Most of you have read or heard about magnificent Vilnius old town or stunning Nida dunes. That’s true, they are worth visiting. However there are many more interesting places to visit in a small country on the east coast of the Baltic Sea – Lithuania.
As for me personally Nida (the whole Curonian Spit) is the most beautiful place of my country, I will start from that little idyllic peace of nature, which is the most western point of Lithuania and is separated from the mainland by the Curonian Lagoon.
Several places are highly recommended to visit in this small town by some biggest (maybe) sand dunes in the world. Take a yacht trip or rent a canoe and see the dunes from the water or just get on top of the Parnidžio dune where you will see a stunning panorama of the lagoon, the dunes, the sea, the pine forests and the cosy town of Nida from above – a must-see. For a relaxing evening watching the sunset (if you are lucky with a clear sky) take a glass (or a bottle, or few) of wine in InVino cafe terrace not far from the Nida lighthouse. From here you’ll be able to see almost the same panorama as from the Parnidžio dune, but advantage here would be a bar full of wine next to you.
Neringa cycling route (+ Klaipėda old town, Olando kepurė and Palanga park)
Go green, visit the Curonian Spit on a bike. 50 km bike route from Nida to Klaipėda (and 30 km more to Palanga) is the most beautiful cycling route in Lithuania. On your way from Nida you’ll pass tiny, cosy fishermen villages of Preila (here you can stop for a beer or a traditional fish dish in a cafe „Po vyšniom” on the lagoon) and Pervalka. Few kilometers from Pervalka, when you reach the main Neringa motor road on the right you’ll see Naglių gamtos takas (a path through the Dead Dunes). This path is worth walking till its end. You’ll be surrounded by a very unusual scenery of sand, poor flora and water in the horizon. Then the bike route gets to the sea, then back to the pine forest, Juodkrantė town and finally to the Klaipėda port (before taking a ferry to the mainland, meet seals, penguins and dolphins in the Museum of the Sea and the Aquarium). Pass the small and cosy old town of Klaipėda (can get a beer in the Theatre Square, where Hitler once gave a speech) and head to Olando kepurė (a hill just on the seaside which is unusual in our country, because most of our 99 km of coastline is plain). From here continue cycling north. Closer to Palanga you get more beautiful surroundings you see. Finally you come to Palanga park with a nice manor (now – the Museum of Amber) and ponds – the most beautiful park in Lithuania. Want to see some village people having holiday – go to the Basanavičiaus street and onto the sea peer. Interested in one more park and manor – go to neighbouring Kretinga.
Soviet rocket base in the Žemaitija National park and a manor in Plungė
Here we come to the sad history of our homeland. Soviet occupation has left some scars even in some most beautiful parts of Lithuania’s nature. One is Plokštinės rocket base not far from Plateliai vilage. A scarry and nteresting place. Besides some beautiful nature in the surrounding area you can also see a nice park and a manor in Plungė. Quite a manor for Lithuania. Need a hotel around here – why not to head to Plinkšės – a cheap soviet style hotel near a manor in a cosy park on a lake (probably this hotel was built for workers of one of the world’s biggest oil refineries which is not far next to Mažeikiai).
Ventės ragas and Šturmų švyturys, kitesurfing and fishing
Let’s go back west (southwest) again. Ventės ragas is a place where Nemunas – the biggest river in Lithuania meets the Curonian Lagoon. There is a nice small lighthouse and a bird ringing spot with enormous nets for catching migrating birds. On your way back from Ventė stop at Šturmų švyturys – a cosy restaurant serving some posh fresh fish dishes. I liked it. For the extreme ones – Svencelė kite-surfing spot might be a place of interest, for those who are not afraid of freezing cold – fishing on Curonian Lagoon ice in winter might be quite an experience. If you go to Ventė at the time of the ice floating, pay a visit to Rusnė, which at that time is only reachable by a big tractor or an amphibian through one flooded road or on a boat through flooded fields.
Panemunės pilys (Castles on the Nemuans river)
With a fancy sounding name the road joining Jurbarkas and Kaunas will give you a possibility to see some nice manors and mounds while driving next to the biggest river in Lithuania. Do not expect something magnificent, but still have a walk around Raudonė and Vytėnai (Panemunė) manors, climb up to Veliuona and Seredžius mounds, you’ll see some nice panoramas and will be able to feel like a middle ages knight defending or conquering Lithuania. On the other side of the river there is a small Plokščiai village which uses a small creek as a road for driving cars. Quite an unusual way to use a creek.
Lyduvėnai railway bridge, Tytuvėnai monastery and the Hill of Crosses
The longest and the highest bridge in Lithuania is found in Lyduvėnai – a small town on the river Dubysa. Worth to see and not only because it’s the longest and the highest. It has interesting history too. Tytuvėnai monastery – one of the biggest in the country and Hill of Crosses next to Šiauliai town – a unique proof of religious fanaticism of Lithuanians (once it was a protest form against the tsar and later against the soviet regime, now – it’s a bunch of crosses on a mound). As you are close to Šiauliai now, you can visit this town (one quite nice street and the Museum of Bicycles). Need a place to sleep – there is quite a good camping in Kurtuvėnai (a small town with a park, church and horse riding school next to Šiauliai). Still not enough parks and manors – go to Žagarė – a small town with interesting history and architecture on the Latvian border. On your way from Žagarė stop at reindeer farm near Joniškis. There is a hotel and a restaurant (if you don’t bother eating Rudolf, the reindeer).
To be continued…
More about our trips here .