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Modern Lithuania is pretty enjoyable for tourism: it has soft and cool climate, numerous spa resorts, reasonable prices, interesting eksursions, and of course a considerable amount of natural attractions. A country’s accession to the Schengen area allows tourists from former Soviet Union to use additional advantages: the possibility of traveling across the Baltic States and even Europe, with only one visa.
Tourism in Lithuania can be a great and affordable option for travelers who prefer a mild climate, for families with childre, and especially – for older people who can well improve health in one of the many SPA. While paying a much lower than in other European countries.
Key facts about Lithuania
Lithuania is a country in Eastern Europe, on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, bordered by Poland, Belarus, Russia (Kaliningrad region) and Latvia. It covers an area of 65,200 km2. It has around 99 kilometres (61.5 mi) of sandy coastline, of which only about 38 kilometres face the open Baltic Sea and which is the shortest among the Baltic Sea countries; the rest of the coast is sheltered by the Curonian sand peninsula. A characteristic feature of the landscape of the country are the remains of ancient glacial moraine – eskers, parallel ridges extending to this country, as well as sand dunes on the coast and the southeast.
The population of Lithuania
About 3 million people. According to experts, since 1989 occurs depopulation of the country, which was the cause of emigration and negative natural increase. According to the general census of Lithuanians make up the vast majority of the population, the rest of the peoples inhabiting Lithuania – Poles, Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians and Jews.
Religion in Lithuania
Most believers – Catholics, there are also Protestants, Orthodox and other denominations. The Church has been the majority denomination since the Christianisation of Lithuania at the end of the 14th century. In all schools as “items of your choice” offers lessons of religion.
Summer is not hot in Lithuania, the average July temperature of about +17 º C. Rains often enough, regardless of the season. The duration of the swimming season – from 80 days on the Baltic coast to 90 days in inland waters.Winter is windy and wet but mild frosts are rare, but due to frequent thawing snow is short and unstable – in January the average temperature is about -7 º C, although uncommon and present frosts. Protracted drizzle often occur at almost any time of the year, as well as summer fog and thunderstorms.
Lithuanian languages
The official language is Lithuanian. It is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 0.2 million abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they are not mutually intelligible. Other languages, such as Russian, Polish, Belarusian and Ukrainian are spoken in the larger cities, in the Šalčininkai district municipality and the Vilnius district municipality. Yiddish is spoken by members of the tiny remaining Jewish community in Lithuania. According to the Lithuanian population census of 2001, about 84% of the country’s population speak Lithuanian as their native language, 8% are native speakers of Russian and 6% of Polish. More than 60% are fluent in Russian, many residents of Lithuania is also fluent in English and German.
Visa to Lithuania
Required documents: passport (valid for at least 3 months after the end of the requested visa, with at least one blank page and photos of children older than 6 years, inscribed in it), personally signed by the tourist visa application sample set. One photo 3,5 × 4,5 (frosted with white background) corresponding to the current appearance and age of the applicant (max 1 year old). Copies of all pages of internal passport (for children who do not have regular passport – birth certificate and a copy). Certificate of employment on company letterhead indicating the positions, dates of employment, average wages and holiday period provided. Documents confirming solvency (traveler’s checks and copies thereof, relevant account statement).
Unemployed, pensioners and students must provide proof of availability of funds and their source (the so-called “sponsorship certificate”), it shall be accompanied by a certificate from the employer sponsor. In addition, pupils and students to travel during the school year will need to submit a certificate from an educational institution with a resolution absent during the trip.
For minor children in Lithuania along with the parent and his passport, a separate application is not filled, and their picture is pasted in the form of the parent. If minor children are traveling with not their parents, you must provide a copy of the notarized consent of a parent to leave the child in the Republic of Lithuania.
Shops in Lithuania
Traditionally tourists always buy some amber – this has long been a tradition. You can purchase items of Lithuanian folk craft: woodwork and ceramics. Almost every tourist grabs some local spirits tinctures and balms. You must try Lithuanian black bread – recommended.
Shops are generally open from 9.00 to 18.00-20.00 on weekdays, Saturdays 9.00 – 17.00-19.00. Large supermarkets are usually open from 8.00 to 22.00.
VAT and tax-free
VAT is usually included in the price of all goods and services. VAT refund is possible if they buy a 200 Lt ( including VAT) and receive a check for the Tax-Free tax refund from the seller. At the same time the acquisition of goods can not be used in the country to obtain the Customs stamp on the check. Specified in the check items must be shipped from Lithuania within three months from the date of issue. Tax free does not apply to tobacco, alcohol and books.
Communications in Lithuania
Payphones installed almost anywhere and use prepaid phone cards (available at newsstands, shops, petrol stations) in denominations of 50, 75, 100 or 200 units. You can call any subscriber in Lithuania and abroad. A call to the emergency services is free of charge.
How to call abroad from Lithuania ?
