, and Cheburekai (a Russian snack), large folds of dough with a scant filling of meat, cheese, or even apples, can be found around the city.
Many restaurants have menus in English (usually in the Lithuanian menu) and to a lesser extent, Russian. Though use caution as sometimes menus in other languages may have inflated prices, although this is a rarity, and won't be found in Vilnius, or the better known chains such as Čili Pica (Chili Pizza).
If you are traveling to Lithuanian shore from the eastern part of Lithuania and you are passing through Karmelava you must try Cepelinai. The Restaurant is called Briedžių Medžioklė (address Vilniaus street 54, Karmėlava) and they have the biggest size Cepelinai in the whole country. Usually, 3 or 4 homemade Cepelinai call fill up a big person. To eat 2 Cepelinai at Briedžių Medžioklė is a huge achievement. Usually Lithuanians make the stop at Karmėlava because in their eyes a trip to shore is extremely long and across the country, even though it lasts only a little bit over 2 hours.
Lithuania is a beer drinking country, with the most famous brands being Švyturys, Kalnapilis, Utenos, Horn and Gubernija. A visit to a kiosk will show that there may be more than 50 different brands of beer in this small country. Alcohol percentages are displayed on the label, and usually range from 4 to 9.5 percent. Compared to other European countries, beer is usually affordable, in shops approx. 0.50 to 1 € per half litre, in bars approx. 0.75 to 2 € per half litre (beer is sold by the half or full litre, a full litre being found rarely). The beer tastes excellent, putting global brands to shame and it can be said that Lithuanian lager is of at least equal quality to Czech, Slovak, German, and Polish lager. A request for a Lithuanian beer always generates goodwill, even in a Chinese or other foreign-themed restaurant.
When you visit a bar or restaurant without intending to eat, try one of the bar snacks, which are very popular among Lithuanians. The most popular of these snacks consists of a bowl of pieces of garlic bread covered in cheese.
In addition to beer, rather cheap but high quality vodka (or "degtinė" in Lithuanian) is consumed, but not to the extent usually associated with this part of the world. Also, every region has its own home-made speciality of which "Samane" is most famous/notorious and is best avoided. The larger supermarkets have an incredible variety of vodka from all the main vodka-producing countries.
Lithuanian mead, or midus is a beverage produced exclusively under government control. It is commonly made from all sorts of Lithuanian flora, from leaves and berries to some tree bark. Alcohol percentages range from 10% to 75% (considered medicinal).
For tourists, quality sparkling wines, such as Alita or Mindaugas, and local liqueurs are popular choices to bring back home.
Keep in mind the law that came into effect from Jan 2009 that prohibits selling alcohol in shops between 10PM and 8AM (bars, cafes, restaurants etc. are exempt from this).
In shops and cafés different tea and coffee qualities are widely available. The selection in coffee ranges from northern European brands to French ones. In coffee houses, you should expect to pay up to 1.50 € for your coffee. Some cafés offer also a variety of special coffees with more or less special prices. Many cafes (kavinės) still make "lazy" coffee, which is simply coffee grounds and boiling water, unfiltered, with grounds at the bottom of the cup, often surprising the drinker - ask before you buy! Tea is usually sold at 50% of the price of coffee. Some of the wonderful drinks such as the Marganito are great for fun filled party drinks and rated one of the top kinds of wine in the country, perfect for weddings.
Unlike restaurants, or pubs aimed at tourists, bars (Baras) may be frequented by heavy drinkers and can therefore be somewhat rowdy. Nevertheless a visit may still be very rewarding, especially if you accept an invitation to participate in karaoke.
A law banning smoking in cafés, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, discotheques and other public establishments was passed in May 2006, and came into effect on 1 Jan 2007. However, many nightclubs have internal smoking rooms, which have a degree of ventilation.
Tap water is suitable for drinking in many parts of Lithuania. In other areas, local people prefer to purchase bottled water or to run tap water through water filters. If you need to buy bottled water, a 5 litre bottle is not much more expensive than a one litre bottle. Where in doubt about the tap water, seek local advice.
Mineral water is also offered in restaurants, cafés and shops, although it's a bit more expensive than tap water. Some popular brands are Rasa, Tichė and Vytautas.
There are two main clearly distinguished types of accommodation in Lithuania: “urban style” accommodation and “countryside style” accommodation. Roughly the former type is called Viešbutis (Hotel), and the latter is called Sodyba (Homestead). Which one belongs to the actual hotel or hostel, or B&B, or some other standard international category depends on how the owners' marketing policy is aimed at foreign visitors. Domestically it is considered that the actual difference is only in those two types of accommodation and price. For example, the range of “urban” type of accommodation may be called by locals a luxury hotel, budget hotel, a cosy hotel, and a motel – those all versus the “homestead”, which can range from a cosy little farmhouse style hotel to mini-resort. This may be very useful to know if you want to move around without pre-booking accommodation or just in unusual circumstances: you’ll be able to understand locals if they say that “there are no hotels, only one farmstead (homestead) nearby”, and you won’t try to insist that “there must be a B&B, I know that for sure”.
