Lithuania: Everything You Need to Know

Learn about Lithuania’s main cities, language, money and more

|April 19, 2021

A trip to Lithuania could be the adventure you've always dreamed of! Despite the small size of this country, it has a variety of impressive places that will make you fall in love with Lithuania.


Find your way to Lithuania

Located far on the edge of Europe, you will be amazed by the country’s rich and inviting nature. You’ll encounter the beautiful national parks, peaceful lakes, deep forests and cozy little towns that make this country worth seeing. From delicious and remarkable local cuisine to friendly Lithuanian people, this country has pretty much everything a traveler could wish for!

How can I reach Lithuania?

Lithuania can be reached by plane, train, car or ship so you can choose the most convenient way to get there. Three airports in Lithuania  – located in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga – have direct flights to various European countries. From Klaipėda, there are three international ferry connections to Germany and Sweden. Lithuania also has good railway connections with neighboring countries. Lithuania has well-developed infrastructure and the country is crossed by six European highways.

Getting around in Lithuania

The Lithuanian intercity public transportation is cheap and the system is dominated by buses. Each Lithuanian city has a single bus station. Buses between the main cities are very frequent, with Vilnius-Kaunas buses leaving each terminal station every 15 minutes. Bus routes connecting the main cities to regional towns are usually slightly rarer, but they still operate several times a day.

Lithuanian railroads are not as developed as those in Western Europe and many other developed countries. They are also less frequent than the buses. Before planning to go somewhere by rail, you should first check the map and the operating routes. 

Currently, there are five operating routes between the city pairs that can be traveled by rail – Vilnius-Kaunas, Vilnius-Klaipėda, Šiauliai-Klaipėda, Šiauliai-Panevėžys and Vilnius-Šiauliai. Due to passenger traffic, three of Lithuania's national parks have a direct train connection to Vilnius: Trakai Historical National ParkAukštaitija National Park and Dzūkija National Park. Moreover, unlike buses, bicycles can be taken on trains, which is a great idea, especially when traveling to national parks.  

Getting around in the cities

Public transport in Lithuania is a bit slow, as there is no metro or local trains in Lithuania. You can always choose between buses and trains. In most cities, the routes, tickets and schedules of local buses are available online. Timetables are also available at every bus stop in every city. Tickets for buses and trolleybuses can be bought at kiosks and on the bus or trolleybus itself. Keep in mind that if you buy them from the driver, they charge more. Monthly passes are available in every city and many also have daily, three-day and weekly deals, but they are only beneficial if you plan to use public transport extensively.

You can find public transport routes and timetables here.

For those who prefer taxi service, there are plenty of affordable taxi options in Lithuania. From global giant Uber in Vilnius to more local providers like Bolt and E-Taxi, they all work 24/7 and are easy to hail through apps. 

What is the currency in Lithuania?

Beginning in 2015 the Lithuanian currency is the euro. The euro is used in many European countries. Although most shopping centers, restaurants and hotels in Lithuania take payments by credit card, this is less common in smaller towns and traditional marketplaces. So do not forget to have some cash when you go shopping in markets and fairs or travel to more remote tourist destinations and rural tourism homesteads.

Languages in Lithuania

The official language in Lithuania, and the most used among the population, is Lithuanian. Approximately 85% of the population speaks Lithuanian. With thousands of years of history and a struggle to be free, the Lithuanian language is an essential part of Lithuania’s identity.

Seventy percent of the population can speak Russian and it is still the most popular second language in Lithuania. The Russian language was compulsory during the Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1990. For this reason, every person of the older generations was fluent in the language. Nowadays, only about 40% of children learn it and the language is starting to disappear. The use of the Russian language in public places has been gradually removed and replaced by English. Nevertheless, some restaurants and private hotels have Russian menus and Russian-speaking staff to serve the Russian tourists.

English is the most popular foreign language and is spoken by 30% of the population and 80% of the youth. However, in Lithuania older generations are not likely to speak English because it was not used or taught during the Soviet period. Nowadays, English is a widely accepted language that Lithuanians expect foreigners to speak. It is used in universities, modern museums, hotels, on tourist signs, and on restaurant menus. The language has also become fashionable for some popular songs and important local trademarks. 

Biggest cities in Lithuania

Vilnius

Vilnius is the capital city of Lithuania and has a population of more than 500,000 citizens. According to some geographic reports, it is located right in the middle of Europe. Moreover, Vilnius is the second-largest city in the Baltic states and is surrounded by green forests, hills and valleys.

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. Ethereal cathedrals stand alongside restaurants and cozy cafes and old buildings that tell the story of this historic city. If you're looking for an elegant, peaceful and unforgettable destination, Vilnius should be on your list.

