Lithuania is a great destination if you’re traveling on a budget! Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is very affordable compared to other capitals in Europe.
1. It’s Affordable
From hotels to transportation to food and drink to the party and nightlife venues, you’ll be able to make the most of your trip without breaking the bank. Plus, there are a lot of places you can visit for free – churches, museums, fairs, and even the Presidential Palace!
2. Organic Products and Nature
Lithuanian nature is the country’s greatest treasure. Mushrooms and berries are both gifts from nature. Wild strawberries, blueberries and cranberries combine to create the sweet smell of the forest and taste fantastic! Fishing in the country’s rivers and lakes offers great entertainment and a valuable catch!
Other exciting things to do include hiking along Lithuanian lakes and rivers or going swimming, canoeing or rafting. There are so many things to do, it’s hard to list them all! In Lithuania, there are five national parks and 30 regional parks that offer various entertainment options. In the national parks, you can find lakes, water sports like boating and windsurfing, islands, biodiverse landscapes, historic villages and even an island castle! The castle is located within Trakai Historical National Park, just a short drive from the capital Vilnius.
3. Lithuanian Cuisine
Lithuanianslove to eat food that is filling, hearty and keeps youwarm. Lithuanian dishes are mainly made of root vegetables (potatoes and beetroot), meat and dairy products, all of which can be grown in Lithuania's cold climate.
Cepelinai, also known aszeppelins, is the country’s national dish and the first dish all visitors should try when they arrive in Lithuania. The dishwas named due to its similarity to the zeppelin airshipandis made of a mixture of raw and cooked potato dough that is filled with pork and served with a sour cream and bacon sauce. If you’re vegetarian, you can replace the meat filling withcheesecurdsor mushrooms. The dish issimilar tothe dumplings served in countries like Austria, Belarus, Germany and Poland. Think of it as a dumpling meets pierogi.
Šaltibarščiai is a popular summer soup and is easily recognizable by its bright pink color. It is prepared from hard-boiled eggs, boiled and grated beets, fresh cucumbers, dill and green onions. All the ingredients are chopped and put in a pot, then kefir is added. The soup can be seasoned with salt and a little pepper. The dish is served cold, usually with hot boiled potatoes sprinkled with dill. It is a great choice on a hot summer’s day, as it refreshes the body and the soul!
Lithuanians have been eating potatoes for a short time – only a couple of centuries – but dishes with potatoes are a staple in their cuisine. They boil the starchy sprouts and add them to soups, balls and dumplings. They also fry them into crispy Lithuanian potato pancakes, called Bulviniai Blynai.
Bulviniai Blynai are deep-fried pancakes made with savory ingredients like grated potatoes, onions, eggs and flour. Most Lithuanians eat Bulviniai Blynai spread with sour cream or applesauce.
The most traditional Lithuanian bread is made with natural yeast and dark rye flour. You can find dark rye bread at markets and restaurants. Fried bread, or kepta duona, is Lithuanian dark rye bread fried in oil, seasoned with garlic and salt, and served with a cheese sauce. Fried bread is often eaten as a snack with beer and is one of the most popular comfort foods to Lithuanians.
Grybukai (mushroom biscuits) are delightful biscuits in the form of mushrooms, made of cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, sugar, butter, and the like. The cookies are glazed to create the familiar white "hat" and dark "stem" of the mushroom. The taste is delicious and there are many bakeries and restaurants around the country where you can try them.
Šakotis (spit cake) is a traditional Lithuanian cake that is often served on special occasions such as weddings, Christmas Eve and Easter. This cake is a large, hollow ring with tasty spikes around the edges, formed from dripping dough when the cake is turned back and forth on a skewer-like cooker.
4. Lithuania’s History
Can you imagine that in the 15th century Lithuania was one of the largest countries in Europe with borders as far as the Black Sea?
In the past, Lithuania was occupied many times by its neighboring countries. The last occupation by the Soviet Union lasted almost 50 years. Today, Lithuanians have a great sense of national pride due to fights to regain and maintain their freedom.
You can find military remains scattered all over Lithuania that date back to the time when the country was part of the Soviet Union. Lithuania even has a Soviet nuclear missile base hidden in the forests and lakes of Žemaitija National Park.
In Lithuania, you have the opportunity to go back in time. The performance 1984: Survival Drama in a Soviet Bunker takes place 25 km from Vilnius. You go five meters underground to a two-story, 3,000-square-meter labyrinth. The survival drama begins with a not-so-welcome greeting by security guards and their barking dogs before they take your personal belongings. Embark on an adventure and experience the stressful life in the USSR for two hours!
KGB Museumis located inthe former office of the KGB Deputy Chief of Internal Prison. The first floor of the museum is fullofdocuments, photographs, maps and other items depicting the Sovietization of the region in 1940to1941. The exhibition, dedicated to the partisan warfrom1944to1953, presents the territorial structure and military organization of the partisan units, the aspirations of the freedom fighters, their daily activities and everyday life. On the second floor of the museum,there is an exhibition devoted to the imprisonment of Lithuanians in gulags from 1944 to 1956, the deportations from 1944 to 1953,and the activity of the KGB from 1954 to 1991.
