Lithuania gained its independence in 1991 and is one of the three Baltic States. The land is filled with stunning palaces, castles, and churches with breathtaking architecture that reflects its history and tells a story that visitors of all ages will fall in love with. Here are the best things to do in Lithuania.
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Previously known as Sereikiškes Park, Bernardinai Garden is a nine-hectare park that can be found in Vilnius, Lithuania. The garden is divided into parkland, a botanical exposition, a monastery exposition, and recreational territory with a children’s amusement park. Visitors will come across many trees and plants in the botanical exposition as well as medicinal herbs and tea plants. There are many popular aspects of the garden such as the water fountains, a carousel, a chessboard, checker and chess tables, and a playground for children. Depending on when you are there, you may be able to attend one of the numerous events or festivals hosted at the garden such as the chess championship.
Vilnius 01124, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-61-10-37
2.Botanical Garden of Vilnius University
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Professor Jean-Emmanuel Gilbert, who was a botanist, French politician, medical doctor, and a freemason, established the Botanical Garden of Vilnius University in 1781. The garden has a long history, and today visitors can freely explore the thousands of plants found within it. The botanical garden focuses on a lot of research that visitors can learn more about during the visit; some aspects include biotechnology of cultivation and reproduction, investigation of fruit plants, preservation of plant genetic resources, and polymorphism. The botanical garden is a great place for the entire family to learn about the plants and spend a day relaxing and enjoying their surroundings.
Kairenu g. 43, Vilnius 10239, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-19-31-39
3.Church Heritage Museum
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Found within St. Michael’s Church, the Church Heritage Museum is a famous mausoleum established by the Sapieha family. The museum consists of a treasury, a crypt, and a bell tower. There are guided tours for visitors to make the most of their experience. The impressive architecture of St. Michael’s Church resembles the Renaissance era, and the original formation is well preserved. The treasury, which spent most of a century hidden away in the walls of the Cathedral, is filled with masterpieces of old textile artists and Lithuanian goldsmiths. In addition to viewing these amazing finds, visitors will also be able to walk the corridors of the crypts and explore the many exhibitions at the museum.
Šv. Mykolo g. 9, Vilnius 01124, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-69-78-03
4.Church of St. Anne
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Found on the banks of the Vilnia River, visitors will find the Church of St. Anne, a Roman Catholic Church that has grown to be a popular landmark in Lithuania. It is in fact because of the church that the Old Town of VIlnius was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The current architecture of the church resembles the gothic style, and it was built using wood; the original structure was destroyed in a fire, and what stands there now is a brick structure that is almost exact to the original. Visitors can explore the church’s beautiful exterior along with the stunning interior such as the main altar or the bell tower.
Maironio g. 8, Vilnius 01124, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-67-67-44-63
5.Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Vilnius
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The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is a Roman Catholic Church built on the site of a former wooden church founded by Petras Gostautas. It was then turned into a monastery complex of the Canons Regular of the Lateran. The baroque-style church was completed in 1701 using clay bricks, and visitors can appreciate its stunning exterior on their own or with a guided tour. Inside, visitors will come across over 2,000 stucco figures created by Giovanni Pietro Perti. Other interesting sculptures within the church include one of Saint Christopher carrying Baby Jesus, the Grim Reaper, and the twelve apostles.
Antakalnio g. 1, Vilnius 10312, Lithuania
© Europos Parkas
Europos Parkas, or the Park of Europe, is a 50-hectare open-air museum that exhibits nearly 100 different works from over 25 countries, including Japan, Mexico, Russia, the United States, France, and Germany. As Lithuania’s artistic contribution to being the geographic center of Europe, the park has pieces such as the LNK Infotree, a piece by Gintaras Karosas that is considered the world’s largest artwork according the Guinness Book of World Records. Another popular piece in the park is the Monument of the Centre of Europe, which is a series of granite plaques chiseled with European capitals and their distance from the park.
Europos Parko g. 302, Joneikiškes 15166, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-37-70-77
7.Gate of Dawn
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One of the most important cultural, historical, and religious monuments in Lithuania, the Gate of Dawn can be seen towering in Vilnius. The city gate was built between 1503 and 1522 and is the only one that still stands from the ten that were built over the years. Originally built as part of the city’s defense fortifications, the gate soon had other roles. Religious artifacts were added to the gate in the 16th century to bless the city from attacks; visitors can still see the icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary, which is said to have miraculous powers.
