Lithuania is the southernmost Baltic state. Like the rest of the Baltic, I think Lithuania is an underrated destination, especially by American tourists who don’t know much about it.
When you visit Lithuania, you’ll find a lot to do here. The country has blossomed from its drab past into a fun, lively, and affordable budget destination. It offers a mix of history, beautiful nature, and impressive architecture. (Vilnius, the country’s capital, is also home to a wild nightlife.)
This travel guide to Lithuania will give you the tips and tricks you need to plan the ultimate adventure! It will be way more fun than you think!
Table of Contents
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Top 5 Things to See and Do in Lithuania
1. Explore Vilnius
2. Visit Kaunas
3. Hit the beach in Palanga
4. Go hiking in Trakai Historical National Park
5. See the tallest sand dunes in Europe
Other Things to See and Do in Lithuania
1. Visit Kernave
Located 35km from Vilnius, Kernave was the old medieval capital of Lithuania. The area has all kinds of forts, burial sites, and historical and cultural monuments dating back to the late Palaeolithic Period. Though the town was destroyed by the Teutonic Knights in the Middle Ages, you can still wander the ruins and learn more about the region’s history. Don’t miss the nearby Kernave Archaeology and History Museum either. Admission is 2 EUR ($2.40 USD).
2. See the Hill of Witches
The Hill of Witches is an outdoor sculpture trail of wooden folk art in Juodkrante, a small town on the Curonian Spit. This art installation brings the forest to life with its creations, taking visitors on a trip through Lithuania’s most popular folk tales and legends. Each of the 80 wooden sculptures was hand-carved by local artists and each sculpture depicts a different character from folk and pagan traditions. Plan to spend around an hour seeing all the sculptures. Admission is free.
2. Visit the Palace of the Grand Dukes
Located in Vilnius, this 17th-century baroque palace was built for the country’s Grand Dukes. Today, it’s a history and art museum. You’ll see stately and ornate ceremonial rooms, traditional weaponry and armor, and learn about the palace’s history. Most of the palace is a reconstruction as it was first damaged by fire and then later destroyed by the Russians) during the war. However, it still does a good job of showing how the ruling class lived during the 17th century and the descriptions are really informative. Admission is 7 EUR ($8 USD).
3. Drink traditional mead
Lithuanians are proud of their traditional beer brewing and you will find microbreweries throughout the country. In addition to craft beer, you’ll also find locally-produced mead, a traditional alcoholic beverage made from fermenting honey. Mead is the oldest alcohol in the world and it’s been said that the mead was so popular in Lithuania in the middle ages that noble families consumed upwards of 30 barrels of it each week. Like beer, expect to pay a few euros for a glass.
4. See the Hill of Crosses
Located 12km from Siauliai, here you’ll find over 100,000 crosses and religious statues covering an entire hill. The crosses are believed to have originally been placed there by local Catholics as early as 1831. As the years went by, more and more crosses appeared. The site slowly became a popular place of pilgrimage for Lithuanian Catholics. During the Soviet occupation, the Hill of Crosses became a symbol of national defiance as the Soviets bulldozed the hill three times. The Lithuanian people continued to re-erect the crosses each and every time. Admission is free.
5. Visit the Museum of Illusions
This museum opened in 2016 in Vilnius and has some 70 exhibits including optical illusions and virtual reality. It’s a fun place and quirky place to visit, especially if you’re visiting with kids. You can ask the staff to explain the science behind each illusion and exhibit too. Admission is 11 EUR ($13 USD).
6. Explore Anyksciai Regional Park
Easily accessed as a day trip from Kaunas or Vilnius, Anyksciai Regional Park was created in 1992 and spans an incredible 38,000 acres. There are hiking and biking trails, archeological sites, and a super cool 300m treetop walking path. The path stands 35m above the forest and offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape. There are taller viewing platforms as well that provide 360° panoramic views of the park. Entry is just 1 EUR ($1.25 USD).
