Vilnius is the capital and largest city of Lithuania. The city centre is listed at UNESCO heritage site, for its beautiful mixture of gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical buildings. In 2009 Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture.
A few monuments remind hat this country was once the largest nation in Europe, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania stretched out far into Russia, Poland and Moldova. The archeologic site of Kernavė, long ago a medieval capital, is now a World Heritage Site and has historic hillfort mounds as well as a museum. The Trakai Island Castle in Trakai is sometimes called “Little Mariënburg”. It’s located on an island and was one of the main strongholds in the prime days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Lithuania has forests, hills, lakes and rivers to offer for nature lovers. Aukštaitija National Park is a forested park, home to elk, deer and wild boar and a great place for water sports activities.
Act like a local
– Lithuania is a beer drinking country. The most popular local beer is Švyturys, meaning lighthouse. Available in lots of different styles but “Ekstra” is probably the best. The other brands of beer include Kalnapilis, Tauras, and Utenos. If you are a beer fan try Alaus namai (The House of Beer) and Bambalynė. A visit to a kiosk will show that there may be more than 50 different brands of beer in this small country. Compared to other European countries, beer is cheap. When you visit a bar or restaurant without intending to eat, try one of the bar snacks, which are very popular among Lithuanians. The most popular of these snacks consists of a bowl of pieces of garlic bread covered in cheese.
– In addition to beer, Lithuanians drink local high quality vodka (or “degtinė” in Lithuanian); Lithuanian mead, or “midus” is a beverage produced exclusively under government control. It is commonly made from all sorts of Lithuanian flora, from leaves and berries to some tree bark. Alcohol percentages range from 10% to 75% (considered medicinal).
– Bars (Baras) may be frequented by heavy drinkers and can therefore be somewhat rowdy. However a visit may still be very rewarding; Drink carefully as most bars will politely ask you to leave if they notice that you appear drunk (staggering, yelling, grabbing strangers). Falling asleep in bars is not tolerated. If you break a glass, many places will expect to be repaid it
– Watch a basketball match. It is the national sport, and the nation is basketball mad, (comparable to the British with football and New Zealand with rugby).
– Smile at a Lithuanian in the street and most likely they will not respond in kindness. Smiling in Lithuania is traditionally reserved for friends; smile at a stranger and they will either think you’re making fun of them and there’s something wrong with their clothes or hairdo, or that you must be an idiot. Furthermore, an automatic Western smile is widely regarded as insincere.
– Lithuanians are a Baltic nation; however, it’s common for tourists to think that they are somehow connected with Russians. Lithuanians been oppressed by Russians for a while and they kept fighting to be independent. Lithuanians were first to declare independence from Soviet Union.
– Lithuanian cuisine usually include meat, potato, vegetables and sometimes a curd sauce of some sort. Local specialty are the cepelinai, or zeppelins, which are meat filled potato-starch based zeppelin-shaped masses traditionally slathered in a sauce of sour cream, butter, and pork cracklings. If you are traveling to Lithuanian shore from the eastern part of Lithuania and you are passing through Karmelava you must try Cepelinai. The Restaurant is called Briedžio Užeiga and they have the biggest size Cepelinai in the whole country.
Vilnius can easily be explored on foot. A single ticket for either bus or trolleybus costs 2.50 LTL if you buy it from the driver or 2.00 LTL if you buy it from a the newspaper kiosk. You may also catch a private bus, which costs 2.00 or 3.00 LTL and is a bit faster. There is a 50% discount for students, both in public and private buses. A van-taxi is faster than the bus and will cost 3 LTL at most. Ask the driver to stop when you are close to the destination
To have a better overview of the city and get the best information, join the free walking tour
Tap water is suitable for drinking in many parts of Lithuania.
Compared to other European countries, local beer is good and cheap. The most popular local beer is Švyturys. Available in lots of different styles but “Ekstra” is probably the best. The other brands of beer include Kalnapilis, Tauras, and Utenos. If you are a beer fan try Alaus namai (The House of Beer) and Bambalynė.
Enjoy Uzupis District, an independent self-proclaimed republic occupied by artists, dreamers, squatters, and drunks., with its own president, anthem, flag, and constitution. Great to visit on April Fools day, when mock border guards stamp passports and the entire area erupts into a party. Read their statute with articles like: ‘Article 5 “Man has the right to individuality.”; Articles 1 “People have the right to live by the River Vilnelė, while the River Vilnelė has the right to flow past people.”; Articles 12 “A dog has the right to be a dog. ” Articles 16 “People have the right to be happy.” And 17 “People have the right to be unhappy.”
Getting to Vilnius
Vilnius International Airport, is located 6 km south of city center. Autobus #1 goes from the airport to central railway station. bus #2goes from the airport to the city center, continuing through the business district, on to Šeškinė. Bus #1 will take you to the rail and bus stations (Stotis in Lithuanian), located next to each other. The bus ride to the center takes 15 minutes and buses depart from the airport every 10-15 minutes. Tickets can be purchased from the driver for 3.50 LTL. Only one piece of hand luggage is allowed.
You can take a train from the airport to the main train station for 2.50 LTL. The train ride takes 7 minutes, but trains depart every ~45 minutes.
By taxi: as long as you always use the official taxis, this is a reliable and affordable form of ground transport. It is recommended that you book by phone once you have arrived rather than using the waiting taxis as they will charge a much higher fare (70-100 LTL instead of 15-30 LTL).
Kaunas International Airport is the second busiest civil airport in Lithuania. There are scheduled minibus rides from Kaunas Airport to Vilnius Hotel Panorama (near central railway station) after each arriving flight. The same buses goes from Hotel Panorama for each outgoing flight as well.
Eurolines and Ecolines operate autobus service between Vilnius and Kaunas, Kaliningrad, Riga, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, and Warsaw, with further connections all over Europe.
TUNDRA FESTIVAL 2013 (Festival, Electro, Trance) Avilys, Zarasai 04/7/2013 – 07/7/2013
Palanga is the place to be for a great day at the sea. Although it gets crowded in summer, it has some great beaches and beautiful sand dunes.
Curonian Split separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast, you can find dunes there too. It’s a World Heritage Site shared between Lithuania and Russia and is best explored from the large port city Klaipėda.
Juodkrante, which is famous for its Hill of Witches, decorated with sculptures from the country’s legends and tales.
Nida, fishermen’s town, is praised for its shores and ancient ethnographic cemetery.
Walking city tour
Local potatoes pancakes…