Lithuania


Overview

Lithuania travel guide - including map of Lithuania, attractions, culture, key facts, health and safety, money and weather in Lithuania

Lithuania is full of history, from the iconic Hill of Crosses (a poignant memorial to the Lithuanians who died fighting against Tsarist, Nazi and Soviet rule) to Vilnius’s Unesco-listed Baroque Old Town.

In the capital’s cobbled streets, you’ll also find a wealth of quirky shops, eccentric cafés and bohemian art galleries. And since Lithuania is thankfully not part of the Eurozone, you can get this culture-fix on the cheap.

Lithuania’s countryside also makes for affordable and unique breaks.

Hikers and cyclists can enjoy the well-marked trails of the Curonian Spit National Park - an extraordinary strip of sand dunes and pines that separates the wildlife-rich Curonian lagoon from the Baltic Sea.

There’s lots of boating fun to be had in Trakai National Park and in the lesser-visited Aukstaitija National Park, it’s possible to walk for hours without meeting anyone.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Discover Vilnius’ hidden gems with our guide to the Lithuanian capital
  2. Spot elk, deer, cormorants and storks around the unique Curonian Spit
  3. Explore the islets, lakes, wooden cottages in Trakai National Park, also home to Lithuania’s most spectacular castle.
  4. Unwind in the spa town of Druskininkai, a former playground of Soviet bigwigs.
  5. Reflect on Lithuania’s struggle for independence at the Hill of Crosses, Siauliai.
  6. In winter, fill your hip flask with vodka and join the locals ice fishing on Lake Galve – just 18km from Vilnius.

Wanderlust tips

A warning worth bearing mind when you’ve had too much midus and make your way to the nearest WC: the letter M on the door does not stand for Men. It signifies moteru (women).

Sometimes a simple upward-pointing triangle is used to signpost female toilets. The letter V (for vyru) or a downward-pointing triangle marks male toilets.

 

Further Reading

Travel in Lithuania: vital statistics

 

  • Capital of Lithuania: Vilnius
  • Population of Lithuania: 3.5 million
  • Languages in Lithuania: Lithuanian  
  • Time in Lithuania: GMT +1
  • International dialling code in Lithuania: +370
  • Voltage in Lithuania: 220 AC 50 Hz
  • Visas for Lithuania: Lithuania visas
  • Money in Lithuania: Litas (Lt). Credit cards and travellers’ cheques are accepted in large towns. Many Lithuanians do not tip though most will round up restaurant and taxi bills to the next Lt.
  • Lithuania travel advice: Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Lithuania tourist board: Lithuanian embassy

     

    When to go to Lithuania

    Climate and crowds in Lithuania: Much of the country is under permanent snow cover from November to March and the average temperature is below freezing.

    Summer (from May to August) brings the warmest weather. It’s worth visiting at the beginning of summer since most Lithuanians take their main annual vacation at the height of summer, causing severe congestion and August sees the most rain.

    Late April when the flowers are in bloom and September and October when the parks are a sea of red are pleasant times to visit.

    No matter what time of year, the weather can be unreliable, so take waterproofs.

    Festivals in Lithuania: Kaunas holds a month-long Jazz festival in April, while Vilnius stages a classical music festival throughout June. In May, the capital holds the colourful Vilnius carnival.

     

    International airports

     

    Vilnius (VNO), 6km from the city

     

    Getting around in Lithuania

     

    Trains in Lithuania are cheap but slow and infrequent. Train services between Vilnius and Lithuania’s other major cities tend to be slightly cheaper than the express bus services but take longer. For timetables seem Litrail.

     

    Buses are the mainstay of Lithuania’s public transport system. The cross-country express routes linking Vilnius and Kaunas with Klaipéda and Palanga are frequent, fast and served by comfortable, modern coaches.

    Lithunian towns are well covered by innercity bus networks.

    Most have bike lines so cycling can be a good way of getting round. Outside of the main cities, cars are invaluable for reaching places painfully slow to get to or inaccessible by public transport.

    If you’re hiring a car local operators tend to give a better deal than international agencies.

    Lithuania accommodation

    Although smaller boutique hotels and B&Bs are springing up in Lithuania’s cities, be prepared to end up in the odd 1970s monstrosity on your travels.

    Room rates in the coastal resorts can rise dramatically in peak season.

    In Vilnius, where hotels cater largely for a business clientele, there are good weekend deals to be had.

    Rural farmhouse stays can be a good value option and a chance to sample real Lithuanian home-cooking.

    You can get information on these from local tourist offices and many are listed in the national tourist board’s publication, Countryside Holidays.

    Lithuania food & drink

    Lithuania’s national dish is Cepelinai (Zeppelin), so called because of its shape. This meat-filled potato dumpling is traditionally slathered in sour cream and pork cracklings.

    Pork and potatoes feature heavily in most Lithuanian dishes.

    Vegetarians will have a hard time of things if they don’t eat fish. The Baltic, the Curonian lagoon and Lithuania’s rivers provide an abundant supply of cod, plaice, salmon, trout, perch and eel, which is often served smoked.

    Lithuania’s most distinctive drink is gira, a refreshing rye-brew with little or no alcohol content. Most bars have a daunting array of locally produced beers and spirits, including several types of vodka and midus – a fiendishly-strong honey mead.  

     

    Health & safety in Lithuania

    If you are an EU citizen, a European Health Insurance Card covers you for emergency medical treatment.

    No vaccinations are required, though it’s worth checking your tetanus jab is up to date. In some parts of Lithuania there is a small risk of contracting tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease – consider insect repellent.

    Tap water is safe to drink, although in certain areas the locals prefer to drink bottled water.

    Lithuania is generally a safe country for tourists. However, there have been occasional reports of tourists being drugged in bars and robbed, so don’t accept drinks or food from strangers.

    Don’t flaunt valuables or lots of money in public as pickpockets do operate in Lithuania’s cities.