Lithuania is one of those places. You know the place where you book on a whim for a couple of days away but when you start researching it, you realise you actually need to spend a couple of months there to fully experience the country instead of a couple of days like you anticipated. Yeah, Lithuania is that kind of place.
We booked to arrive late on friday night and leave early monday morning, meaning we only really had 48 hours to see everything I wanted to see. The castles of Trakai, crosses of Šiauliai and to explore Vilnius’s Old Town. Three major cities in a short space of time, I knew some sacrifices had to be made. However, I’m the kind of person who would rather make sacrifices on basic necessities like sleep than miss out on ticking things off the bucket list. Yep, as difficult as seeing everything was going to be, I made an itinerary so detailed, I had no choice but to follow it.
As we arrived late on Friday night, we didn’t actually have time to do anything other than check into our airbnb and grab a bite to eat at GYVAS Baras. Mum wasn’t too impressed by my airbnb choice because when our taxi turned up outside, we were immediately approached by a prostitute who backed away when we pulled our suitcases out of the boot. So that was interesting.
Early morning start. We made our way to Vilnius Old Town and ate breakfast at Holy Donut. We brought an extra one to take away as we knew we’d have no time for stop for breakfast the next day.After breakfast we explored the Old Town, wandered down Literature Street, saw Vilnius University, the town hall, several churches including the Church of St Anne. We stopped by Cathedral Square, the miracle tile and climbed up the bell tower and saw the views of Vilnius from above.We then walked to Uzupis, an independent republic located in Vilnius’s centre, and read the constitution. From Uzupis we discovered a quick route to the Hill of Three Crosses – another one of Vilnius’s best viewpoints and by far the most popular places for tourists to visit. Though getting to the hill from Uzupis is one of the more scenic routes, in winter it can be muddy, slippy and steep so keep that in mind.It was then time for some lunch so we made our way back to Old Town and ate at a place called ‘Namai’.
By this point I planned on heading to the train station to explore the nearby town of Trakai to see the castle and lakes. However, when we were walking to the station we were distracted by the street art and ended up missing the early train. The next train wouldn’t be for a couple of hours so we decided to spend the afternoon at the Museum of Illusions instead and return later for the next train.We spent about an hour at the museum. My mum especially enjoyed the silly photo opportunities with the trippy illusions, our favourite of which were the upside down rooms and the big chair illusion.With an hour of daylight to spare, we made it to Trakai in the late afternoon, just in time to see the frozen lakes and castle at twilight. We killed an hour sitting in a cafe as the sun set and made it back to Vilnius on the latest train and ate at ALIVE for tea.
We woke at the crack of dawn on Lithuania’s independence day to catch the earliest train to Siauliai. It took about three hours to get there and once we made it, we had an awkward experience trying to communicate with a Lithuanian taxi driver with google translate to take us to the Hill of Crosses.With hundreds of thousands of crosses on one small hill, the Hill of Crosses is one of the most surreal places on earth and certainly worth a visit if you’re in Lithuania. Having said that, I’d recommend skipping the train and hiring a car if you can. We spent an hour here before returning to Siauliai centre and wandering around the town. As it was independance day and a Sunday, most places were closed but the city itself was heaving with happy celebrations.We were hungry after the long train journey back to Vilnius so ate a late lunch at Holigans then proceeded to wander around Vilnius Old Town again to catch anything we missed the day before.We managed to take a peek inside an old Soviet cinema turned vegan cafe and had hot chocolates and crepes to keep warm on this cold Lithuanian night before heading back to our airbnb after a long day.
We had an early morning flight back from Vilnius so it didn’t have any time to explore on the final day.