| Quick Facts
|| Parliamentary democracy
|| Litas (LTL)
|| total: 65,200 km²
|| 3,585,906 (July 2006 est.)
|| Lithuanian (official), English, Polish, Russian
|| Roman Catholic (primarily), Lutheran, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical Christian Baptist, Pagan
|| 220V/50Hz (European plug)
| Country code
| Internet TLD
| Time Zone
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 (Kaliningrad) to the west.
Lithuania is an active member of the European Union (since 1 May 2004) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (since 29 Mar 2004). 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 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 few months earlier than the French).
Transitional, between maritime and continental; 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. The highest point is Aukstojas Hill 294 m (967 ft), about 24 km southeast of Vilnius and lies just off the main highway to Minsk and within sight of the Belarus border. 30% is covered in forest.
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 an 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.
- St. John's Day
- 24 Jun. Despite its Christian name, celebrated mostly according to Pagan traditions (Midsummer's Day).
- 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.
- Independence Day
- 16 Feb. Independence from Russian Empire in 1918 following World War I.
- Restitution of Independence
- 11 March : Restoration of independence from the Soviet Union.
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)|
|| Sūduva (Suvalkija)|
Southern and south-western region.
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: colourful 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.
hillfort. Lithuanians are very proud of their ancient history. Hundreds of hillforts still stand, a reminder of the struggle against the Teutonic Order
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.
- Kaunas — second-largest city and temporary capital of the country
- Klaipėda — third-largest city, famous for its summer festivals
- Jonava - 9th city by population in the whole country. Famous for national celebration of Joninės. It is the case because Joninės is a celebration of Johns and Jonava literally mean city of Johns.
- Trakai - 28 km away from Vilnius, a Capital city. Most famous for it's castle and extremely beautiful nature. Former capital of the country.
- Palanga - Is the most popular spot for Lithuanians or tourists to visit in summer. Cities population in summer grows from 10,000 to 600,000 in July. Worth visiting since it has Museum of Amber, Birutė Hill etc.
- Aukštaitija National Park — a land of lakes, hills and forests, popular for water tourism and rural tourism in the summer
- Curonian Spit — unique sand dunes with rare flora, seaboard forest, white sanded beaches and old ethnographic villages
- Dzūkija National Park — the biggest forest (Dainavos) and swamp (Čepkelių) in the country, and some old unique villages in the middle of the forests
- Hill of Crosses — site of religious significance, north of Šiauliai
- Kernavė — former (first known) Lithuanian capital at the bank of the river Neris and now a well-preserved archaeological site
- Purnuskes — according to some measures the center of Europe
- Žemaičių Kalvarija — famous pilgrimage site, most visitors come in the beginning of July to visit the large church festival
- Kuršių Nerija National Park — is one of the five national parks in Lithuania. It was established in 1991 to protect the unique ecosystems of the Curonian Spit and Curonian Lagoon.
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 no-frills carriers such as Ryanair land in Kaunas International Airport. Kaunas airport also has a direct link with Riga by AirBaltic.
For destinations in Northern Lithuania, Riga Airport is an attractive option.
There are train connections to Vilnius from Daugavpils (Latvia), Warsaw, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Minsk and Kaliningrad.
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 Lisco or Stena Line
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 (e.g. popular holiday/weekend destinations in Dzūkija and Aukštaitija National Parks, Neris Regional Park and, for example, Kretinga town, a final stop for those who are traveling to Palanga seaside resort by train). Fares are low compared to Western Europe: Vilnius-Kaunas ~17 LTL (5 Euro), Vilnius-Klaipeda ~50 LTL (14.5 Euro), Šeštokai (Lithuanian-Polish border) - Kaunas ~20 LTL (5.8 Euro).
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 5 hr 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 nuances.
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.
