In the south-eastern part of Lithuania, between the forests and the wetlands, between the sandy hills and the lakes hidden in the woods, live the people of Dzūkija, who can boast of their old traditions, their remarkably preserved neighbourly customs, their love of the environment and all living things, and their mushrooms and berries. The authentic villages grouped together in the woods are an amazing opportunity to go back a century, feel the power of the forest, and immerse yourself in the tranquil, slow life of nature.
There is no mistaking the Dzūkian dialect. Even those who don’t understand Lithuanian will catch the constant sound of “dz”. There is a saying in Lithuania that “if the mushrooms and berries weren’t there, the girls of Dzūkija would all be bare”. And nobody gets angry about it because indeed – for many people in Dzūkija, the mushrooms that grow in the thick of the forests, the berries that ripen in the sunny glades, and the honey brought by bees are their business and life, and the thing that puts food on the table. Just like their hospitality, generosity and desire to show off the best of what they have in their region – nature, authentic crafts, and resounding songs. If you want to find out how people lived in wooden houses in nature’s refuge more than a hundred years ago, travel to Dzūkija.
One thing is for sure – the people of Dzūkija know how to put the gifts of nature on the table. And there is definitely a chance that you will be served what you don’t usually eat. Like maybe mushroom cheese! Don’t turn it down – the locals really do know how to prepare mushrooms and are not trying to kill you. They use them to make soup and stew, they fill pastries and dumplings with them, and they dry, cure, pickle, and marinate them in preparation for winter. In Dzūkija, be sure to try a banda – a traditional savoury cake made from potatoes or buckwheat and baked on a cabbage leaf. Look for a place where they are served straight out of a wood-burning oven. If you like it, ask for a piece of buckwheat babka to go with your forest tea – this is a sweet cake flavoured with honey.
People who live in Vilnius are sometimes surprised to be called Dzūkians. But in fact, Vilnius – as well as the nearby historical capital of Lithuania that is famous for its lakes, Karaim and Tartar dishes, and the beautiful Trakai Castle – are geographically located in the region of Dzūkija. You won’t be able to cover Dzūkija in a few days – save time for Baroque Vilnius and enjoy the tranquillity of Trakai, and only then travel on towards Alytus and Merkinė, and the resorts of Druskininkai and Birštonas, with their abundant mineral springs and fresh pine air. If you want to get some exercise and give your mind a rest, look around for boat or kayak rentals. A trip down the swift Ūla River could become the biggest adventure of your trip. And be sure to see for yourself what it means to pick a basket-full of wild blueberries in the forest on a hot summer day, or count the brown-capped bolete growing under an oak tree. If you dare – go to the marsh in the Čepkeliai Nature Reserve, which is one of the largest marshlands in Western Europe. Spectacular photos are guaranteed!
Experiential tourism - the core topic of international exhibition on tourism and active leisure ADVENTUR. Visit Vilnius on 25-27 January: discover, feel the joy of travel and expand collections of experiences!
For the first time in the Baltic States – the Great Lights of China festival with its centuries of tradition. For the entire month of December, a huge light sculpture park will be open to the public at Pakruojis Manor.
Lithuanian restaurants have been recognised by the “Scandinavian Michelin”. The prestigious Scandinavian White Guide has ranked Lithuanian restaurants for the third time. Seven of the 15 restaurants evaluated in Lithuania were ranked among the 30 best restaurants in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Two restaurants in the capital made it to the top three, with Nineteen18 in second place and Sweet Root in third.
There are 15 Lithuanian restaurants in the White Guide 2019 ranking (by position): Nineteen18, Sweet Root, Džiaugsmas, Monai, Uoksas, Telegrafas, Monte Pacis, Amandus, Somm, Trinity, Gaspar’s, Selfish, El Mercado, Dia, Snobas; recommended restaurants: Ertlio Namas, Bučeris, Šturmų Švyturys Vilnius, Lauro Lapas, Šturmų Švyturys Ventės Ragas.
Three tonnes of natural Baltic amber were used in Lithuania to install the first and largest amber sauna in the world. Resembling a cosy and luxurious amber room, this is the first amber sauna open to the public in the world. The walls, ceilings and even the benches are covered exclusively with natural amber. The amber sauna was given the name “Saulė”, which means “Sun”. It has an area of 22 m2 and comfortably accommodates 15 people. The first and largest amber sauna in the world is located at the Atostogų Parkas Recreation and Wellness Complex. Inside the amber sauna, the human body is warmed up with the help of infrared together with amber. The body experiences deep warmth and relaxation, and the amber emits volatile substances into the air. The sauna fills with the pleasant aroma of resin, and the human body, by inhaling and through the skin, more easily absorbs the useful properties of amber, which stimulate the metabolism, suppress various inflammations, and improve blood circulation.
In 2022, Kaunas makes a date with Europe. The city, selected to be the capital of culture of the continent, today is getting ready to welcome its guests, share the idea of community and create a brand new content for Kaunas, Lithuania, Europe. The open Tempo Academy of Culture, lectures, discussions, exhibitions, performances and installations, the contemporary myth of Kaunas and the most insane ideas that are brought to life – you must accept this invitation by Kaunas and establish the KAUNtact.