Hotels, motels, hostels, apartments
There are several international hotel chains in the major Lithuanian cities, and a variety of local hotels. Many hotels and motels are members of Lithuanian Hotel and Restaurant Association, some hostels are members of Lithuanian Hostels Association. Hotels, hostels and motels are ranked by stars (1 to 5 stars). The price of accommodation depends very much on the place. For instance, in Joniškis (Northern Lithuania), you can get a good hotel room for about €30 whereas an equivalent room might be as much as €60-90 in Vilnius.
Some hotels in Neringa and Palanga may be similarly or more expensive as in Vilnius because of highly acclaimed location. In this case the price may seem high and hotel itself overrated, but it all is determined by location. It especially applies to Neringa which is a more expensive place in all respects.
Most hotels do have web home pages, but some do not. Nevertheless, the Internet helps considerably in planning.
You will find the hotels of every town in their own articles. However, remember that this is a service maintained by the volunteers and you should not wait for current prices let alone that there would be all the possibilities listed.
Most large cities such as Vilnius or Kaunas have an abundance of hotel options from €15 and up. When travelling to a popular vacation spot in the summer and around the New Year (like Palanga or Druskininkai) make sure to book a room in advance because demand may outnumber supply. Additionally, some of the cafes on the main highways between cities also have rooms to rent.
Hostels, usually called Svečių namai (Guest Houses), provide simple, budget accommodation. They may be good places to meet other travellers and wrong places if you expect to deal with locals.
If you want to rent the apartment, the prices will be usually from €200 a month. In the biggest towns there are companies which rent apartments "to the long-time tourist or worker". In these you complete on good conditions the apartment furnished and cleaned by the cleaner from €300.
If you are looking for an apartment for a shorter period (from a few days onwards), do a Web search for "trumpalaikė butų nuoma". This will give you some portals or sites of companies, though not all of them are available in English – some are, however, available in other languages such as German, Polish or Russian. Also you can use option of online translation, it often is sufficient.
Countryside tourism homesteads
Homestead (Sodyba, nom., sing. or sodybos, nom., plur.) is a common name of the separate tourism industry branch. One of the key features is that homesteads typically are not related to agriculture, but usually are associated with short-term and long-term recreation places. They are a type of accommodation in the countryside. Homesteads which are members of Lithuanian Countryside Tourism Association are ranked by storks (1 to 5 storks). The official website of the Association Countryside.lt offers the shining catalogue for accommodation alternatives and you find nearly all the countryside targets and a reservation system from there.
There are 10 official types of activity; each homestead is focused on one or several of them. Here is a list of all ten types of activity you can choose from their website: Quiet recreation, Culture recreation, Active recreation, Holidays for Families, Culinary Heritage, Environment-friendly Homestead, Wellness Homestead, Family Celebrations, Business events, Agrotourism.
Currently the association has over 400 homesteads, most of which provide Quiet recreation services (around 200 homesteads). The Family Celebrations are in second place, and the third is the Holidays for Families with children. Culinary heritage homesteads are scattered throughout the regions and offer services related to the traditions of the concrete region.
The popularity of Celebrations service can answer the question where the Lithuanian urban youth go to celebrate: the further from city the better. You have a whole house with all equipment and a territory with ponds and saunas on your own... and everything is surrounded with a large forest. This is a striking difference compared to the Westerners who come to the Baltic cities to get drunk. It may give you an idea why locals sometimes express a very negative attitude to the foreign visitors and insist that they are inappropriately behaving in the inappropriate place. You should know and accept that the forest is an appropriate place in such situations. Homestead that is focusing on Celebrations provides a far more adequate service than some luxury hotel or a restaurant in a city can offer.
The styles of homestead range from very simple “sleeping with the grandmother" to large mini-resorts. Three homesteads listed below are not only deserving attention, but also distinctly represent three different styles. They all are conveniently situated near the main roads, but at the same time conveniently secluded. The first one is almost in the middle of the country, Samogitia region; the second one is in the centre of the country not far from Kaunas and Via Baltica, Aukštaitija region; and the third one is closer to the capital and situated on the edge of Aukštaitija and Dzūkija regions.
