As some of you know, our autumn vacation plan was to walk on the “Abraham Path” long distance hike in Palestine. Following the news about the latest political situation in the West Bank, and discussing them with several friends and acquaintances who either live in Israel or have some other connection with the country, we decided to forfeit the flight to Tel Aviv. So we were looking for a new destination, and unwilling to book another flight. We came up with travelling to Lithuania mostly because of the cheap and relatively convenient overnight bus connection from Berlin to Vilnius – and the Baltic country turned out as a pleasant surprise.
Since Lithuania has joined the Euro zone in January 2015, price comparisons and financial transactions were quite convenient and easy.
Most of the time we did self-catering, and the groceries and food we bought in the supermarkets were really tasty and fresh. Finding out what is vegetarian was a challenge though, as ingredients are labelled only in Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian (none of them similar to any language we know).
We also went out for dinner several times, which was cheap in comparison with Germany (12–14 € for a meal with drinks in a restaurant, for two). Lithuanians do have a liking for pizza and similar heavy food, but we also had some tasty savoury and sweet pancakes and pastries.
As it was usually rather chilly outside, we often had coffee in one of the numerous cute coffee places during the day and went to the pub in the evening. We liked the stylish European interior of most places as well as the fact that they usually had unisex toilets. And good Arabian coffee, too!
Late November is the absolute low season for tourists and we got really good deals via booking.com. Most rooms would cost between 20 and 26 € for a double room with or without bathroom.
On the Curonian Spit we rented an apartment with kitchen for 34 € per night. Prices for these cheaper rooms usually did not include breakfast.
A few words of Russian might be really useful when travelling in Lithuania: surprisingly, Russian is still widely spoken and written on the streets and in the shops. After some unfruitful attempts in English, we switched to Russian when talking to shop owners, bus drivers or ticket vendors (other than coffee shop staff whose English was generally fluent). We did not bother to learn Lithuanian, which scientists think is most similar to the extinct Proto-Indo-European Language – a living fossil, as it were.
- Buses (long distance as well as local) are quite frequent and always on time.
- Fast, reliable and free internet is available in hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and cafés and on long distance buses.
- People are not overly friendly or outgoing, but very helpful and considerate if you have a question.
- Reflective armbands and stickers for pedestrians were quite popular (very sensible in the long northern winter nights)
- For us it felt weird to discover German history in places so far away from today’s Germany. Klaipeda, for instance, even was the Prussian capital once …
Is it worth travelling in Lithuania?
It is, unless you have only a few weeks for the whole of Europe. The sightseeing in Lithuania is good, albeit not of the “absolute stunning must-see” variety. In the typical November rain we couldn’t make much of the nature and national parks, but what we saw looked promising. Especially the lakes must be great in summer. As a winter destination, Lithuania is relaxing and offers very good value for money.
How to get to Lithuania
From Berlin, several busses run every day to Kaunas and Vilnius, taking about 17 hours. They travel overnight and are rather comfortable.
There’s a ferry connection from Kiel (and also from other Baltic Sea states such as Sweden).
From farther afield you will probably end up flying. Nearby Riga in Latvia is the hub for Air Baltic with very cheap offers.