Lithuania is a Baltic country that borders Latvia, Belarus, Poland and the Russian exclave Kaliningrad. The country has a forested landscape dotted with lakes. The major cities, Vilnius and Kaunas, boast an exuberant nightlife, numerous shopping and eating spots and many historical and cultural landmarks to explore. Its population is about 2.8 million and the official language is Lithuanian.
While urban centers are highly modernized, rural settlements have not completely parted with the Soviet heritage. An important destination for locals and foreigners is the Baltic coast which has seaside resorts, sandy beaches and national parks with unspoilt nature.
Vilnius is a vibrant and architecturally diverse city. It boasts a large array of sightseeing points, a multitude of accommodation options, restaurants, shops and a lively nightlife. You will find different architectural styles that blend into an odd yet highly attractive cityscape.
The Old Town has one of the best-preserved collections of Baroque architecture in northern Europe and a network of cobbled streets that are great for leisurely walks. To the north of the Old Town is the Cathedral Square dominated by medieval buildings and the Neoclassical cathedral built in the 13th century.
Behind the cathedral is the Grand Duke’s Palace reconstructed in the 21st century which houses an impressive collection of paintings and artefacts that reflect the luxury lifestyle of Lithuania’s Grand Dukes.
Another highlight of central Vilnius is the castle hill and the Gediminas Castle crowned on its summit. The imposing red-brick structure was built by the Grand Duke Gediminas who had a major role in fortifying Lithuania’s independence. The castle has a museum with military relics and models of medieval fortifications. The stunning view of Old Town from the tower’s top alone makes the Gediminas Castle a place worth visiting.
If you are a museum nerd, Vilnius has a high concentration of museums you can indulge in, including The Lithuanian National Museum, The National Art Gallery, and The Jewish Museum. Vilnius has a large number of pubs, rustic-style taverns, and posh restaurants where you can enjoy staple dishes and drinks. The nightlife is dominated by laidback mainstream clubs with a mixture of Western dance tunes and Lithuanian and Russian disco music.
Other attractions in Lithuania
There are several landmarks outside of the capital that are worth a place on your itinerary.
Kaunas is the second largest city and a perfect weekend getaway, having a lovely centre with restaurants, bars, shops and museums.
The Curonian Spit is a strip of land that shields the Lithuanian coast from the Baltic Sea and is characterized by vast dunes and dense forests. It is a popular day-trip from Klaipeda, but you are best off staying for at least two days to absorb the incredible atmosphere. You can explore the Spit by bike on the nature trails that wind through the pine forests and along the dunes.
Palanga is an important seaside resort that gets crowded during summer. It boasts a 18km sandy beach and a wooden pier where people flock to watch the sunset. Some all-night music events are held during summer months. To diversify your stay, you can visit Palanga’s Botanical Garden with 25,000 pieces of Baltic Amber and the Anatanas Mončys House Museum that displays a wide collection of wooden sculptures and masks.