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 40 km 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. There is usually its own bus company on every town (district centre) and more than one company in the largest towns, and the best are Kautra, the TOKS of Kaunas, Vilnius and mini bus company, Transrevis, which will drive turns between Kaunas and Vilnius. A company to avoid is worthwhile is Busturas, they drive the old buses to Siauliai and are in a weak economic situation, but if you travel, the alternative is not always. 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.
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.
Buses operate regularly between the main centres as well as the regional centres. Kautra  operates a number of routes out of Kaunas with the cost of ~20-30 Litas for most journeys. Other companies with intercity routes worth to mention are Toks (from Vilnius) and Busturas from Šiauliai. For students with Lithuanian student id, bus companies grant 50% discount around the year with the exception of July and August. For students with ISIC (international student card), bus companies grant 50% discount.
For buses and trolley-buses on routes within towns and cities it is usual to buy the ticket in advance from a kiosk, board the vehicle using the middle door and stamp the ticket using one of the ticket punches. These were historically located near the middle door, but with the introduction of electronic ticketing, there is often a single ticket punch located just behind the driver's seat. Tickets bought from the driver, rather than kiosks, are more expensive and may also generate an off-handed response if the bus is late or crowded and you don't provide the exact change. Inspectors periodically check tickets and will issue a fine if you cannot produce a correctly punched ticket. 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.
Some towns fully introduced electronic ticketing and terminated the sale of paper tickets in the kiosks, visitors have to board the bus and buy the ticket from driver. Such ticket, after stamping in the punch, is valid for the one ride. Also there are different regulations in different towns which door to use when boarding the vehicle, just look how other people do and follow them.
In addition to common buses, there are minibuses which usually operate express routes. For schedules, consult
Taxis are 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. Beware however, some companies may not be as safe as others, common sense will keep you safe in this regard. "Taking the long way round" used to be common but had nearly been irradicated, western Europeans may still find themselves taking the scenic route, don't worry though, the maximum that this will add is a few litas. It is customary to give a small tip at the end of your journey.
It's usually cheaper to order a taxi by phone instead of taking one in the street, especially in bus stations or airports.
Recently (spring 2009) taxi prices, especially in Vilnius, have dropped dramatically from previous level during the boom years. If you don't need a fancy ride, taxi can be as cheap as 1.25 litas (37 euro cents) per km.
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 cycle routes across the country, EuroVelo No. 10 and EuroVelo No. 11 equipped with quality signs, bikepaths are of excellent quality.
Just as it is in Western Europe, it might be dangerous to leave your bicycle outside alone for more than a few hours without locking it.
The international bicycle project BaltiCCycle may provide you with information and help.
Lithuanian traffic moves on the right and, as with most of the world, all distances are posted in km.
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 Estonia to Poland. Another important road is the A1 from Vilnius to Klaipeda.
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), provided that it does not endanger 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.
Many bigger 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.
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 the motorways the u-turn is possible. The motorists do not observe traffic regulations so especially the pedestrians must be exact as conscientiously as elsewhere in former Soviet countries. Moving domestic animals and roe animals may cause dangerous situations on the roads and motorways.
Roundabouts are a feature of the Lithuanian road network, particularly in the cities. Visitors from countries where this type of junction is uncommon or not used at all, may find the Wikipedia article on roundabouts useful.
The alcohol limit is 0.4 in Lithuania's traffic. The alcohol limit is being lowered to 0.2.
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.
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.
Foreigners interested in reading English news can access the Lithuania Tribune, which is an online news portal providing news about Lithuania in English.
Russian is spoken as a second language by about 80% of the population according to European Union statistics, clearly making it the most useful non-Lithuanian language to know. The younger generation is becoming more and more proficient in English, but still only 32% of Lithuanians can speak it. Polish and, to a lesser extent, German are also spoken in some places for historical reasons. Lithuanians are always eager for an opportunity to practice their English, but those who learn a few basic phrases of the local language are always amply awarded with good will and appreciation for their efforts.
In Samogitia (Western Lithuania), most people talk in Samogitian, which is somewhat different from Standard Lithuanian and is sometimes called an independent language.
