Foreigners in Lithuania | Gohar
SPEND THE NIGHT AT PANEMUNĖ CASTLE
Situated on the right bank of the river Nemunas in western Lithuania, Panemunė castle is the most authentically preserved 17th-18th century residential castle in Lithuania. Its architecture features elements of the renaissance, baroque and neoclassical styles. The castle is best-known for two things. The first is a 17th-century fair, which takes place all summer in the castle’s yard and offers the chance to try out all sorts of Lithuanian products, from local cheese and ham to herbal teas and jams or handmade cosmetics. The second? The castle s also serves as a hotel where visitors can stay in one of its authentically sumptuous rooms.
UNLOCK THE PAST AT PAKRUOJIS
Pakruojis Manor, situated in northern Lithuania, is the largest surviving complex of manor buildings in Lithuania. Experience, the life of 19th-century nobles through a range of authentic activities. From an authentic perfumer’s workshop where you can sample Lithuania’s extraordinary historical scents, to a costume room full of authentic Lithuanian noble garb and a traditional beer tour and tasting, there’s plenty here for everyone to enjoy.
GARDENS AND CULTURE AT KRETINGA
Kretinga Manor in western Lithuania is the home of Kretinga Museum, which houses archaeological, numismatic, and ethnographic exhibits, including an extensive collection of Lithuanian folk art. However, the manor is best known for its Winter Gardens, with their gentle water cascades, cosy café and a flourishing array of plants all year round.
ANCIENT HISTORY AT KERNAVĖ
Kernavė, located in southeast Lithuania, was the mediaeval capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Nowadays, the centrepiece of what remains of the ancient city’s rich cultural and archaeological heritage is a breathtaking complex of five mounds, part of a large defence system amid the beautiful landscape of Neris river valley. It’s the perfect place to enjoy nature by day – and watch the sky on a clear night in stargazing season.
CLIMB THE PARNIDIS DUNE
The Parnidis dune, often known as the ‘Sahara of the Baltics’, is crowning glory of Lithuania’s Curonian Spit. This 7km thread of golden sand rises from the Curonian Lagoon and snakes southwards,offering visitors a breathtaking panorama of coastline,with views over the town of Nida and its forests from the observation deck on the top. Also worth the climb is the unique, monumental sundial.
DOWN IN THE DEVIL’S HOLE
The Devil’s Hole in a impressive cavity, descending to a depth of around 40 metres, deep within the forest an hour’s drive from Lithuania’s capital Vilnius. Its origin is unknown, and many legends have grown up around the site, leading to its name. Experience its mysterious atmosphere for yourself by taking the wooden walkway into its depths.
PADDLEBOARD AT NIGHT
Lithuania is a country of lakes and rivers, and one of the best ways to explore them is paddleboarding. In the town of Trakai, around 25km from Vilnius, you can find a truly unique way to do it. Here, you can take a night-time tour of Lake Galvė by paddleboard. See Trakai’s famous island castle lit up at night and explore the nocturnal world of underwater the lake’s wildlife of the lake from a board illuminated with LED lights.
PADDLE DOWN THE RIVER
Canoeing is probably the most popular summer activity in Lithuania and it’s no surprise why. It’s an adventure that can be enjoyed by everyone,from beginners to those looking for something more demanding. For those looking for a relaxing trip downstream, the rivers Dupysa, Nėris or Merkyne are perfect choices. If you’re looking for a challenge, try the rivers Ula or Širvinta.
FLOAT ON A FLAMINGO
You don’t need to break a sweat to enjoy Lithuania’s rivers and lakes. Plateliai lake, the largest in the western Lithuania, offers a relaxation in the form of beautiful sandy beaches, with cafes nearby and a variety of water activities – including inflatable flamingoes!
TURN, TURN, TURN!
Thanks to its unusual appearance, Šakotis is a truly legendary Lithuanian dessert. This traditional pastry dish is cooked by pouring batter onto a rotating spit over an open fire. As the spit turns, the flames form the dripping batter into crisp peaks, creating a cake that resembles a Christmas tree. In 2015, the largest-ever Šakotis was created in the spa town of Druskininkai: a huge 3.7 metres high! The cake is now proudly on display in the Druskininkai Šakotis museum.
‘Surelis’ – sweet curd cheese covered with caramel, chocolate or other coatings – might sound a little odd to foreigners, but it’s a much-loved staple of Lithuanian cuisine, and a must-try for visitors! Sometimes filled with poppy seeds, berries or nuts, it’s popular as a dessert, for breakfast or as a snack with tea.
