Lithuania Travel Guides for Backpackers

7 places in Lithuania for the traveler who has seen it all

Paris, London, Tokyo, New York, you name it. The destinations everybody talks about and puts on t-shirts; the modern wonders, swarming with tourists and scammers. Everything is already seen, written about and became cliché. Finding something fresh and unseen can become a rather tricky task for the traveler who has grown tired of Eiffel Towers and Big Bens. But would you believe that a small country right in the geographical center of Europe could be that breeze of exhilarating wind you were looking for? Small but ambitious, Lithuania is ready to prove itself even to the most demanding explorer. Before booking your tickets, take a look at some of the most unusual places it has to offer. 1. The Hill of Crosses With its origins dating up to the 19th century, the Hill of Crosses is a monument of many stories. During the Soviet occupation, it served as a sign of faith and resistance. After numerous attempts to wipe it from the face of the Earth, Soviets finally gave up – every time they destroyed it, the people would rebuild it overnight. Today the Hill of Crosses remains an important sight for religious people from all over the world. Others, however, describe it as the fuel for nightmares. Forever growing, the hill contains more than 100,000 crosses. Anyone is welcome to put their own cross – it has even become a tradition visit the hill in celebration of marriages, anniversaries and graduations. Although thoroughly protected, the Hill of Crosses is always open for visitors, so you can go there even at night if that’s your thing. The Hill of Crosses (Near Siauliai) 2. Grutas Park After restoring its independence in 1990, Lithuania hurried to get rid of the despised Soviet monuments that had been erected all over the country. Unlike most of the other post-soviet nations, Lithuanians decided to preserve the statues rather than destroy them. As a result, an open-air museum called Grutas Park was established in the Southern territories. Monumental sculptures that survived angry crowds were placed there, along with numerous other relics of the previous era. Formerly reminding the oppressed nation that the Big Brother was watching them, now the statues serve for educational purposes to remind the youth not to take their freedom for granted. Therefore, you can take a walk among the giant heads of dictators and get a taste of what it was like to live in the USSR. Proletariat of the world, unite! 3. Abandoned Amusement Park in Elektrenai If you seek to experience more of the ghostly Soviet past, you won’t be let down. Eerie buildings like empty schools, hospitals, and even rocket bases can be easily found if you know where to look. Even though a list of abandoned places is not included in official tourist guides, there are many adventurers who offer detailed descriptions on how to get there. If you’re brave enough, you can climb over the fence and visit one of the most captivating places – an abandoned […]

Trakai, Lithuania – a destination for every season

Lithuania is perhaps not the first name that comes to mind when deciding where to spend your holidays. Even though Lithuania is not on many people’s tourist radar, it should be. It has a lot to offer for tourists interested in both medieval history and the post–World War II era. And in Lithuania, Trakai is definitely one of the highlights. Geography Trakai is a city with only 4500 inhabitants, but with a very rich history. It is only 30km from the capital of Lithuania – Vilnius, so a day trip is simply a must. Trakai is located on a peninsula formed by 5 connecting lakes. The biggest one is called Galve and is famous for its Island Castle. There are about 200 lakes around Trakai, making it a perfect location for summer holidays. In addition, Trakai has many cosy cafes, restaurants and spas, so it is a perfect all-year-round destination. Winter wonderland in Trakai Ice-skating on a frozen lake During the winter, all the lakes are frozen, and the ice is so thick that you can easily walk on it. However, make sure to pay attention to the cautionary signs, as the ice may not be thick enough during warmer winters. The thickness of the ice is usually up to 20cm. In the winter, a common attraction is ice-skating on the Galve lake near the castle. You can bring own ice skates. Usually, the field is not cleared of snow, except for the area near the shores, but the views of the medieval castle covered in snow is breathtaking. If there is no snow or even just a little, you can walk around the castle. It is important to note, that while travelling in the winter temperatures can fall to as low as -20 Celsius, so one must take this fact into consideration. For more extreme travellers, Trakai offers a swim in the cold water after a sauna at the spa. Traditional food After some physical activity, it is recommended to try the traditional meal of the Karaites – the infamous “kibinas”. It is a pastry filled with minced meat, usually lamb, eaten with a broth. Karaites lived in Trakai for more than 600 years and kibinas has not changed a whole lot, making it a meal rich not only in taste, but also in history. You can also try “midus”, which is a spirit made of honey, and will surely warm you up on a cold winter day. The blooming spring in Trakai Legend of the 3 windows Trakai is a linear city with most of its buildings being made of wood and their windows facing the streets. Legend has it that 3 windows are facing the street – one window for God, one for the Grand Duke and one for the homeowner. St. Virgin Mary's Church and the Godmother of Trakai Additionally, Trakai has a few museums and churches. One of them is St. Virgin Mary’s Church which displays the portrait of the Godmother of Trakai. This portrait […]

