A romantic 3-hour city tour of the Old Town of Vilnius where you can feel the atmosphere of the city's history of the 16-19th centuries while walking along its narrow winding streets or visiting the most exiting architectural and historic monuments: Vilnius Cathedral erected on the historic and legendary site where pagan gods were worshipped and where Vilnius was founded as far back as the 13th c., a nearby Gediminas Castle on the hill rising above the city centre, a gem of the Lithuanian Gothic's - the 16th c. St. Anne's Church, the Vilnius University, a famous centre of science and enlightment since its very foundation in 1579, the Dawn Gate with a miraculous icon of Virgin Mary.
MUSEUMS in Vilnius
Diamond Museum. The first of its kind in Eastern Europe. An unique world of precious stones where you can admirer not only diamonds, but other sparkling stones as well. Discover the secrets and history of girls‘ best friends.
Church Heritage Museum. Museum exhibits the oldest sacral valuables, Lithuanian goldsmith masterpieces, liturgical textile, paintings, sculptures and other signs of Christian devotion. The museum is established at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Vilnius old town.
The Museum of Genocide Victims. Set up in the former KGB headquarters where soviet crimes were commited. Preserved KGB interior prison and other expositions showing repressions of soviet authorities, loss of lithuanian independence, holocaust, etc.
A pleasant 4-hour-tour to Trakai, 28 km from Vilnius, the ancient capital of the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania, famous for its red-brick Gothic Castle of the early 15th century, built as a mighty fortress against the Crusaders and later serving as the residence of Lithuanian Dukes. Standing on an island in Lake Galve, the Castle now houses an interesting museum telling its history, famous in the times of the Grand Duke Vytautas when the country borders were stretching from the Baltics till the Black Sea. Enjoy a small town - Trakai, located on a 2-km-long peninsular with attractive old wooden houses, mostly built by Karaites, a Judaist sect brought by Duke Vytautas from the Crimea and still living in the town.
RUMSISKES OPER AIR MUSEUM
Situated en route from Vilnius to Kaunas /30 km to it/, there lies a vast territory of an impressive ethnographic open air museum of the 18-20th c. Lithuanian peasant life. As Lithuania itself, it is divided into 4 ethnographic regions, each with distinct traditions of its own in architecture and customs. Rumsiskes farmsteads, furniture, farm tools, colours and patterns of woven fabrics inside the houses perfectly recreate the country's rural life many generations ago.
Kaunas, Lithuania's second city, 100 km from Vilnius, the capital between the two World Wars when Vilnius was occupied by Poland. Kaunas City Tour showing the main attractions of the Old Town: Kaunas Castle at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers: the Nemunas and Neris where the town grew up, the Town Hall Square with the 15-16th century merchants' houses around and the 17th c. Town Hall dominating in the centre of it, a nearby majestic Kaunas Cathedral - the main sanctuary of Kaunas, the Gothic Vytautas Church built in 1400 on the Nemunas riverside. A further drive will take you to the central part of Kaunas with a linden-tree lined Laisves Aleja, Freedom Avenue, the most popular street of the city and to Unity Square with eternal flame and monuments to Lithuania's independence.
OPTIONAL TOURS in Kaunas and its environs
Chiurlionis Art Museum housing the paintings of the outstanding Lithuanian composer and artist Mikalojus Konstantinas Chiurlionis,a philosopher in art, who painted and composed music at the turn of the 20th century.
Devils' Museum with a large collection of devils' art which was started by the painter Zmuidzinavicius as a hobby from the gifts - devils' statuettes, etc. In the Lithuanian folklore the devil is a ridiculous and awkward figure, very popular, so the museum devils' collection is constantly growing.
The Ninth Fort Museum located on the outskirts, a few kilometres from the centre. Built as a military fort in the late 19th c., during the World War 2 it was turned by the Nazis into a death camp where 80 thousand people, most of Kaunas' Jewish population were murdered. The museum exhibition testifies to these crimes against humanity.