HONEY WITH CUCUMBER
Another unusual combination! Some say honey and cucumber dates back to the times of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. As weird as it sounds, it’s a simple, delicious, and healthy starter to whet your appetite, especially when made with the freshest locally grown ingredients.
Foreigners in Lithuania | Patrick
The pyramid of Merkinė, Hill of Crosses or the crypts of Vilnius Cathedral?
PYRAMID POWER IN MERKINĖ
Deep within Lithuania’s Dzūkija National Park is a curious glass dome. Venture inside, and you’ll find apyramid that marks the spot where in 1990, a young boy and his family are thought to have experienced a miracle. Today, both pyramid and dome are believed by some to channel divine energy. Whatever you think of the story, there’s no denying that the place has a very special atmosphere: perfect for meditation – or maybe just a little ‘me’ time.
THE HILL OF CROSSES
The Hill of Crosses ia a site of pilgrimage roughly 12 km north of the city of Šiauliai in northern Lithuania. No one knows exactly when or why people began to place crosses on the hill, but it is believed that the first crosses were erected there in the 19th century. Since then, the hill has become widely known as a sacred site. Despite the crosses being broken and burnt, and the hill itself destroyed many times using bulldozers during Soviet occupation, the Hill of Crosses now boats more than 100,000 crucifixes, holy statues and paintings – all covered with rosaries, symbolising faithful, love and trust.
BENEATH VILNIUS CATHEDRAL
The Cathedral of St. Stanislav and St. Vladislav in Vilnius is the most important place of worship for Lithuania’s Catholics, and the focus of the country’s main Christian and national festivities. Many key figures in Lithuanian history are buried within the Sovereigns’ Mausoleum, located in the crypts beneath the chapel of St. Casimir. Among others, its vaults contain the remains of Vytautas The Great, Grand Duke of Lithuania; King Alexander of Poland; as well as two of the wives of Grand Duke Žygimantas Augustas, Elisabeth of Austria and Barbora Radvilaitė.
A night under the stars, up a tree or in a bed of hay?
A NIGHT UNDER THE STARS
The Oasis Dome is a uniquely designed structure featuring a tall curved framework with a clear exterior shell, offering 360degree views of the surrounding landscape! Located on a platform in the middle of a lake in southern Lithuania, the Oasis Dome gives you the chance to spend the night under the starry sky, with everything you need including cooking equipment, heating, a comfy bed and a bathroom nearby.
IN THE TREETOPS
Got a head for heights? Near Tauragė in western Lithuania you’ll find, you’ll find a cluster of round bungalows 8 metres up in the trees . It’s a greatway to get closer to Lithuania’s nature, and enjoy the night in lush, green surroundings. And if you’re feeling energetic, thehe treehouses are part of an adventure park where you’ll find treetop climbing activities and more.
SLEEP ON A BED OF HAY
Rural tourism has always been very popular with Lithuanians, so you’ll find numerous farmsteads scattered across the country that offer a wide range of activities. One of them, located just 40km away from the capital Vilnius, lets you spend the night like the heroes of Lithuanian folk tales – shepherds – sleeping in a rustic farmhouse on a bed of hay.
Kiting on ice, skiing, or a glider sledge?
KITING ON ICE
In winter, the temperature in Lithuania drops below - 20 C – but don’t worry: there are plenty of ways to keep yourself warm! And kiting on ice is one of the most exciting This adrenaline-packed winter sport involves large controllable kites, which propel ice skaters across the surface of frozen rivers and lakes. In the middle of January, when most of Lithuania’s lakes are frozen solid, you’ll find kiting enthusiasts across the country venturing out onto the ice.
Skiing is another of Lithuania’s favourite winter sports – and there are opportunities to try it in just about every region of the country. During winter, the small town of Ignalina in eastern Lithuania becomes a hotspot for skiers across the country. But there are plenty more skiing activities to be found in VIlnius, Anykščiai, Plungė or at the indoor snow arena in Druskininkai.
SLEDGING THROUGH THE PINES
If you’re looking for winter activities that are a little less strenuous, just grab a glider sledge or inflatable bodyboard and head to the Lithuanian seaside to enjoy safe and fun fly through the snowy forests hills and dunes.
How do you like your soup – served cold, warm and hearty, or in a bread bowl?
COLD BEETROOT SOUP
Cold beetroot soup enjoys a legendary status as one of the best-loved summer dishes in Lithuania. It consists of beets/beetroot, kefir (a fermented milk product), greens and boiled eggs, and you’ll find it on the menu of almost every cafe in Lithuania.
