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An insider guide to Lithuania, from our in-house expert

best tips on travelling to Lithuania

Having natural adventurers from all over the UK and Europe is important for us at The Natural Adventure. From the tours we create to the blogs we write, specialist advice to social media, it’s all driven by adventurers who have their own unique insight into places they know inside out. Neringa Rackauskaite, our Marketing Director, is one such person. She is Lithuanian, although her love of kite surfing has brought her to live in Essaouira in Morocco. As Lithuania is her beloved home country, and also the place that inspired her to explore the outdoors from an early age, Neringa shares her best tips on travelling to Lithuania. 

Where are you from in Lithuania, and do you love it as a place? 

I was born and raised in the capital city of Vilnius and, without a doubt, it’s my favourite city in the world. Living abroad I’m constantly drawn back to my home country not only because I miss my friends and family but also because I miss my beautiful hometown. 

What’s your earliest memory of childhood adventures in Lithuania? 

I remember the first time I went to the seaside with my family. It was something else. We travelled to a small village in the Curonian Spit called Preila. I was three years old, it was just a few years after Lithuania got its independence back from the Soviet Union and it was a very different kind of travelling than I’m used to these days. We drove with my grandad in his old Lada and had to stop lots to make sure it wasn’t overheating. 

We didn’t eat much in restaurants but cooked at home instead. We didn’t have much money for any entertainment, but I still remember it as one of the happiest memories of my childhood. We walked through the forest from the village to the sea, counting slugs with my brother, exploring the beautiful white sand beaches, tasting seawater for the first time and discovering this whole new world that I didn’t know existed. 

best tips on travelling to Lithuania
Neringa in her happy place on Parnidis Dune, Curonian Spit. Photo: ©Neringa Rackauskaite

If you had to choose the best walking trail in Lithuania, which one would it be?

There are so many! But if I had to choose one, it would most likely be Varnikai Cognitive Trail, which features as an optional excursion on this holiday. It’s close to the historical capital of Lithuania, Trakai, which is famous for having a magnificent castle in the middle of its lake. The walking trail takes you through a beautiful forest and passes through lakes and a swamp. 

It’s not famous for its beaches, but we know there are some gems. Where is your favourite beach in Lithuania?  

That’s very true. People are normally surprised when they visit our beaches, and they really are gorgeous. I do love the beaches on the Curonian Spit and the cycling path that goes along it. However, one of my favourite spots is Olando kepurė cliff and beach, and I’m delighted that it features in this walking holiday

best tips on travelling to Lithuania
The Curonian Spit, a 98km-long sandy peninsula, is littoral Lithuania at its most lovely. Photo: ©Neringa Rackauskaite

What’s the best time of year to visit Lithuania? 

Summer is great because the days are long and the weather is typically good. I also love the late spring when the trees are blooming and all of nature suddenly explodes into the colour green. 

Šaltibarščiai, also known as pink soup, is a summer favourite for sure – a cold beetroot soup that is kefir based. The second would be kugelis, a potato pie. We love potatoes in Lithuania. And for dessert, I’d say tinginys which translates as ‘lazy man’ in English. It’s a chocolate dessert with biscuits, it’s super easy to make and extremely delicious!

Where’s your favourite place for sunset? 

It would be either one of the hills in Vilnius Old Town or Užupis. Even better if there are some hot air balloons flying, which is popular in the city (which is, by the way, a great way to see the sunset too!). 

best tips on travelling to Lithuania
When you know you’re home – watching the sunset from Gediminas Hill in Vilnius. Photo: ©Neringa Rackauskaite

What Lithuanian tradition do you love that isn’t done in other countries? 

My favourite is our Christmas Eve traditions which include a dinner made up of 12 dishes. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of food on the table but normally it’s the kind of food that I eat only once a year. Lots of fish, especially herring, patties with mushrooms, salads and kūčiukai with poppy seeds milk. As far as I know, there are only a couple of other countries in Europe that have this tradition.

Where are your top three places to hang out in Vilnius?

The Old Town, the artists’ neighbourhoods of Užupis and Paupys, with its famous market, as well as Vingis Park.

Where have you not visited in Lithuania yet but is top of your list for when you next go home?

I’d like to explore Žemaitija National Park, home to Plateliai Lake and the Cold War Museum. It’s supposed to be one of the most spectacular and interesting places in Lithuania and it’s been on my list for a while. 

What do you think Lithuania could do better in terms of tourism? 

Promote places beyond the capital. I’m from Vilnius and I love my city but there’s so much more to explore. The countryside is lovely, there are so many lakes and forests to enjoy. It’s also one of the flattest countries in Europe which could make an ideal cycling destination but it’s something you normally don’t hear about. Which is why I’m particularly pleased that we offer a beautiful cycling holiday in Lithuania. 

You have some of the best neighbours in Estonia and Latvia. Do you feel close to them? And what are their best features? 

Definitely! With Latvians we also share similar language as both of them are Baltic languages. Of course, there’s some friendly competition among us and each country wants to be best at something but that’s a sibling trait, right? We also share so much tragic history with Latvia and Estonia and so we share the same fears, same friends and same enemies. 

We had painful fights for our independence and understand the value of our freedom. That’s why all Baltic States give everything to support Ukraine. We know the pain and we know that they’re fighting our war too. If I had to describe Latvians and Estonians, I’d say they are resilient, full of empathy, they have very entrepreneurial spirits and are kind, humble people.

It’s striking that Vilnius has St. Christopher, the patron saint of travellers on its coat of arms. Is this why Lithuanians are so welcoming to visitors?  

For sure! The Grand Duke Gediminas who build Vilnius wrote a letter inviting craftsmen from other countries to come and live in our beautiful city. It’s always been a multicultural place with people from different ethnic backgrounds. 

Panoramic view of Vilnius’ Old Town – can you find the G-Spot? Photo: ©Neringa Rackauskaite

What preconceptions do visitors have about Lithuania that they get totally wrong? 

I used to work as a tour guide in Vilnius and was asked this question all the time. Funnily, visitors usually come with no perceptions and no idea of what to expect. For this reason, a few years back Vilnius did an award-winning campaign called The G-Spot of Europe. It was so on point! I think generally visitors expect it to be quite an old-fashioned place with a strong post-soviet country vibe. They get surprised by how modern, creative and quirky it is. 

How do you know someone is Lithuanian without them saying they are Lithuanian?!

They are shy but very genuine, which also means they are very candid and direct. They wouldn’t bother with a fake smile if they don’t feel like smiling. 

What makes you most proud to be a Lithuanian?

Perhaps our history and the fact that we don’t take our freedom for granted. The growth that happened since our Independence is phenomenal. We have strong values and we’re not scared to stand up for others.

How do you know when you are home?  

In summer, when I eat fresh berries for breakfast. In autumn, when every meal I eat has mushrooms from the forest in it. In winter, when I need to leave home 20 minutes early to clean the snow from my car and wear many layers. In spring, when I go outside and I see a lot of happy people enjoying the long-awaited sun. 

Christmas is always special in Lithuania, especially when it snows. ©Neringa Rackauskaite

We know you are a keen adventurer, so where is next on your travels and why did you choose it? 

I’m finally making my dream come true and planning to visit Japan this spring. It’s been on my list for as long as I can remember but even more so since I discovered Murakami (maybe it’s a cliché but it’s true). I always wanted to see the harmony between traditional and modern that everyone is talking about. And I can’t lie, the love for Japanese food is dragging me there too.