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Legend has it that the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas once had a dream that a large wolf stood on top of a hill where the Duke hunted and howled loud enough to be mistaken for a hundred wolves. It was explained to him that the dream meant that a city should be built at that particular site – a city that would one day be known around the world. Gediminas’ Tower is the only thing that remains from the Upper Castle that the Duke, and those who followed him, built. Visitors can go on a quick hike to get to the tower and explore the surroundings as well as the museum that is now housed inside the tower. Artifacts include archaeological findings from the hill and surrounding areas.
Arsenalo g. 5, Vilnius 01143, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-61-74-53
9.Hill of Crosses
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Sure to be one of the most memorable sites visitors in Lithuania will come across, the Hill of Crosses is exactly what the name states, a hill filled with over 100,000 crosses (as of 2006). Though the details of how the Hill of Crosses actually came to be are unknown, it is thought that the first cross was placed around 1831. Catholic pilgrims and tourists from around the world can be seen exploring the site, which in addition to the crosses in all sizes and colors also has a collection of statues, carvings, and rosaries.
Jurgaiciu, Meškuiciu, Šiauliai 81439, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-41-37-08-60
10.Hill of Witches
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An outdoor sculpture gallery in Juodkrante, Lithuania, the Hill of Witches was started in 1979. It has since then expanded multiple times and now includes nearly 100 sculptures that visitors can explore. Visitors can walk the neatly maintained trails on their own and come across beautiful pieces of art dedicated to pagan traditions and Lithuanian folklore. The sculptures include witches, demons, and many other characters from Lithuanian legends. There are many workshops held at the gallery throughout the year that allow visitors to try their hand at woodcarving. The Festival of St. John is also celebrated at Hill of Witches annually.
Kuršiu Nerija National Park, L. Rezos g., Juodkrante 93101, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-46-95-34-90
11.House of Perkunas
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The House of Perkunas was built by the Hanseatic League, a confederation of merchant guilds, in the 1400s. The iconic building was their office from 1440 to 1532, when they then sold it to the Jesuits. Ruined over the years, the structure was rebuilt, and it served as a school and theatre in the 19th century. It is famed for being the place where Adam Mickiewicz, a famed poet, dramatists, political activist, and professor of Slavic literature, studied. Today, visitors will find that even though the structure once again belongs to the Jesuits, there is a museum dedicated to Adam Mickiewicz and his life.
Aleksoto g. 6, Kaunas 44280, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-64-14-46-14
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Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania, is famed for being the home of Kaunas Castle. The medieval castle is said to have been built in the mid-14th century, and today, about one-third of the castle still stands. Visitors will find the remains of the stone castle on the banks of the Nemunas River. The castle has a rich history that includes being a strategic location for the Swedish military during their war with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. After many years of conservation and renovation projects, Kaunas Castle now invites visitors to come explore the grounds, visit the in-house art gallery, or to attend one of the many festivals held there throughout the year.
Pilies g. 17, Kaunas 44275, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-37-22-24-14
13.Lithuanian Sea Museum
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The Lithuanian Sea Museum was opened in 1979 and is a combination museum/aquarium that is fun and educational for the entire family; it is one of the most popular tourist sites in Lithuania. The aquarium is home to many animals, including many species of Lithuanian freshwater fish and numerous fish species from the Baltic Sea. There are also exhibits of penguins, gray seals, and sea lions. Visitors love visiting the Dolphinarium, which allows visitors to have individual sessions with the dolphins. Other exhibitions include the grounds of old fishing vessels and Nerija Fort.
Kuršiu Nerija National Park, Smiltynes g. 3, Klaipeda 93100, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-65-96-14-97
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Previously known as Kaunas’ Zoo, the Lithuanian Zoo is one of the most popular and most entertaining attractions in Lithuania. The 39-acre land is also home to the oldest scientific zoo in the country and began in 1935 as an initiative started by Tadas Ivanauskas, a famous Lithuanian zoologist. The zoo started with 40 animals, and now visitors can get up close and personal with nearly 3,000 animals. The most popular exhibits include the Monkey House, Reptile House, Bird House, the aquarium, and the Tiger’s Corner. There are many events held at the zoo throughout the year dedicated to having visitors feed the animals, get to know them, and witness animal births.