- Karpynė (Carp Estate), Gabšiai village, Raseiniai district (0.5km north of the A1 motorway Vilnius-Kaunas: 173km from Vilnius or 137km from Klaipėda), ☎ +370 428 70123, mobile +370 650 77437 ([email protected], fax: +370 428 70124). checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Coordinates N55°20'22" E23°05'52". This place is not only devoted to fishing, so beloved by Lithuanians, but also has the setting that Lithuanians find to be attractive for recreation. Guesthouse eastern side: double room €40/1 person, €47/2 persons w breakfast; guesthouse western side €52/1 person, €58/2 persons; additional person in the room €20 (w breakfast) ; tripple with a sitting room (for a family of 4 persons) €90; Lux €73/1 person, €87/2 persons. Timber huts: €47/2 persons, €66/3 persons, €85/4 persons, additional person in the hut €20 (breakfast included). (N55°20'22'',E23°05'52'')
- Medžiotojų sostinė (Hunter’s Capital), Malūno St 6, Kunioniai village LT-58020, Kėdainiai district (SW of Kėdainiai: 22.5km west from Via Baltica viaduct south of Kėdainiai at 55.219884, 24.032946, or 13km north from the A1 motorway viaduct at 55.139439, 23.723322), ☎ +370 608 15251 ([email protected]). Coordinates 55°11'54.08"N, 23°50'9.16"E. Total number of sleeping places for business events 30-40, for family celebrations and parties ~50. Capacity without accommodation up to 120. 1ha recreation area territory. Clay pigeon shooting, archery, individual training, tournaments, competitions. The place is styled like a "sanctuary" of hunters and set in a corresponding environment: southernmost end of a tiny village several metres to Šušvė River Landscape Reserve; cozy, picturesque and nearly untouched nature. This is a homestead for all kinds of fests and business conferences. 1 bed €9-25, whole homestead €145-1,400. (55.19836,23.83588)
- Elniakampis (Deer’s Corner), No 3 Elniakampis village, Sudervė elderate, Vilnius district (Territory of Neris Regional Park, from Vilnius: road to Kernavė No 171, turn south at 54.81108, 24.986659; or from Kernavė: drive towards Vilnius and turn south 1.6km after Dūkštos; then drive 2.63km down the forest path up to 54.790918, 24.971595 and turn West), ☎ Mobile +370 686 12112 ([email protected]). Coordinates 54°47'25.98", 24°58'5.32". Tennis courts, basketball, football, volleyball sites, table tennis, billiard. Total capacity up to 120 guests, and up to 90 guests for lodging. Features the kind of setting that Lithuanians like most: a cosy oasis in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dense impassable forest, suitable for berry/mushroom hunting, and only 12 min by car from the nearest regional road. No road signs, no signboards or plates suggesting the presence of a delightful stay. The only signs near the main road are pointing to the HQ of the Forest Enterprise at the corner. Prices depend on season, number of people and services. (54.790551,24.968146)
Road signs: different types of accommodation.
There are two kinds of camping in Lithuania: wild camping at the appointed place where you have a right to park your car and set up the tent - and “civilized” camping at the camp site suitable for camper vans.
Most of the latter camp sites are the members of Lithuanian Camp Site Association (Lietuvos kempingų asociacija), they have at least the basic facilities of shower/toilet blocks, and often offer a range of useful additional facilities. Camp sites are ranked by stars (1 to 4 stars). Most of camp sites are in recreation areas and very few are near the main roads. There are about 25 camp sites that are members of the association, and several that are not. Lithuanians consider this kind of business not profitable. If there is a need for a camp site it is very common to look for the homestead instead: many homesteads allow to stay with the camper vans or just to set the tent in their territory, some have the parking sites specifically for campers, separately from the car parking lots. All facilities are available, living comforts vary in accordance with the rank (storks) of the homestead. Therefore it is impossible to come across the camp site incidentally just driving down the main road (e.g. Via Baltica) if you don’t know its location beforehand or don’t look specifically. In this case one should also pay attention to the road signs of homesteads.
Camp sites by the main roads:
- By Via Baltica near Kaunas – Kaunas Camp Inn Raudondvaris Highway 161A, Kaunas (From south: as soon as you cross Nemunas river turn to the left (west) away from Kaunas and towards Raudonvaris; from north – turn to the right (west) towars the lake near the road before you reach the bridge. The beach visible from the distance belong to the camp site), ☎ Mobile +370 602 33444 ([email protected]). Open since 1 May to 30 Sep. Location is a popular recreation area of Kaunas' citizens in summer time. Adult - €5, camper – €12, car - €3, motorbike - €1.5, night in a cottage - €20, tent - €3.5. (54.91583,23.83333)
Campsite for wild camping in Valkininkai
forest: view from the cognitive path along the outcrop of Merkys
river to the site equipped with typical forest arbours, benches and places to have a bonfire. Coordinates of the forest arbour 54°21'0.89"N, 24°50'3.99"E .
