This road trip itinerary will outline how to travel Lithuania in just a single weekend. There is something really refreshing about travelling to the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). These countries have not yet suffered from mass tourism. So they have a raw and authentic feel. We really enjoy travelling these lesser visited destinations. It gives us an even greater sense of exploring something different and new. In particular, Lithuania travel has a great mix of untouched natural landscape, captivating sites and well maintained medieval castles. Beck is particularly fond of castles. So she was very excited leading up to this trip.
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Lithuania: Two Day Itinerary
There’s plenty to see in Lithuania. When considering a weekend trip to Lithuania, most people will only explore Vilnius; the capital city. This is fair enough. Vilnius has much to see in the way of culture, history and green spaces. However, our fascination for Lithuania travel admittedly began when a friend of mine posted a photo of the Hill of Crosses. The photo enticed me. What an incredibly unique and fascinating site. We would have to go there at some point we figured.
After that, we stumbled upon a photo of a beautiful terracotta coloured castle located on an island! Upon further research, we discovered the name to be Trakai Island Castle. Also located in Lithuania. To put the icing on the cake, we also came across an Instagram photo of an unusual strip of land. It was parallel to a coast called the Curonian Spit. You guessed it – Lithuania. 3 strikes! We would have to go to Lithuania ASAP!
Can You See the Best of Lithuania in Just a Weekend?
Yes. Would it be possible to see all these amazing places in just one weekend? Travel guides suggested we could not! However, we soon realised that Lithuania, a country just shy of 3 million people, to be quite a small country by size. Yes, there would be hours of driving involved, but it was doable. Thereby, a Lithuania weekend trip was born. We don’t mind a busy trip if that means we get to see more of a place or country. If you’re interested in doing the same, this is how we travelled the width of the country in less than 48 hours.
Lithuania Travel – Day 1
1. Kaunas Castle
There is no free parking in or around Kaunas city centre. So we parked some distance away. From there, we walked 20 minutes or so, grabbed a coffee and then headed to Kaunas Castle. It’s actually the oldest castle in Lithuania dating back to the 14th Century. But it has been recently renovated and modernised so we decided not to go in or explore too much. We would be visiting many more castles this weekend anyway! We simply enjoyed walking around the parameters of the small but aesthetically charming castle.
2. Raudondvaris Manor Castle
Afterwards, we visited Raudondvaris Castle. Sure, it was quite a beautiful Gothic-Renaissance style manor. But it included a restaurant amongst other modern buildings. So it wasn’t the Medieval style of castle we were after. So it’s no huge loss if you skip this former residence.
3. Raudonė Castle
About 40 minutes away was the Raudonė Castle. This castle is another manor whilst currently being used as a public school! But we actually preferred this castle over Raudondvaris. There were less modernised buildings attached, some informative plaques and also a nice park next to it which added to the ambience.
4. Hill of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses is a 60 metre long hill. There are around 200,000 crosses that cover more than 1 acre of it! Yes, it is as bizarre, peculiar and eerie as it sounds. Interestingly, many of the hills’ crosses have been destroyed in numerous demolition attempts by the Soviet government. But the crosses are always quickly replaced, strengthening the fortitude and significance of the Catholic pilgrim site. In 1993, Pope John Paul II visited. This first brought attention on a world stage, helping it gain popularity. There were so many cool photo ops here that we were overwhelmed. But in a truly fantastic way!
5. Port of Klaipėda
This is not an attraction. It’s actually the new ferry port you will need to drive to in order to cross the Curonian Lagoon to get to the Curonian Spit. The ferry route is Klaipėda-Smilynė and runs mostly half hourly from 6:20am–11:20pm. But please check the website for a more detailed time table. The price for a passenger car is £11 (€12.30/$13.50USD) one way and takes only 5 minutes to cross.
Once you have arrived on the Spit, the drive down to Nida is around 45 minutes. It will likely be dark by the time you arrive. So you will explore the interesting strip of land in the morning. Interestingly, the land just south of Nida is Russian territory. So my phone even started to pick up reception from Russia!