Unique Republic Of Užupis: On The Top Of Your Bucket List

Everyone has the right to make mistakes. Everyone has the right to be unique. Everyone has the right to love.  When you look at this words, it seems like you are looking at the creative quotes, unique code, rules… or amazing Constitution that makes you smile and feel the free artistic spirit. Where can you find it? Of course in the heart of Europe – in Vilnius. This 41 articles of Constitution of autonomous Republic of Užupis will bring you to another time and space, where fascinating happenings occur and time has no limits. Lithuanian Montmartre Užupis is one the most fascinating and beautiful districts in Vilnius. If you come to Vilnius for a few days, it has to be on your bouquet list at the top. This 0,6 ha of baroque style and artistic sculptures' section it's near the Old Town – just across the River Vilnel?. Užupis was mentioned for the first time in the 16th century when the fortified wall was built in Vilnius. In the past, it was a place, the suburb, where poor people used to live. In addition to this, some sources claim it was even the brothel district. And today? The situation has changed completely – expensive or better to say unaffordable accommodation, fashion shows, and impressive masterpieces. You can hardly say it was a place of small craftsmen or the most insecure place in Soviet times.In the 20th century in the Užupio Republic were established workshops by Vilnius Academy of Art. Nowadays it is a magical place of art, culture, creativity and free-spirited artists, who transformed Užupis into Lithuanian Montmartre. 2 churches, 7 bridges and the Bernardine Cemetery (on the list of Europe's most valuable cemeteries) with its own authentic value of graves and past – that makes the first impression unforgettable not only on tourists. Don't miss this: On the Užupio 7/1 street, there is a Honestich palace built in 1786 in classical style. Also, in 19th century there was a pub, and a roadhouse Find streets Užupio and Pollock and go forward looking for adventures and chatt with the social Užupio Republic citizens Bernardinu, Paplaju and Uzupio Bridges are must see and walk. Don't forget to look under the bridge, maybe you'll catch someone's eye?   One of the Hippest Neighbourhoods in Europe Every time I walk down the river I know I am in another reality, where every sign, sculpture, the note has a profound value and meaning. To me, it was always one of the hippest places, and here is why. Top 10 Reasons Why Užupis is the Hippest:   Užupis is located in Vilnius’ old town, that is on a UNESCO World Heritage site list  Interesting past, facts, buildings and history (Jewish population were killed during the Holocaust)   It is a self-proclaimed republic   Užupis celebrates its Independence Day on April 1 – Užupis Day It has its own president (2014 Jaap van Ark) Užupis Republic has a small army (12 men), bishop and four flags Unique Constitution Užupis […]

