Lithuania — Overview
Lithuania is the largest of the Baltic countries, snugly resting between Latvia, Belarus, Poland, and the beautiful Baltic Sea. It has experienced a long and fruitful history of independence, although the 18th and 19th centuries were riddled with oppression from controlling Russian forces. Lithuania was part of the Soviet “Iron Curtain” in 1940, becoming part of communist Europe until 1991. Today the country has blossomed into one of Eastern Europe’s most talked about getaways. From the crystal waters to the northeastern highlands, Lithuania will ultimately surprise and delight even the most seasoned travelers.
The capital city, Vilnius, is among the region’s most beloved cities. It is quite an interesting concoction of old town charm and modern marvels, boasting plenty of fascinating attractions. Kaunas, the one-time capital, is also home to a dizzying array of museums, galleries, palaces, and parks. Beach lovers have to visit Palanga, Lithuania’s answer to the French Riviera. Flying into Klaipeda is the best way to reach these resorts, but Baltic Sea ferries also connect the port city to Sweden and Germany.
The most impressive region of Lithuania is the northeastern highlands. The Aukstaitija National Park is home to dozens of lakes, wild animals, hiking trails, and a never-ending blanket of forest. On the other side of the country, the stunning Curonian Spit extends itself along the coastline, between the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic. Laze upon the beaches, explore the dunes or relax in one of the local villages.
The price of accommodation largely depends on where you’re headed. The capital, Vilnius, may have simple, yet comfortable rooms that are twice the price of the smaller towns. This gap generally becomes larger during the peak summer season. If traveling to one of the beach resorts, book your hotel well in advance, as high visitor numbers are usually common in places like Palanga. Beer is the national drink and there are dozens of local brews found behind the counter.
The primary gateway into Lithuania is Vilnius International Airport. However, there are several other smaller airports including Kaunas and Palanga for short continental routes. Buses and trains also provide connections into Lithuania from Poland or Russia.
Getting around the country can be done by bus although is the slowest method of transportation. Car rental allows travelers to enjoy some of the more picturesque roads, including the Pilgrim Route between Vilnius and Siauliai or the old Hansa Route between Pagegiai and Zagare. Be wary when traveling by car in the major cities as traffic jams are the norm between Mondays and Fridays.
- Snowmobile through the winter forests of Lithuania’s northeast
- Laze upon the sand dunes and beaches of the Curonian Strip
- Enjoy the resort town of Palanga
- Hike through Aukstaitija National Park in the eastern region of the country
- Visit the former KGB museums in Kaunas
- Explore the famous Kaunas Castle