Today, some practical tips for traveling in and around Lithuania.
Table of contents
Lithuania is the kind of destination where you don’t have to make too much effort to get there. We have many options to choose from: from buying a tour, where we don’t have to worry about anything, to buses, planes, and even a car. All of them, in fact, are readily available, some very attractively priced:
- Bus – we can use the offer of Lux Express or Ecolines (in promotions you can catch tickets for as little as 35 PLN!).
- Airplane – here we can choose between our Polish carrier and the newly announced WizzAir connection – you will probably be able to count on good promotions :)
- Car – the cheapest is not, but advantageous in terms of flexibility on site and the number of luggage to take :)
We chose option No. 3, mainly due to the fact that this was our first longer and longer trip with Olive. So we had a large car (Mitsubishi Outlander), in which we packed without any problems (the first trip with a child, so we took supplies of everything like for the whole nursery for a month, because, after all, Lithuania is the end of the world and nothing can be bought on the spot ;) ).
Getting to the border and then in Lithuania to Vilnius is pretty easy, although we don’t have a direct highway like to Berlin or Gdansk. However, the road is wide and pleasant (except for numerous repairs on the Warsaw-Bialystok route).
Travelling around the city
Let’s not kid ourselves, Vilnius or Kaunas are cities where most of the most interesting places are within the so-called “walking distance.” We did not use public transportation at all, although we were tempted several times to take a trolleybus ride for fun.
The only thing is that getting to the cemeteries may be more problematic, as the ones we wrote about(here) are not located in the center.
Another very cool option is a city bike in Vilnius. The card, which must be purchased before the first rental, costs €2.5. From our observations, there are a lot of paths and roads adapted for cyclists in Vilnius, but not in the old city. So, however, we recommend you to explore the old town on foot (especially since riding a bike on the cobblestones is not our top dream) :)
Parking lots in Vilnius and Kaunas
As for parking lots in Vilnius, of course they are paid, with 24-hour parking worth looking for. In Vilnius, we parked for 3eur/24h just off Gediminas Hill. It was only a 15-minute leisurely walk from our hotel, and for many of you it can be a very good starting point for a day trip around Vilnius.
On-street parking costs approx. EUR 1/hour. Important! There are different hours of paid parking on the streets in the center of Vilnius, and they are not separate zones, but more like streets – you may find that around the corner, instead of paid parking 24/7, you have a night for free ;)
In Kaunas we were on a weekend, so we didn’t pay for parking, while as for Trakai we supported a local business by parking at a home parking lot (EUR 2 per day).
While the parking lots are fairly manageable, just driving around town is a higher school of driving – we’re mainly referring to Vilnius. Surprises await at every corner in the form of numerous one-way streets that either become two-way or are completely closed to traffic at some specific time. You have to be really vigilant and read all the signs. Forget about driving by heart!
Strange road signs in Lithuania?
It is also worth mentioning here precisely those unusual signs in Lithuania, telling at what times parking is paid or sometimes at what times entry is prohibited, for example. We did some thinking about whether we were sure we were interpreting them correctly.
Those signs with a hammer indicate weekdays, and those with an asterisk indicate weekends on which the sign is in effect. Sometimes one also encounters a sign with Roman numerals (like the one under the paid parking lot). Then the Roman numerals indicate the days of the week.
Accommodation in Lithuania
There is no problem with accommodation either, and it all depends on your expectations and budget. On booking.com – we have hotels to choose from, to color.
We in Vilnius stayed at the Novotel hotel, right in the center, while we bought another night almost overnight at some hotel near the station, above the burger shop :)
While in the first one we got along without a problem, in the second place we had a problem to get along in English, fortunately the old lady from the “reception” showed creativity and called a friend who knew something there in Polish and explained everything over the phone :)
When choosing a hotel, more than the price, location, parking, a spacious room and a kettle in the room were important to us ;)
Lithuanian cuisine and shopping
Tastes and tastes are not discussed, but we liked Lithuanian cuisine half-heartedly – literally! For me it was too fatty, too heavy, too meaty, and for Pavel it was great, because it was very close to Polish :) As much as we had enough time we tried as many local dishes as possible: cepelins, kugel, potato pancakes, soups with cumin bread or traditional kibinas in Trakai. We also sampled many sweets for coffee and there was no shortage of vegetarian restaurants ;)
If you’re looking for a place to try traditional Lithuanian cuisine, look no further: Bernelių užeiga – this is a chain of restaurants certified by the Culinary Heritage of Lithuania.
As for shopping, in the cities you can stock up mainly in markets (e.g., the Maxima chain), and the larger shopping centers are located on the outskirts of the cities.
What positively surprised us were the souvenir stalls. Mainly in the old town of Vilnius, we met several stalls where you could buy traditional Lithuanian products. Fact, we’re not sure if these are made in Lithuania or China, but it’s not the typical plastic-fantastic like in other European cities. If you want to be sure of quality and originality, you can shop at boutiques in the old town.
Remember to move the hand of the clock forward after crossing the border :)
As for other practical things, that’s it in a telegraphic nutshell:
- currency = EUR
- language = Lithuanian, do not count on getting along in Polish – we failed several times, and attempts in English also failed,
- ATMs, card payments = available, Polish payment cards are acceptable,
- Power outlets = identical to those in Poland.
We hope we have cleared up any doubts about the practical aspects. If not, write in the comments what else we should include :)
We recommend you our other posts about Lithuania.