It’s no secret that Lithuania is like a small village with fresh vegetables growing on every corner. And cabbage soup, made from simple, locally grown produce, is a hearty dish that can be enjoyed in every season.
MUSHROOM SOUP IN A BREAD BOWL
Two classic Lithuanian foods in one – that’s what you get with mushroom soup in a bread bowl. Warm, crusty, fresh-baked bread, hollowed out and filled with a creamy soup of puréed mushrooms picked from local forests. Is your mouth watering yet?
Foreigners in Lithuania | Lynn
A bar on a train station platform, music in a loft, or a party in the market hall?
One of the platforms at Vilnius train station has been transformed into an alley full of bar-cafes where you can enjoy a drink or snack while you watch the passing trains. Events are held here almost every weekend, with music ranging from hip hop to house and disco in a chilled atmosphere full of friendly faces.
A LOFT FULL OF MUSIC
A huge industrial loft turned into a venue for parties and live performances, Loftas is a magnet for the freshest musicians from Lithuania and around the world. When it’s not packed with partying Vilnius locals, the place also hosts fashion shows, theatre, dance and art performances.
PARTY IN THE MARKETPLACE
Visit Vilnius central market during the daytime, and you’ll find food sellers buzzing around their stalls and shoppers filling their baskets with delicious locally-grown produce.But step inside the same Halė market hall at night, and you will be welcomed by the sight of the DJs spinning RnBfunk, disco and hip-hop as party-goers relax among the aisles. An extraordinary experience.
Where to walk – along Juniper valley, through a swamp, or hiking the Pučkoriai trail?
A WALK THROUGH THE JUNIPERS
The Juniper Valley walkway begins at Arlaviškiai village near Kaunas. This 1.3 km-long cognitive path provides fresh air and stunning panoramic views of the Nemunas, Lithuania’s longest river. Surrounded by the delicious scent of junipers, you’ll soon discover why this path was nominated the most beautiful in Lithuania.
COGNITIVE PATH THROUGH AUKŠTUMALA SWAMP
Lithuania is known as a country of forests, lakes and rivers – but some of its most ancient natural treasures are its swamps. One of them – Aukštumala, located in the west of the county – is crossed by a 2km wooden walkway, leading you right through the heart of the nature reserve’s incredibly rare flora and fauna. The path, which once linked two remote villages, is best experienced with a guide to explain the story of these unique settlements and the modern nature reserve.
HISTORY AND NATURE AT PUČKORIAI
Located within easy reach of Vilnius city centre by car or public transport, the Pučkoriai path provides a stunning glimpse of nature and history. It begins at the Pučkoriai escarpment in Pavilniai Regional Park, where an observation platform provides a breathtaking view of the panorama across the Vilnele river valley. The valley walk is renowned not only for its natural beauty, but also for its rich cultural heritage.
Climbing in the treetops, barefoot walks, or hiking along the Baltic coastline?
FUN IN THE TREETOPS
You’ll find treetop climbing or adventure parks all over Lithuania. Well equipped and perfectly suited to the needs of families and outdoor sports lovers alike, they are especially popular during summer and autumn. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, don’t miss the “Elephant Flight” jump swing, or a zip line across one of Lithuania’s rivers.
FEEL THE GROUND BENEATH YOUR FEET
Big and small, you’ll find paths criss-crossing areas of natural beauty all over Lithuania. But one of the most unique is to be found in the town of Anykščiai, situated in the northeast of the country. This one-of-a-kind barefoot path gives you an invigorating natural foot massage as you walk. The 2 km path is covered with a wide variety natural surfaces ranging from sand to rocks, wood and pine cones – and you can always run barefoot through the beautiful surroundings of Anykščiai’s pinewoods.
HIKING THE BALTIC SEA COAST
Explore Lithuania’s beautiful Baltic Sea coastline with the Litorina cognitive path. The path starts from a 24-metre coastal bluff known as ‘Olando kepurė’ (‘Dutchman's cap’), and continues along the coastline, providing stunning views out to sea from the 15-metre cliffs formed as the dunes have been worn away to form the beautiful beach below.
Which will you try – Kvass, kissel or sap?
Kvass – known in Lithuania as ‘gira’ – is one of the country’s national drinks. It’s traditionally brewed from stale leftoverr bread, yeast, sugar and water. This lightly fizzy drink can also be flavoured with ingredients such as raisins or caraway seeds. You’ll find it in almost every market or restaurant around Lithuania. Look out for regional variations of the drink flavoured with beetroot, plums and even mushrooms!
