In the eastern part of our country, where colourful hills rise and fall, where the forests are green, where rivers wind, and where lakes beckon those who long for tranquillity, we have Aukštaitija. This is the largest and most diverse ethnographic region, so it requires more than a day to get to know. It is so varied and manifold that if you make the trip and stop by some hospitable locals, it might take a while.
For hundreds of years, people from various nationalities and cultures travelled through the lands of Aukštaitija. Each one of them left a footprint, a little part of their culture. With their poetic, artistic souls, the people of Aukštaitija are famous for their work ethic and resourcefulness. In whatever they do, whether it is picking up a tree branch or a piece of clay, breaking off a willow rod, or pulling out a ball of yarn from a basket. They carve, mould, weave, and knit. In their hands, work sounds exactly like a song. Inscribed on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the archaic, multi-part songs known as “sutartinės” have been preserved by the people of Aukštaitija and are still being sung to this day.
In Aukštaitija, it is easy to go astray on the Beer Road. The beverage has old traditions in the region that go back to manor times, especially in the districts of Panevėžys, Biržai and Pasvalys. So don’t be surprised if the first thing they offer you at lunch is... beer. And to go with your beer – whatever your heart desires. The soil in Aukštaitija is good, so the farmers have always been strong and wealthy – and that’s why the cuisine of Lithuania’s largest ethnographic region is so diverse and full of interesting flavour combinations. Have you ever tried flour dumplings with curd cheese and salo bits? Or perhaps you’ve had them with wild blueberries? Or with cabbage and mushrooms in the autumn? You haven’t? Then go to Aukštaitija and sit down at a table.
You can take a dip in the deepest lake in Lithuania and swim across the longest. You can climb up one of the countless hill forts in this region, visit the space station-like observatory, and spend the night with the stars. You can make your way to the big forest and quietly explore its paths, full of the sounds of birds and wild animals, and once you leave you can check out the fantastic church reminiscent of a medieval castle. If you’re up for it, be sure to hug the oak that has been standing for thousands of years – it will give you the energy to continue on your journey full of discoveries and wonders through the towns of Aukštaitija, which are no less impressive than its nature. Can we give you a tip? Take a ride on the narrow-gauge railway.