Vilnius Old Town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. The old town is fascinating for its exceptional architecture, preserved Gothic, renaissance, baroque and classicist buildings, the structure of a medieval city, and its natural environment. 

Kaunas

Kaunas is the second-largest city in the country and is another great destination for sightseeing. Surrounding Kaunas, the Neris and Nemunas rivers offer breathtaking views of its beautiful and vibrant life. Kaunas also has a wide range of museums, historic structures, and parks with plenty of things to see. Kaunas is also known for M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Gallery, where you can find beautiful paintings, writings, and other pieces of art by one of the most notable artists in Lithuania, Čiurlionis. Also, there is the Devil’s Museum, which offers a unique opportunity to interact with its huge collection of carvings and representations of the devil from different parts of the world.

Klaipėda

Klaipėda is located in the western part of Lithuania, near the Baltic sea, 311 km away from the capital city of Vilnius.  It is the third-biggest city in the country and the only seaport in Lithuania. The fact that Klaipėda is situated near the sea has played a very important role in the country’s economic and educational life, as well as the transportation business.

Klaipėda is a very charming and vibrant city with a majestic harbor, spectacular architecture, white seagulls, historic monuments, sandy beaches and the refreshing scent of the sea that will leave you with unforgettable memories. 

The Curonian Spit & Kursiu Nerija National Park

Šiauliai is the fourth-largest city in Northern Lithuania. Its name comes from the word "Saulė," which means "sun" in Lithuanian. People call this city "the city of the sun." Most people who visit Šiauliai come to see the legendary Hill of Crosses, which is about 12 km away from the city. People who visit the Hill of Crosses partake in the ritual of leaving a cross on the hill. The exact origin of the practice of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, but it is believed that the first crosses were placed there in 1831.

Kernavė

Kernavė is a town in Southeast Lithuania, which was once a medieval capital. You can experience the beauty of this region by visiting the Hillforts of Kernave. There you can enjoy panoramic views of the valleys and spot 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. Many important archeological remains – including objects found in the burial sites, bronze artworks, clay vases and other incised ceramics – are kept in the Museum of the Kernavė Archeological Site, which was included in the World Heritage List UNESCO in 2004. 

Druskininkai

Druskininkai is the largest resort in Lithuania and is surrounded by a natural forest reserve. The resort is famous for its spa, ancient traditions of sanatorium treatment, wonderful nature and rapidly developing tourism infrastructure. The spa has long been known for its mineral water and medicinal mud, which are now combined with modern technology and have positive effects on health. The wide range of services offered in Druskininkai makes it suitable for people of all ages.

After visiting Druskininkai you will be fascinated by the exclusive spa and the calm aura. You will be pleasantly surprised and feel a harmony of body and soul. 

Trakai

Situated between three lakes, Trakai is a small historic Lithuanian city of only 11.5 square km and is located 28 km west of Vilnius. Although this city has only approximately 5,400 inhabitants, it receives more than 2 million visitors every year. Can you imagine that? Trakai is the perfect place to admire natural landscapes, wildlife reserves, luscious forests, as well as its magnificent Island Castle located in the middle of the lake. 

The city of Trakai is one of the most popular and favorite weekend destinations in Lithuania. Trakai is well-known for its many recreational activities: swimming, fishing, sailing in an aero boat, paragliding and horseback riding. It is also famous for its national heritage and "Kibinai", a delicious and juicy dish that you can enjoy in Trakai.

Lithuanian Climate and Seasons

In Lithuania, you have the opportunity to experience all four seasons. If you visit Lithuania in the winter, you'll probably see snow but be prepared for even colder weather. Temperatures can drop to -20°C or even lower! Spring and autumn are quite rainy in Lithuania. In the summer, Lithuanians experience warm and sunny days. The average temperature in July is 17.9°C, but there are also days when the temperature rises to 30°C! During the autumn months, the weather is often quite warm and pleasant, so you can enjoy your time outdoors.

Internet

The minute you land in Lithuania, you do not have to worry about the internet connection. For several years Lithuania has had the fastest download internet and the second-fastest upload internet in the world. There are also many public Wi-Fi places where you can use Wi-Fi for free! You can find them in cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, and even outdoors and on trains and buses. 

Visa

Lithuania is a part of the Schengen Area. For this reason, citizens of the 26 European countries that belong to this area have the right to enter Lithuania without a visa or border control. Moreover, visas are not required for other citizens who come to Lithuania for short-term purposes (no more than 90 days in a period of 180 days) or transit through its territory. Other citizens entering the country must have a visa. You can see whether or not your country’s citizens need a Lithuanian visa here

Lithuanian Cuisine

Due to the cool and moist northern climate of Lithuania, root vegetables (such as potatoes and beetroot), meat and dairy products dominate Lithuanian cuisine. The food that is meant to keep you warm from the inside is certainly something worth trying. 