Kissel, or ‘kisielius’ in Lithuanian, is both a drink and a dessert. Traditionally prepared from cranberry juice on special occasions such as Christmas Eve, it can sometimes be found in restaurants serving traditional Lithuanian cuisine, and is served hot or cold, depending on your preference.
Being a country of forests, Lithuania has a long traditional of drinking tree sap. Towards the end of March, before the leaves begin to appear, maples and birches are tapped for their sap, which can be tasted and bought fresh at local markets. In other seasons, you’ll still find bottled sap for sale in supermarkets and other shops.
Foreigners in Lithuania | Alberto
Literatų, pylimo or Islandijos street?
THE STREET OF LITERARY LEGENDS
Stroll around the streets of Vilnius Old Town, and you’ll soon stumble across one of its hidden gems. One of its most unusual is Literatų gatvė. Meaning ‘Street of writers’, this narrow lane is a memorial to Lithuania’s most celebratedwriters, poets and literary figures, plus a number of foreign writers with connections to the country. With more than 100 plaques covering its walls, this shrine to literature has become of the Old Town’s most notable attractions.
STREET ART CENTRAL
There’s a real treat awaiting you at the end of Pylimo street in Vilnius. Here, you’ll find some incredible street art by Brazilian and Italian artists – just some of the graffiti works produced by international artists gathering for the annual Vilnius Street Art Festival over the years.
ICELAND STREET BY NIGHT
Islandijos gatvė – ‘Iceland street’ – is the place to head for when the sun goes down. Known for itsstreet parties, the central Vilnius thoroughfare plays to host to a cluster of bars fully packed till dawn with locals and visitors till the dawn. EnjoyVilnius nightlife at its best.
A walk in the treetops, the ‘sound catcher’ – or the Museum of Ethnocosmology?
TIPTOE THROUGH THE TREETOPS
Among the famous pinewoods of Anykščiai, you’ll find is the only treetop walking path in Eastern Europe. The 300-metre route winds its way through the treetops, 21 metres above the ground. Along its length are 13 stops where you can fill your Instagram with photos Lithuanian nature from the most beautiful angles. The Treetop walking path is the perfect destination at any time of year, and the ideal way to enjoy the changing of the seasons in Lithuania.
LISTEN TO THE FOREST
In the woods of Juodkrantė on Lithuania’s Curonian Spit, the ‘sound catcher’ lets you experience a symphony of forest sounds that can’t be heard with the naked ear. It’s a trumpet-like construction made of wood. Place your ear against the narrow and opening and listen carefully to make out the mysterious music of the pinewoods.
EXPLORE THE COSMOS
The Ethnocosmology museum and sky observatory is located in Kulionys village, around 70km north of Lithuania’s capital Vilnius. If you’re visiting for the first time, expect to have your breath taken away when you lay eyes on its unique futuristic construction. The museum itself is said to be the first of itskind in the world, exploring the cosmos and its connection to cultural ideas of the earth, heaven and hell. Two observation towers house telescopes and providing outstanding views of the surrounding lakeland during the daytime. At night, head to the observatory for a closer look at the moon, stars and planets.
How will you get moving – by scooter, bike or skateboard?
CYCLING, SCOOTERS, SKATEBOARDING
Lithuania’s cities are compact, so it’s a real pleasure to travel around them by bike, scooter or (if you have the skills) skateboard. In most big cities it’s easy to find a place where you can rent all three – enabling you to stay active and explore the city your way.
What do you fancy: cabbage rolls, potato pancakes or blueberry dumplings?
Lithuanian cabbage rolls are known as ‘balandėliai’, meaning ‘little pigeons’. Consisting of minced pork or beef wrapped in cabbage leaves and usually served with a fresh tomato sauce, it’s a dish you’ll find in almost every restaurant serving traditional Lithuanian cuisine. A great choice for lovers of comfort food.
Of all the vegetables used in Lithuanian cuisine, the potato is the clear winner. There are so many traditional dishes based on potatoes, it’s impossible to name them all – but one that’s impossible to ignore is potato pancakes. Shallow-fried pancakes of grated or ground potato, flour and egg, served with sour cream, mushroom sauce or other variations, are a perfect lunch whether it’s a winter afternoon or a hot summer’s day by the beach.
Got a sweet tooth? Then you’ve come to the right place. And of all traditional Lithuanian desserts, freshly-made dumplings filled with delicious garden-picked blueberries are hard to beat. Look out for a dish called ‘šaltanosiai’ (meaning ‘cold noses’) on the menu – that’s what the locals call them.