5. Unique Traditions and Authenticity
Ancient Lithuanian traditions and folklore stand out from the heritage of other European nations because of their preserved links to Baltic mythology and the pre-Christian way of life.Lithuanians have original musical instruments that you won't find anywhere else. Daudytė (embouchure aerophone) is a long shepherd's horn that can be heard dozens of kilometers away. Wooden cowbells attached to a rack and struck with sticks is another local instrument. Throughout the year, a variety of traditional festivals take place in Lithuanian cities and towns. It's always fun and exciting to join one of those!
Have you ever been to an authentic festival or felt the spirit of an old way of life? Come to Rumšiškės! Here you will find a museum of folk lifestyle, as well as Europe's largest open-air museum. In Rumšiškės you can travel through Lithuanian ethnic regions and visit old Lithuanian homesteads. All the structures and household items in the museum are authentic and were brought from different places in Lithuania. The Museum of Folk Life maintains the tradition of celebrating ancient calendar festivals.
To go back to very ancient times, you must visit Kernavė. There you can enjoy panoramic views of the valleys as well as the animals that live in the area. In the town of Kernavė, there are many gravesites of important figures in the history of Lithuania, cultural monuments and important archeological remains of ancient land use.
Every year in early June,on the occasion ofState Day,Kernavėhostsspectacular "Live Archaeology Days" with demonstrations of ancient crafts, performances of ancient musicalgroups and combat demonstrations by soldier clubs from all over the world.
6. Vibrant Vilnius
Vilnius is an extraordinary city, with a variety of architectural styles and places to visit. Its gothic and baroque architecture makes it one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. In Vilnius, you must go out and experience the vibrant nightlife! You’ll come across lively pubs and bars, hidden terraces and romantic restaurants. Tumbledown buildings hide designer boutiques and high-end handicraft shops.
In 1994, Vilnius Old Town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for its tremendous impact on Eastern European culture and architecture, impressive well-preserved gothic complexes, renaissance, baroque and classicist buildings, the structure of a medieval city and natural environment.
7. Unforgettable Neringa
Sands in the middle of Europe? It may sound unbelievable but it’s true! More than 5,000 years ago, the waves and winds of the Baltic Sea formed the Curonian Spit, a 98-kilometer-long, thin, curved sand dune pit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the coast of the Baltic Sea.
Part of the spit is in Russia but the northern side is in Lithuania. The unique Neringa Resort on the Curonian Spit stretches more than 50 kilometers, connecting the villages of Juodkrantė, Preila, Pervalka and Nida.
The dunes of Nida offer breathtaking views. The hills of white sand, the waves of the Baltic Sea, the green of the forests, and the silence of the Curonian Lagoon all combine to create a magical atmosphere. You’ll feel like you are witnessing a symphony performed by nature.
Neringa is popular among professional sailors and lovers of sailing, motor kiting and paragliding. Walking along the seashore, vacationers can find amber (known as Lithuanian gold) washed ashore by the waves of the Baltic Sea. If that’s not enough, Nida has the sunniest days out of all the places in Lithuania.
You absolutely must try the fish if you are in Nida! Smoked fish is a traditional dish in this area. You’ll find smoked eel, bream, mackerel, pikeperch, herring and catfish in local restaurants. The fish is smoked according to a special method and recipe. Just wait and find out for yourself – the taste is unforgettable!
8. Unique Spas
The Lithuanian spas of Birštonas and Druskininkai have always been known for their bubbling mineral water and mineral-rich mud. The healing properties rival those of Europe's most famous spas.
In Druskininkai, the spas are located in exclusive, picturesque curves on the Nemunas River and surrounded by forests. There you will find hotels and sanatoriums of European standards with modern diagnostic and treatment technologies and a wide range of procedures. In Druskininkai, spas are not the only major tourist attraction. There is also a huge water park, where adults and children can make unforgettable memories!
9. Castle on the Lake
The city ofTrakaiis one of the most popular and favorite weekend destinations in Lithuania.Trakaiis known not only for its many recreational activities, such as swimming, fishing, sailing inaero boats, paragliding,andhorseback ridingbutalsofor its castleand itsHistorical National Park. Can you believe that it is the only castle in Eastern Europe built on an island? You can reach the castle via a 300-meter-long wooden bridge. Insidethe castle, you’llfindtheTrakaiHistory Museum. It tells the history of the castle and displays a collection of medieval weapons. You shoulddefinitely renta water bike or a boat to admire the beautiful view of the castle and the nature around it!
10. Hill of Crosses
This remarkable place inŠiauliai, in north-central Lithuania, is a must-visit destination! This man-made monument is literally a mound of thousands and thousands of crosses leftthere over the years by pilgrims, visitors and even newlyweds on their wedding day. People who visit the Hill of Crosses have a ritual of leaving a cross on the hill. The exact origin of the custom of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, but it is believed that the first crosses were placedtherein 1831. The crosses range from large and ornate to tiny, mass-produced wooden crosses that can be purchased at the nearby gift shop. Many of the crosses tell their own stories and include photos of loved ones or personal messages.