Situated on the Nemunas riverside and surrounded by pine forests full of junipers with their fresh, scented air, Druskininkai is famous for its mud and mineral water treatments,so effective to restore health. Its modern hotels and SPA centres today attract thousands of visitors from all over the world. Druskininkai is the town where the most prominent Lithuanian painter and composer Chiurlionis spent his childhood and one can visit his memorial house-museum. In the town centre there is an intricately carved yellow house which belonged to the Lipchitz family and now is the Jacques Lipchitz Memorial Gallery, a branch of the Lithuanian State Jewish Museum. Jacque Lipchitz, a native of Druskininkai, became a world famous sculptor after he emigrated to France in 1909 and then to USA in 1941. Before reaching Druskininkai, you can see an original building in a forest, resting on an oak tree stump - the forest museum called 'The Echo of the Forest'. Its interior is full of plants, animals, birds, while behind the house a trail leads past various wooden sculptures from the Lithuanian mythology.
Near a famous spa Druskininkai, there is a unique place, a Soviet-statue park, a real ‘Stalinworld'. Only here you can see colossal granite and bronze statues of Lenin, Stalin and their comrades which were brought from the whole Lithuania to this dense wood where an open-air museum was founded by a local millionaire who lives nearby and is called ‘the king of mushrooms' as he invested nearly 1 million litas he made on mushrooms to create this Soviet sculpture park. With Soviet-style music sounds our recent history is a good historic lesson for future generations. Tasting of vodka from special Soviet-type glasses with salted small fish and onions - a good aperitiff before lunch which can be served at Grutas Park caffee.
The Hill of Crosses
It is one of the most famous sacral places in Lithuania. After one of the uprisings in 19th c. lithuanians started to bring crosses to the hill in order to commemorate relatives who died. During Soviet times the Hill of crosses became a sign of resistance to Soviet regime. During his stay in Lithuania in 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the Hill of Crosses and called this place 'Lithuanian Coliseum'. At present, around 200,000 crosses of various sizes adorn the hill.
KLAIPEDAThe third biggest city in Lithuania, an important port, Lithuania's only gateway to the Baltic Sea, 300 km from Vilnius, 200 km from Kaunas. It has a long history since the times of a fishing village of ancient Balts and later arrival of German Crusaders who seized this land and built their castle here in 1252, later known as Memel.Klaipeda city tour includes the Old Town with interesting merchants' warehouses of typical German style with 'fachwerk' decorations, old Castle territory, Theatre Square with the fountain in the centre of which there is a delicate statue named after a girl, Ann from Tharau, the heroine of a famous German wedding and love song, created by the 17th century German poet Simon Dach, born in Klaipeda.
OPTIONAL TOURS in Klaipeda and its environs
The Clock Museum exhibiting the whole history of telling time - from ancient methods to astronomical advancements in this field, displaying the clocks from the Renaissance and Baroque times.
The Lithuanian Sea Museum and Aquarium can be reached only after crossing by ferry the Curonian Lagoon as it is located at the very end of the Curonian Spit.In the 19th century it was a military fortress while now visitors can see in open air pools Baltic seals, sea lions and penguins, in its aquarium - Baltic Sea and tropical sea fish. Marine fauna exhibition tells the Baltic Sea geography, geology, fauna and one can admire a big collection of sea shells and corals. Navigation history exhibition shows old fishing vessels, models of ships, archeological findings, documents, ancors. Dolphinarium hall containing 1000 seats offers to the visitors dolphins and sea lions shows.
The Curonian Spit
After a short crossing the Curonian Lagoon by ferry, you reach the Curonian Spit, a sandy stretch of land, 98 km long and varying in width from 400 m to just a few kilometres, between the waters of the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea, a great holiday site, full of the sweet scent of pines, water and ozone. Formed some 6000 years ago as sand accumulated in shallow waters near the coast, it's an extremely romantic area today with its fishing villages developed as resorts, such as Juodkrante, famous for the Hill of Witches where one can see wooden statues of legendary heroes in a dense pine wood or Nida, the resort of serene beauty, the main destination noted for its magnificent dunes 50-60 m high, the Lithuanian Sakhara, attracting visitors since the middle of the 19th century. The German writer Thomas Mann had a summer house built here which now houses a museum and has remained a meeting place for writers and intelectuals ever since.
PALANGAThe most popular Lithuanian sea resort, just 25 km north from Klaipeda, boasting beautiful kilometres-long white sand beaches, backed by dunes and pine woods. One of the most beautiful parks of Lithuania is also here, designed by the French architect Andre, with more than 150 different trees and shrubs planted here. In the centre of it there stands a neo-classical 19th century Palace of the noble Tiszkewicz family, now housing the Amber Museum, exhibiting a long history of amber, the 'Lithuanian gold', including large pieces of amber and some containing fossilized insects from million years ago.