10 Things to Do in Lithuania9th November 2012
Let’s be honest, when you’re planning a holiday, 99% of us wouldn’t consider Lithuania as a destination and we don’t blame you; it doesn’t get much promotion. Sandwiched between Poland to the south and Latvia to the north, Lithuania is a classic eastern European country. It boasts fascinating cities, a unique culture, one photo worthy landscape after the next and of course some unique and interesting things to do. From the lowlands of the coastline to the rolling green countryside, your backdrop won’t disappoint so with that in mind, why not branch out and discover a totally new destination on your next holiday abroad. If you need a little more encouragement, here are 10 things to do in Lithuania:
A long, thin sand dune that spans for 98km, the beautiful Curonian Spit effectively separates the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon and spans from Lithuania and into Russia. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status, you will find incredible sandy beaches, tiny villages, coastal forest and varied flora at this unique natural site. Come here for a relaxing and enjoyable day out exploring Lithuania’s well preserved natural beauty.
Hill of Crosses
A famous pilgrimage site for many years, the Hill of Crosses has been assembled over many years, with literally thousands of crosses placed here since the 13th century; the last count indicated more than 100,000 crosses! Acting as a symbol for the country’s nationalism, it’s perhaps one of the most bizarre and oddly unsettling things you will witness during your time in Lithuania but one that is unmissable none the less to learn of the reason for their presence.
Zokniai Military Airfield
Zokniai has strong Soviet associations, with the airfield having been used as the USSR’s biggest military base outside Russia to protect the Western borders. Since unused by troops since 1993, it fell into deterioration but guided tours allow a fascinating view into the history of the place. Try to book onto a larger tour a week in advance as the price per person will be more favourable!
The capital of Vilnius is certainly a city to explore during your time in Lithuania. The alluring blend of historic baroque buildings and modern constructions will keep all visitors entertained with everything from museums to boutique shops on hand. The fascinating Old Town is one of the oldest in Europe and is a real treasure to explore, with the Cathedral being a prime attraction to see.
Head to Palanga, the best resort on the coast thanks to the sandy beaches and beautiful sand dunes! Your classic sand castle, candy floss and carnival atmosphere make it a winner for all ages and when the sun shines during the summer months you can’t wipe the smile from peoples’ faces. Take a walk along the pier, enjoy the nightlife or drink in the tranquillity of the more secluded beaches.
National Museum of Lithuania
Those with a keen interest in history and culture should plan a visit to the National Museum of Lithuania. The museum has many subdivisions although the main collections are housed within Vilnius Castle, which contains a fascinating and curious collection of artefacts.
Found in the country’s second largest city, Kaunas, the Pažaislis Monastery makes for a fascinating visit and is a fantastic example of late Italian Baroque architecture. It is still in use as a monastery today and the interior is genuinely breathtaking. Each year, the monastery hosts a popular music festival which lasts throughout the summer months.
Dzūkija National Park
Gorgeous pine forests and a spattering of traditional villages populate the 58,000 hectares known as Dzūkija National Park. Beautiful natural beauty prevails and the national park status ensures that the landscape remains protected whilst allowing the public to enjoy it! Hire a bike or canoe, go fishing or learn a traditional craft during your visit.
One attraction in Lithuania that you may well recognise is Trakai Castle. Located on an island in Lake Galve on the outskirts of Vilnius, it looks like it is plucked straight out of a storybook with its red pointed cone roofs and it welcomes more visitors than any other attraction in the country. Great views, local crafts and food and the interesting, historical items found within only increase the appeal!
A bit of an oddity, the Devil’s Museum can be found in Kaunas and is dedicated, as the name would suggest, to the devil! The collection was started by a painter, and following his death, a memorial museum was created which now houses more than 3,000 different carvings, paintings and sculptures from around the world. A weird but wonderful attraction to round off the list!
So there you have it; a pick of 10 things to do in Lithuania with plenty more to discover in every corner of the country!