- By the A1 motorway north of Kaunas – Kaunas City Jonavos St 51A, Kaunas (Eastern bank of Neris river, south of the A1 motorway. Driving from the east turn before the bridge, and driving from the west turn after the bridge – the white road sign in lithuanian shows a direction to the 3 districts of Kaunas, no camp site sign there), ☎ Mobile +370 618 09407 ([email protected]). Also camping cabins for rent. Open since 1 May to 30 Sep. Adult - €4.3, camper – €9.3. (54.93424,23.91778)
- Within Vilnius city – Vilnius City Parodų St 11, LT-04215 Vilnius (West of centre, in the valley of a northern bank of Neris river, north from viaduct, the bridge, and Exhibition Centre which is behind the pine grove and not visible from the main streets (Oslo and Laisvės)), ☎ Mobile +370 629 72223 ([email protected]). Also offer cabins for rent. Open since 1 May to 10 Sep. Although it is within the city, location is very convenient to arrive, to set a base for the further exploration, and to leave. Territory is within the exhibition complex, in the valley, and is surrounded with pine grove, the built up areas are not visible but very close and easy to reach. Adult - €4.5, camper – €12. (N 54.6803,E 25.2260)
- SW of Šiauliai near the A12 highway – Dvarkiemis (Mansion Yard – the complex is retro styled like a countryside manor), Meškiai St 37, Meškiai village, Bubiai elderate, Šiauliai district (Seven km away from Šiauliai city, mini resort visible from the highway, follow the road signs), ☎ +370 41 552575, mob. +370 685 34431 ([email protected]). Recreation and entertainment complex that have all needful facilities and offer a wide range of entertainment, rather typical for such complexes all over the country . (N 55.864918,E 23.171713)
The other kind of camp sites, plenty of which are marked on the regional maps with an icon resembling a tent (specified on bilingual legend: stovyklavietė, en. transl. campsite, in contrast to the camp sites suitable for camper vans: kempingas, en. transl. camping), are just a small plots of meadow in the depth of the forests and by the rivers. Some of those icons indicate the presence of homesteads that specialize in countryside tourism industry and offer a certain zone where the canoeists and bicyclists can stay in their tents overnight for the small fee. Typically such sites are surrounded with impassable thickets; scarce wild meadows are either swampy or full of formicaries and unsuitable for rest, the private land is the only salvation. The sites that are in public recreation zones usually are free of charge and have no facilities except some rugged wooden furniture (benches and tables) typical for Lithuania.
Lithuania has one of the best educational systems in the World. Many universities participate in student exchange programs. Most popular international college in Lithuania is Lithuania Christian College, LCC, in Klaipėda. The best universities of Lithuania are Vilnius University (Vilniaus Universitetas), VU, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (Vilniaus Gedimino Technikos Universitetas), VGTU, and Kaunas University of Technology (Kauno Technologijos Universitetas), KTU.
In Kaunas, apart the biggest technical university in the country, KTU, there are a Lithuanian University Of Health Science (Lietuvos sveikatos mokslų universitetas), Sports University (Sporto universitetas), the Academy of Music and Theatre (Muzikos ir teatro akademija), Aleksandras Stulginskis University (former Agriculture University), and multidisciplinary University of Vytautas Magnus.
Klaipėda and Šiauliai also has its own universities. In the country several lower educational institutions which go with the name kolegija (engl a college) also are found.
The course supply hangs very much from the university and there also are somewhere programmes for English. However, pay attention to the fact that Lithuania's official language is Lithuanian and in the law it has been prescribed that the Lithuanian student has a right to study in Lithuanian in Lithuania. Especially all the courses of the candidate level will be thus in Lithuanian and in the Master of Arts programmes in English the bulk of the courses is in English. Depending on the rules of the university the courses must have a certain number of foreign students before it must be in English (it touches courses in English) and if this limit is not exceeded, the lecturer may lecture, if desired, in Lithuanian. Because the employment of universities has been lowered last year about 20% and the addition which is paid for the courses in English in some universities to the lecturers was removed, many lecturers choose the easiest road preferably for them to themselves. Then the foreign students can take the course by writing either essays or based on personal meetings.
The grading system in Lithuania is generally 1-10 in which 5-10 correspond to the accepted performances. The local students usually have to keep their average very high and still a higher one in order to get the scholarship in order to guarantee free studies. There is no financial aid for studies.
There are now many work options in Lithuania. Any EU national can work and live freely in Lithuania. For non-EU citizens residence permits must be obtained, and employers must prove a lack of competent workers in Lithuania for such employment, which can be difficult.
In Lithuania you need the residence permit and a registered address for the working for non-EU citizens. The immigration authorities will usually be fairly fluent in English, otherwise either Russian or Lithuanian is useful. One seldom manages working life without control of the language.
In Lithuania the worker pays 21% of an income tax 6% for health and unemployment insurance which is about 3%. The taxes take about 20% of the salary, irrespective of income. Minimum wage is about 300 Euros and average wage is approaching 850 Euros.
In general you should take basic safety measures:
- Take care when visiting potentially dangerous neighbourhoods at night. After dark it is safer to walk along main roads, than to take a short cut through a park or apartment complex, as these areas often have very poor lighting. Take a taxi if you are nervous. A thing to watch out for is bicycle theft, and it is advisable not to leave valuable things in your car.
- As with eastern Europe in general, openly gay behaviour such as holding hands or kissing may result in a violent confrontation from an onlooker. Suspicion of homosexuality may also cause problems; two male visitors to a straight nightclub should sit a respectable distance apart, even if they are heterosexual. Overall, if you are a man that prefers other men over females you should not be open about it. Usually, the ones that are proud about it get harassed. On the other hand, lesbians are not typically attacked.
