About 400 miles south of Sweden lies the tiny country of Lithuania, which has a population of just 3 million. It’s an old-world country with rolling hills, breathtaking lakes, and beautiful cobblestone old towns. It also has a complicated, long history.
Lithuaniat is also an exceptionally unique Northern European nation. It recently escaped the oppression of the Soviet Union and is eager to catch up to the Western European countries. Because of that and many other reasons, Lithuania is a magical destination with friendly people and a beautifully unique, almost ancient language.
In fact, there’s a lot to fall in love with about Lithuania. For the moment, it also happens to be a very affordable country to visit. It has a wide variety of wonderful things to see and do for the whole family. Honestly, you may end up spending weeks here, and it still wouldn’t be enough to enjoy the full breadth and wonder of the country.
Today, we’re going to look at the 6 most fascinating things you can experience in Lithuania. But be careful: after you’ve read this article, you may have an obsessive desire to abandon everything and fly away to this mesmerizing country.
#1 Vilnius Old Town
Your journey through this tiny country will most probably start in the capital city, Vilnius. This is neither a big nor small city, with roughly 500,000 people. Luckily, this city is also the #1, must-visit destination of the entire country.
Vilnius is a thrilling city, but the best part of it would be the Old World-style Old Town. It has romantic alleys, cobblestone streets and breathtaking buildings which showcase architecture based on the Gothic, Renaissance, and Neoclassical styles.
It’s no wonder they included it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Nonetheless, if you aren’t too excited by sightseeing the building styles, you can instead experience all the delicious lunch spots in Vilnius or the bustling nightlife, which luckily is also the best right at the center of the Old Town.
Because your trip will mostly likely begin in Vilnius, you can quickly enjoy more of Lithuania’s amazing locations.
One of these memorable places you can’t miss is Užupis. This is a supposedly independent state established right at the edge of the Vilnius Old Town.
This is a particularly artsy, bohemian state that has its very own Constitution.
I won’t spoil it for you by telling you what’s on it — since half the fun is reading it for yourself — but let’s just say this: eccentrics wrote it after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the independent state doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Užupis is often compared to Montmarte in Paris or Copenhagen’s Freetown Christiana.
Constructed in the 14th century, the fortress known as the Trakai Island Castle is an impressive, fairy-tale like castle that’s perfect for a visit in both winter and summer.
The castle also sits on a pristine lake, meaning you can easily spend most of the day there–in part to tour the castle museum and to just to walk around Trakai, which is a normal, beautiful small town.
While you’re there, make it a point to taste the local kibinai, a delicious little pastry usually stuffed with meat.
#4 The Curonian Spit
Up on the coast, you’ll be able to experience the memorable Curonian Spit–but it’s probably a good idea to visit in summer.
The Curonian Spit is a long peninsula which has some impressive nature and tall golden sand dunes. It is a place best for relaxed activities such as relaxing bike rides or lazy walks through the thick forests, picturesque sand dunes and scenic beach villages.
The Spit also offers some great smoked fish that they’re very proud of.
#5 The Hill of Witches
Because it is such a storied nation with a deep, complex history, the Hill of Witches certainly is an interesting place to see. This group of hills is on the coast near the Curonian Spit.
The Hill of Witches is an old public trail that leads you through incredible statues of dragons, goddesses, and–as the name suggests–witches.
While these creations may seem ancient, the statues are actually from a 1979 local community project. However, they have become an integral part of Lithuania’s history and myth, since locals gather here at Midsummer’s Eve to sing and celebrate.
Perhaps the largest resort town in the entire Lithuania is Druskinikai, a wonderful retreat that’s popular for its ancient healing practices. The tiny town is located in Lithuania’s southern region, an hour’s drive from the capital.
Local doctors often send their patients to Druskininkai to get some relaxation. They also recommend making use of the popular health processes found pretty much everywhere in the town. But besides the medical benefits, you should also experience the magnificent pine forests and calming rivers that run through Druskininkai.
Visiting beautiful Lithuania
Now let’s imagine that you have just a few days to experience Lithuania. You now want to know which is the absolute best part to visit. Well, we have some good news for you. This is such a small country that you can explore at least four of these places in just two days.
You see, it’s only a 3-4 hour drive from the capital Vilnius in the south to the coast in the north. Most of these places fall between those areas. No matter what place you end up visiting, we’re pretty sure that you’re going to enjoy Lithuania. You’ll probably and want to come back again, and again, and again.
Author bio: Bernard Meyer is a food and travel blogger over at the Meyer Food Blog. Originally born in Cape Town and raised in Miami, he now lives with his wife and daughters in Vilnius, Lithuania.