5 Alternative Places to Visit in Kaunas

Lithuania is famous for its historical heritage. Fascinating castles, churches and old towns attract a lot of tourists. But what is not so talked about is the artistical side of this country. Every city and town in Lithuania have a cultural center, many of them at least one gallery or art museum. Art is very appreciated in Lithuania. The ethnographic art forms, like weaving, braiding, knitting and crocheting have been the most popular for a long time. Recently the society has understood that it’s not enough to cherish what’s old, we have to create something new and unique. That’s why the number of modern art institutions, museums, galleries, exhibitions and art-related sights has increased rapidly through the past twenty years. Kaunas is the second biggest city in Lithuania. It is great for tourists because it holds a lot of different kinds of attractions. Art-related, hipster-attracting sights are one of them. Here I am sharing my artsy experience in this wonderful city – the five places to visit if you are into art and creativity or if you are an open-minded person seeking for something different and unique in your travel experience. Mykolas Zilinskas art gallery The gallery was founded in 1989 in order to keep and show the public the works of art that the collector Mykolas Zilinskas had collected through the 80s and 90s. The building is located in the heart of Kaunas – at the end of the Independence alley, just beside the St Michael the Archangel Church (Independence square 12). In the gallery you can find mainly paintings from Renaissance and Baroque which is not modern at all, you’d say. But what’s really fascinating is that this gallery almost always has a modern exhibition, showing the works of artists active now or a few years ago, both local artists and creators from abroad, everything from paintings to photography. You should check out the exhibitions on the internet before coming. They are usually replaced every couple of months which allows having a wide range of different styles of art displayed in the gallery. Of course, the collection of Mykolas Zilinskas is also interesting. There are not just paintings but also Egyptian and Chinese art, a hall of all kinds of Renaissance furniture. The halls themselves are what attracts me the most to this gallery – every room is painted in a different, vivid color, not the neutral white as we are used to seeing in galleries. This makes this place perfect for photo shoots and beautiful photos for your Instagram feed. You’ll spend hours in this beautiful gallery and won’t have to suffer the crowds of people – I have been here around ten times and all of them I was either the only visitor or one of five. And you’ll get the possibility to wander around the empty halls for as long as you want for just a couple of Euros. Kaunas picture gallery. Cafe “Kultura” This gallery is a few minutes away from the Mykolas Zilinskas […]

Welcome To Lithuania: The Land of The Beautiful Ladies

Just as the lyrics of a song from a famous Lithuanian band Inculto say: welcome to Lithuania, the land of the beautiful ladies. Indeed, it‘s quite commonly known that Lithuanian women are pretty gorgeous and being a 100% Lithuanian I am flattered to hear that. However, beautiful women are not the only reason to visit my country. Lithuania is an undiscovered pearl of the Baltics: it‘s safe here, cities are clean, we have lots of beautiful nature, it‘s much cheaper here than in western or northern Europe, we like and respect foreign travellers, cities are not overcrowded with people what makes them cosy and pleasant to stay. Vilnius The first place to visit in Lithuania of course is our capital city Vilnius. It‘s largest city in Lithuania having population of a bit more than half a million people. The architecture in the Old Town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. Once you are in Vilnius, make sure to visit: Cathedral of Vilnius Three crosses hill Saint Ann‘s church Užupis – the artistic district of the city Pilies street – a pedestrian street in the Old Town Belmontas – a beautiful area with waterfalls and a restaurant Once you are in Lithuania, be brave to try our national food. It‘s mainly made of potatoes and is fatty, but majority of my friends foreigners enjoyed our local food. You should try cepelinai (a ball made of smashed potatoes with meat inside), cold beetroot soup (very popular to eat in summer, served with boiled potatoes), v?darai (intestine of a pig, filled with smashed potatoes), kugelis (a potato pie, might be with meat or chicken or pig ears added into it). You should try our beer too as our beer is competitor to German beer. I personally recommend you to visit bar “Šnekutis” in Vilnius, where you can eat our traditional food, drink good beer and enjoy the atmosphere. There are three “Šnekutis” bars in Vilnius and all three are different in the atmosphere, but all three have good food and beer. For the night life in Vilnius I recommend “Salento” and “Pabo Latino” clubs. “Salento” is loved by students and is the only night club in Vilnius that works every night. “Pabo Latino” has mainly 30-40 year old publics and is a nice place for those who like salsa. Both clubs are in the very heart of the city. If you are more a rock person, go the the “BIX” bar, there you will also find a disco with rock music. If you like to sing karaoke, visit “Brodv?jus” pub, this one is also more for rock souls. Kaunas If you ask locals if Kaunas is a city worth visiting, not all of us will tell you yes. I personally do recommend visiting Kaunas. It‘s the second largest city in Lithuania with population of almost 300 000 people. Once you are in Kaunas, don‘t miss out to visit: Laisv?s al?ja (an avenue, 1,6 km long) Monastery of Pažaislis Kaunas […]
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