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.
When the days in Lithuania brighten up and the spring rains wash off winter’s dust, we start getting ready for long evenings out in the fresh air. The stages of the street welcome those who leave the winter halls behind, singing, jazzing and strumming guitars. Art, design, folklore, Lindy hop, sutartinės, hot air balloons, and kids shouting with joy take to the streets. Reverberating with musical instruments and variegated voices, Street Music Day is expanding out of Vilnius – to other parts of Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine, and with echoes in Georgia, England and Ireland. In Kaunas, the Hanseatic Days foster old traditions and knight fights, the bank of the Nemunas is bedecked with colourful kites, and runners, walkers, cyclists and weightlifters breathe in deeply. It’s impossible to resist the call of spring!
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.
Everything in this world is changing, but it’s nice that some things are not. Traditional crafts are full of magic and they are very popular in Lithuania. The people who have kept the secrets of their family’s craft for centuries are truly amazing. They throw ceramic ware the exact same way their ancestors did hundreds of years ago, and then fire it in a kiln with real fire, the exact same way their grandparents did. In Lithuanian villages, we can still find looms that our great-grandmothers used to weave their dowry. Today, ancient Baltic weaving patterns have taken on new meaning and a new life. Likewise, people still hang wooden crosses carved according to ancient tradition in their homes, still own carving of the Pensive Christ, and still stir jam on modern stoves with wooden spoons. Blacksmithing has always been an exceptional craft in Lithuania. Having earned respect, artisans now use their talented hands to decorate our homes and surroundings. You can see these crafts at the folk art fairs that are so popular in Lithuania, or you can learn old crafts during educational programmes held by museums or the artisans themselves.
Up to 500 Lithuanian short-term accommodation providers have joined forces with the Ministry of Economy and Innovation & Lithuania Travel, the national tourism development agency, for a new tourism campaign: tourists who stay in the country for three nights or more will get one night free of charge. 10,000 registered independent travelers will receive a complimentary night at an accommodation provider not exceeding €65 to tour the country for one more day.
During the past several years, the desire for privacy and high-quality rest have inspired many rediscover nature and places that help leave all daily worries behind, tune back in to slower natural rhythms, and enjoy some much-needed peace and quiet. Glamping spots – sometimes called forest hotels – have been making strides both in Lithuania and abroad. Offering privacy and unique forms of accommodation and entertainment, it didn’t take long for these places to find their way into the hearts of travellers from around the world. Lithuania Travel introduces its new map of one-of-a-kind glampings, including tree houses, overwater bungalows, hobbit huts, and a variety of forest dwellings suitable not only for recreation, but also for boosting work productivity at all times of the year.
Honey, wine, and mountain ice. Such were the ingredients of the first ice cream served at the table of Roman emperors. Meanwhile, the European history of dairy-based ice cream - the kind that we’re used to - dates back to the 17th century. Soon afterwards, ice cream became popular in Lithuania. 18th-century cookbooks describe the intricate process of making fruit ice cream from cherries, currants, strawberries, raspberries, and sea buckthorn. They also feature recipes for ice cream cake!
Running low on vitamins is a real bummer, but in Lithuania, you don’t need to wait till summer! And everything you need is right on your doorstep. In a country, where forests and meadows are never more than thirty minutes from your door, a walk in the woods will deliver an ample harvest of such vitamin rich treats as sorrel (spinach’s distant cousin), and nettle (yes, you can eat it and yes, it’s tasty). And if all that foraging in the crisp spring air has built up a thirst, all you need to do is tap a birch tree to get a cupful of sweet birch sap nectar.
Hunger for travel has never been as big as it is right now. Between conference calls and home chaos, the mind tends to wander far and wide. This time, we invite you to travel virtually to the Nordic paradise called Lithuania. How may you ask? By choosing a virtual background, handpicked to show you spectacular Lithuanian tourism attractions. They showcase 7 unique Lithuanian colours, those which you never knew existed! Striking yellow, deep green, modern grey, vibrant red, delicious pink, eye-catching brown and real black.