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True Lithuania

Get Around Lithuanian Cities: Public Transport And More

The larger Lithuanian cities have an extensive public transport system. Buses and trolleybuses are available in Vilnius and Kaunas. In the smaller cities (Klaipėda, Šiauliai, Panevėžys), only buses are available. There is no subway or local railroad anywhere which means that the Lithuanian urban public transportation is relatively slow. In most cities, the routes and schedules of local buses are available online. The timetables are also available at every bus stop and in some cities, the buses soon to arrive are shown on special screens located at the major stops. The tickets for buses and trolleybuses may be bought both in the kiosks and in the bus or trolleybus itself. However, if you buy them from the driver they are somewhat more expensive. There are monthly tickets in every city and there are day, three days, and week offers in many as well. They are worth it only if you plan to use the public transport extensively.

A bus in Vilnius with a small national flag for July 6th national holiday. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Many public transport routes are available at or the equivalent city websites.

A quicker option to get around some cities are the private vans (12 to 18 seats). They stop not only at the bus stops but anywhere a person flags them down like taxis. However, unlike the taxis they go on pre-defined routes. Unfortunately, they have no timetables and their routes are hard to find online. The tickets of private vans can only be bought from a driver. All tickets are one-time only: there are no day, week or month tickets. Recently the municipal initiatives have eliminated the private vans from many major cities or reduced their area to the suburbs.

In the smaller towns, the public transport is less convenient because even if there are a few bus routes, the schedules are usually limited to a very low frequency aimed at locals. Given the small size of such localities, it is often wiser to walk the distance.

Using your own (or rented) car is generally easy. Rush hours are short (7:00 to 8:30 and 17:00 to 18:30) and limited to the ex-downtown streets of the largest cities. Parking is abundant and free of charge everywhere except for the compact city downtowns (where it is paid but available).

Some thoroughfares of Vilnius look like this in rush hours but this is easy to avoid by altering your schedule a bit. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Taxis are not recommended, as Lithuanian taxi drivers (arguably just like taxi drivers in many other places) are known to rip-off foreign tourists (and Lithuanians from other cities) by charging amounts up to 10 times the real price. In many cases even negotiating will not help you as the drivers simply refuse to drive non-locals for an official price. You should avoid them if possible. Uber now offers a good alternative in Vilnius (you may order a taxi in Uber app and see the approximate price in advance). "Bolt" is a similar Estonian app.

Bicycles are gaining popularity, but comprehensive rental services and bike routes are limited to the main cities and the resorts.

Addresses in Lithuania consist of a street name and building number. Every building (rather than an entrance) has its own number. They are numbered from lowest to highest. However, one streetside receives all the odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9...) while the opposite side has even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8, 10...) and these are not dependent on each other. Therefore, for example, building number 120 and number 121 may actually be very far away from each other, but numbers 120 and 122 will always be nearby. In the downtowns, where all the buildings are typically built in line, this is easy to understand. However, in the Soviet districts, it might be difficult as many buildings are further away from streets they officially belong to. When a new building is constructed, it gets an address of the nearest building with a distinguishing letter (e.g. a new building between 120 and 122 would get a 120A address). Buildings typically have a number plaque attached to them. The street name plaques are also attached to the buildings - however, usually just the buildings located on the street corners.

The southern side of Vokiečių st., Vilnius, has narrower medieval buildings while the northern side was rebuilt after World War 2 with wider buildings. That's why while the numbering starts at 1 and 2 it reaches only 15 on the northern side yet gets to 28 on the southern side. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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  1. Airport taxis are the worst scoundrels in Vilnius today. There is a city bus transport to the center very often from the airport . Carry change in Euros , about a Euro per person. Enjoy your stay in beautiful Lithuania.

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