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Welcome to Lithuania, land of many forests, fresh and salty waters, sand dunes, fairy tale cities, and digital nomads flocking toward its super-fast, super-awesome internet. (Seriously, you could be in the middle of nowhere and get great reception). To help you plan your trip, we broke down the best places to see in Lithuania into four itineraries.
But before we begin, it’s worth getting to know Lithuania a little. For a while, it co-led one of Europe’s strongest empires. Hence the pretty old buildings. But this Baltic nation’s roots go way back. In fact, Lithuania’s unique language itself is an archeological treasure, and one of the world’s oldest tongues. That sense of standing out has turned Lithuania into the cool, quirky place it is today.
Now, in the spirit of the Lithuanian internet, let our lightning round through Lithuania begin!
Vilnius and its vicinity
The capital of Lithuania is also its tourism hub, and home to many of its famous attractions. But it’s also a gateway to nature day trips.
Vilnius Old Town & the “independent republic” of Užupis
Cobblestone streets tailor-made for strolling. Panoramic views from Gediminas Castle and Hill of Three Crosses. There are many reasons why Vilnius Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage Site. But to meet the “real” side of Vilnius, Užupis is the place to be. This neighbourhood – a 15 minute walk from the old town – is a bit of a rebel. In fact, it’s technically a separate country run by artists, with its own anthem and constitution and everything. As a result, it’s full of cool art, cafes, people, and things that’ll make you look twice.
Tip: Want to see another side of the city? Take a hot air balloon tour for an aerial view of Vilnius.
Trakai Castle and Island
Trakai is famous for its fairy tale castle. However, its lush lake landscape – dotted with tiny islands – is just as stunning. It only takes half an hour to get here from Vilnius, but you’ll probably stick around for hours – especially if you decide to sail around the castle island. And while you’re here, you might as well stay for sunset.
Tip: Trakai is also famous for Kibinai, a rich pastry that’s one of Lithuania’s best dishes.
At first sight, you might think Kernavė’s rolling green hills are from a scene in The Lord of the Rings. Only later, you find out that you’re standing on the medieval birthplace of The Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the site of ancient pagan legends. Then, as you observe the surroundings from the hill forts, you feel yourself a bit like a ruler. It feels good.
Dzūkija National Park
Dzūkija National Park and its marshes are full of life. Rare eagles circle above its thick blanket of pine trees. Below, elks and hares nibble on first class forest fare. And we mean it when we say first class – the berries and mushrooms here feed Lithuania’s award-winning restaurants.
Need a recharge? You can replenish yourself in the rejuvenating waters of Druskininkai’s spas. Don’t forget to take in the forest views from the cable car while you’re there – or to try out a therapeutic mud bath. Visiting with kids? You’ll be happy to know there’s an aqua park. You yourself might even go on a water slide… or ten.
Kaunas and nearby attractions
The country’s second biggest city in itself is worth a visit to Lithuania. Why? Because its surroundings combine historical wonder with modern culture, quaint villages with calm lake landscapes.
Lithuanian landmarks in Kaunas
Some of the best places to visit in Lithuania are in its second biggest city. Kaunas Castle is one. Courtyard Gallery, home to lo-fi local street art, is another. There’s Pazaislis Monastery for achingly beautiful Christian art. There’s the Devils Museum if you want to go the opposite direction. If basketball is your religion, you’ll fit right in Kaunas. And speaking of Lithuanian landmarks – human tower and NBA legend Arvydas Sabonis also hails from here.
Rumšiškės Open Air Museum
At most historical attractions, you only find out about the rich and powerful. Not here. In the village of Rumšiškės, you can see how the 99% used to live. Take your time touring this miniature of old Lithuania, its mills and thatched-roof wooden houses. But don’t miss out on activities like amber crafting, horse riding and folk music. Worry not, you won’t be asked to sing. Probably.
Here we are at another spa town in Lithuania. Tourism in the country is better known for forests, coasts, culture and history, but there’s a rich wellness tradition too. Birštonas, in particular, is devoted to it. With a tall-treed park walling it from the outside world, you can find inner calm and dive into treatments like mud baths. A lazy river boat ride is also recommended.
Best places to see on Lithuania’s Baltic coast
Holidays in Lithuania would not be complete without heading to the Baltic coast. Sand dunes, blue flag beaches, a UNESCO Heritage Site; this region has it all.
What would you say to a northern beach holiday? You’d enjoy smaller crowds, cooler waters and gentle breezes. And you’d still get that summer tan on a blue flag beach. While you’re not sunning and bathing, you can visit the Amber Museum (no dinos, sorry) and Birute Park, or search for amber on the beach yourself.
Classic sailboats, epic sunsets, powdery beaches, bustling streets and leafy parks. That, in a nutshell, is the port town of Klaipėda. Explore its old town and you’ll notice German influences on its timber and red brick buildings. Visit in late July and you’ll find yourself in the middle of Klaipėda Sea Festival – let the tide carry you from one activity to the other, from markets to parades to sail races.
The Curonian Spit & sand dunes of Nida
The main draw of the Curonian Spit is the sand dunes. But there’s so much more to do here. You can watch the sun rise over the lagoon and set into the sea. You can witness wild witch sculptures in Juodkrante. And come evening, you can follow the peaty scent toward the best smoked fish you’re likely to have.
Tip: Walking and swimming aren’t only ways to get around here – there are plenty of amazing bike routes too.
See how far in advance to book for the best flight deals to the Baltic Sea:
Best places to visit in the north of Lithuania
Lithunians are very proud of their nature. You can see why that’s the case if you venture into its northern sea of green. You might even come across a rare cultural phenomenon.
Hill of Crosses
There’s no better way to describe this place than awe-inspiring. At this pilgrimage site near Šiauliai, you’ll see over 200,000 crosses, crucifixes, statues and effigies. Some are big, some are small. Some simple, some elaborate works of art. Put together, they create a haunting forest of memories. It’s a 3 hour drive from Vilnius, but well worth the journey.
Anykščiai knows how to make visitors feel on top of the world. Not only does it offer long treetop paths that get up close and personal with evergreens, it’s also the premier ski resort of Lithuania. Although fair warning, don’t expect Alpine giants. It’s also home to the Church of Apostle Evangelist St. Matthew, whose silver-topped spires make it the tallest in Lithuania.
Plokštinė Missile Base
Now for a more haunting spot that takes you deeper underground, into a Soviet nuclear missile silo. It’s hard not to get goose bumps as you walk through the tunnels of this military base, which today houses a Cold War Museum – as well as reminders of a chilling episode in history. It’s hard to imagine something like this could be tucked away in a peaceful forest, just one hour away from Palanga.
Aukštaitija National Park & Ignalina
Here are a few reasons why the highlands of Aukštaitija are one of the best places to visit in Lithuania. It has the deepest lake in the country. It has the longest lake in the country. It’s where you’ll find the oldest oak tree (probably) in Lithuania. And if you’re a TV buff, you might know that Ignalina was one of the filming locations for HBO’s hit series Chernobyl.
Now you know its best spots, you can start Lithuania trip planning for real:
Whether you want to visit in wonderful winter or in sweet summer, find great flight deals to Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga.
To cepelinai and beyond – get the lowdown on how to chow down in Lithuania, from pork-and-potato dumplings to born-for-Instagram beet soups.
Discover the forests, sand dunes, cityscapes, lakes and quirky sights of Lithuania that make it impossible not to take an amazing photo.