Major Tourist Attractions: Hill of Crosses, Curonian Spit, Gate of Dawn, Gediminas Tower, Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
With one of Europe’s most interesting old towns, a plethora of quirky attractions, miles of sandy beaches and vast national parks with hundreds of lakes and rivers, Lithuania should be at the top of any traveler’s list.
One of the newer members of the European Union, Lithuania was actually the largest and most powerful state in Europe back in the Middle Ages. While its prestige has declined since then, Lithuanians are proud of their heritage and have embraced independence from the Soviet Union. The Lithuanian language is one of just two remaining Baltic languages in use today and locals appreciate any effort by visitors to speak a few words.
Lithuania enjoys close cultural ties with Poland due to centuries of political alignment, but Nordic, Germanic and other Slavic influences are also evident. Lithuanian cuisine is similar to other Eastern European cuisines, but with some German and even Turkic elements – the latter due to the presence of a small Crimean Karaite minority in Lithuania.
A variety of accommodation options are available throughout the country, from hostel dorm rooms to five star hotels, including a number of European chains. Vilnius is well situated and convenient for day trips, so many travelers stay there for their entire visit. Buses run frequently between cities around the country and the train network is quick and efficient, making it easy to get around and see a lot in a short period of time.
A few things that visitors to Lithuania should see and do include:
- Watch the sun set from the top of Gediminas Hill in Vilnius.
- Get lost among the thousands of crosses at the Hill of Crosses.
- Visit the historic Ninth Fort outside of Kaunas.
- Read the quirky constitution of the so-called Republic of Uzupis, an artists’ quarter in Vilnius.
- Visit the medieval Trakai Island Castle.
- Learn about Lithuania’s storied past at the Museum of Genocide Victims.
- Find the Stebuklas tile, marking the end of the human chain that stretched from Tallinn to Vilnius in 1989.
- Tour a Soviet bunker outside of Vilnius.
- Visit the sculpture park in Klaipeda.
- Relax on the sandy beaches of the Curonian Spit.
- Explore the historical site of Kernave, the former capital of Lithuania.
- Discover Lithuania’s natural beauty at the Aukštaitija National Park.
- Try a Lithuanian lager.
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