Ultimate guide of Lithuania through the eyes of a digital nomad
Many foreign people asked about Lithuania would probably affirm having heard of this country before but questions like where it is, how it looks like or what it is known for, would probably be accompanied by raising and lowering of shoulders.
Probably not. Widely unknown does not always mean less modern or uncivilized, and everyone stepping into lands of Lithuania can ascertain that himself. This country, like few others, have a perfect balance between peacefulness and up to date technology. Thus, it is a great place for a digital nomad to spend couple of months in.
In this blog, we will present the general overview of the country together with some great tips on what not to miss out!
You can also listen to our podcast about Vilnius here.
- The population of Lithuania is 2.8 million and it takes an area of 65,300 km2. It is the biggest of the Baltic States.
- Lithuania borders with Poland to the South, Latvia to the North, Belarus to the East and Russia to the South West. You can easily do a weekend trip and visit all of them during your stay!
- Lithuania has a rather flat landscape with the highest mountain (yes, mountain) of Aukstojas reaching 293.84 m.
- Forests cover approximately 34,8% of Lithuania′s territory, wherever you go, a forest, reservoir or any other natural gem is always on your way.
- The country has approximately 90 km of seafront with the cities like Nida, Kursiu Nerija, Sventoji- all three famous for breath-taking sand dunes and picturesque landscapes, as well as the only port town Klaipeda, and Palanga- extremely crowded on summers and known for the parties.
- The capital city Vilnius inhabits around 0.5 million people. Vilnius is considered one of the most unknown European capitals so it has comparably low traffic of tourists. The city has just enough people to do not feel alone but at the same time, you have enough space for yourself.
- Other major cities are Kaunas with the Ninth Fort for the history fans and Klaipeda
- Public transportation infrastructure inside and between the cities is well developed and cheap compared to other European cities.
- Lithuanians are generally open-minded people, friendly and not too religious.
- Important note for the digital nomads: Lithuania has one of the fastest Internet in the world, and it is free of charge in
the publicplaces, such as cafes and restaurants.
Useful information for Digital Nomad
- Visas: Lithuania is part of European Union and Schengen zone. European Union members can travel freely and stay up to 3 months without registering themselves in a country; if you are not European Union member, you might need a visa. Check it in the official websites to find out what visas are required.
- Currency: Lithuania is a Eurozone country and the official currency is Euro. Unlike west of Europe or even Estonia, Lithuania is still very affordable. It is not Thailand but the value is great.
- Transportation: Public transportation in Lithuania is great and there are trains, buses and even shared car rides, called Bananacar. For a more comfortable trip, choose either Ecolines or Lux Express buses that will take you to the major cities. In Vilnius, most of the people use “Vilniecio” card which is a special card for public transportation that can save you bunch of money. If you are staying in the city for a longer period of time, buy a month worth ticket for 30 Eur and you will have 30 days to take as many trips around the city as you want. Use trolleybuses, regular or fast buses. There are also options for 1, 3 and 10 days or just 30 and 60-minute tickets. Other than that, if you are planning on taking a trip around the country and want to stop at the villages, better rent a car. The easiest way to rent a car is using Citybee.
- Accommodation: Booking.com and Airbnb might be great options. Airbnb might be a cheaper option with abundance of rentals in some extraordinary places, like, for example, farms. You can also find a nice apartment to rent in the city center for around 500-600 Eur/month or get yourself a private room for up to 300 Eur/month in local online advertisement site here.
- Coworking and Wi-Fi: Tech park in Vilnius, situated in the neighborhood of Antakalnis is one of the best coworking places in Vilnius. It has a charming park, works 24 hours, is relatively cheap and provides all the necessary services for the daily tasks. Depending on the part of the city you live, you can use services of other coworking places that are closer to your accommodation. In the city center, you can find dozens of coffee places with fast free Wi-Fi. You can take your laptop with you, sit down in Coffee Inn, Vero Cafe or Huracan, grab a cup of coffee, something to eat and work in the city center.
