Anykščiai, Lithuania - Global Storybook

10 Best Cities to Visit in Lithuania

Danguolė Veličkaitė

Danguolė Veličkaitė

Danguolė Veličkaitė is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (Lithuania).

Danguolė Veličkaitė was born and raised in Lithuania. She loves to travel and learn about new cultures. She also admires art and cats.

Danguolė is warmly welcoming you to learn more about her beautiful homeland, Lithuania and consider it to be your next travel destination! You can read more about Danguolė here.
Danguolė Veličkaitė

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Lithuania is a lively, rapidly growing country, which has experienced a number of cultural and economic changes since becoming independent from the Soviet Union in 1990.  Visit Lithuania and you will find a vibrant social life in Vilnius – its capital city, plus some other coastal areas, countless natural reserves, national parks and a number of splendid beaches spread across our wonderful country.

Sincerely proud of their country, Lithuanians are very hospitable and welcoming to the visitors.  You will surely experience their kindness pretty much everywhere you go.  Below is an overview of the top 10 cities in Lithuania to help you best plan your trip.

1. Vilnius

Vilnius (Vil-nyus) is the capital and the largest city of Lithuania, with a population of more than five hundred thousand citizens.  It is located in the southeastern part of the country – right in the heart of Europe, according to some geographic reports.  Furthermore, Vilnius is the second largest city in the Baltic states, and it is one of its most prettiest.

Vilnius is a cosmopolitan and a thoroughly modern city, with a variety of enticing and inexpensive attractions.  Its medieval heritage plus its gorgeous Gothic and Baroque architectural styles make it one of the most picture-perfect cities in Europe.  Ethereal cathedrals stand beside a number of lavish restaurants and cozy cafes, surrounded by noble old buildings lining up the city’s historic cobbled stone streets.  If you’re looking for an elegant, peaceful and unspoiled travel destination – Vilnius should certainly hit every mark on your list.

Here are some of Vilnius most popular attractions:

  1. Cathedral Square.
  2. Old Town and the St Anne’s Church, Gate of Dawn and the Gediminas Castle.
  3. New Town and the Gediminas Avenue.
  4. Jewish district and the Jewish Synagogue.
  5. Republic of Uzupis.

2. Kaunas

Kaunas (Kou´näs) is the second largest city in the country, and it’s home to 292,677 inhabitants.  It was founded right in the heartland of central Lithuania, at the point where the majestic Neris and Nemunas rivers converge.  Furthermore, it has a very convenient and economically favorable location, as it is situated 100 km from Vilnius, and 212 km from the country’s main seaport town, Klaipėda.  It’s famous for its rich and colorful history, green cozy parks, the remarkable and wonderful architecture of its Old Town, passion for the arts, as well as its fierce interwar spirit.

This beautiful town is also known as the most student-oriented city in Lithuania.  In fact, there are more than 40 museums, 7 professional and 10 amateur theatres, 20 folklore ensembles, plus various other arts and sports teams.  Moreover, the city organizes a number of small and large festivals, celebrations and cultural events all year round.  Some of its most popular festivals include: the Kaunas Jazz, the Pažaislis Music Festival, Operetta in the Kaunas Castle, Hanza Kaunas, Bike Show Millennium and the Kaunas City Days.

Finally, Kaunas is also hailed as the Lithuanian capital of… basketball!  Not surprisingly, it’s home to the greatest basketball team in the country, called “Žalgiris”.  Numerous sporting events, such as the historic European Basketball Championships, take place in Kaunas’s brand new Žalgiris Arena, which is also the largest arena in the entire Baltic region.

Here’s a list of Kaunas most popular attractions:

  1. Old Town, and the Kaunas Town Hall, Kaunas Castle, Historical Presidential Palace, House of Perkūnas, Kaunas Cathedral, Church of St. Gertrude and Vytautas’ Church.
  2. New Town, and the Liberty Avenue, St. Michael the Archangel Church and the Central Post Office.
  3. Pazaislis Monastery and the Kaunas Lagoon Regional Park.
  4. Numerous museums and theaters, such as the Konstantinas Ciurlionis Museum, Devil‘s Museum and the Musical Theatre, the Drama Theatre, the Puppet Theatre and the Kaunas Pantomime Theatre.

3. Klaipėda

Klaipėda (ˈKlīpədə) is situated in the Western part of Lithuania, near the Baltic sea, 311km away from Vilnius.  It is the third biggest city in the country with a population of 151, 227 residents.  Notably, the city is the only ice-free seaport in Lithuania.  This fact has played a very important role in the country’s economic and educational life, as well as our transportation business.

Klaipėda is a very charming city, featuring a majestic harbor, spectacular architecture, plus a number of fun entertainment options.  Bohemian people, white seagulls, historical monuments, sandy beaches and the refreshing smell of sea, will leave you with a bucket full of long-lasting memories, soon after you depart Klaipėda.

