9 Best Places to Visit in Lithuania

Planning a trip to Europe any time soon? Lithuania needs to be on your list of places to visit. What is Lithuania, you ask? The country was formerly part of the USSR. It regained independence in the early 90s after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2004, it became an EU member. That means it has all the conveniences like good healthcare facilities and reliable public transport.

Before each meal, you can taste the typical Lithuanian soup. For dessert, the Lithuanians have mostly the sakotis, a pie in the form of spruce, as well as the honey donuts. To drink, the typical Lithuanian beers are the Utenos and the Kalnapilis. After lunch, try the midus liqueur, which can be drunk in the coffee.

If you choose, you can even use your Spectrum mobile service roaming. Learn more about the country and places to visit in Lithuania.

Lithuania, or to give it its official name, The Republic of Lithuania, is one of 3 Baltic nations. The other two being Latvia and Estonia. Located right on the Baltic coast, Lithuania was invaded by Russia in the mid-1600s. Following that, the country saw regular invasions from powers like Austria, Russia, and Prussia.

By 1795, however, Russia had completely been absorbed by Russia. By the 20th Century, in 1915, the country was once again invaded and occupied by German forces. However, it resisted, and by 1918, Lithuania became an independent state.

Unfortunately, this did not last very long, as Soviet Russia once again occupied the country and forced it into the Soviet Union. This was perhaps the most brutal invasion in the Baltic nation’s history, culminating in mass executions and deportations. In 1941, during World War 2, Germany occupied the country and decimated most of its Jewish population.

In 1944 the country once again came under the rule of Communist Russia. This time, it took until 1993 before the country was able to regain its independence as a sovereign state. By 2004, it had become a member of the EU.

Best Places to Visit in Lithuania

This brief history lesson matters because it adds context to all the various cultural and architectural influences you will encounter on your visit to these attractions:

1. Hill of Crosses

Lithuania is a country full of natural and artificial surprises, with a history forged by the fusion of pagan roots with Catholic fervor. In Lithuania, remember to visit the Hill of Crosses. Near the Castle of Gediminas rises a hill crowned by three crosses. The Hill of Crosses near Šiauliai is a mountain where, since the 19th century, the population has placed crosses as an offering or to ask for a favor.

It survived the Soviet era and it is estimated that, to date, there are more than 50,000 crosses in the place. You can stop near it when travelling from the Curonian Spit to Latvia.

2. Druskininkai

If when you are traveling you want to take a break and give yourself a thermal bath, those of Lithuania are unparalleled. You have to go to Druskininkai, the spa is located next to Lake Druskonis, surrounded by woods, in a beautiful spot.

3. Kernave

The town of Kernave is one of the oldest cities in the country of Lithuania, with roots reaching well back into the Medieval Age. Kernave was once among the first capital cities of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Historians believe this was the center of the Golden Age boom in the 13th and 14th Centuries.

However, the Teutonic Knights, a religious-military order originating in Germany in the 1100s more or less demolished the city’s keeps and fortifications. Today, Kernave is a UNESCO-attested heritage site that pays homage to various periods of the country’s history. While the keeps and walls no longer stand, tourists can still see the archeological discoveries and preserved relics ranging as far back as the Paleolithic Period.

4. Klaipėda

The Lithuanian coast is made up of immense beaches. The best ones are near Klaipeda, in the narrow strip of sand that forms the Curonian Spit. The Curonian Spit and Nida is located about 400 kilometres from the capital city Vilnius, so you will have to spend one extra night in Klaipėda or Nida/Juodkrantė. However the nature views and old style wooden houses are definitely worth to see.

When the Teutonic Order invaded and took control of the Baltic coast, Klapedia (or Mamel as it was then known) was one of the most important cities. Even after the Teutons were replaced by the Duchy of Prussia, the city continued to thrive and became a key trading port. In the 19th Century, it was the northernmost city of the Kaisserreich or German Empire (also known as the Second Reich).

With over 800 years of history seeping through the city, it is today an eclectic mix of old and new. Revelers and partygoers experience a vibrant coastal nightlife that caters to clubbers and serious tourists alike. From Medieval Castles to local taverns to German-influenced beer halls, Klapedia is still as busy and bustling as it has ever been.

5. Vilnius

By being in the Lithuanian cities of Vilnius and Trakai (near Vilnius) you will get a glimpse at the past glory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The capital city of Vilnius has everything from relics of the Medieval past to Gothic and Baroque architecture. Everywhere you look, the city is like an open history book paying homage to the city's (and the country’s) long and rich past. Walk the cobbled streets in The Old Town section, check out St Anne's Church, and visit the imposing 13th Century Gediminas Keep.

And when you need a break from all the wonders, hop into one of the many bars or clubs in the more modern districts. Soak up, firsthand, the culture that is a gorgeous mishmash between chic and shabby. Whatever your taste, in Vilnius you can choose from design bars, casinos, discos, more traditional bars and dance halls. In summer there are many outdoor terraces in the center, especially on Pilies and Vokieciu streets.

The resplendent Vilnius Cathedral stands proudly in the central square of the old city. It resembles a classical Greek temple more than a Christian church.

Bathed by the rivers Neris and Vilnia, the beauty of Vilnius is complemented by its wooded hills. Vilnius has a hippie-like “independent city-within-a-city” at its center, then go to the beach at Klaipeda or the arts capital in Kaunas.

The best time to visit Vilnius is in summer. In contrast, in winter, temperatures are freezing, almost always below zero degrees, and there are very few hours of light.

6. Gruto Parkas

In addition to the Europa Park, from Vilnius you can go to Gruto Parkas, a very original theme park, full of statues from the Soviet era. You will see mostly Lenin or Stalin carvings.

7. Constitution of the Republic of Užupis

Another peculiarity of Vilnius is that within the city itself there is a bohemian zone that is self-styled as the Independent Republic of Uzupis, with its own constitution.

8. Trakai

Trakai is the place to which everyone who visits Lithuania ends up going. A large lake in the center of which is an island and a medieval castle that currently hosts concerts and exhibitions.

9. Kaunas

In inner Lithuania, the city of Kaunas claims a friendly rivalry with Vilnius. The city positions itself as an alternative destination, with just as much history as the capital and an even more vibrant nightlife. Kaunas is particularly popular among student tourists and younger travelers. From tree-lined streets, craft beer bars, and even underground taverns, the historic city center comes alive in the evening and remains alive until the sun rises again.

But that doesn’t mean you have nothing to do during the day. Head out to the city’s Kaunas Castle, walk through the gorgeous historic district, and even catch art exhibitions. The city that never sleeps, Kaunas needs to be part of any trip to the Baltic nation.

Kalyan Panja