Remember that you are in Lithuania, not in a Russian colony and no longer in the Soviet Union: Lithuanians do not want to hear their language being 'almost Russian' because it is not and they do not like to be associated with Russia.
Lithuanian and Latvian are the last living languages of the Baltic language family. Local people greatly appreciate even small attempts to speak 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 100 km 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 Klaipeda is the village of Juodkrante, 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 sea side 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 kilometres 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.
Forested valley of Minija river in Samogitia, Western part of Lithuania
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. South east 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 exceed even popularity of its neighbour Aukštaitija National Park.
Another favourite 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.
- There are 5 National Parks.
- There are 30 Regional Parks.
- 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 – 4 LTL, kid, schoolkid – 2 LTL, tour guide services – 10 LTL. Reintroduction of European bison started in Lithuania in 1969; currently 17 European bisons live in paddock, and a free-ranging herd in 30-40 km 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) - 2 km 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 10 m, the depth is about 19 m, of which 7 m is under the water. In the bottom of the sinkhole at the depth of 9.5 m 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 1.5 m 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, 15 m 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 60-65 m at the bottom, 200 m at the top with a depth of 30-40 m. The total area is 0.04 ha at the bottom and 4.5 ha at the top. It's located about 4 km 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 9.5 m 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 3.5 m in diameter, 958 cm in girth at waist level and 23 m 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 160 km.
- 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 21 m, has 2 trunks, several hollows. Declared as natural monument. Distance from Vilnius 286 km, distance from Klaipėda 59 km.
Major parks and gardens
- 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 1 hr before closing. Prices (cash only) 1 May to 31 Oct for adult 7 LTL, concession 4 LTL, family (2 adults + children) 18 LTL. 1 Nov to 30 Apr for adult 4 LTL, concession 2 LTL, family (2 adults + children) 8 LTL. 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 70 ha. 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 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, +370 606 05756, +370 616 14202 ([email protected]). Daily 09:00-21:00. Admission fee children 5 LTL, adults 8 LTL..
- 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 (86 km 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 5 km 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 5 LTL, kids 2 LTL, guide (foreign language) for group of 25: 50 LTL. 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 8 LTL per person), introductory and educational program “Visiting Miller – Cognition of the Bread Path” (4 hr 30 min, price up to 70 LTL 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 per person 70 LTL). (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 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.
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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, 300 m 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 constructions built during that time still can be found near 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 7 km 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 2.8 km up to Guntauninkai village. A bit further east some hideouts can be found.
- Pillboxes Directions: Further south-west 1.78 km 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 130 m 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). Anti-aircraft battery, modified Fla2 type.
- 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, 6.07 km from the 1st ferry terminal at Smiltynė, then turn left to the road closed for vehicles and go 480 m). Anti-aircraft Fla2 battery. In order to visit underground premises call in advance, phone +370 611 22111.
- Molotov Line – the line of Soviet hardened field defences of World War II, its section of 328 km 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 1 km 83 m Anužiai direction, then turn to the right (road sign “Oflager-53”) to the forest, the site is 410 m 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.
- 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, ☎ +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 3 main groups of the former Soviet military objects and territories: 1 - KGB object in Linksmakalnis and its affiliate, 2 - properties of Soviet 58th Missile Division (HQ in Karmėlava) and 29th Missile Division (HQ in Tauragė, later in Šiauliai) of 5th Missile Army, and 3 - the large territories of the firing grounds and Kaunas Lodgement. 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 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. After 1992 the secret unit was moved to the new unknown location and changed its subordination and number. Directions: 20 km 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". 54°45'32.42", 23°56'30.02".
- "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 transfered 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 satelite 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", 21°40'3.41", 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", 22°20'44.59".
- Tauragė South – west of Viešvilė, same crossroad from the road No 141, turn south-west and go till the end, 55°4'51.62", 22°19'24.2".