Here are some of Klaipėda’s top sights:

  1. Old Town and the Theatre Square, the Lietuvninkų Square, the Aukštoji street, and the Didžioji vandens street.
  2. The Harbor and the “Meridianas” sailboat, plus the “Black Sea Ghost” statue.
  3. Museums, such as: Klaipėda Sea Museum and Dolphinarium, and the Museum of Clocks and Watches.
  4. The Melnragė Pier.
  5. “Švyturys” beer brewery.
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4. Šiauliai

Šiauliai (ʃɛʊˈlɛɪ) is the fourth largest city situated in the Northern Lithuania, with a population of 133,900 citizens.  Its name came from the word “Saulė”, which in Lithuanian means “Sun”.  Hence its nickname: “the City of Sun”. Šiauliai was first mentioned as “Soule” in the Livonian Order chronicles which described the Battle of Sun (“Saulės mūšis”), that took place not far from here.  The city’s founding date is now considered to be the date of the battle, which happened on the 22nd of September in 1236.

Most people who visit this post-industrial, one-time Soviet powerhouse city of Šiauliai, come to see the legendary Hill of Crosses (“Kryžių kalnas”), which is located approximately 12km away from the town.  The Hill of Crosses is a haunting mound made of various crucifixes, as well as statues and portraits of Christ and the Virgin Mary.  In addition, it is a national pilgrimage site, a one of a kind in the world.

So while visiting Šiauliai make sure to visit these popular attractions:

  1. The Hill of Crosses.
  2. Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul.
  3. The Bicycle Museum.
  4. Radio and TV Tech institute.
  5. Talkša lake with the “Iron Fox” sculpture.

5. Kernavė

Kernavė is one of the oldest towns in Lithuania.  It is located in the southeast, on the right bank of the river Neris, and only 35 km away from the capital, Vilnius.  This tiny town is home to… 272 inhabitants.  Despite its small proportions, Kernavė was recognized as the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.  Hence, this archeological landmark is a widely popular touristic attraction.

Kernavė’s history is longer than most of the other towns in Lithuania – it was one of the first medieval capitals of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy.  Visitors who make their way to the town‘s archaeological reserve, are able to explore numerous relics, including the foundations of ancient fortresses, throne rooms and burial sites, which date back to the late Palaeolithic Period!

Another interesting sight in Kernavė is its Neo-Gothic red brick Church of St. Virgin Maria Skaplierinė, which was built around 1920.  In the church’s graveyard you can find the mosaics dedicated to the 600th anniversary of Baptising of Lithuania.  Also, behind the church there is an observational ground located on a steep hill.  From its peak you can enjoy some of the most picturesque sights in Lithuania – the Pajauta valley with its stunning, rolling mounds, split across by the beautiful Neris River.

Make sure to check out these popular attractions upon visiting Kernavė:

  1. Pajauta Valley and the Cultural Reserve of Kernavė.
  2. Kernavė Town Museum.
  3. The Church of St. Virgin Maria Skaplierinė.
  4. The octagonal wooden chapel.
  5. Algirdas Alekna “Paslapčių” museum.

6. Palanga

Palanga is one of the busiest seaside summer resort towns, located on the shores of the Baltic Sea, in western Lithuania.  It has a population of about 15,533 citizens.  This splendid town is famous for its 18 km long and up to 300m wide sandy beaches.  Furthermore, Palanga was given the status of a municipality, and it now contains some additional small resort areas, such as: Nemirseta, Šventoji, Būtingė, plus a few others.

Palanga is one of the most frequently visited Summer holiday destinations, amongst Lithuanians.  Numerous locals, as well as visitors from the neighboring countries come to relax and party in this picturesque sea-town.  The city’s main avenue, the Jonas Basanavicius boulevard, is filled with countless bars, cocktail clubs, and fancy restaurants.  Among them, Palanga Kurhaus, the city’s first hotel and restaurant – is one of the top attractions in the center of Palanga.

Here’s a full list of the main sights in Palanga:

  1. Jonas Basanavicius boulevard with the Sea Bridge at the end.
  2. Alley of Counts Tiskeviciai with the Concert Hall and the Palanga Kurhaus hotel and restaurant.
  3. Tiskeviciai Palace and the Most Holy Virgin Mary’s Ascension Church.
  4. Museums, such as: the Amber Museum and the Palanga Resort Museum, as well as parks, such as the Birutė Park with its Birutė Hill and chapel, the Sculpture Park, and the Fairytales Park.
  5. The Curonian Spit (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) with its soft and sandy beaches.

7. Trakai

Trakai is another small Lithuanian town of only 11,5 square km, situated between 3 lakes, 28 km west of Vilnius.  The city has approximately 5,400 inhabitants, though it receives more than two million visitors every year.  Trakai is well known for the beauty of its natural landscapes, wildlife reserves, luscious forests, as well as its magnificent Island Castle, located on the lake Galvė.

