When we get tired of the stifling city, we look for fresh air and tranquillity in the outdoors. A great way to try something new is ecotourism. So natural, and virtually or sometimes even completely untouched by humans – this is why coming to Lithuania is worthwhile. The crystal clear lakes, the mysterious swamps, the centuries-old forests and the archaic villages that still stand in them – there are hundreds of places waiting for you where you will grasp the true harmony of man and nature.
On a peninsula washed by the Curonian Lagoon and under one of the main bird migration routes is the Vent?s Ragas Ornithological Station. The people who have been working there for almost a hundred years and the ornithologists who come from different countries wait every spring and autumn for the cackling flocks. Each year, tens of thousands of birds are ringed at the station.
Next to the impressive traps, there is also the oldest lighthouse in Lithuania. Its doors are open to visitors who want to get a bird’s-eye view of the wavy waters and the golden dunes of the Curonian Spit emerging in the distance.
The cosy, coastal resort town invites you to discover the stories of wood and wind. Carvers and blacksmiths have covered the old dune, known as the Hill of Witches, with wooden sculptures of characters from Lithuanian fairy tales and legends, and the ancient woods of Juodkrant? are home to an original forest megaphone that is three metres high and three metres wide and is the perfect place to listen to the sounds of nature. Juodkrant? also has a dendrology trail, which is a great starting point for learning about the nature of the Curonian Spit.
This is the centre of gravity for coastal culture – it is where the Kintai Music Festival is held every year, and it is also home to the Vydūnas Cultural Centre, where you can learn about the history of the seaside people and the famous philosopher and writer that the centre is named for. Kintai also has an enamel gallery which holds workshops that bring together the best masters of this craft. Kintai is also famous for its fishing traditions – the townspeople have long “competed” with the fishermen from Rusn? over who has the best recipe for smoked fish.
Not far from Kintai, on the Minija River, is the village of Minija (Ming?), which is known as the Venice of Lithuania. The main street here is a river, and the locals living on either side take a boat to visit each other.
Dreverna is a unique area surrounded by water where the historical past works in harmony with a modern lifestyle. You can get there by either land or water, since there is a modern small-ship port on the shore of the settlement. You can walk around Dreverna to see how coastal fishermen used to arrange their villages, you can visit the Jonas Gi?as Ethnographic Homestead to learn about boat-making and fishing traditions, and you can view the area washed by the lagoon and the Nagliai Nature Reserve from a 15-metre observation tower.
This is a place where the spirit of Lithuania Minor is alive and well. Called the book smugglers’ Mecca, the Martynas Jankus Museum in the old Bit?nai printing house opens the door for visitor to the history of the written word in the region, and the open-air Lithuania Minor Picture Garden located nearby invites you to look at the culture and history of the region through the eyes of the artist. Don’t forget to visit the magnificent Rambynas Hill, which offers an amazing view of the lower reaches of the Nemunas.
This is one of the towns in Samogitia with a celebrated past. After beginning your journey with the authentic cultural heritage of the settlement and visiting the only carnival mask museum in Europe, take a bike around the magnificent Lake Plateliai, ride along the educational trails and admire the forests and the natural diversity of the wetlands, go down into the shafts at the Cold War Museum, or take a boat to one of the lake islands wrapped in legend.
The treasures of this corner of nature are inexhaustible. Water lovers will discover some of them, while people looking for authentic cultural heritage will find others. Whether by foot, bike or kayak, set out to make discoveries: visit the Palūš? Church, which is one of the oldest wooden houses of prayer in the country, stop by Ginu?iai Water Mill, where 19th century equipment and the history of bread are preserved, or go to the Stripeikiai Ancient Beekeeping Museum, which reveals the secrets of bees.
The old Labanoras Forest, which is the largest in Lithuania, is the direction to go in for those who want to dig deep into the natural world.
With the seemingly never-ending forests that stretch across several districts of Aukštaitija, the lakes hidden away in the thick of the woods and the rivers that connect them, and the diversity of flora and fauna, Labanoras is extremely rich. Try to comprehend its magnificence from the Mindūnai Observation Tower which, at 36 metres, is the highest in Lithuania.
It doesn’t matter if you are skilled in the saddle or just becoming acquainted with trotters – the Kurtuv?nai stud farm offers an abundance of experiences. This is a place where everyone can find their relationship with horses.
You are welcome to come for outings, educational programmes, riding camps, or just a nice time interacting with man’s noble friends.
Special for its size and crystal clear water, this lake has 15 inflows that wind to it through the plains of Sudovia.
Nature has created wonderful conditions to take in this unique south-western corner of Lithuania from above – the lake is surrounded by Pavištytis Hill, observation points, and a few hill forts.
This is a special campsite. A bee house that travellers can stop by to visit. Located in a beautiful corner of nature, this is a place where you can relax while enjoying the honey made by the bees that live in the meadow; you can learn to recognise the different flavours and see the mysterious life of the hard workers first hand.
This ethnographic linear village nestled in the dense forests of Dzūkija is a place nearly untouched by time. The authentic wooden architecture, the colourful carvings and shutters that decorate the houses, and the old wooden crosses will take you a few centuries back.
The king of Lithuanian forests, the largest and the oldest in Lithuania, Stelmu?? Oak Tree can be from one to two thousand years old. It is one of the oldest trees in Europe. It takes 8-9 people to make a living chain around its trunk whose diameter is even 13 meters at the bottom! In its lifetime, the tree has witnessed the ancient Lithuanian dukes, the Teutonic knights, and Swedish soldiers as well as Napoleon’s army. If only it could speak...