- Members of ethnic minorities, (particularly those of African descent), may experience some form of racism. This is not tolerated by the authorities and racist attacks are rare. However non-whites may at least have to get used to being stared at by locals, especially in rural areas. More often than not this can be out of pure curiosity rather than malice. The issue of race relations, the history of slavery and civil rights are relatively unknown. That said, the presence of several Afro-American basketball players in the Lithuanian league does help and means that racism is perhaps not as big a problem as in other eastern European countries. The best way to overcome any minor issues is to maintain a dignified air and understanding that for many Lithuanians living in a homogeneous society, they may not have had any previous contact with a person of color. Therefore, if you are a dark skinned, do not be surprised that they whisper to each other. You might hear them saying something similar to "nigger". They do not say it because they mean to disrespect you. They do not understand why it is a wrong thing to do, since they hear this word in movies and music in a language which is foreign to them.
- Driving in Lithuania is considered dangerous according to European standards. Lithuania's rapidly expanding economy has lead to an increase in traffic density, thus accident rates are high. As a pedestrian, take great care when crossing the roads, as pedestrian crossings may be ignored by cheeky drivers. When driving be careful of aggressive, quickly going and irresponsible drivers. It's better to pass them even if they are flouting rules. Keep in mind that traffic police could be corrupt. Mind the forest roads, collisions with wildlife animals can easily occur.
- If bitten by a dog or a wild animal, seek medical attention immediately; emergency phone number: 112.
- In some parts of the country, particularly in pastures, forest outskirts and meadows with a high grass, there is a low risk of contracting tick-borne encephalitis. Vaccination is advised at least 2 weeks before you plan out-door activities in a wild nature. Risky areas (mostly agricultural areas of pastures with some woodland) are annually updated on the map of the prevalence of encephalitis-infected ticks. The risk of Lyme disease is similarly low, vaccination is not available. Prevention: avoid high grass areas and wear long trousers and appropriate shoes.
- The main wild animals that transmit rabies are raccoon dog and red fox. All occurrences of this horrible disease are FATAL, but a prior course of vaccination and proper emergency prophylactic treatment may buy you 12 hours before proper its onset. Plan your activities in the forest accordingly. Oral vaccination of wildlife is regularly carried out since 2006 up to date. According to State Food and Veterinary Service the number of infected animals has significantly decreased; all infected animals occur in the eastern districts of the country, supposedly from Belarus. State Food and Veterinary Service regularly informs that if rabies vaccine bait is found, leave it alone and do not touch it.
- There is a one species of poisonous snake, the European adder, which has a distinct dark zig-zag on its pale back. Poisonous insects are bees, wasps and bumblebees. The only poisonous plant is Sosnowsky's Hogweed, an invasive plant which appeared in Lithuania in c. 1950. Since 1990 it has quickly spread all over the country and in 2001 it was included in the list of malicious animals and plants. The plant is 3–5 m in height, the leaves are 50–60 cm long and its all parts are extremely toxic; skin contact causes severe chemical burns (up to 3rd degree) and skin necrosis.
Official logo of Lithuanian pharmacies resembles the Rod of Asclepius shaped like the letter "V", green graphics on a white background. The "V" stands for "Vaistinė", lithuanian for Pharmacy.
No inoculations are needed to enter or leave Lithuania. In the winter only influenza can cause you a considerable inconvenience.
Official list of health institutions with the contact information is presented on a web site of Ministry of Health.
Service of laboratory tests is provided by National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory.
Ayurveda and holistic centres
- “Arkanas”, self-help and group therapy centre (Arkanas – saviugdos ir grupinės terapijos centras), Sąjungos Sq 6, Kaunas (W bank of Neris river, Vilijampolė district), ☎ +370 655 43665. Offers: massages, qigong, tai chi, oriental dance workouts, meditation, aura diagnostics, aromatherapy; hall rental: size 78m², up to 30 people, fully equipped. Prices: full body massage €35/1h, up to €50, ayurvedic massage €10/1.5h up to €55, pilates, qigong ~€10/1 session, ~€60/12 sessions. Hall rental ~€100 per day.
- Ayurveda Academy (Ajurvedos akademija), Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Elektrėnai, ☎ +370 600 57457 ([email protected]). Consultations, diagnostics, massages, shop
- Ayurveda SPA Centre “Shanti” (Ajurvedos SPA centras Šanti). Has 2 centres: in Vilnius and Kaunas:
- “Shanti” Vilnius Subačiaus St 17, Vilnius, ☎ +370 5 262 0205, mobile +370 606 75557 ([email protected], fax: +370 5 262 0205). M-Su 10:00-21:00. Massages: face €17; Shanti Kerala ~€160; Indian ritual ~€175 (2h 45min).
- “Shanti” Kaunas Laisvės al 3, Kaunas, ☎ +370 616 88777 ([email protected]). M-Su 10:00-21:00. Massages: face €14; Shanti Kerala ~€150 (2h 45min).