- Digital Nomads and Expat community: Compared to other European cities, Vilnius does not have a huge Digital Nomad community but expats are everywhere. Many people come to Vilnius and other cities in Lithuania to settle down, work, marry and raise their children. The best way to communicate with them is using a Facebook group called Foreigners in Vilnius, it connects around 13k of foreigners and locals. The group is extremely active and could serve a great deal for any question you have: from legal matters, medical services to advice on where to hang out.
Recommended places in Lithuania
- If you have a chance, put Curonian Spit in your must-see list. Since 2000, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by the two countries, Russia and Lithuania.
The Curonian Spit is home to the highest moving sand dunes in Europe. The average height reaches 35 meters, but there are some that go as high as 60 meters. One of the most recommended villages to stop by is Nida. A little town with traditional housing is just adorable and the dunes, of course, are spectacular. Once you have entered the sandy paradise, you are surrounded by a sense of tranquility. A lovely breeze is so calming and the landscape is a scenic wonderland. Nida, compared to other seaside cities like Palanga or Klaipeda, is pretty expensive but still affordable. Grab a camera with you and immortalize all the beauty around.
- Kaunas is the second biggest city, known for the historical importance. In the late 19th century, Ninth Fort was constructed as a stronghold for the northern part of Silainiai elderate and was part of the Kaunas Fortress. When Kaunas and the rest of Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union (1940-1941 and 1944-1990 ), the fort was used as a prison and a way-station for prisoners who were to be exiled to the labour camps in Siberia mainly. Then, during the occupation of Lithuania by Naci Germany (1941-1944), the fort was used for execution of Jews, Soviets and others. Kaunas, as such, was also a temporary capital of Lithuania during the interwar period (1919-1939). Today, one visiting Kaunas can feel the echoes of history in most of the places since the authentic architecture prevails. When you are there, pass by Laisves (Lithuanian: “Freedom”) alley with 577 trees and enjoy the sightseeing objects of the city: the Garrison Church, Kaunas musical theatre and University of Vytautas Magnus.
- Druskininkai is a spa town situated in the southern Lithuania, just on the border of Belarus and Poland with the Nemunas River flowing through. The city is really popular for healing mineral water tasting, fresh air and relaxing atmosphere everywhere you go. It is a great option at any season since the town has pretty impressive selection of spa and wellness centers, together with one of the biggest snow arena in Europe and Druskininkai aqua park. When all of that is seen and experienced, fun continues 9 km away from the city center in the park of Grutas where Communist-era statues and ideological relics related to those times are exhibited. It is an outdoor museum that remind of a theme park at the first glance but it also presents part of the harsh history that the Lithuanian nation had to live in. At the park there is a restaurant where visitors can have some traditional meals.
- All the villages with the names just Lithuanians themselves can pronounce are perfectly incorporated in the nature. Wooden houses painted in different colors, farms, vegetable gardens, yards full of flavors and lovely bobutes (Lithuanian for “old women”) standing just on the entrance to her house- everything looks like from an old movie. Going from one bigger city to another, you will surely be passing some tiny villages. Do not hesitate to stop by and take a walk around. It is a pretty interesting experience, especially for those who are coming from the big cities. The other thing that still makes people surprised is the richness of the forests in Lithuania. Seasonal mushroom and berry picking is extremely common. For the foreigner, to experience the “Lithuanian way” is made possible through renting a cottage at the airbnb and staying overnight in the middle of nowhere. These rentals are usually nearby a lake. So, you can swim there, pick your own mushrooms and berries and grill them for dinner.
Most recommended activities in Vilnius
- Despite being the
countrycapital city, Vilnius is stunningly natural. Nature is everywhere you go: just some steps away from the Old Town, there is a wonderful park of Bernardinai with fountainthat “sings and dances” on the summer evenings. Wonder how the Old Town looks from the up the sky? Walk on the Vilnia river side, get all the way up to the Three Cross Hill and enjoy picturesqueview of Vilnius Old Town roofs.
