Julius Kalinskas

Aukstā Zupa with Potatoes? Lithuania Invites Latvians to Visit and Discover Quirky Differences Between Two Countries

Often referred to as the “brother nations,” Lithuania and Latvia share a deep connection through history and a common Baltic heritage. Despite similar roots, the two countries have developed distinct characters, creating opportunities to uncover unique traits and establish meaningful cultural exchanges.

To continue fostering this relationship, Lithuania Travel, the national tourism development agency for Lithuania, has launched the “Same, but different” campaign, which invites Latvians to come and have a lengthier stay in the country. 

“We wanted to remind our Latvian neighbors about the opportunity to visit undiscovered places in Lithuania — including nature and active leisure locations. This time, we decided to find differences in similarities between our countries, and there were plenty of them,” said Dovilė Seliukė, Head of Tourism Marketing and Communication Department. 

Latvians highly regard Lithuania as a destination

Lithuania has welcomed a large number of Latvian visitors throughout the years — in 2019, before the pandemic struck, around 164,000 Latvians spent at least one night in the country.  Furthermore, Latvia has consistently ranked in the top 2 for inbound tourism countries since 2020. 

Lithuania’s popularity as a travel destination can be explained through its convenience, with only a 4-hour car ride separating the two countries. In addition, similarities in prices, level of safety, and a desireto explore Lithuanian culture are all motivating factors for Latvians planning to visit.

Lithuania — which is often chosen as an alternative to Latvian domestic tourism —  has seen a high level of satisfaction from such visitors, with around 90% leaving with a good impression of their trip and of Lithuania as a whole, according to the 2021 Lithuania Travel survey data. Despite the overall amount of Latvian tourists dwindling in the past year, Lithuania remains an enticing option for short, weekend trips.

Lithuanian parallels — from places to tastes

A common historical heritage and Baltic character tie Lithuania and Latvia together, yet both still possess unique traits that visitors may find amusing or surprising. For example, the two red-bricked giants of Trakai Island Castle and the Turaidas Castle are similar in appearance, yet the medieval town of Trakai offers a change of scenery — the Island Castle is hugged by the shimmering lake Galvė from all sides.

The romantic, rural views of Kemeri’s walking trails are echoed in Lithuania’s Aukštumala bog, with its educational trails sitting atop ancient underwater roads of stone that have helped Lithuanians navigate the swamp for centuries.

Even sitting down at a dinner table may offer unique experiences, as a taste of Šaltibarščiai — Aukstā zupa, beloved by both countries — reveals a surprising cultural contrast when eaten with potatoes in Lithuania rather than rye bread.

The “Same, but different” campaign invites Latvians to rediscover a location that may seem well-known and comfortable to them by highlighting how travel in Lithuania still offers a plethora of unexpected contrasts.