Trakai is a unique fragmentation of various islets and grassy hills, shimmering waters and rolling meadows.  This town is one of the most captivating weekend retreats in Lithuania.  There are plenty of leisure activities, like swimming, fishing, sailing in an aero-boat, paragliding, horseback riding and others, that you can enjoy in Trakai.  In addition, there are numerous cottages, homesteads, hotels and recreational complexes to choose from.

In summary, here are the must things to see and do in Trakai:

  1. Trakai’s Historical National Park.
  2. Trakai Island Castle and the Museum of History.
  3. Trakai’s Kenesa synagogue.
  4. The Užutrakis Manor.
  5. Karaim community restaurants offering a traditional dish “Kybyn”.

8. Anykščiai

Anikshty (Anykščiai) is located in the Northeast, halfway between the city of Kaunas and the Latvian border.  It has a tiny population of about 11,600 inhabitants.  This stunningly ecological, green town includes a number of historical and religious heritage sites.  Anykščiai is also widely famous as the hometown of several important classical Lithuanian writers, whose novels and poems are memorized by thousands of local children and adults alike.

Some of the most popular activities available in Anykščiai, are kayaking and gun shooting.  It would be a sin not to mention a chance to taste some local wines, under its feature program, called “Wine Way”.  Actually, it offers both – interesting excursions and degustations.  Besides the numerous entertainment options, you should visit Anykščiai for its picturesque landscapes, historical mounds and the typical old Lithuanian village homes.

To summarize Anykščiai’s popular attractions:

  1. The Old Town and the Church of St. Mat Apostle and Evangelist, the old cemetery and the Church of St. Alexander.
  2. Home-museums of famous Lithuanian authors – Antanas Vienuolis and Antanas Baranauskas, plus the Horse Museum.
  3. Anykščiai’s pinewood with “Puntukas” Stone.
  4. Kalita Hill.

9. Druskininkai

Druskininkai (ˈDrʊskɪnɪŋkaɪ) is a popular spa town located on the Nemunas River in the  Southern Lithuania, close to the borders of Belarus and Poland.  As a “spa resort” this city dates back to the 19th century.  Nowadays it has a population of about 23,136 locals.  Though, it’s true origin goes much further – to at least the 1600’s, when it was first mentioned by the Grand Duke Stanislaw August Poniatowski.

Druskininkai was built around natural springs, rich with important minerals widely believed to have healing powers.  Basically located in a forest, the town is surrounded by trees, gorgeous parks, flower gardens, several lakes, as well as two rivers dividing its peripheries.

A fun, indoors “Druskininkai Water Theme Park” was opened in the city center, in addition to numerous spa centers.  An indoor alpine ski center with an artificial hill, called “Snow Arena” – one of the largest in the world, was built 3 km to the north.  Hence, you can swim in the warm waters during the coldest Winter months, plus go skiing during the hot Summer days in Druskininkai!  How cool is that?

Finally, Druskininkai hosts numerous annual events, including a jazz festival, a poetry festival, and a theater festival.  So stay here for a week or more, to combine a holistic wellness visit with a rich cultural experience!

Here are the top sights to see in Druskininkai:

  1. The Old Town and the wooden villas, plus the Avenues of Maironio, Kosciuškos and Vilniaus, as well as the diamond-shaped main square.
  2. The Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.
  3. The “Druskininkai Water Theme Park” and the “One” Adventure Park.
  4. Spas and wellness centers – they all are pretty good.
  5. Lake Druskonis beach coast and the banks of the Nemunas river.

10. Rumšiškės

Rumšiškės is a very traditional folkloric Lithuanian town, with a total population of… 1,700 citizens.  It is situated 20 km east of Kaunas, on the northern bank of Kaunas Lagoon.  In 1958, when the Kaunas Lagoon’s artificial lake was created, the southern part of the town was flooded and it remains under the water since then.  The 18th century St. Michael Archangel Church of Rumšiškės was safely removed from the flooded area and moved to its current location in 1958.  Sadly, some other important historic places, including the birthplace of the famous Lithuanian poet Jonas Aistis, were forever lost.

As of today, Rumšiškės is best known for its unique and culturally significant open-air ethnographic museum.  In fact, it’s one of the largest of its kind in Europe.  The museum was established in 1966 and was officially opened in 1974.  Its total number of exhibits is 90,820.  There’s no better way to explore the cultural heritage of Lithuanian rural life, then by seeing it displayed in authentically recreated settings.  Hence, a number of homes featured in this open-air museum will give you a fuller idea of how Lithuanian people once lived and worked.

The entire museum covers an area of about 175 ha (432 acre).  It contains 140 buildings from the 18th–19th centuries with carefully restored interiors and exteriors.  The main goal behind the foundation of this museum was to help research and preserve the old traditional ways of living.

Here are the main sights in Rumšiškės:

  1. The Town Center.
  2. St. Michael Archangel Church.
  3. Rumšiškės Open-Air Ethnographic Museum.

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Comments

  1. I love this am going this year to the country of my ancestors. All grandparents come from Lithuania

  2. Thank you Jeanne, I am glad that you liked this article! Have a wonderful trip to Lithuania, wish you best of luck!

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