7. Visit the Museum of the Ninth Fort
Like much of Eastern Europe, Lithuania has had a challenging past. In the Museum of the Ninth Fort, you’ll learn about that violent history, from Lithuania’s part in World War I to their 20th-century hard-labor prison camps to the mass killings during World War II. The museum focuses on the atrocities of the wars and their aftermath — and how those atrocities shaped the country and is people. Outside in the museum grounds, you’ll find a massive 32m-tall memorial to the 50,000 Jews who were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Admission is 3 EUR ($3.50 USD)
8. Go birdwatching in Curonian Spit National Park
Located along Lithuania’s coast near Klaipeda, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the best locations in Lithuania for birdwatching. Expect to see mergansers, egrets, and cormorants here. The best time to visit is in September during the migration season. Admission to the park is 5 EUR ($6 USD) per vehicle in the off-season and 30 EUR ($35 USD) per vehicle during the summer.
9. Visit the Devil’s Museum
For something unconventional and off the beaten path, visit the Devil’s Museum in Kaunas. It’s a collection of over 3,000 paintings, sculptures, and other works of art of the devil. From traditional religious figurines to political works of social commentary, there’s a lot to see here. The collection began in 1966 and has grown as more and more people donate items. Admission is 3 EUR ($3.50 USD).
1. Explore Uzupis
If you are looking for Lithuania’s art scene then you will find it in the bohemium neighborhood of Uzupis. When the Soviet Union left, a group of artists came together to form the ‘Republic of Angels.’ They consider themselves an independent country, set on 148 acres of land. With 120 residents, they even have their own president, bishop, churches, and a grand total of four official flags. It’s sort of Lithuania’s version of Denmark’s Freetown Christiania. Most walking tours will stop here, show you around, and highlight the “country’s” history and evolution.
Lithuania Travel Costs
Accommodation – Hostel dorms start around 9 EUR ($11 USD) per night for a 8-12 bed dorm. For a 4-8 bed dorm, expect to pay 12 EUR ($14 USD). Free Wi-Fi and self-catering facilities are standard and most of the party hostels run pub crawls, which often includes a free drink. For a private room, expect to pay at least 22 EUR ($25 USD) per night.
Budget hotels start around $20 ($23 USD) per night for a double or twin. Airbnb is widely available in the country, with private rooms starting at 20 EUR ($23 USD) per night. For an entire home or apartment, prices start at 35 EUR ($41 USD) per night, but that’s for the rare find. Generally, prices average almost double that).
For anyone traveling with a tent, wild camping is perfectly legal and safe (and even encouraged). If you prefer to camp in a formal campground, they are available around the country and cost around 20 EUR ($23 USD) per night for a basic two-person plot without electricity.
Food – Lithuanian cuisine is heavily influenced by traditional rural fare. Mushrooms, beetroot soup, smoked sausages, and herring are all common staples. For an inexpensive meal of the local cuisine, expect to pay 7 EUR ($8 USD). Dishes like cepelinai (potato dumplings stuffed with meat, mushrooms, or cheese), potato pancakes, and Russian ravioli are some local favorites.
Fast food like Mcdonald’s costs around 5 EUR ($6 USD) for a combo meal. A pizza will cost between 7-9 EUR ($8.50-11 USD). For Thai, Indian, or Chinese foor, expect to pay between 7-12 EUR ($8.50-14 USD) for a main course.
A three-course meal of local cuisine including a drink costs around 20 EUR ($23 USD).
Expect to pay between 2.50-3.50 EUR ($3-$4 USD) for a beer. A latte or cappuccino costs around 2.50 EUR ($3 USD) while a bottle of water costs 1.25 EUR ($1.50 USD).
If you are planning to cook your own food, a week’s worth of groceries costs between 30-40 EUR ($34-$45 USD) for staples like potatoes, meat, pasta, and seasonal produce.