- ChiGong ☎ +370 656 88599 ([email protected]). For beginners M, F 18:00-19:00, classes for master cycles 1, 2, 3, 4 M, F since 19:00. Offers qigong classes
- “Holimed” (Holistinės medicinos institutas), Algirdo St 9, LT-03219 Vilnius, ☎ +370 523 39979, mobile +370 659 39979 ([email protected], fax: +370 523 39979). M-F 09:00-19:00. Offers: homeopathy specialist services, microwave bio-resonance testing, intestinal cleansing, hirudotherapy, different types of massage, manual therapy specialist services, psychotherapist, mamologist-oncological services, ultrasonography, a plastic surgeon's consultation. Prices €15-120.
- Holistic Therapy Cabinet (Holistinės terapijos kabinetas), Kalvarijų St 6B, Vilnius (penthouse (3rd floor) of a renovated building away from the street: entrance through the gateway in front of Juozapavičiaus St; near the Green Bridge), ☎ +370 698 05831 ([email protected]). By prior arrangement. Offers holistic treatment and yoga therapy (indications: bronchial asthma, allergies, increased or reduced blood pressure, headaches, digestive disorders and some other psychosomatic ailments, depression), qigong and yoga classes. 90min session: therapy, yoga, qigong classes, €35 per person. (54.69339,25.28041)
- Holistic Therapy Centre (Holistinės terapijos centras), Pamėnkalnio St 5-22, Vilnius (A. Maruškos Clinic), ☎ +370 685 77096 ([email protected]). M-W 14:00-20:00, Th, Sa 09:00-14:00. Group sessions at Verkių St 29, Šeimos Square 8, Vilnius. Offers holistic treatment procedures, consultations, diagnostics (musculoskeletal system, internal organs and metabolism), manual therapy for infants up to a 1 yo with dystonia or cranial asymmetry, body psychotherapy, muscle testing for adults, classic massage, qigong.
- "Prema" (Prema jogos centras), (Chain of yoga centres in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Panevėžys), ☎ +370 650 79499 ([email protected]). Mo, W 18:15, Sa 10:00.
- In Vilnius:
- Shambu School of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (Šambu aštanga vinjasa jogos mokykla), Žirmūnų St 68, LT-09124 Vilnius (3rd floor to the right), ☎ +370 655 00628 (12:00-17:30). Weekdays. Contact form Consultation ~€30; 1 private class “Ashtanga I” €37, “Breathing therapy” €43/1 session, “Ashtanga II” ~€45 Eur, yoga therapy ~€60.
- Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre (Šivananda jogos vendetos centras), M. K. Čiurlionis St 66, LT-03100 Vilnius, ☎ +370 648 72864 ([email protected]). Booking in advance. ~€52/6 regular classes, quick class on weekend ~€22/2 classes.
- In Kaunas:
- Yoga Academy (Jogos akademija), Savanorių Ave 192, Kaunas (Business centre “Nordic”, entrance from the yard, 4th floor), ☎ +370 685 18997. Mo-Fr, hours vary. E-mail form at the bottom.
- Yoga Studio “Buddha On Bike” Laisvės al 26, LT-44238 Kaunas, ☎ +370 662 17944 ([email protected]). Downloadable schedule (PDF) of the classes. In the group: 1 time ~€10, season ticket for 1 month up to ~€50. Private: 1 class ~€20/1.5h, 10 classes ~€150.
- Yoga Studio “Urban Yoga” (Miesto joga), Veiverių St 150, Aleksotas district, Kaunas, ☎ +370 37 328-241 ([email protected], fax: +370 37 328-239). Mo-Sa, hours vary. 1 month season ticket ~€20 (1 time per week), ~€60 (4 times per week).
- Kaunas’ Yoga House (Kauno jogos namai), Leliūnų St 10, LT- 50177, Kaunas (Žaliakalnis district near Savanoriai Ave), ☎ +370 686 54671, +370 687 19976 ([email protected]). Mo-Th 08:00-21:00, Fr 08:00-20:00, lunch break 13:00-14:00. Shedule of classes. Private classes ~€30-60.
- In Klaipėda:
- Joga Klaipėda Naujojo Sodo St 1, LT-92118, Klaipėda (Premises of “Amberton” Hotel, 11th floor), ☎ Booking +370 615 16862. Mo 19:00–20:15, Th 19:00–20:15. 1 time €15, next time €10, 4 times in the group €30.
- Yoga "Guru" Studio Žvejų St 12, Klaipėda LT-91248 (Klaipėda's centre), ☎ +370 687 26108 ([email protected]). 08:30-19:00. 1 time ~€4, 8 times ~€25.
- "Pažinimas" Baltijos Ave 14-102, Klaipėda, ☎ +370 683 74280, +370 605 07034 ([email protected]). Mo 19:00–20:30, W 19:00-20:30. Message form for additional info. 1 time ~€7, 6 weeks season ticket ~€20.