- 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 and round the forest and the air-port territory, then turn left, cross the cover base, then "S" shape bend, remains of tripple checkpoint, enter the base.
- Karmėlava North – same road A6 further towards Jonava, turn to the right to Gulbiniškiai (road sign "a turn to the right", no directions, 55°2'39.56", 24°13'59.6"), pass through Gulbiniškiai village, cross the railway (unused), turn to the right, go till the end.
- 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", 24°42'12.53".
- 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", 24°38'30.5".
- Kaunas Lodgement – the HQ and training grounds of offensive airborne division. Construction: the works started in Aug 1975 by the end of Conference on Security and Cooperation in Helsinki – ended in Jul 1977, closed in 1993. Consists of about 50 objects, among them: the airfield (lenght 2 km 250 m), fuel base, "Generals Villa" (high-ranking officers guesthouse), command headquarters, firing ground No 215. Served as a base for the 7th Guards Airborne Division (second formation), military unit 02291 (since Aug 1993 the regiment has been based in the city of Novorossisk, Russia). Directions: Suvalkija region, south-west of Kaunas, Kazlų Rūda forest. Go from Kaunas via road A5 but soon turn via Veiveriai to Kazlų Rūda (road No 230, after Didžioji Zariškė turn to the right and ride 7 km to Kazlų Rūda), pass it from the south to the north Jūrė direction (road No 2602), pass Jūrė through towards Griškabūdis, and from Jūrė river go 2.60 km down the same road No 2602 up to the crossroad, 54°47'39.58", 23°29'33.85". Some remains of the main gates and flagpoles can be seen by the right side (displayed on Google Maps Street View). The airfield to the right (3.55 km from the crossroad), "Generals Villa" and the underground HQ are further north beyond the airfield near Judrė stream. Firing grounds are to the left from the crossroad (no proper road there, only a overhead power line, distance about 1 km), or go back and turn left from Jūrė river and go some 3-7 km depending on chosen path.
- Seimas Barricades - Remains of the barricades built around the Parliament building to protect the newly-democratic Lithuanian parliament from Soviet troops in 1991. Gediminas av 53, LT-01109 Vilnius.
Pagan heritage: sites and artifacts
- 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.
- 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 3 km 400 m 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 25 m 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 kraštovaizdžio draustinis". As you enter the forest, there are other info shields with the scheme of the object locations and some other information.
- Karmazinai Mound (Karmazinų piliakalnis), Karmazinai, Dūkštos elderate, Vilnius district (Some 0.8 km northwest of the Karmazinai village, 40 m 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 4 km 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.
- Birutė Hill (Birutės kalnas), Palanga Botanical Park, LT-5720 Palanga (Some 200 m 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.
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.
- Monasteries - There are several monasteries in various locations.
- 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 travelers. Also see below for more ideas on what to do in different places of Lithuania.
- Song and Dance Celebration (Dainų šventė) — The biggest traditional music festival, first time organized in 1924. Held every four years in summer since 1990. It usually lasts about a week.
- 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 year is included into the address: www.kaziukomugeXXXX.lt - replace the XXXX with the corresponding figures and get some details. 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.
- 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 direct buses to Varniai, though it may be more convenient to get to Telšiai first . The date of event is the weekend on the first half of July. The ticket price for all days is around 50 LTL/14,3 €.
- Visagino Country — annual Country music festival that takes place in Visaginas town North-East 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 different picturesque locations of nature and stretches through three days and nights and has several scenes at a time. The first time in 1997 it was Verbiškės village near Molėtai which is known for its lakes and outdoor recreation areas. The 13th edition of the festival in 2010 was unique for a limited number of tickets and took place by two beautiful Škilietai (Skeletons) lakes near the Devil’s Pit (Velnio duobė) in Aukštadvaris Regional Park, Trakai district. Recently Black Horned Moon bases in the forested Lake Zarasas Island near Zarasai town in North-East corner of the country. 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 (400 m), 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 News 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 63 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 5km, then turn left to Kurtuvėnai), ☎ For reservation +370 413 70333, Mobile +370 618 29964 ([email protected]), . "Open. Price for 2 persons 270 LTL/78 €, including two nights accommodation in ***camping.
