Have you been wondering where is Lithuania? Or contemplating why travel to Lithuania? I have long been wanting to tell you more about another Baltic country, and here is it - an article about this unfamiliar gem of natural beauty and charm! This list might give you some answers. And who knows, maybe even inspire you to book that weekend in a country that does not impose an array of expectations, like some other better-known destinations. Assuming that you are not a specialist in the Baltic states, let's kick off with some basic information so that everything else makes more sense.
Where is Lithuania?
Come on, just Google it! What is crucial to know - it is quite high up in the North (don't expect tropical weather). It is on the coast (yup, beaches!) and has loads and loads of forests (about 40% of the land).
What is the capital of Lithuania?
It is called Vilnius [vˈɪlnɪəs]. Located in the heart of the country (read - centre), it is home to about 580 000 people and a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the Old Town. It is a fun, vibrant, and green capital where most things are within walking distance!
What do I need to travel to Lithuania?
My guess is anything you would pack travelling anywhere else. Two things you WILL need - mosquito repellent in summer and warmest clothes in winter. And nowadays, probably also a facemask. To get in, though, you will need any documents you would normally get travelling to the EU - it is a Schengen zone country.
Why travel to Lithuania?
Because it is cheap, good and will surprise you, but let me just tell you one thing. Don't just travel to Vilnius; there is so much more beauty in the whole great country that once used to be the biggest in Europe! (you will get an idea after reading this post). But then again...DO travel to Vilnius. It is the capital of Lithuania, after all. And missing it would be a great pity. And here are another 12 reasons that will hopefully make you jump off your couch and want to travel to Lithuania right away!
1. The season!
Before we get onto any other points, you have to know that you will probably enjoy Lithuania most in the summer. Warmer climate, happier people, and loads of outdoor cafes add another layer to the charm of it all. Yes, take the concept of winter blues seriously because it is definitely a thing here!
2. Your wallet will be grateful
We are all now somewhat on a budget, and it might mean visiting the less likely vacay spots. And yes, besides being just great, Lithuania is also quite affordable, if not more. Compared to more popular (and, especially, West European) destinations, Lithuania will seem cheap. Food, the local transportation as well as most things you would choose to do for fun...And nothing beats a proper pint of (great) beer for just a couple of Euros!
3. A loner's paradise
If you are the type of traveller that hates crowds, then Lithuania will make you happy. Even in the crowdiest times of the day in Vilnius, it is not really crowded. The density of population is per km2 is low, the people are not overly touchy-feely, and there is so much land! Meadows, forests, lakes, beaches, and a million other hidden corners to discover. Here you can truly experience the concept of going "off the beaten path" because much of the country is still relatively wild! And now, with these travel restrictions, there are even fewer tourists. For you, it just means that even the biggest cities will be much calmer and relaxed than before!
4. The least likely beach destination
Lithuania has literally amazing beaches. Locals know it, neighbours, too. Unfortunately, it is not as warm as in the South, and actual sunbathing can take place just a few months a year. For more hot-blooded people, it might even seem cold in these "hotter" summer months. It probably is the main reason why international media rarely screams, but oh, those few months are beautiful! If you want to stand out among your friends with stories about unique beaches with not a single soul around (yup, skinnydipping is very likely and even suggested!)...travel to Lithuania!
5. Wake up with the songs of birds
Continuing on the topic of natural treats and vast lands, I just wanted to paint this picture. You see, your next workcation destination might be right in front of you. Lithuania is a perfect location to have an undisturbed working time alone or with your colleagues. The great thing is - the internet is available almost everywhere. Remoteness is rather a standard, not the exception. And civilization is always a short walk or ride away in case you get bored with these sounds of nature. Sounds promising? These are just a few reasons to name; just check some mid-forest or seaside cabins right away to see what I am talking about!
6. 3 countries in an extended weekend?
Absolutely doable! Vilnius is just a 4-hour bus ride away from Riga. Add another 4, and you will be in Tallinn! These three Baltic states will quickly feed your thirst for many new impressions if you have been craving some lately. Just come to Lithuania to start your road trip up North. After Tallinn, add a short boat ride to Helsinki, and you can call yourself a globetrotter in a matter of days!
7. Like being in the centre of attention?
Just come and visit the belly button of Europe! And with that I meant - The Geographical Centre Of Europe is in Paberzes seniunija, Lithuania. Visiting this somewhat remote spot marked by a small monument will definitely get your attention from friends and family. And not only because you will have been to the centre of the continent. Mostly because Lithuania is just a unique destination, and they will want to hear everything!
8. Free food for everyone!
Well. Almost. Now is the season to go foraging. Mushrooms and wild berries are freely available to anyone who is willing to go and pick them up in the forest! Just make sure you have some local who knows the plants well because not everything you find is edible. Additionally, fresh and delicious local produce is in season now and not just expensive bio stuff in supermarkets. Local people sell amazing local goods in markets at prices, which will make you wonder if there is any business in it for them. Great timing for good food, I promise!
9. Visit the republic of rebelsUzupis
(beyond the river) is a district in Vilnius. Trust me, your time in Lithuania will be wasted if you don't get to look in the eyes of Uzupis mermaid. It began as an April Fools' Day joke many years ago but evolved into one of the cutest little actual republics in the world. It is smaller than 1 km2, but they even have their own government, constitution, and currency! And don't expect it to be something posh like the Vatican. It is a somewhat quirky district of artists, and you will experience that on every corner.
10. Sweat it out!
A big part of Lithuanian culture is relaxing in the sauna. There are just so many of those places where you can treat your body and soul with a proper heat sesh. And it is up to you - if you prefer the old-school way in a lakeside wood-heated black sauna or in one of those great and ridiculously cheap SPAs. You totally deserve unwinding from this not-so-great first half of the year!
11. A desert in the sea
One of the most spectacular places I have ever been to is the Curonian Spit. The best way to describe it is to say - it is like a sandy island in the sea, right off the coast. It actually is around 98km long dune separated to form the sea by a lagoon. Parts of the dune in Neringa reach up to 50m in height and look like Sahara overlooking the sea. Epic and totally unique!
12. Last but not least
As a consequence of the current situation in the world, it becomes more important to be aware of everything connected to safety. The one of yourself as well as the surrounding people. And there are many reasons why I can wholeheartedly assure you that Lithuania is one of the safest countries to be in currently for several reasons. First, the density of the population is super low, and even in the capital, huge crowds rarely gather (at least when they were allowed). Secondly, the Baltic states have been lucky with the very low spread of the virus. But even besides the worrisome aspects of travel currently, Lithuania is generally safe from natural disasters or mysterious venomous creatures that might attack you. It is just a SAFE choice! I really hope these personal hints have made you want to spend some time in Lithuania as soon as possible because you know what? It is really that good, and you might want to use the chance to see it before every one does!