- In Vilnius:
- Akarma Reiki Mykalojaus Katkaus St 1 (get to the main Tuskulėnai St, turn W slightly north of a bus stop and walk almost up to the school; Žirmūnai district), ☎ +370 688 56671 ([email protected]). Tu 18:00–20:00. In addition: diagnostics, meditation, yoga classes, massages, shop. ~€30. (54.70095,25.29599)
- In Kaunas:
- Culture and Health Centre (Kultūros ir sveikatos centras), ☎ +370 688 91498 ([email protected], fax: -, skype Akmeology). Workdays 11:00–20:00, by agreement.
- Physical Well-Being Centre (Fizinės gerovės centras), Utenos St 12/Kalniečių St 54, Kaunas (on a corner of 2 streets), ☎ +370 688 56671 ([email protected]), . Tu 18:00–20:00. In addition: psychologist, cosmetologist, therapeutic exercises, massage. 1 time ~€30.
Prechristian Baltic Sun and the Moon cross at the top of wooden monument. Christian and pagan traditions are very intertwined in Lithuanian culture
All Saint's Day, one of the most significant annual events: time to remember loved ones. Don't be annoyed if bars seem rather deserted this day, remember that you are the guest in this country.
Lithuanians are a Baltic nation; however, it's common for tourists to think that they are somehow connected with Russians.
Lithuanians form their own distinct ethnic group and speak their own language (Lithuanian), which is one of the most archaic Indo-European languages, belonging to the Baltic (not the Slavic) branch of Indo-European languages.
It is a notoriously difficult language to master, but learning how to greet locals in their own language can go a long way. They will appreciate your efforts in Lithuanian.
Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union from the end of World War II until 1991. You should also try to remember that the Lithuanian capital is Vilnius, not Riga, which is the capital of neighbouring Latvia, a common mistake for travelers and an annoyance to locals.
Because of war time occupations by Tsarist Russia in the 19th century, the Soviet Union in the 20th century and the territorial disputes with Poland in the early 20th century, conversations revolving around disputes with neighboring countries are not a good idea for those not from the region. Be careful when mentioning Lithuania in the context of the former USSR. Any praising of Soviet practices is very unlikely to be understood or appreciated by the Lithuanians. Talking about World War II or the Holocaust is not something to talk about either. This is because this is a very touchy subject to many Lithuanians.
Lithuanians may appear at times nationalistic; however, it is with good reason that they are a proud nation as they have fought to maintain their cultural identity through dark times, and this has kept them a unique and in general a warm and charming race. Although most Lithuanians officially are Catholics, native (pagan) Lithuanian religion is still alive in traditions, ethnoculture, festivals, music etc.
Lithuanians may appear sad, depressive (suicide rates in Lithuania are among the highest in the world), a little bit rude and suspicious, so talking about your good health, wealth, and happiness could be sometimes taken negatively. Smile at a Lithuanian in the street and most likely they will not respond in kindness. Smiling in Lithuania is traditionally reserved for friends; smile at a stranger and they will either think you're making fun of them and there's something wrong with their clothes or hairdo, or that you must be an idiot. Furthermore, an automatic Western smile is widely regarded as insincere.
Women are traditionally treated with utmost respect. Female travellers should not act surprised or indignant when their Lithuanian male friends pay their bills at restaurants, open every door in front of them, offer their hand to help them climb down that little step or help them carry anything heavier than a handbag - this is not sexual harassment or being condescending to the weaker sex. Male travellers should understand that this is exactly the sort of behavior that most Lithuanian girls and women will expect from them, too.
In Lithuania, internal area codes consist of a zero mostly followed by 2 digits for the town, followed by 6 digits for the local subscriber number. Smaller towns have a zero and then 3 digits and the 5 digit local subscriber number. Vilnius has 7 digit numbers and just 5 as the city code. The national number's total length is always 8 digits if one excludes the initial zero (as one must, of course, when dialling from abroad).
To call abroad from Lithuania, the international access code is 00
International and roaming calls are expensive. To reduce your bill you can:
- buy "phone cards" for international calls;
- talk over the Internet.
Land line phones
There is monopoly operator for land line phones - TEO (now it belongs to "TeliaSonera AB"), a subsidiary of Sweden (Telia) and Finland (Sonera). Land line phones are easy to find in all country. Public phone booths are used with cards, which you can find in kiosks, "TEO" or newspaper stands, however this service is left mostly in hospitals, dorms and some other institutions, as well as at the relevant points in the largest cities, for example in Vilnius bus and train stations. So far existing rules does not allow to refuse this service, but TEO, which is responsible for maintenance, will do that in the nearest future at the first opportunity. There is no data of how much and whether at all it is useful for people who come from abroad.
Numbers begin 06nnn, where the three digits "n" indicate the original network provider.
There are three mobile phone operators in Lithuania: Telia, BITĖ Lietuva and TELE 2. About 97% of the country's surface is covered by the standard European GSM 900/1800 MHz network, the remaining 3% are non-walkable forests.