- Dog Sledding popularity is increasing. Most suitable areas are in the eastern Lithuania, although there are several places in Samogitia too. The lithuanian portal of extreme sports Xteam lists 17 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.
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 traveling on foot too, this is popular among youth. Directions of traveling on foot can be divided into 3 large areas:
- 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).
- Vilnius Calvary feast - every year on Whitsunday;
- Vepriai feast - every year on Whitsunday;
- Samogitian Calvary (Žemaičių Kalvarija) feast – every year in the beginning of July;
- Hill of Crosses feast – every year last Sunday of July;
- Pivašiūnai feast – every year August 15;
- Krekenava feast – every year August 15;
- Šiluva feast – every year in the first half of September;
- Gate of Dawn feast – every November.
Lithuanian's are most proud of one thing. Basketball. To Lithuanians it was more than a sport. In order for a foreigner to understand he or she would have to read history. In summary, Lithuanians been oppressed by Russians for a while and they kept fighting to be independent. Lithuanians were first to declare independence from Soviet Union. Basketball finalized the independence when newly independent country, Lithuania, participated in Olympics, which took place in Barcelona. They barely managed to raise enough money to send the team to the tournament, but managed to come back as heroes because they came back with a bronze medal. At the medal ceremony, Lithuanian flag, which was independent only for 1 year has been raised high right next to American flag. It was great achievement because, the game for the bronze medal was against Russians. It was more than a basketball game. Lithuanians were oppressed by them for so long. They even had to represent Soviet Union in olympics. Actually, when USSR won gold medal in 1988 in Seoul, 4 out of 5 starters were Lithuanian. They carried the team, but the medal went to Soviet Union, instead of Lithuania. Therefore, that is why the win against Russian in 1992 was crucial. Also, Lithuania has most NBA players per person, which makes Lithuania one of the best basketball countries in the world. According to FIBA rankings, Lithuanian youth is ranked #2 and losing the #1 spot to USA. Although for a country of 3,000,000 it is very impressive.
In short, Lithuanian nation is basketball mad, it is comparable to the British with football and 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. All this from just five Olympic appearances. Major domestic clubs are BC Žalgiris from Kaunas and BC Lietuvos Rytas from Vilnius. For this reason in almost every park and playground you will find a basketball court.
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.
- 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), .
- 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, 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 arena), K. Donelaitis St 30, LT-28141 Utena (Utena, north of bus station, at the edge of the park).
- 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+: 2hr M-F - 49 LTL, weekend - 69 LTL, all day M-F - 85 LTL, weekend - 99 LTL..
- 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)
- 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: Vaistariškiu 7, LT44104 Kaunas (Location of Golf course: southern Lithuania, 19 km away from Druskininkai, few km North-East of Leipalingis town, by Vilkė (Wolf) stream), ☎ +370 698 30658, +370 686 01111 ([email protected]).
- 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 a lot of shopping malls for so few inhabitants. 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 Ave 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 1.5 km. 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 centers 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 center for people from Latvia and Kaliningrad. The main shopping centers 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.
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 Birutė and Vytautas.
The price of accommodation depends very much on the place. For instance, in Joniškis (Northern Lithuania), you can get a good hotel room for 25 euros whereas an equivalent room might be as much as 100 euros in Vilnius. Some hotels do not have home pages. Nevertheless, the Internet helps considerably in planning.
Throughout the country, homestays – sleeping "with the grandmother" – are typical. On main street of a town there are many elderly townsfolk offering spare beds in their extra rooms. These experiences are absolutely worth seeking out.
If you want to rent the apartment, the prices will be usually from 200 euros a month. In the biggest towns there are companies which rent apartments "to the long-time tourist or working here". In these you complete on good conditions the apartment furnished and cleaned by the cleaner. From 300 euros.
