For a September break, we organised with friends Jane and Vitalis to visit Lithuania. Vitalis is Lithuanian and therefore what better way to spend time in the country than go with a local! We booked our flights through Wizz Air from Luton to Kaunas and planned to see Nida, Kaunas, Marijampole and fly back from Vilnius with Ryanair. Our flights out were an absolute bargain price of £17.49 each as we had purchased the Wizz Air discount card previously. The flights back were not so cheap but were £37.50 each back. The flight each way took approximately 2hrs 40.
The currency in Lithuania is the Euro. We just opened Starling Bank accounts which means that all spending abroad is fee-free, you put money in your account and off you go! even better is that as soon as you spend anything you get a notification through the app so you can check for any fraud. You can also freeze your card from the online app which is a handy tool if like Nigel your card gets swallowed up by an ATM. We did not get any cash in advance but used our bank cards to withdraw cash and spend at a favourable exchange rate.
Our plan was car hire for most of our trip; however, we also decided to use the train from Kaunas to Vilnius when we said goodbye to Jane and Vitalis and had the last couple of days on our own exploring Vilnius. The trains in Lithuania are very clean and very cheap; from our experience, we were impressed by the train service although we only had the one journey. It cost 3.80 euros each for a one-way journey to travel 63 miles and took about an hour and a half. The standard of the train, the station, the punctuality and the on-board service far exceeded anything I had experienced in the UK.
For taxis in Vilnius and Kaunas the app BOLT is a must; however, be warned in more rural areas there are not often cars available. Also through the app, you can hire electric scooters; something we did in both Kaunas and Vilnius. This is a great way to get around if like me you’re a bit gammy or just want to try it for fun. It cost about 5 euros for an hour but is only for over 18’s! You need to scan a QR code on the app and have a bank card set up to charge the fee to. When you finish you take a picture of the scooter and leave it within the zone.
All our accommodation was booked through Booking.com. For our first 2 nights, we had 2 bedroom apartments which worked out around £35 per couple. For the 3rd night, we stayed in accommodation which resembled a chalet from outside and this was approx £40 for the night. For Vilnius, we booked 2 nights in an apartment with kitchen facilities which was £61 total for both nights.
Food and Drink:
Whilst there are a lot of western food choices in the busier tourist areas of Lithuania there are several traditional dishes to try.
Šaltibarščiai or Cold Beetroot Soup is made from beets, green onions and vegetables with Kefir (sour milk) added for an extra kick and seasoned with dill, salt and pepper. This is recognisable by its very pink colouring.
Cepelinai or potato dumplings are a national dish of Lithuania and often served stuffed with potato or meat and served with sour cream and/or bacon or even more potatoes. We had these and they were rather tasty!
Bulviniai blynai are flat potato pancakes made with grated potato, egg and onion. It is quite similar to a flat hash brown and were very nice.
If you’re a fan of garlic you shouldn’t miss Kepta Duona; fried bread seasoned with salt and garlic and served with a cheese sauce. This is more like a starter and always best if you and your eating companions all have some due to the strength of the garlic!
For further information about traditional Lithuanian dishes please see the link here
Well, that’s the basics covered…. the next few posts will outline the places we visited and our recommendations and thoughts on Lithuania……
Carol & Nigel xx