Lithuania is a country like no other, full of quirks and surprises. When we visited in 2007, the capital, Vilnius, was under serious construction in preparation for its tenure as European Capital of Culture in 2009. Now it’s humming with new buildings and new life, while keeping its old independent spirit.

This is part two of a three-part series on the Baltic countries: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. To listen to the Lithuania podcast, hit play below or find episode 301 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Location

Lithuania is the southern-most country of the Baltic states, which also include Latvia and Estonia. It’s bordered to the north by Latvia and to east by Belarus, and the south-west border is shared with the Russian territory of Kalingrad as well as with Poland. To the west you’ll find the Baltic Sea coast. About 40% of the country is covered by forest, making for some beautiful drives.

Vilnius Lithuania - 5

Lithuania from above

Driving is fine but a hot-air balloon trip is much better, and was a highlight of the trip. After a take-off at dawn, we floated up above a lake and the medieval island castle of Trakai, then touched down an hour or so later in the mist-covered forests. However, the adventure didn’t end there, as we were treated to a baptism of fire, wine and earth.

A yellow hot air balloon floats over a green landscape covered in mist.
Hot-air ballooning in Lithuania

Hill of Crosses

The Hill of Crosses is another Lithuanian institution that’s well worth a visit. People started leaving crosses on a hill a couple of hundred years ago, and since then the collection has grown exponentially.

Dozens of crosses of many sizes huddle together, with a couple of pictures of the Virgin Mary amongst them.
The Hill of Crosses

Vilnius

Lithuania’s capital city is a microcosm of the quirky energy that sets the country apart. Our favourite place in the city hasn’t changed since we were there eight years ago: Uzupis is close to our hearts.

Uzupis is a central suburb of Vilnius that’s declared independence and broken off into its own republic. It’s an area of public art, public eccentrics, and great little restaurants. It’s gentrified and become fashionable in the years since we was there, but its 39 clauses of the Constitution still hold true.

A bust of Frank Zappa sits on a plinth in front of a mural.
Perhaps the only Frank Zappa statue in the world?

Food

Lithuanian food was as colourful and fantastic (and sometimes slightly odd) as the rest of the visit. Among other things, we visited a restaurant called Snekutis, full of old agricultural implements, a missile, potato pancakes and the eponymous owner.

Snekutis, a grey-haired man, shows off his long moustache.
Snekutis — both a man and a restaurant.

The culinary highlight was the five-star Telegrafas restaurant, where we enjoyed a five-course degustation, matched with wonderful wines.

Two men stir pots at Ciop Ciop.
We also did some cooking while in Vilnius.

Vilnius seems like the most complex of the Baltic capitals. At one glance, it’s grungy and in need of restoration; on another corner, its value luxury creates a truly engaging experience. Lithuania might be the least well-known of the Baltic states, but it amply rewards the curious.

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Craig travelled through Lithuania with JayWay Travel as part of the #jaywaybaltics trip (see posts on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, you name it). More details on our Baltics page. In Vilnius, Craig stayed at the quirky Bernadinu B&B. The walking tour and hot air balloon ride were organised by JayWay, cooking classes were at Ciop Ciop, and thanks to the Vilnius Tourist Board.

Your thoughts on "Quirky Vilnius: the Lithuania podcast"

  • Great work Craig and Linda, must say beautiful podcast and images which sets your blog apart from others. :)

    on July 2, 2015 at 1:28 am Reply
  • Lituana it is a beautiful place and it is a place with so many nature

    on July 13, 2015 at 9:41 pm Reply
  • The thing not-to miss in Lithuania is Dzukija land ( Southern part) with it's ancient lifestyle and traditions of the locals, with it's small wooden villages and huge wild pine forests full of wild animals and different herbs.That's the place for your family holidays discoveries.

    on February 12, 2016 at 10:19 am Reply

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