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.
You will find the hotels of every town on their own interleaves. However, remember that this is the service maintained by the volunteers and you should not wait for current prices let alone that there would be all the possibilities listed.
An interesting accommodation alternative is a countryside accommodation or an own cottage. Countryside.lt offers the shining catalog for accommodation alternatives and you find nearly all the countryside targets and a reservation system from there.
Most large cities such as Vilnius or Kaunas have an abundance of hotel options from 60 litas and up. When traveling to a popular vacation spot in the summer (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.
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 in Lithuania. However, residence permits must be obtained, and employers must prove a lack of competent workers in Lithuania for such employment, which can be difficult. Also, Lithuanian law dictates that all business be conducted in Lithuanian language.
In Lithuania you need the residence permit and a registered address for the working. 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, safety depends on what country you are from. 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 are widely ignored. When driving be careful of aggresive, 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, particulary 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 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. Serious cases of this disease are very rare, but you should be aware if you plan your activities in the forest.
- 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, invasive plant which appeared in Lithuania in c. 1950. Since 1990 it quickly spread all over the country, 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, its all parts are extremely toxic, skin contact causes severe chemical burns (up to 3rd degree) and skin necrosis.
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 Square 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 78 m², up to 30 people, fully equipped. Prices: full body massage (1 hr) 120 LTL, up to 150 LTL, ayurvedic massage (1 hr 30 min) up to 180 LTL, pilates, qigong 25 LTL (1 session), 190 LTL (12 sessions). Hall rental 280 LTL per day.. E-mail form on their web site.
- Ayurveda Centre (Ajurvedos centras) Liauksmino St 3, Vilnius (Near Central Post office at Gedimino av), ☎ +370 5 233 3385, mobile +370 659 90101 ([email protected]). Presentations, consultations, diagnostics, 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 49 LTL; Shanti Kerala 540 LTL; Indian ritual 600 LTL (2 hr 45 min)..
- “Shanti” Kaunas Laisvės al 3, Kaunas, ☎ +370 616 88777 ([email protected]). M-Su 10:00-21:00. Massages: face 49 LTL; Shanti Kerala 500 LTL (2 hr 45 min)..
- 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 50-385 LTL.
- Holistic Health Centre (Holistinis sveikatingumo centras), Laisvės av 117-77, Vilnius (Pašilaičiai district), ☎ +370 620 78443 ([email protected]). Far infrared therapy 35 LTL, body examination at the molecular level 100-200 LTL, antioxidant testing for the first time 40 LTL, next times 30 LTL.
- Holistic Therapy Cabinet (Holistinės terapijos kabinetas) Tilto St 29, Vilnius (Centre, in front of the Congress Hall). 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. Prices: therapy (90 min) about 120 LTL, yoga classes (90 min) 120 LTL per person, qigong classes (15 hr) 300 LTL..
- Holistic Therapy Centre (Holistinės terapijos centras) Didlaukio St 80, Vilnius (Baltupiai district, Z-Klinika), ☎ +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.
- 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. In the group: 1 class 30 LTL, 10 classes (on evenings) 230 LTL. Private: express course (3 classes) 400 LTL, full course up to 1,000 LTL. Contact form. Ashtanga Yoga Summer Camp in Trakai vicinity – adult 1,200 LTL, child up to 17 yo 880 LTL.
- Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre (Šivananda jogos vendetos centras), M. K. Čiurlionis St 66, LT-03100 Vilnius, ☎ +370 648 72864 ([email protected]). Booking in advance. 1 open class 35 LTL, season ticket for 10 classes 230 LTL, unlimited 1 month season ticket 215 LTL, 3 month season ticket 500 LTL, 6 month season ticket 900 LTL, 1 y season ticket 1500 LTL.
- In Kaunas:
- Yoga Academy (Jogos akademija), Savanorių av 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]). In the group: 1 time 20 LTL, season ticket for 1 month up to 160 LTL. Private: 1 class (90 min) 60 LTL, 10 classes 500 LTL. Downloadable schedule (PDF) of the classes.
