Ultimate travel guide to Lithuania: Europe’s best-kept secret.
A spellbinding land of lakes, forests, majestic churches, and 100 potato dishes
Lithuania (my home country) is still to be discovered Eastern European gem. Since many heard little to nothing about this off-beaten path country, it is often titled as Europe’s “best-kept secret”. Many travelers treat a visit to Lithuania only as a stopover at its capital Vilnius. However, there is so much more to explore in this incredible Baltic State.
Here I will guide you through the most magnificent places in Lithuania and highlight all the goodness it has to offer. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself falling in love with this little marvel far off on the edge of Europe.
Visiting Lithuania, you have majestic nature and rich culture-packed up in a very compact piece of land. That also makes traveling and exploring much more time-efficient compared to bigger or stretched-out countries. The longest drive you would probably take is from Vilnius to the seaside which is only 3 hours by car.
Visiting Lithuania: things to know before you go and what to expect?
Lithuania became open to the outer world fairly recently after claiming back its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990s. Traveling to and outside Lithuania became much easier after joining European Union in 2004 and becoming a part of the Schengen Area. Slowly but steadily Lithuania is getting recognition of being one of the most advanced and modern European countries.
Spectacular Natural Wanders, Rich Culture and Architecture
Covered with lush green lands, deep forests, thousands of serene lakes, a maze of rivers and a gorgeous Baltic Sea Lithuania is a nature lovers paradise. Hiking, cycling, water sports, camping, theme adventure parks, even skiing in winter- is just a few outdoor activities to enjoy throughout the year.
Lithuania is a home for arts and complex culture. Its architectural heritage is marvelous and unique due to so many styles accumulated over the centuries. City lovers will fall in love with Vilnius- a Unesco-listed Baroque old-town and its many quirky little streets.
Those who wish to travel in time will find majestic castles and fascinating old wooden villages scattered all around the country. Many of those old settlements will leave a curious visitor feeling like in a medieval movie setting.
There are also plenty of Soviet remains to take a glimpse at in the outskirts of the major cities Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda and other smaller towns. Visiting one of the post-soviet apartment blocks will get you an idea what life looked like back in the days of USSR. Nevertheless, communist influence is vanishing fast with the new generation growing up and picking up the Western world lifestyle.
A hundred ways with a potato
Potato is both a queen and a king in Lithuanian cuisine. We, Lithuanians are very creative when it comes to this simple and cheap vegetable. I bet you won’t find many countries that use potato as much as we do. It’s like rice for Asians basically. Potato dumplings (“Cepelinai”), potato pancakes (and all their variations), potato pie, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, dumplings stuffed with potatoes, potato salad, I can go on an on… And it’s all super delicious and fatty!
Apart from the potato kingdom, you will find all the variety of black bread, pastries, seasonal vegetables and fruit, meat and fish, highest quality milk and cheese products. To sum up, food in Lithuanian is GOOD!
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Plan Your Perfect Trip to Lithuania- Useful Resources
COVID-19 Travel Update:
Read the blog posts below to discover the must see places in Lithuania and Vilnius.
How much does it cost to travel in Lithuania?
Good news is that it is still cheaper than most of the tourist hits in Europe which makes travel in Lithuania a great choice even for budget travelers. You can still enjoy a comfortable vacation for the lower cost compared to France or Switzerland. However, it is only a matter of time when prices will catch up with the rest of the more explored European countries. Check the bullet points bellow to get an idea of the costs for major necessities while travelling around Lithuania:
ACCOMMODATION cost in Lithuania
- Budget accommodation in the capital Vilnius ranges between 10-20 EUR depending how close to the city center you want to stay. Vilnius is much cheaper to stay at than smaller cities around Lithuania as there are way more accommodation options available.
- Mid-range accommodation in Vilnius is pretty decent and you can even get the whole apartment in the city center for as low as 30-50 EUR.
- Luxury accommodationstarts from 100 EUR and up but average at 150-200 EUR for a top-class crib per night in Vilnius. Probably the priciest places to stay in Lithuania is Curonian Spit and its top destination Nida. During the summer months it gets fully booked and prices just sky rocket starting from 100 EUR per night for the cheapest option. But there is a reason for that- it is one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in the country.
Find and book a your perfect accommodation in Lithuania for the best rate using this Booking.com search box!
TRANSPORTATION cost in Lithuania
- Public transport: buses and trolleybuses cost .60 Eur for a 30min ride if you get the public transport card “Vilniecio kortele”. In 30min you can get around mostly everywhere in Vilnius. There are plenty of intercity buses and trains available as well. Their prices depend on the distance. Click here for inter-city bus schedules and here for train schedules.