If you're bringing a laptop, Wireless LAN Hot-Spots are available in distinct places (mostly "Telia Wi-Fi"), sometimes free, otherwise not very cheap. Best chances of finding one are at airports, railway stations, in cafés, shopping malls, universities, various places. You can ask in your hotel, but be prepared to pay. For those who need to connect at an Internet cafes, major cities do have internet cafes. You can get free wireless Internet in Kaunas main pedestrian street - Laisvės Alėja. Average internet speed in Lithuania is actually better than American internet speed. Average fixed broadband download speed reaches 70.2 Mb/s, while upload speed is 62.2 Mb/s. Keep in mind that the internet service that provide such speeds are not free.
With your mobile phone you can use: CSD, HSCSD, GPRS or EDGE, but the cost may be unattractive. UMTS is only available in some bigger cities. If your phone is not SIM-locked, you may consider purchasing a pre-paid SIM card designed for data access.
If you want to communicate with your friends or locals using internet, you'll need two programs Skype or ICQ. The most popular chatting program is Skype, all of which can be used in English as well. As well in Lithuania social websites are quite popular. Facebook is the most popular; such websites like LiveJournal, Draugas.lt are rather unevenly popular, Myspace exists, but is not widely used, Twitter somehow does not fit.
Official Lithuanian Postal Service logo: black graphics on a yellow background.
Lietuvos paštas (Lithuanian Postal Service), ☎ +370 700 55400 ([email protected], fax: +370 5 216-3204). (working hours M-F 09:00-19:00, Sa 09:00-14:00, may slightly vary from town to town). provides:
- worldwide postal services - priority and non-priority letter-post items (the former are marked with the label “Prioritaire / Pirmenybinė”), ordinary or insured parcels, prepaid packages of three standard sizes; courier mail service providing delivery both domestically and internationally; possibility to use the self-service parcel terminals LP EXPRESS 24 (operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week);
- financial services - money orders at any post office or “PayPost” outlet, Western Union money transfers; you can pay utility, telecommunication bills, insurance and other contributions, or receive consumer credits (money is transferred at once after concluding the agreement); offers financial services of several alternative companies; non-citizens of the European Union member countries can claim a value added tax (VAT) refund on purchases obtained in Lithuania (refunds in cash only);
- subsciption to periodicals - orders of different Lithuanian and foreign press periodicals with the delivery to your home or office, also doable online;
- philately - sell different philatelic products: postage stamps, first day sheets, thematic folders of stamps, books; each year puts about 25 postage stamps into circulation;
- the largest post offices also sell international bus tickets.
In 2006, the enterprise was reorganized to the Public Limited Company Lietuvos paštas. Shortly thereafter, it changed the management, marketing, and started gradually expand and improve the service.
DHL Lietuva A subsidiary of German Deutsche Post DHL. Offers normal postal services (letters, parcels, packages), domestic and international express services, express and online shipping, customs support, wide range of freight transportation options. Has 2 bases in Lithuania:
- In Vilnius - S. Dariaus ir S. Girėno St 81 (not far from the air port), ☎ +370 5 236-0700 (fax: +370 5 216-7740, to e-mail use the form on their website). M-F 08:00-19:00.
- In Kaunas - Taikos Ave 141 (near used car market in the northern industrial district), ☎ +370 37 399-311. M-F 08:30-17:30.
- The bases are not in the city centre, thus use Customer Service Points at the offices of their partners: Astrida in Vilnius (J. Tumo-Vaižganto St 5), also Baltic Clipper in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai, Panevėžys, Alytus, Marijampolė, Mažeikiai.
- Note: If goods from Germany are dispatched as DHL Paket International by Deutsche Post they will be delivered to the addressee in Lithuania by Lithuanian Post.
DPD Lietuva Liepkalnio St 180, LT-02121 Vilnius (At the southern outskirts of Vilnius), ☎ +370 5 210-6750, for customers +370 5 210-6777 (toll free: online orders 8 700 55700, [email protected], fax: +370 5 210-6740). Workdays 08:00-18:00. A subsidiary of French La Poste Group. Offers domestic and international parcel shipping "from door to door", classic and express service. Has a number of Service Points in Lithuania: several in Vilnius and Kaunas, also in Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Panevėžys, and 1 in Marijampolė. Service points are conveniently located within the malls, supermarkets, hotels. Their main partner is Optika Vizija, but also works with other companies, all details are comprehensibly listed on their website's Lithuanian language page "Siuntų taškai" (Service Points).
UPS Lietuva ([email protected]). has 3 offices in Lithuania:
- In Vilnius - Eigulių St 15, ☎ +370 5 247-2222 (fax: +370 5 247-2200).
- In Kaunas - Skubios Siuntos Ltd (Express consignments), Chemijos St 5A, ☎ +370 37 350-505 (toll free: 8 800 77877, [email protected], fax: 370 37 350-500).
- In Klaipėda - Danės St 31, ☎ +370 46 421-000 (fax: +370 46 421-001).
Gifts from Lithuania
Souvenirs and jewelry
- Ambergold, Taurages district., ☎ Information +370 69380 040 ([email protected]), . M-F 08:00-18:00. Various amber jewelry: necklace, earrings, bracelets, pendants and rosary for children's and adults.