- For the best sunsets go to Barbakanas hill. There you will not only get the best views of the setting sun, but during the weekends, enjoy the view of hot air balloons setting off right in front of your eyes, just couple of meters away. For the evening to be even better, grab something to eat in an open kitchen down the hill. The smell of grilled meat, fish and burgers give just the best summer vibes.
- During a hot summer day, you can refresh in one of the lakes that are all around the city. Unlike in many world’s capitals, swimming in Vilnius lakes and rivers is absolutely safe. Due to severe winter conditions, most of the bacteria die.
- Lithuania has four seasons that all are drastically different. Summers are definitely great there. For the ones who are tired of sizzling summers, Lithuanian ones range up to 25°C on the average. Besides that, summer evenings are comparably long and daylight is still present till 10 p.m. at least.
- Contrary, winter is for the ones who enjoy some extremely low temperatures, going down to -20°C. Besides that, it is important to consider the fact that winter time can be pretty depressing since it is not only chilly but dark as well. Sun is a rare guest and daylight, in general, lasts only up to 8-9 hours daily.
- The variety of foods is huge and the prices compared to other Eurozone countries are low. In the capital city, one can find restaurants of almost any cuisine. One of the most popular restaurants is “London Grill” where you can get a full meal from 5 Eur.
- Lithuania has such supermarket chains like Lidl, Rimi, Maxima, Norfa and Iki. Unlike in other European countries, supermarkets usually work on the weekends too, and at least in the capital city there is Maxima (among Vilnius people called “Mindaugo Maxima”) that is open 24/7. In the supermarkets the offer of traditional and international foods is great. Despite the fact that Lithuanians are more of meat-eaters, the selection of different sea food is great! Therefore, beer is a thing there. Supermarkets and specialized stores have dozen kinds to try out, so if you a beer person, you will love it!
Lithuanians might seem hard shelled at first glance but once you get to know them, they are super nice people to make friends with. The open-mindedness and no religious fanaticism makes conversations with interesting and culturally valuable. Lithuanians pride themselves for being very patriotic, even back then in Soviet Union times, when keeping up your Lithuanian identity was not easy at all.
- Just few people know of a turbulent history of Lithuania. Lithuania was not always so little, in the 15th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest state in Europe. Back then, it was a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state, with a great diversity in languages, religion and cultural heritage. No wonder, Lithuanians are proud. Nonetheless, at the end of the 18th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania splitted up and short after, Russia occupied Lithuania for the very first time. During the last two centuries, the country was storm beaten and ruled by German Nazi, Polish and Soviet Russians. Not only once but several times with short restorations of Independence. Every occupation left country poorer and poorer, though the spirit of Lithuanians was all time present. In 1990, the Act of Independence affirming the reconstruction of the Republic of Lithuania was signed. In 2004, they joined the European Union and NATO.
- Topics that involve Russia are quite sensitive. Also, you might want to avoid some political discussions.
- Lithuania’s economy is based on the natural resources and agriculture. With the help of the European Union funds, some people have joined farming, tourism in the villages or created educational programs.
- Tech is on the rise as well, together with blockchain projects.
- Different programs are created to build businesses and invest in Lithuania, like Invest Lithuania.
- Worldwide Lithuania could be find in the leading positions among laser production.
- Has potential to become next Estonia or Scandinavia.
Who and when should visit Lithuania?
Lithuania is definitely amazing on summer. It is a perfect match for the ones who enjoy being surrounded by nature everywhere they go, and do not particularly like huge crowds of tourists around. Also, Lithuania is a great settling point from which you can easily visit other two Baltic States, Latvia and Estonia, as well as ramble around Kaliningrad (Russia), Poland and Belarus.