Cepelinai, also known as zeppelins, is the country’s national dish and the first dish all visitors should try when they arrive in Lithuania. The dish was named due to its similarity to the shape of the Zeppelin airship. It is 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 with curd cheese or mushrooms.

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 of the ingredients are chopped, put in a pot, and drizzled with kefir. The soup can be seasoned with salt and a little pepper. The dish is served cold, usually with hot boiled potatoes that are sprinkled with dill. It is a great choice on a hot summer day, as it refreshes the body and the soul!

Lithuanians have been eating potatoes for a couple of centuries and they play an essential part in their cuisine. They boil the starchy spuds and add them to soups, kugels and dumplings. They also fry them to create crispy Lithuanian potato pancakes called Bulviniai Blynai.

Grybukai (mushroom biscuits) are delightful biscuits in the form of mushrooms. They are made of cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, sugar and butter. 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 that are formed from dripping dough when the cake is turned back and forth on a skewer-like cooker.  

Holidays in Lithuania

Lithuanians love to celebrate holidays, but each day depends on the context and history. Traditional Lithuanian holidays like Shrove Tuesday Carnival or the Midsummer Night are celebrated loudly and joyfully. While other holidays, like the day of Freedom Defenders or Independence Day, are celebrated more quietly and formally. Holidays like these create a tradition that is unique to the country that last decades.

New Year’s Day – January 1

Lithuania’s celebration of New Year’s Day is no different from other countries. Lithuanians celebrate New Year’s Eve with private parties, fireworks shows and special events during New Year’s Day.

Day of Freedom Defenders – January 13

The Day of Freedom Defenders is the day when the Soviet army stormed the television tower to take away Lithuania’s independence in 1991. On this day, over a dozen people were killed and over 100 people were injured.

Užgavėnės (Shrove Tuesday) – February

Shrove Tuesday is Lithuania’s celebration of the end of winter and takes place in early February. Winter and spring duke it out in a comic fight and a representation of the cold season, that ends in the burning of Morė, a giant doll symbolizing winter. In Vilnius and other cities in Lithuania, outdoor marketplaces and children’s activities are organized. People make and eat pancakes on this day.

Independence Day – February 16

This day marks the 1918 declaration, signed by Jonas Basanavičius and 19 other signatories that declared Lithuania as an independent country. On this day, Lithuanian flags decorate streets, schools, universities and some businesses close.

Day of Restitution – March 11

The Day of Restitution marks the act that declared Lithuania free from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990.

St. Casimir’s Day – March 4

St. Casimir’s Day remembers the patron saint of Lithuania. Kaziukas Fair, an enormous craft fair, takes place on the weekend closest to this day in Vilnius.

Easter – Springtime (April 4 in 2021 and April 17 in 2022)

Easter in Lithuania is celebrated according to the Roman Catholic tradition. Elaborate Easter palms and Lithuanian Easter eggs are strong elements of Easter and symbolize the return of spring.

Labor Day – May 1

Lithuania celebrates Labor Day along with most of the world on the first of May.

Mother’s Day – First Sunday in May; Father’s Day – First Sunday in June

In Lithuania, the family is an honored institution and highly regarded. Mothers and fathers are celebrated on their respective days.

Mourning and Hope Day – June 14

This day remembers the victims of the first mass deportations that occurred after the Soviet Union occupied the Baltic States.

St. John’s Day – June 24

St. John’s Day recalls Lithuania’s pagan past. On this day, traditions and superstitions connected with Midsummer are observed. Festivities include jumping over fires and floating wreaths on water.

Statehood Day – July 6

Statehood Day marks the crowning of King Mindaugas in the 13th century. Mindaugas was Lithuania’s first and only king and holds a special place in the country’s history and legends.

Assumption Day – August 15

Because Lithuania is a predominantly Roman Catholic nation, Assumption Day is an important holiday. Some businesses and schools are closed on this day.

Black Ribbon Day – August 23

Black Ribbon Day is a Europe-wide day of remembrance for victims of Stalinism and Nazism. In Lithuania, flags with black ribbons are flown to mark this day.

All Saint’s Day – November 1

On the eve of All Saint’s Day, graves are cleaned and decorated with flowers and candles. Cemeteries become places of light and beauty on this night, connecting the world of the living with that of the dead.

Christmas Eve – December 24

Called Kūčios, Christmas Eve is a family holiday. Families often eat 12 dishes to symbolize the 12 months of the year and the 12 apostles.

Christmas – December 25

Lithuanian Christmas traditions include public Christmas trees, family gatherings, the giving of gifts, Christmas markets, visits from Santa Claus, and special meals.

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