Lithuanian lovely countryside is quite sparsely populated, giving space for large pristine areas and National parks. A few of them are spectacular, others interest nature buffs as a good example of temperate European lowlands flora and fauna. Also, they provide many opportunities for active recreation. Here are our top 10 ideas to appreciate Lithuanian nature:
1.Become in awe with the dunes of Neringa, the vast lands of Lithuanian Sahara. You can enjoy its panorama from above or walk there yourself. Best locations: Parnidis dune near Nida and Nagliai reserve near Preila. UNESCO World heritage.
2.Get deep inside the massive Dzūkija National Park forest, at its prettiest in places such as Ūla exposure. If you are confident in your skills of distinguishing the edible from inedible you may try out the popular Lithuanian hobby of foraging. If you aren't, you may easily buy mushrooms and berries at the roadsides. Foraging season: Summer-Autumn.
3.Tour the extreme lowlands of Nemunas delta, famous for its bird migration routes and annual springtime floods that turn many farmstead-clad hills into islands. Angling is popular here, even through the winter ice. Main bird activity season: April-October, most birds come by during September migration.
4.Feel either awe or revulsion at the Juodkrantė cormorant and grey heron colony, believed to be the largest in Europe. The bird feces destroyed a vast patch of pine forest, leading to attempts of "protecting nature from itself" by hampering the colony's growth. Bird season: May to September (in winter they migrate out of Lithuania).
5.Swim or boat at the Lakes of Aukštaitija. Ranging from small to large they are at their prettiest at numerous protected areas (Aukštaitija National Park is the largest one).
6.Take a short hike to Pūčkoriai rock exposure to see that impressive nature exists even within Vilnius city limits. The 65 m tall cliff offers a glimpse at 20000-year-old formations. The calm suburban panorama from the top is also inspiring.
7.Drive the entire lenght of Nemunas valley road where the natural beauty is joined by old castles, manors and towns.
8.Watch the "inhabitants" of Pašiliai European bison sanctuary near Panevėžys. Some of them live in pens, others enjoy a rather large fenced area, their life can be spectated from outlook towers.
9.Arrange a tour at Čepkeliai swamp, the Lithuania's largest wetland and arguably the country's most protected habitat. Walking is limited to footpaths and even they are regularly closed for visitors. If you prefer more hands-on approach, there are swamp walking possibilities at other Lithuanian wetlands.
10.Hike over Kernavė hillforts, once a location of Europe's last pagan capital (14th century) that has since turned into dust, leaving a bunch of iconic small hills behind. UNESCO World heritage.