Kaunas 51405, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-37-33-25-40
15.Museum of Genocide Victims
© Museum of Genocide Victims
The Museum of Genocide Victims was established in 1992 by the President of Lithuanian Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees and the Minister of Culture and Education in an initiative to collect and exhibit the Soviet Union’s presence in Lithuania for 50 years, the atrocities that took place, and the Lithuanian resistance. The museum is often referred to as the KGB Museum because it is located in former KGB headquarters and is an interesting site in and of itself. The collection within the museum includes photographs, documents, and various underground publications and books that tell the story of the Soviet occupation through the eyes of the people who experienced it.
01400, Auku g. 2A, Vilnius 01400, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-49-81-56
16.National Museum of Lithuania
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The National Museum of Lithuania is where visitors want to head if they are interested in viewing structures, artifacts, and documents that are of great importance to the country. It was established in 1952 and is also in charge of organizing archaeological excavations in the country. There are five main departments that visitors can explore: Numismatics, Iconography, Ethnography, Archaeology, and History and Latest History. Together, these departments contain over 800,000 items, which are spread across many locations such as the House of the Signatories, Gediminas’ Tower, and the Vilnius Castle Complex.
Arsenalo g. 1, Vilnius 01143, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-62-94-26
17.The Christopher Summer Festival
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The Christopher Summer Festival is the largest summer music festivals in Lithuania and one of the best in Europe. It runs for two months in July and August, featuring about 50 original concert events in various venues in Vilnius and other cities in Lithuania. The festival includes a range of genres and alongside classical music there is jazz, experimental projects, world music, and traditional guitar, organ, and piano music cycles. The cycles consist of five to ten concerts. The festival invites the most prominent and internationally recognized musicians and introduces to the public the latest musical trends. Along with the concerts, there are the large scale premiere productions, world music concerts that include flamenco, Celtic music, fado, early Russian Orthodox hymns, jazz projects such as the Chopin Jazz Inn as well as concerts in unusual spaces such as hot-air balloon, in a former manor’s stables, or on a steam-ship.
26 Gedimino av., 01104 Vilnius, Lithuania
18.Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
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The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania that visitors see today is a fairly new building that was constructed between 2002 and 2009 over the site of the original building, which was demolished in 1801. The original palace was built in the 15th century for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the future Kings of Poland, but it expanded in the 16th and 17th century as a political, cultural, and administrative center. Today, visitors are able to explore the historically restored palace on one of the many guided tours offered and experience not only the stunning architecture, which resembles the original structure, but also the many antiquities and art pieces found within.
Katedros a. 4, Vilnius 35240, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-12-74-76
19.Palanga Amber Museum
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An arm of the Lithuanian Art Museum, the Palanga Amber Museum can be found in the restored 19th century Tiškeviciai Palace. There are over 28,000 pieces of amber in the museum, many of which are pieces of jewelry, artwork, or inclusions of plants and insects. Some of the more stunning pieces include cigarette holders, rosaries, and decorative boxes. The palace museum is scattered throughout 15 rooms, which allows visitors to explore the interior architecture and decor of the palace. Visitors will also be able to view the palace’s chapel as well as the Palanga Botanical Garden that surrounds the property.
Vytauto g. 17, Palanga 00135, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-46-05-35-01
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Found on the bank of the Nemunas River, Panemune Castle was built in the early 1600s by Janusz Eperjesz on what was previously a fort of the Teutonic Knights. It is one of the most beautiful Renaissance era buildings in the country, and the Gielgud family reconstructed what is seen today in 1759. Visitors are invited to come walk the halls of the castle and explore the many rooms; they can even head to the castle tower to see stunning views of the castle grounds and its surroundings. Throughout the year the Vilnius Art Academy houses an exhibition in the castle so visitors may see that as well.
Pilis I 74464, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-68-63-93-93
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The Pažaislis Monastery and Church is the largest monastery complex in Lithuania and can be seen on a peninsula in the Kaunas Reservoir. The buildings are constructed in the Italian Baroque style, making the architecture one of the most stunning visitors will come across. Founded in 1662, the monastery was once an archive, a psychiatric hospital, and even an art gallery; remnants of its rice history can be seen in the interior decor. Visitors will come across beautiful stucco work, frescos, the oldest church clock tower in the country, and a beautiful painting of Mary Belle Mother and Child among other things. During the summer the monastery houses the annual international Pažaislis Music Festival, which invites artists from around the world.