Activities – There are plenty of free activities to do in Lithuania, especially in the cities where they have free walking tours and free entrance to many of the popular museums. For paid museums and attractions, expect to pay between 5-10 EUR ($6-12 USD). Outside of the city, you can hike, mountain bike, kayak, or windsurf. Most rentals cost around 10-20 EUR ($12.50-25 USD).
Backpacking Lithuania Suggested Budgets
On a backpacker budget of 34-38 EUR ($40-45 USD) a day, you’ll be able to stay in hostels or camp, do some free hikes and walking tours, cook most of your meals, eat a few cheap meals at inexpensive restaurants, and use public transportation. If you wild camp, you can lower this average even further.
On a mid-range budget of 75-100 EUR ($90-115 USD) per day, you can stay in an Airbnb or budget hotel, eat out a lot more, drink a lot more, take some paid tours, visit more attractions, and rent a car for some day trips.
On a luxury budget of 195 EUR ($230 USD) per day, you can stay in a four-star hotel, eat out for all your meals, do as many guided tours as you want, drink at the bar as often as you want, rent a large car, and see as many attractions as you can. The sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Prices are in USD.
Lithuania Travel Guide: Money Saving Tips
Like the rest of the region, Lithuania isn’t that expensive. As long as you don’t go upscale on accommodation or take lots of tours, you’ll be hard pressed to overspend here. That said, if you do want to save some extra money, here are my suggestions:
- Take a free walking tour – Vilnius offers a handful of free walking tours to get you familiar with the city. I always take one when I get to a new city to learn about the history and culture. Just be sure to tip your guide at the end!
- Ride Flixbus – Flixbus is a budget-friendly way to get around the country. They have (semi-reliable) Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, and decent seats for overnight and long-haul journeys.
- Cook your own meals – Many hostels include kitchen facilities, so if you want to save money make sure you book accommodation with a kitchen. Buying your own groceries may not be as glamorous as going out to eat, but it will definitely save you money.
- Wild camp – If you really want to save money in Lithuania, wild camping is perfectly legal and safe on public land.
- Stay with a local – Staying with a local via Couchsurfing is a fun way to not only save money but you’ll get to meet a knowledgeable local who can help you better understand the city and its people.
- Walk everywhere – All of the major cities in Lithuania are quite walkable, so skip the public transportation if you want to save a few euros.
- Enjoy the free spaces – There are plenty of free parks as well as many free hiking trails around the country. Save your budget and enjoy the outdoors!
- Bring a reusable water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink, so bring a reusable water bottle with you to avoid single-use plastic. LifeStraw makes a reusable bottle with a built-in filter so you can be sure your water is safe and clean.
Where to Stay in Lithuania
If you’re looking for a place to stay, here are my favorite spots in Lithuania:
How to Get Around Lithuania
Public Transportation – Public transportation in Lithuania is safe, clean, and reliable. Prices will vary by city but expect to pay around 2.30 EUR ($2.70 USD) for a standard adult ticket.
Vilnius also has 37 bike rental stations where you can borrow a city bike for 30 minutes free of charge.
Trains – Trains in Lithuania are fast and convenient. You can easily reach all the main cities in the country via train. The 90-minute ride from Vilnius to Kaunas costs around 7 EUR ($9 USD) while the four-hour ride from Vilnius to Klaipeda costs 22 EUR ($27 USD).
Bus – Buses in Lithuania are the most budget-friendly choice for traveling around the country and into neighboring countries. A bus from Vilnius to Kaunas takes just over an hour and costs 5.50 EUR ($6.50 USD). From Vilnius to Klaipeda takes just under four hours and costs 18 EUR ($22 USD). The journey from Vilnius to Riga, Latvia takes four hours costs 13 EUR ($15 USD).
Budget Airlines – There are no domestic flights within Lithuania.
Car Rental – Roads in Lithuania are well maintained and toll-free. You can drive from Vilnius to Kaunas and then on to Klaipeda in under four hours. Car rentals can be as low as 30 EUR ($35 USD) per day. While not cheaper than taking the bus, having a car will offer much more freedom.
