True Lithuania

Lithuania on Foot: Top 10 Walks/Hikes

These are 10 best locations to see Lithuania on foot: urban and natural paths several kilometers in length that pass by many interesting, fun or atmospheric locations.

All the walks here may be done in 1-2 hours, but most have enough sights, activities, and pretty views to easily take half a day if done at a more leisurely and inquisitive pace. They are either relatively straight or well marked.

1.Route of the Monarchs in Vilnius. Discover Old Vilnius the way merchants, pilgrims, and nobles of days gone by used to see it. Enter through the Gate of Dawn and go all the way to the upper castle that once guarded the city, enjoying panoramas. This straight and simple walk passes by the key churches (eight in total) and secular buildings of Old Vilnius, including the City Hall and rebuilt Grand Dukes Palace. Distance: 2 km one way. Street names: Aušros Vartų, Didžioji, Pilies.

2.Parnidis dune in Nida. Witness some of Lithuania's most impressive (even if not typical) scenery by ascending Parnidis dune by a footpath from Nida resort and then descending it to freely roam on the massive sands of "Lithuanian Sahara". Sunrises and sunsets are especially impressive from the sundial-crowned top. Distance: 2 km one way.

3.Kaunas main street walk. Go back in time through the centuries of Kaunas city history by starting at the modern eastern end of Laisvės avenue and traversing the whole pedestrianised main street (known as Laisvės avenue in its 19th-20th centuries extension and Vilniaus street in its Medieval section). Initially, you'll see interwar "temporary capital" and Russian fortress era buildings (New Town), then beyond the remnants of city wall you'll be greeted by the Old Town with numerous gothic buildings. Near the end of the walk, you'll enter City Hall (Rotušės) square with all the main churches of Kaunas. Continuing beyond it, you'll see Kaunas castle and the confluence of two Lithuania's mightiest rivers which gave birth to the city. Distance: 3,5 km one way.

4.Basanavičiaus street walk in Palanga. In summer evenings this pedestrianised resort avenue becomes the Lithuania's prime stroll, full of nightlife, restaurants, souvenir shops, funfairs and live outdoor gigs. Appropriately for Lithuania's prime seaside resort the street crosses the beach and continues into the sea (as the Sea Bridge). Summer weekends are the most lively. For the best experience, go towards the sea before sunset, then watch the sunset from the Sea Bridge and come back during dusk, joining the crowds and maybe eating and chilling out en-route. Distance: 1,5 km one way.

5.Smiltynė embankment and Klaipėda breakwater walk. Leisurely enjoy the Lithuanian coast on this pedestrian path, watching pre-WW1 villas, fisherman farmstead, written-off vessels, sea museum and views of the Klaipėda port on the opposite side of the lagoon. These are joined by furious seas and incoming cruise ships - if you come on the right time. Start at the Old Ferry (at Smiltynė) and move northwards to the end of a port breakwater. Distance: 3,5 km one way, with at least partial return on foot required.

6.Rumšiškės ethnographic museum walk. See a manicured version of 19th-century Lithuanian countryside at the Rumšiškės ethnographic museum, one of the Europe's largest open-air museums where farmsteads and other wooden buildings from all over Lithuania have been brought together. Distance: 5-7 km circle, depending on exact route.

7.Belmontas-Pūčkoriai rock exposure route (Vilnius suburbs). Experience the greenery of Vilnius city by following the Pūčkoriai footpath in one of two regional parks entirely within city limits. Starting and ending at an ex-mill transformed into a restaurant it has a 65 m tall rock exposure as its main draw. Distance: 2 km circle. Those who wish may additionally climb stairs up the exposure for nice views.

8.Gedimino Avenue walk in Vilnius New Town. Walk the entire traditional high street in Vilnius, laid in the 19th century and serving as Vilnius hub ever since. Parliament, government, many ministries, boutiques and elaborate 19th-century buildings will be en-route. The street is sometimes pedestrianized and used for temporary festivals and fairs. At the one end, Cathedral square is the traditional heart of Vilnius, while at the other end Independence square was the stage of 1991 anti-Soviet stand that contributed heavily to the demise of Soviet Union. Old Žvėrynas bridge continues into calm pre-WW1 Žvėrynas neighborhood. Distance: 2 km one way.

9.Vilnius Calvary via dolorosa (Vilnius suburbs). A destination for pilgrimage since 18th century this route seeks to faithfully recreate the final path of Jesus Christ in its length, height levels, and relative directions. It is lined by 35 chapels. Groups of pilgrims pray at each of them during special events but at other times you will have the path for yourself. Distance: 7 km.

10.Juniper valley walk. Walk watching the Nemunas river and Kaunas reservoir panoramas with junipers lining the semi-submerged valley. Distance: 1,3 km one way (with return likely needed).

Map of the top 10 locations to explore Lithuania on foot. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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