Lithuania Travel – Day 2
6. Curonian Spit National Park
The Curonian Spit National Park is a curiously thin slither of land that divides the Baltic Sea and Curonian Lagoon. We had researched an interesting area called the Hill of Witches but decided we would explore the sand dunes instead. This was because we had limited time.
We stopped at random spots and walked different areas of the sand dunes. We also paid £2.60/person (€3/$3.20USD) to enter the Kursiu Nerija National Park. This entailed a nice pathway and plaques detailing the varying type of sand dunes here. You will then walk onto a flat area of sand getting close to the larger fenced off dunes. The end point of the walk overlooks the coast line and is a nice viewpoint. Not the most spectacular of sand dunes, but interesting and worth the trip nevertheless!
7. Trakai Island Castle
If you choose to travel Lithuania, visiting this castle will be one of the highlights of your trip. After the 3 hour drive from Klaipėda, we were more than ready to stretch our legs! Unfortunately, you will have to pay for parking anywhere near the castle. We parked in what seemed an unofficial off shoot car park for around £2.60 (€3/$3.20USD). We then walked about 10-15 minutes through the village, around the serene lake and across the wooden bridge to reach the Island castle. Views of the castle over the lake and from the bridge are stunning. It’s one of the most picturesque castle settings in Europe.
There is plenty going on around the lake. Boat rides, souvenir shops, bars and restaurants. However, we only had time to check out the castle itself which was worth the £7 (€8/$9USD) entrance fee. The castle dates back to the 14th Century. Information inside details the history very well.
8. Hill of 3 Crosses
We decided to check out some of the main attractions in Vilnius as we would depart from here. So we decided to go to the Hill of 3 Crosses. Getting there involved walking by the Vilnia River and through peaceful forest type surrounds. After that, we arrived at the 3 crosses base. The views were worth the minimal effort. We parked close by and paid around £2.60 (€3/$3.20USD).
9. Gediminas Castle Tower
Given our flight back to London was quite late at night, we would have enough time to enjoy the sunset. As a result, we walked the +100 wooden steps for sunset views from Gediminas Castle Tower. Although there are many different spots to enjoy a sunset in Vilnius, this spot was very nice and just happened to be close to where we parked.
Lithuania Travel Recap
We hope that this guide reveals how good Lithuania travel is! Squeezed into just one weekend are all of the highlights to see in Lithuania. Of course, this itinerary isn’t for everyone. We even implore you to spend longer in Lithuania if possible. That’s because we really enjoyed our time there. But for those in a similar position to us, who can only spare a weekend, use this guide to help plan your trip.
Additionally, for information on how to get to and around Lithuania, accommodation and total costs for a weekend trip, read below.
Getting to and From Lithuania
Flights: Flying London to Vilnius return (departing Friday night, returning Sunday night) isn’t the cheapest airfare for Ryanair European weekend standards. But it didn’t break the bank either. Alas, return airfares were £61 (€68/$75USD). However, according to Jack’s Flight Club, the cheapest we have seen this route would be £56 (€63/$69USD). We recommend using Skyscanner to search for the cheapest available flights.
Vilnius is easily reached from many other European cities.
Getting Around Lithuania
Car hire: In order to visit all of the places we wanted, we had no choice but to hire a car. We did this from Vilnius International Airport. Car hire for 2 days was £37 (€42/$46USD). We used Rentalcars.com and booked with Car Rental 8. They were reliable and transparent. Additionally, petrol for the entire trip came to £60 (€67/$74USD). To follow this weekend itinerary, relying on public transport won’t be possible.
