Spring slinks into Lithuania across the sleeping fields
It is as if the earth breathes in and softly whispers: “No more snow”. Grass sprouts up and trees come into leaf. Then, in the midst of enchanted nights, trees burst into blossom. Have you ever tried walking on a carpet of white petals soaked in the lingering aroma of apple trees? The blooming is a reminder that night always changes into day, and youth always wins. You can find this inscribed in the history of our young, independent country as well. The things we do in spring? We decorate Easter eggs, pack our backpacks for the first hiking trips, and go to forests, gardens or city parks with friends. We also travel to Pamarys to watch the spring flood and feel incredibly proud of its people. Because life is real here. Just as Lithuania is.
Nemunas Delta Regional Park is an exceptional combination of nature, culture, and sustainable tourism. A unique part of Nemunas Delta is Rusnė – an island surrounded by bogs and swamps that is located between Atmata and Skirvytė, which are distributaries of the Nemunas River. The unique landscape is created by the intertwining rivers, Krokų Lanka (a lake/lagoon), the delta flood-meadows, and the village of Minija (Mingė), which is known as the Venice of Lithuania.
Nemunas Delta is an important rest stop for travelling birds, as well as a breeding ground for many rare species. Also worth a visit is the Ventės Ragas Ornithological Station, where you can see how birds are banded. Especially during the big spring floods, this can be an unforgettable experience, since this is when the huge delta meadows are full of rare water birds. Nemunas Delta Regional Park is equipped with educational trails, observations towers and information stands. A favourite among tourists, the Aukštumala Educational Trail provides a unique opportunity to become acquainted with the raised bog and experience its distinctive and inimitable beauty.
On a peninsula washed by the Curonian Lagoon and under one of the main bird migration routes is the Ventės Ragas Ornithological Station. The people who have been working there for almost a hundred years and the ornithologists who come from different countries wait every spring and autumn for the cackling flocks. Each year, tens of thousands of birds are ringed at the station.
Next to the impressive traps, there is also the oldest lighthouse in Lithuania. Its doors are open to visitors who want to get a bird’s-eye view of the wavy waters and the golden dunes of the Curonian Spit emerging in the distance.
On the day that marks the beginning of spring (one week to Easter), the streets of Lithuanian cities and towns burst into bloom! Lithuanians take branches of juniper or ornate Palm Sunday palms (Lith. verba) to church to be consecrated, believing that they will protect their home from evil and bad luck the whole year. Upon returning home from church, one has to gently whip members of the family with the consecrated palm who didn’t go to church, not as a punishment, but as a wish for good health. The tradition of making Palm Sunday palms from the dwarf spruce tree is centuries old in Lithuania, especially in Vilnius, so on this day, you can buy palms of different sizes next to churches – they make a wonderful souvenir from Lithuania!
Easter eggs are the main attribute of Lithuanian Easter. Colored eggs symbolizing life and rebirth, are the main Easter dish, and the main object of Easter traditions and games. Beating your relatives at the strongest-Easter-egg competition at the festive Easter breakfast table, is everyone’s dream! There are countless ways to color Easter eggs in Lithuania: from scratching and waxing techniques that require high proficiency to archaic coloring using onion skins.
The 15-meter-tall Meteliai Observation Tower offers a wonderful view of one of the most beautiful lakes in southern Lithuania and its surroundings in the Meteliai regional park. From early spring to late autumn, it is a perfect spot to observe water fowl, especially the mute swan.
A water and bird paradise that emits pure Baltic tranquillity. This is what bird watchers call the Nemunas Delta. The serenity and quiet of unspoiled nature, the morning fog, the flooded meadows, and the tall grass and shrubs make it a great hideout for the rare species of birds that appear when the freshet begins and leave when the waters begin to ice over. This is a place which provides shelter to globally endangered greater spotted eagles, great snipes, black-tailed godwits, Eurasian curlews, and aquatic warblers. Geese, swans, ducks and sandpipers fly here, and flocks of thousands of passerines and birds of prey fly past overhead.
More than 300 species of birds have been counted in the Nemunas Delta and its surroundings, and one of the first banding stations in the world has been operating in Ventės Ragas since 1929, which also has the largest mist net in the world.
The best time for bird watching in the Nemunas Delta and the grasslands of the Curonian Lagoon is spring or autumn. In spring, the Nemunas Delta Regional Park even holds Parskrenda paukščiai (“The Birds Return”), a special event to welcome the birds back.
This summer Lithuania prompts travelers from Latvia to take a vacation in the country and experience an innately similar character and surprisingly different manners of the two neighboring countries.
For most Lithuanians, spending time out by the water is an essential summertime experience. Boasting an impressive number of bodies of water, the country offers a plethora of activities for water lovers — from gourmet food trips to challenging kitesurfing tracks.
Hiking, rambling, trekking and other ways of nature exploration have grown popular among European travellers, who are used to well-maintained trails, breathtaking scenery and comfort along the way. With its 200+ nature trails, Lithuania always had something to offer to visitors wanting to escape the city for a day or two. But starting this season, the Baltic country has a newly marked 747-kilometre forest trail added to one of the longest hiking trails in Europe – the E11. True to its name, the Miško Takas (Forest Trail) passes through some of the greenest spots in the country, including several national parks.
Screen fatigue and the lack of life-work balance may lead to burnout, but getting away from the city and disconnecting may be a good solution. Lithuania offers five off-the-grid destinations, such as camping in lakeside tipis or hiking in a private peninsula, for a rejuvenating and health-restoring trip.
Lithuanian ice cream parlors become as eclectic as the country’s nature during the summertime. Filled with unexpected flavors such as cricket, dill, or nettle, these treats are a result of local chefs using innovative techniques with traditional ingredients to create one-of-a-kind flavors.