Kauno mariu regioninis parkas, Kaunas 52430, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-37-45-64-85
© Radziwill Palace
The largest of the Radziwills’ palaces in Vilnius, this Late Renaissance palace can be found in the Old Town. The current building was constructed from 1635 to 1653 by Janusz Radziwill and was ruined during the Muscovite invasion as well as World War I. It was restored in the 1980s and is now an arm of the Lithuanian Art Museum; visitors will come across Old Master paintings by artists including Bartolomeus Spranger, Ludovici Lipparini, and Carlo Dolci. Radziwill Palace is the only Renaissance palace that has survived in Vilnius, and visitors will have a memorable time exploring the beauty of the architecture and everything within it.
Vilniaus g. 24, Vilnius 01402, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-62-09-81
23.Trakai Island Castle
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Kestutis, a ruler of medieval Lithuania, and then his son, Vytautas the Great, constructed Trakai Island Castle in the 14th century. The stone castle, which can be found on an island in Lake Galve, was one of the main centers for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and plays an important part in the country’s history. Visitors will come across the beautiful red gothic brickwork, the castle’s beautiful corner towers, glazed roof tiling, stained glass windows, and many other architectural wonders of the castle. There are many exhibitions in the surrounding museums, and visitors can explore sacred works, historical artifacts such as traditional household tools, and breathtaking works of art.
Trakai 21142, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-85-39-46
24.Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum
© Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum
The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture as a place to capture and share the history and culture of the Lithuanian Jewry established the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in 1989. The artifacts that can be found in the five branches of the museum came together over the years from the many earlier Jewish museums scattered throughout the country. The five branches include the Tolerance Center with its works of modern and traditional art, the Green House, which is an exhibit dedicated to the Holocaust, the Paneriai Memorial, which has artifacts from the Paneriai Massacre, the Jacques Lipchitz Memorial filled with Lipchitz’s lithographs, and the Tarbut Gymnasium, which has works from the Nazi period.
Naugarduko st. 10/2, Vilnius 01309, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-52-31-23-57
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The Ninth Fort is a part of the Kaunas Fortress and was constructed in the 19th century. It was used as a way station for prisoners being transported to labor camps during the Soviet occupation. It was also a place to conduct executions during the Nazi Germany occupation of Lithuania. Visitors can explore the site that has such a rich history and learn more in the Museum of Revolution, which can be found there. There are guided tours that take visitors through the Ninth Fort and the Exposition of Occupations, including a visit to the cells, barracks, and meeting rooms.
Žemaiciu pl. 75, Kaunas 47435, Lithuania, Phone: +3-70-37-37-77-50
25 Best Things to Do in Lithuania
- Bernardinai Garden, Photo: Courtesy of bokstaz - Fotolia.com
- Botanical Garden of Vilnius University, Photo: Courtesy of bokstaz - Fotolia.com
- Church Heritage Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Christophe Cappelli - Fotolia.com
- Church of St. Anne, Photo: Courtesy of dinozzaver - Fotolia.com
- Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Vilnius, Photo: Courtesy of stavrida - Fotolia.com
- Europos Parkas, Photo: Europos Parkas
- Gate of Dawn, Photo: Courtesy of R.Babakin - Fotolia.com
- Gediminas' Tower, Photo: Courtesy of Boris Stroujko - Fotolia.com
- Hill of Crosses, Photo: Courtesy of Anatolijs Laicā - Fotolia.com
- Hill of Witches, Photo: Courtesy of Yevgen Belich - Fotolia.com
- House of Perkunas, Photo: Courtesy of Leonid Andronov - Fotolia.com
- Kaunas Castle, Photo: Courtesy of idea studio - Fotolia.com
- Lithuanian Sea Museum, Photo: Courtesy of esvetleishaya - Fotolia.com
- Lithuanian Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of bokstaz - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Genocide Victims, Photo: Museum of Genocide Victims
- National Museum of Lithuania, Photo: Courtesy of Nikolai Korzhov - Fotolia.com
- The Christopher Summer Festival, Photo: Courtesy of casfotoarda - Fotolia.com
- Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, Photo: Courtesy of bokstaz - Fotolia.com
- Palanga Amber Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Birute Vijeikiene - Fotolia.com
- Panemune Castle, Photo: Courtesy of bokstaz - Fotolia.com
- Pazaislis Monastery, Photo: Courtesy of justinaswest - Fotolia.com
- Radziwill Palace, Photo: Radziwill Palace
- Trakai Island Castle, Photo: Courtesy of guliveris - Fotolia.com
- Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum, Photo: Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum
- Ninth Fort, Photo: Courtesy of Geraldas - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of krivinis - Fotolia.com