One of Europe’s best kept secrets, Lithuania oozes with rustic charm. Small though it may be this historic country is home to some exquisite examples of baroque architecture and striking baronial buildings as well as some stunning landscapes of luscious forests and sculpted lakes, earning many sites a well deserving UNESCO status.
At a glance
Once a huge empire stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, Lithuania boasts a colourful history which lends itself to many of its architectural and cultural quirks. Like many cities, the minuscule capital of Vilnius is a hive of shadowy courtyards, winding streets and baroque architecture whose eerie gothic presence is overwritten by an eccentric artistic community and flourishing creative scene. Let’s not forget Lithuania’s incredible natural treasures, the countryside here features carpets of green forests speckled with lakes and hills that roll out into the mighty sand dunes along the coast. Despite feeling like something from the pages of a medieval story book, Lithuania is alive with a rich cultural vigour and blossoming artistic industry.
What to see
On the west coast of Lithuania lies the Curonian Spit, a phenomenal natural expanse of stunningly diverse landscapes. Cycle or hike through the wilderness for your chance to see elk and deer and keep your eyes peeled for massive colonies of heron and cormorants nesting in their natural habitat. The sand dunes here are also pretty spectacular and offer some breath-taking views across the Baltic Sea.
Moving inland now, be sure to check out the striking Trakai Castle sitting pretty on its own secluded island in the middle of the beautiful Galve Lake. Take a tour of the castle, visit the museum or set sail on the shimmering waters of the lake for an idyllic experience of this historical landmark. Watch in awe as the red bricks and tiles emit a warm glow in the evening sun, at once aesthetically beautiful and incredibly atmospheric.
Considered the Mecca of Lithuania, your trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Hill of Crosses in Šiauliai. Believed to originate from the aftermath of the 1831 November Uprising, over centuries these hills have become the resting place of hundreds and thousands of crosses and effigies brought here by Catholic pilgrims. The atmosphere here is deeply evocative; the sheer mass of crosses, crucifixes, statues and religious artefacts is unbelievable and will leave you lost for words.
Why we like it
Lithuania is a unique treasure amongst Europe’s more domineering industrial forces. Laced with untouched landscapes and perfectly preserved historical landmarks, visiting Lithuania is like stepping back in time. If you’re a bit of a culture vulture like us here at Black Tomato, Lithuania will tick all the boxes.