- Taxi: the most popular application that I would highly recommend once in Lithuania is Bolt. It is an analog to Uber basically. A ride from Airport to Vilnius city center costs as little as 5 EUR. Therefore, you can expect to be able to move around the city for as little as 3 EUR. Unless you are going to the outskirts of Vilnius, 30 min ride should not cost you more than 8 EUR.
- Rental car: car rentals depend on o the rental company you choose to go with. But you may find deals for as little as 10 EUR per day for a manual older car, with average being 18-23 EUR per day. Book well in advance for the summer season to secure the best deal.
Renting a Car in Lithuania
The most flexible way to visit Lithuania and its hidden gems is by driving your own car. I highly recommend using Discover Cars or Rental Cars to find your best ride. Those car search engines compare prices across many car rental companies both local and international.
Both Discover Cars and Rental Cars allow you to get the best car rental deals by filtering out competitive rates across various car rental companies. You can choose and narrow down your search by the preferred features like transmission type, car type, allows you to choose a full price range, pick among favorite car rental suppliers, payment type, and more. To sum up, you will be able to find the best value for money. Visit Discover Cars or Rental Cars and check your dates to find the best options available.
FOOD cost in Lithuania
- A meal in a regular (not fancy) restaurant would cost you around 12-15 EUR per person including soup, main and a drink. That being said, it is 3 times more expensive than it used to be before we adopted Euro as our currency. Although eating out is not as expensive as in the bigger European cities, prices in Lithuania’s most touristic spots are catching up (2020 update).
- Coffee in Lithuania is more expensive than in Italy costing around 2EUR for a regular Cappuccino.
- Food at supermarket is a great and cheap choice if you have time and where to cook. Selection is unbelievable and so much variety of good stuff .
INTERNET cost in Lithuania
Internet in Lithuania is very cheap and fast- starting 1 EUR for a sim card with data and minutes. Basically Lithuania is Internet Kingdom- it ranked among the top 3 best internet providers globally. Wifi is nearly everywhere as well. There are some great roaming plans available for tourists as well.
Is Lithuania safe to travel?
In general, Lithuania is a safe country to travel to. It is advisable to avoid dodgy clubs and bars with drunk people as those might be the potential trouble makers.
Moreover, Lithuania is completely sheltered from any natural disasters.
Search for a suitable insurance plan using reliable World Nomads Travel Insurance.
QUICK USEFUL TIPS FOR TRAVELING IN LITHUANIA AND VILNIUS
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’: ‘labas’ and ‘aciu’ (pronounced as [achiu ], and sounds like sneezing more or less).
- Currency: Euro (click here for current conversion rates).
- Language: Lithuanian (native official), English (younger generation speaks fluently), Russian.
- Visa: Visa free for European Union countries. Residents of Australia, Canada, and the US are welcome to stay in Lithuania for up to 90 days without a visa. Schengen Area Visa for the rest. More information here.
- Emergency number: 112 (as rest of Europe).
- Best SIM cards: Pildyk and Labas are popular pay as you go and super cheap.
- Safety rating: Ranked 36 on the Global Peace Index in 2020. Also, Lithuania is sheltered from all sorts of natural disasters makes it one of the safest habitats in the world.
- Weather: Cold and long winters (they last from November to March) when temperatures rarely rise above 0°C. January and February occasionally gets as cold as -20°C, and -10 °C being a regular winter temperature. The summers, however, do get quite hot, with temperatures reaching 30°C, July being the hottest month of the year. The average summer temperature is around 25°C. Lots of rain during the cold season.
- Shoulder season: September-October and May-early June.
- Best gifts: black bread, real honey, amber, herbal local teas.
- Lithuania dress code: according to the season. Pretty relaxed. Lithuania though is not very flashy when it comes to style, therefore you won’t see many people dressed in bright colors. People stick to black, grey, and earthy tones mostly.
- Random useful tip: letter M on WC door does not stand for Men. It signifies “moteru” (women). The letter V (for “vyru”) marks male toilets.
- Don’ts: don’t confuse Lithuanians with Russians and assume the Lithuanian language is similar to Russian. In many ways, this is rule number one. Despite the fact that a number of Lithuanian citizens are of Russian descent. Calling Lithuanian a Russian can put you into trouble.
- Neighbors: To put it on the map- Lithuania shares border with its sister country Latvia, also bigger neighbors Poland, Belarus and Russia.