- Yoga Studio “Urban Yoga” (Miesto joga), Veiverių St 150, Aleksotas district, Kaunas, ☎ +370 37 328241 ([email protected], fax: +370 37 328239). Mo-Sa, hours vary. 1 month season ticket 60 LTL (1 time per week), 180 LTL (4 times per week).
- Kaunas’ Yoga House (Kauno jogos namai), Leliūnų St 10, LT- 50177, Kaunas (Žaliakalnis district near Savanoriai av), ☎ +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. Private classes 100-200 LTL. Shedule of classes.
- In Klaipėda:
- Joga Klaipėda Dragūnų St 1, Klaipėda (Premises of “Eko pamokėlės” school), ☎ Booking +370 615 16862. Mo 19:00–20:15, Th 19:00–20:15. 1 time 20 LTL, 1 month season ticket 70-130 LTL.
- Mano joga S. Šimkaus St 5, LT-92127 Klaipėda (Location of classes: Klaipėda, Palanga, Gargždai), ☎ +370 683 74280, +370 605 07034. Mo-Sa, hours vary. Yoga season ticket 100-250 LTL, massages100 LTL. Private: 1 hr 80 LTL.
- "Pažinimas" Baltijos pr 14-102, Klaipėda, ☎ +370 683 74280, +370 605 07034 ([email protected]). Mo 19:00–20:30, W 19:00-20:30. 1 time 15 LTL, 6 weeks season ticket 120 LTL. Message form for additional info.
- "Prema" Prema jogos centras, Herkus Mantas St 31A - 4, Klaipėda (City centre, ”Žemaitija” shopping centre, 4th floor), ☎ +370 650 79499 ([email protected]). Mo, W 18:15, Sa 10:00.
- Sattva Centre (Satva centras), Turgaus St 20, Klaipėda (Klaipėda centre), ☎ info +370 680 88462, massage +370 682 01158 ([email protected]). Mo-F 10:00-19:00, Sa 10:00-17:00. 100-200 LTL.
- In Vilnius:
- Akarma Reiki Tilto St 7, Vilnius (Entrance through the gate of Tilto St 3, code 4567, end of the courtyard, to the right)), ☎ +370 688 56671 ([email protected]). Tu 18:00–20:00. 1 time 80 LTL. In addition: diagnostics, meditation, yoga classes, massages, shop.
- In Kaunas:
- Culture and Health Cente (Kultūros ir sveikatos centras), Laisvės al 51B, Kaunas (In the “Agnum” centre), ☎ +370 688 91498 ([email protected]). Workdays 10:00–20:00, by agreement.
- Physical Well-Being Center (Fizinės gerovės centras), On a corner of Utenos St 12/Kalniečių St 54, Kaunas, ☎ +370 688 56671 ([email protected]), . Tu 18:00–20:00. 1 time 80 LTL. In addition: psychologist, cosmetologist, therapeutic exercises, massage.
Prechristian Baltic Sun and the Moon cross at the top of wooden monument. Christian and pagan traditions are very interwined in Lithuanian culture
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 oldest Indo-European languages, belonging to the Baltic (not the Slavic) branch of Indo-European languages (although Lithuanian and Latvian have some common similarities with Finnish or Estonian 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 travellers 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 in the entire former USSR area 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 05 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. Phones are used with cards, witch you can find in kiosks, "TEO" or newspaper stands.
Numbers begin 06nnn, where the three digits "n" indicate the original network provider.
There are three mobile phone operators in Lithuania: Omnitel, BITE 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 "Zebra" from - TEO), 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. Internet speed in Lithuania is actually better than American internet speed. Download speed reaches 26.2 Mb/s, while upload speed is 16.8 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 getting very popular. The most popular is ONE.lt, second popular (>600,000 users) is Facebook. Myspace exists, but it is not widely used.