Lithuania, less noticed but just as vibrant, features a variety of sights that can rival those from other countries in Europe. This country in Northern Europe makes quite a pleasant destination due to its understated appeal which makes the popular landmarks here stand out more. The beauty of its natural environment also draws in a lot of visitors due to the majestic Baltic coastline and the lush inland forests that can be intriguing to explore. Such a variety of possible destinations makes Lithuania an exciting country to visit in the continent.
The history of Lithuania also adds an interesting element to the trip. Travellers going here will find remnants of a Soviet past from a discontinued nuclear missile site to a sculpture park dedicated to the times. Such monuments let one visualise the rich past of the country that has bore with many years of Russian occupation. This only stopped in 1990, when Lithuania declared its independence that allowed the people to bounce back and pursue a free and more comfortable way of life.
What to see & do
Those visiting Lithuania will find a variety of fascinating landmarks in Vilnius such as the Gate of Dawn. Housing a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary, this chapel is said to heal the sick and punish villains. This makes pilgrims from various Christian denominations go in droves to see the icon. Additionally, tourists who would like to view the landmark will find it a significant historical spot. It stands in the area where Vilnius was attacked regularly by the army of the Russian Empire at the turn of the 18th century. Another impressive church to see is the St Anne and Bernardine Churches. The magnificent towers, arches, and metal gates of St Anne is particularly stunning, but the interiors take the prize when one looks at the hundreds of artworks kept here. St Bernardine, on the other hand, is one of the city's largest Gothic buildings, which used to welcome crowds who listen to the sermons of the monks.
Castles also make a fascinating sight in Lithuania. Kaunas Castle is one of them, a defensive fort that stood near the Nemunas and Neris rivers. The size and strength of its fortifications is fascinating to behold, especially when one recounts the tale which tells how the fort allowed the Lithuanians to defend the area from the arrival of the Crusaders. Those going here will not just enjoy this historical trivia, however, as the castle also sponsors various events such as the annual operetta festival, concerts, dances, and other performances. Exhibits and book presentations are also organised here, making the place fun to visit especially for an occasion. From here, one can also visit Raudone chapel in the Jurbarkas district. It is a major architectural piece in the country due to its neo-Gothic style. One can also take part in the Panemune Ziedai, a traditional festival celebrated every last weekend of May.
When checking out the cultural venues, one can add to the list the Cold War Museum in Zemaitija National
Park. Tourists visiting here can view the underground structure and maze of missile silos to get a feel of the period. From here, travellers can venture to the Museum of Genocide Victims where one will find memorials to the various people who were imprisoned, murdered, or deported during the time of the Soviet occupation. Those in need of cheer can then check out the National Ciurlionois Art Museum where one will find an art gallery dedicated to the works of Mikalojus Ciurlionis and a studio where one can listen to his musical compositions.
How to get around within Lithuania
Travellers will find a fairly reliable bus network in Vilnius that transports passengers to the main cities and towns of the country. Those going to Kaunas can also ride on a minibus, which are mainly quicker than the ordinary public buses. A train service is also available from Vilnius going to a few domestic destinations such as Kaunas, Klaipeda, and Siauliai. Car rental service can be found here for those who want to drive on their own.
How to get there
Those going to visit Lithuania can venture to the country through connecting flights to Vilnius Airport. Airlines serving here include various airlines that transport passengers between the country to other parts of Europe. Some of them are Aeroflot, airBaltic, Air Lituanica, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Belavia, Estonian Air, Finnair, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Ryanair, Scandinavian Airlines, Transaero Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, Utair Aviation, Wizz Air, and WOW Air.
Images by Flickr/davehighbury
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