Call from a landline phone: dial 00, the country code, local code, phone number. For example, call to Minsk: 00 375 17 xxxxxx. From 22.00 to 6.00 Monday to Friday, during weekends and holidays a 30 % discount on international calls applies. Call from the mobile phone: dial +, country code, the local code or mobile operator, phone number +375 17 xxxxxx.
How to call to Lithuania from abroad?
The international dialing code of Lithuania: +370. You should dial: international access code (in each country may have its own version), city code for calls to landlines or network operator code to call the mobile phone number. Call to landline: International access + 5 (Vilnius code) + number. Call Mobile: International access + phone no 8 in the beginning. For example, a mobile phone number in Lithuania 8 62345678. To call on it from abroad should dial: + 370 623 45 678.
Basic phones
Fire: 01, Police: 02, Ambulance: 03, paid information: 09 (118).
City Codes: Vilnius – 5, Kaunas – 7, Klaipeda – 6, Palanga – 36, Trakai – 38, Nida – 59, Druskininkai – 33, Birshtonas – 10.
Mobile telephony and mobile Internet
Communications standards GSM 900/1800 and 3G, covered almost the entire country.
Almost all the hotels and restaurants have Wi-Fi access points. Also, free access to Wi-Fi is available even outdoors.
Supply voltage standard – 220 V, 50 Hz, old sockets with two round holes as well as new three-pin grounding outlets available.
Peculiarities of the National Lithuanian cuisine
Lithuanian cuisine features the products suited to the cool and moist northern climate of Lithuania: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialties. Since it shares its climate and agricultural practices with Northern Europe, Lithuanian cuisine has some similarities to Scandinavian cuisine. Nevertheless, it has its own distinguishing features, which were formed by a variety of influences during the country’s long and difficult history. Because of their common heritage, Lithuanians, Poles, and Ashkenazi Jews share many dishes and beverages. Thus there are similar Lithuanian, Litvak, and Polish versions of dumplings, doughnuts spurgos, and blynai crepes. German traditions also influenced Lithuanian cuisine, introducing pork and potato dishes, such as potato pudding (kugelis or kugel) and potato sausages, as well as the baroque tree cake known as Šakotis. The most exotic of all the influences is Eastern (Karaite) cuisine, and the dishes kibinai and čeburekai are popular in Lithuania. Torte Napoleon was introduced during Napoleon’s passage through Lithuania in the 19th century.
Medicine and treatment in Lithuania
Treatment are payed, carried out on the basis of insurance. In the absence of insurance payment for medical services is made in cash, which is quite expensive. First aid is free.
No vaccinations are required to visit Lithuania do not want to. In forest areas and national parks is a danger only tick encephalitis, which causes Laima Disease.
Official holidays and weekends in Lithuania
1. January 1 – New Year.
2 . February 16 – Independence Day.
3 . March 3 – Kaziukas Day or St. Casimir.
4 . March 11 – Day of Restoration of Lithuanian statehood.
5 . April-May – Catholic Easter.
6. First Sunday in May – Mother’s Day.
7. June 14 – Day of Sorrow and Hope (memory of the beginning of Stalinist repression).
8. July 6 – The Coronation of King Mindaugas.
9. November 1 – All Saints’ Day.
10 . December 25-26 – Christmas.
Private property
Across the country you can move freely, but should closely monitor compliance with the rights of private possessions – improvement on private land for the night, fishing or collecting plants is possible only with the permission of the owner or tenant. Otherwise, the police have the right to apply any measures up to detention and deportation.
Permits for camping and fishing is available at the offices of the administration of most of the parks, as well as holiday homes and rental locations. Hunting can be arranged only by issuing a special request to the administration of the park and only in designated areas such as hunting grounds. Besides the cost of the license you must pay for each trophy. Fishing is possible only in specially designated areas. Persons who violate the established order will be punished by a fine.
Safety and security
The country has a relatively low crime rate, but the crime of kidnapping of personal property occasionally can happen. Theft from hotel rooms are quite common. Pickpockets and thieves like to work on public transport and railway stations. Not recommended to walk at night on poorly lit streets and parks. Valuables, documents and large sums of money should be kept in the hotel safe; always carry along certified copy of your passport. Possible hijacking and theft of vehicles, often targeted by criminals new and expensive cars. Always keep car doors closed and valuables to take with you. Penalties for possession, use and trafficking of drugs are very strict. Violators face imprisonment or a fine high, so do not carry anything through customs at the request of unfamiliar people.
Entertainment, tours and attractions in Lithuania
The first place to to visit is the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. Lively and active city at first glance do not gives the impression of one of the oldest cities in Europe. Original medieval town with a unique atmosphere and a rich cultural life harmoniously accepts business and night life of its people and it satisfies the interest of tourists. Vilnius old town was formed over the centuries and has absorbed a variety of cultural influences. Today it is recognized by UNESCO as the largest historic architectural complex in Eastern Europe.