Accommodation in Lithuania
Booking.com: To get a head start on the Lithuania weekend road trip itinerary, we decided to drive to Kaunas from Vilnius upon arrival on Friday night. The drive was around 80 minutes. Using Booking.com, we booked an Airbnb style private room homestay called Jesus’ Room. Feel free to use our link to book. It was a bit odd rocking up to this guy’s house around midnight and crashing there. But for £20.55 (€23/$25USD) we couldn’t complain. Plus, the place was nice enough, had good reviews and an 8.8 rating as of April 2020.
For Saturday night, we stayed all the way down the bottom of the Curonian Spit in a lovely Lithuanian holiday town called Nida. This will all make sense once you’ve read the itinerary below. Once again, we used Booking.com and booked a nice beachside style apartment flat for £32.75 (€36/$40USD). The place was called ‘Deima’ and had great reviews. It’s rated fantastic with an 8.6 score as of April 2020.
Due to our late arrival on the Friday night, we decided against an Airbnb because check in is generally not as flexible. This is fair enough considering it’s someone’s actual place that’s usually getting rented. Also, for Nida, there weren’t any cheap or as well valued Airbnb’s available.
Supermarkets here are reasonably cheap. That’s why we stocked up at Lidl in Klaipėda. So we mostly did our own cooking. Except for morning coffees and one traditional Lithuanian meal for dinner on Day 1.
The place was called Viskas Lietuviška located in Klaipėda. The food was what you would expect of a Baltic nation. It was cheap and delicious cuisine full of starch! We tried Burokėlių sriuba (Beetroot Soup), Cepelinai (Lithuanian style dumplings), potato pancakes and some salad. You know, just for balance. With a beer each, the bill was no more than £13 (€15/$16.50USD).
- Return flights: £61/person (€68/$75USD).
- Car hire: £37 (€42/$46USD) for 2 people.
- Petrol: £60 (€67/$74USD) for 2 people.
- Accommodation in Kaunas: £20.55 (€23/$25USD) for 2 people.
- Accommodation in Nida: £32.75 (€36/$40USD) for 2 people.
- Return ferry To Curonian Split: £22 (€12.30/$13.50USD) for 2 people.
- National Park Entrance fees: £2.60/person (€3/$3.20USD)
- Food: £26 (€30/$33USD).
- Parking: £5.20 (€6/$6.40USD).
= £165/person (€181/$210USD)
SIDE NOTE: Car hire is usually never cheap. After all, we did drive many hours as well. So we had a fairly substantial petrol bill. However, we have no regrets as we got to see all the very best Lithuania has to offer in less than 48 hours! Of course, if you have an extra day or two, we recommend exploring more of Vilnius. We generally don’t like city escapes and prefer the vast open roads and great outdoors. But Vilnius was an interesting city nevertheless and worth seeing if you have more time in Lithuania than we had.
Five Travel Essentials For a Weekend Road Trip in Lithuania
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack – for a weekend trip to Lithuania, you’ll only need carry on. So this backpack is perfect! Large enough to fit everything you need but not too bulky or hefty.
- Travel wallet – great for storing important documents as you explore.
- Universal plug adapter (with case) – a great investment for any traveller.
- Anker PowerCore Portable Charger/Power Bank – you’ll likely be needing your phone for GPS directions among other things, so having a portable battery pack will come in handy on most weekend trips. Although, you’ll be able to charge your phone in the car too.
- Car phone holder – perfect for safely following GPS directions on your phone.
- Research free parking for Lithuania travel: We were understandably a bit rushed to see Lithuania in just a weekend. So we uncharacteristically parked quite close to some of the main attractions. That was to ensure we didn’t miss out on seeing anything. In hindsight, researching more into free parking close to these attractions would have saved us more.
- Book flights in advance: To travel Lithuania, we booked our flights about 4-5 months in advance to score relatively cheap return airfares.
- Ferry tickets do not need to be booked in advance: We caught the ferry service to the Curonian Spit around 6pm Saturday and left the next day around 11am. Neither of these times proved busy. So securing a ticket for the next ferry service available shouldn’t be an issue.
Did you find this European based weekend guide helpful? Check out our other great Europe guides to help plan and book your trip online.
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