Lithuania Travel Guide

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Lithuania Information

Population: 3.59 million, E

Time Zone: GMT +2 (GMT +3 summer time: August - March)

Driving side: Drivers drive on the right-hand side of the road.

Languages: Lithuanian

Religion: Roman Catholic
Russian Orthodox
evangelical Christian Baptist

Emergency #: Police in Vilnius: +370 5 2716175
Kaunas Emergency Station: +370 37 452641

Lithuania Local Customs

Lithuanians dislike being described as members of the Baltic states, rather than Lithuanian.

Lithuania Culture

Lithuania owes much to the rich cultural currents of central Europe. It has the most ethnically homogenous population of the three Baltic states.

Heritage - the capital Vilnius boasts a Baroque Old Town that is the largest in Eastern Europe and sometimes called the 'New Prague'.

Art - an interesting Lithuanian folk-art tradition is the carving of large wooden crosses, suns, weathercocks or figures of saints on tall poles that are placed at crossroads, in cemeteries, village squares or at the sites of extraordinary events. In the Soviet period, such work was banned, but it survived at the Hill of Crosses near Siauliai.

Places of culture - Lithuania's cultural life is quite a lively scene, with 13 professional theatres, some state orchestras. chamber groups and a few large art collections. Lithuania has 53 museums.

SELTINIS - Apart from regularly touring through towns and villages of the country - they give a lot of concerts and take part in national festivals of songs,dances, and Lithuanian national art festivals.

Lithuania Popular Destinations

Curonian Split - The typical Baltic coastal ozone and pine interchange consists of four settlements - Juodkrante, Pervalka, Preila and Nida - which is composed of dunes and lush pine forests inhabited by elk, deer and wild boar.

Druskininkai - this resort's status stems from its mineral springs, which have been in demand for their curative powers since the 19th century, but is also well known as the birthplace of modern Jewish sculptor Jacques Lipchitz. Druskininkai is in southern Lithuania, on the Nemunas river, not far from the border with Belarus.

Hill of Three Crosses - this hillock is covered in a forest of thousands upon thousands of devotional and memorial crosses - large and tiny, expensive and cheap, wooden and metal. Although the place where the crosses are has been demolished in Soviet times, it seems to reappear each time.

The Old Town - the largest town in eastern Europe, stretches south from Cathedral Square. A church spire can be seen from every one of its winding streets, there are aslo countless hidden courtyards to explore.

Palanga - a small city which can be quiet in winter, but in summer it's transformed into Lithuania's premier seaside resort. It features a long, sandy beach backed by pine-covered dunes; a large botanical park with a rose garden; a hill thought to have been the site of a pagan shrine; and an excellent Amber Museum.

Moving Around Lithuania

Flights - frequent flights operate between Vilnius or Kaunas and most European capitals. There are no direct flights between Lithuania and North America, Australia and Asia. The Berlin-St Petersburg train passes through Vilnius. If coming from Poland, you can take a direct train from Warsaw to Kaunas, then pick up one of the frequent connections to Vilnius.

Buses and Trains - These are the best ways to get around, and cover destinations almost everywhere. the direct train from Warsaw to Vilnius passes through Belarus - important to remember for visa purposes. The daily Baltic Express, which links Poland with Estonia, stops at three Lithuanian destinations. Ferries link the west coast port of Klaipeda with Århus, Fredericia and Copenhagen (Denmark), Kiel and Mukran (Germany), and Harwich (England).

Cycling - cycle touring is not that popular in Lithuania, but the country's flatness, small size and light traffic make it good pedalling territory.

National festival and holidays

National Song Festival - this is the most emotive cultural event, and is held every five years (next one in 2005).

Midsummer celebrations - an integral event of countries at these latitudes: the night of 23 June, considered to have magical powers, is the climax of events.

Saint John's Day - June 24, is the shortest night when no one seems to go to sleep. Picked flowers are twined and thrown into streams and rivers to float. The festival ends with the first sign of sunrise.

Horse races - on Lake Sartai in Dusetos, near Utena, on the first Saturday of February, St Casimir Day

Lithuania's patron saint's day - on 4 March

April's International Jazz Festival and the Life Theatre Festival - a week-long theatre festival

The Vilnius Summer Music Festival - street theatre, dancing, masked parades and craft fairs in the Old Town in July

Vilnius City Days - three days of musical and cultural events in theatres, concert halls and on the streets in mid-September.

Velines (All Souls' Day) - commemorates the dead with visits to cemeteries on 2 November.

Palm Sunday - April 13, the Vilnius district has a very old tradition to make splendid decorative bunches of willow palme and these pieces of art sold near the curches and in the streets of the Old Town.

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