In the old town we recommend viewing Gediminas Castle, whose history is closely intertwined with the history of Vilnius. According to legend, the prince had a dream in which a huge wolf was standing on a hill and howling like a whole flock. Sleep was recognized prophetic, and Prince built on the Vilna river castle, near which grew with time and thriving city. The first wooden castle was built in the 13th century, in the future it became a formidable structure. Today, tourists can explore the west tower, the remains of the ramparts and the castle itself. In Gediminas Tower, which preserved fortifications of the Upper Castle, since 1960 is an exposition on the history of the city. Here is an observation deck, which offers a beautiful view of the Old City and the valley of the river Neris.
Near the castle is the Cathedral Square, where you can see the hero of Vilnius Grand Duke Gediminas. Sculpture in his honor was unveiled in 1996, and since then a bronze monument reminds citizens of their glorious past. In Vilnius there are many interesting monuments, such as the statue of King Mindaugas or monument to Frank Zappa.
Deserves special attention Vilnius University, the oldest in Eastern Europe. Among the illustrious graduates – Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Slovak, Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. Although the university and changed over the past four centuries, but the charm of the cozy courtyards, fountains and medieval arches overhead will be there forever. The largest university courtyard combines different architectural styles, and numerous arches give the impression that you are in the south of Italy.
From the Cathedral to the Town Hall Square is the main artery of the city – Old Street Piles. Here you can relax in a cozy cafe, visit a museum or gallery, buy souvenirs. Here are the Church of St. Michael and St. Anne. The are so many churches and cathedrals in Vilnius.
St. Anne ‘s Cathedral stands out, in fact it is a grand masterpiece of late Gothic Lithuanian. Arches and patterns, elegant spiers and metal crosses give the cathedral a special charm – that’s why it became the hallmark of the city.
Next you should pay a visit to Kaunas, the second largest and most important city in Lithuania. It was founded in 1280 at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers Nemunas and Neris. Gothic buildings here include Kaunas Castle and the house of Perkūnas. Masalskas Dukes Palace – the creation of the Renaissance. A Baroque monastery Pažaislis, City Hall and the Church of the Jesuits is also worth of your attention.
Trakai – the famous ancient capital of Lithuania, in the Middle Ages it was the residence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Famous Trakai Castle was built as a defensive fortress and used as a prison. Now this island castle (the only one in the whole of Eastern Europe) – one of the most visited historical-architectural monuments in Lithuania. Since 1962, there is a historical museum, Republican events, festivals and concerts hosted regularly. In the Trakai you can also see a lot of interestings buildings: Dominican Monastery, Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Church of the Nativity of Our Lady of Sorrows, Karaites houses.
Kernavė – is another ancient capital of Lithuani, in 2004 was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In Kernavė best seen prehistory of the Balts and the origins of the Lithuanian state. In the local historical and Archaeological Museum all ages is presented. In July Kernavė “Living History Days” are held: at this time you can meet there working medieval craftsmen, warriors, and women will treat you antique dishes.
Druskininkai, located 130 km south of Vilnius – the oldest and largest resort in Lithuania, famous for its mineral springs and curative mud, clean air and nature. Already in the 19th century Druskininkai was considered the most popular and luxurious resort in the Baltic States. Recently Druskininkai restored its former glory, building excellent water park, improving infrastructure and updating their hotels. Today, visitors can spend a chic Wellness weekend at an affordable price.
The third largest city of Lithuania, Klaipeda, and once the capital of Prussia – Memel, preserved the atmosphere of the Soviet times and architectural “consequences” of the powerful German influence, through which there was established a majestic castle of red brick and a quarter with half-timbered buildings in the style. Klaipeda is a major seaport in the world of communications and Baltic door is open for travelers in search of appeasement on the white dunes of the Curonian Spit.
Neringa is located south of Klaipėda, separated from the mainland Lithuania by Curonian Lagoon. While there is no bridge, it is still accessible from the mainland by ferry only. The villages in Neringa municipality comprise: the self-governing resort town of Nida, seat of the local administration, the eldership of Juodkrantė, the eldership of Preila and Pervalka. They are tourist resorts and by then it was popular to grant more self-government to resorts. The municipality is the only one in Lithuania which is not called after a town or city. The name Neringa was created at Soviet time for the new city municipality. Almost every house in Nida is a cafe, a pub or hotel. Nida is considered more prestigious resort than Yuodokrante, and therefore the prices are higher. Nida usually attracts many foreigners.
Finally, Palanga – Lithuania’s most popular resort, which stretches along the coast of the Baltic Sea by 24 km. Tourists choose to stay in Palanga for the mild climate, the quality of hotels and food, a great selection of entertainment at the resort. One of the most beautiful places of Palanga is a beautiful botanical garden, in which there are more than three hundred species of plants. It was founded in the late nineteenth century and designed one of the most famous French architects of the time – E. Andre. At any time, the garden is a lovely sight. Another popular destination is the mountain resort Birute. Its top is decorated with exquisite chapel, built in 1869, and at the foot of the hill is an unusual sculpture “For you, Birute”. Almost in the center of Palanga towers Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which is the tallest building in the city and its religious symbol.
In addition, Lithuania has five national parks: Aukstaitija, Dzukija, Zemajtija, the Curonian Spit and Trakai Historical National Park. Plus – 30 regional parks.