Make sure you have an International Driving Permit (IDP) as you’ll need one for any car rental in the country.
Hitchhiking– Hitchhiking in Lithuania safe and relatively easily. Having a sign and looking presentable will go a long way to finding a ride. Be sure to avoid hitchhiking at night as it’s not safe. HitchWiki is the best website for hitchhiking info.
When to Go to Lithuania
Like their Nordic neighbors, Lithuania has short summers and long winters. If you are wanting to get in some beach time then you will need to visit between June and August. Even during this time, the temperatures can cool in the evenings so make sure you pack a sweater. Expect daily highs of 20-22°C (68-71°F) during the summer.
To save a bit of money and beat the summer crowds, visit during the shoulder months of April-May or September-October. During these months, it’s still warm enough to spend time outdoors. The national parks are particularly pretty during the autumn.
Regardless of the time of year, rain is common in Lithuania so be sure to always keep a raincoat handy. If you plan on hiking be sure to bring a waterproof jacket.
How to Stay Safe in Lithuania
In Lithuania, scams and pick-pocketing are common enough that you’ll want to be vigilant in high-traffic areas in Vilnius like bus stations and on public transportation. If someone strikes up a conversation with you trying to sell something affordable for a good price or if young children approach you, be on alert — someone may be reaching for your wallet while you’re distracted. Outside the big cities, you likely won’t experience any issues.
You can read about the 14 travel scams to avoid right here.
If you’re enjoying the country’s lively nightlife, be sure to taxi home. Don’t bring more cash than you need to the bar.
If you have a rental car, avoid leaving your valuables in it overnight or while you’re out hiking. Car break-ins are rare but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID.
If you don’t do it at home, don’t do it in Lithuania!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Lithuania Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Lithuania. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the ones I use the most and are always the starting points in my search for travel deals.
- Momondo – This is my favorite booking site. I never book a flight without checking here first.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engline which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Rail Europe – If you are going to Europe and taking a lot of high speed or long distance trains, get a rail pass. I’ve used a rail pass three times and saved hundreds of dollars each time. The math just works.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around Europe, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
- Rome 2 Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- Bla Bla Car – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way travel than by bus or train!
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
Lithuania Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Lithuania Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999, by Timothy Snyder
This book has won a lot of awards — and for good reason. It handles the very complex history of four nations well, weaving together poetry, symbols, micro-histories, and relatable stories to draw you into the history of their paths to nationhood. Although it is a history book, it’s engrossing and essential reading if you really want to understand the people and history of these countries that make up northeastern Europe.
Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys
This is the book the movie Ashes in the Snow was based on. It is a beautifully written best-selling novel that has won multiple awards. It tells the story of 15-year-old Lina whose family is torn apart by Soviet Officers. Lina seeks solace in her art, documenting her life in a Siberian work camp. She begins to embed clues of her location in her drawings in the hope of alerting her father who was separated from her and the rest of the family as to their whereabouts.
The Last Book Smuggler, by Birute Putrius
This is the fascinating story of the author’s grandfather who was a book smuggler during the Russian occupation of Lithuania. At the time, it was illegal to read or write in Lithuanian. The book depicts the complicated relationship between Russia and Lithuania and brings to life a group of underground book smugglers on a mission to keep the Lithuanian language alive. It is part folktale, part thriller.
Baltic Lenin: A journey into Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania’s Soviet past, by Keith Ruffles
This is the story of travel writer Keith Ruffles journey through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. He tells tales of the people he meets along the way and paints a captivating picture of all three countries and how their Soviet past has influenced them today. The most enjoyable part of this book is the characters Ruffles meets along the way, which really help to bring a sense of life to the book. It is full of helpful tips, facts, and history, to give you a great overview of the Baltic region for anyone traveling there.
Lithuania Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Europe and continue planning your trip: