One of the three Baltic States the country of Lithuania shares its borders with Latvia, Belarus, Poland, and Russia, and is situated in Northern Europe. The country itself is about the same size as the Republic of Ireland. Once the largest nation in Europe, Lithuania has a population of 3.1 million people, and its capital city is Vilnius. With wet, moderate winters and warm summers, Lithuania is covered in forest and lake, is very flat, and its principal river is the Nemunas. Its main international airport is located in Vilnius, but many popular airlines also fly to Kaunas, though there are also ferries from Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark.
Vilnius has a population of just 550,000 people, and is situated on the bank of the Neris River. It was a European Capital of Culture in 2009 and certainly packs a punch for being one of the featherweights of Europe in terms of population. Bright, boxy baroque architecture like the Vilnius Cathedral punctuates this diverse cityscape, and the Old Town has been duly recognised by UNESCO’s Heritage List for the former Jewish Ghetto. As well as the poignant wartime reminders and religious buildings, Vilnius has some eccentric statues, including the only one of Frank Zappa in the world! View the city in quirky style on a Segway tour, or scrutinise the plié calibre at the Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theatre, with performances three or four nights weekly.
Lithuania’s second largest city, Kaunas, lies around 100km to the west of Vilnius, and dates back to the 13th century. Predominantly a student town, Kaunas also has a vibrant student community and a population of 350,000 people in total. As well as some lovely historic hotspots including a 14th century castle and cathedral, the pedestrianized Laisvės alėja in the city’s Old Town is a great spot for wandering between shops and people watching. The city is also host to a number of vibrant cultural events, including Pažaislis Music festival at the end of April and the Operetta in Kaunas Castle which takes place at the end of June.
To get away from the city of a taste of the sea breeze, slip off to the sandy resort of Palaga. Although it gets crowded in summer, it’s certainly recommended by its soft dunes and pier. There are also funfairs, nightclubs and souvenir stalls. Get away from the crowd in the shady Botanical Garden, and don’t forget to buy some amber, something of a specialty in the city. For a more peaceful summer excursion, head to the Curonian Spit National Park. This recognised World Heritage Site is located on a slim little chunk of land connected to the southwest of the country and makes the perfect spot for camping, hiking and ornithologists. Head along the cycling trail from Nida to Smiltynė, it’s the best way by far to spot the area’s wildlife, which might include elk, beaver and white stork.
Last Edit by Site Administrators on 7/05/2012 EDIT NOW >>