Lithuania Travel

Lithuania Through Latvian Eyes — Same at First Glance, Different in Person

Latvians are being invited to visit and rediscover Lithuania as part of the “Same, but different” campaign, which aims to highlight how Lithuania may still offer unexpected or surprising experiences in an environment that feels similar to home.

Lithuania and Latvia are often compared with each other, as the countries share a border, a common historical heritage, and even languages that may sound the same to an untrained ear. Lithuania Travel, the national tourism development agency for Lithuania, is highlighting the ways the two “brother nations” compare as part of the ongoing “Same, but different” campaign. In it, Latvians are invited to visit Lithuania and discover distinctive, exciting, and strange experiences, even in settings reminiscent of home. From the extremities of a walk 170 m above ground on the capital city’s Television Tower to the relaxing atmosphere of soaking in a local mud bath in one of the country’s spa towns — there is still much for Latvians to uncover.

“The campaign's goal is to serve as a reminder to Latvians that the neighboring country of Lithuania may pique their curiosity and familiarity in the fall just as much as it does in the summer. Simply choose what you want to see, pick a holiday theme, and discover something new — all without feeling as though you've left home,” said Dovilė Seliukė, Head of Tourism Marketing and Communication Department.

Vilnius — an endless slew of reinvention

The capital city of Latvia is larger than Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania. While they both have stunning old towns, they are also different. The UNESCO-protected Old Town of the capital, Vilnius, stands out for its unique blend of architectural styles and a bustling gastro scene. In the forward-looking Paupys market lies a small but vibrant community of culinary artisans, up-and-coming chefs, and artists. More than just a place to eat, the market is a thoughtfully designed urban jungle packed with mouth-watering scents.

A distinctive parallel to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is the newly renovated Lukiškės Prison 2.0, which was built in 1905 and is now a public meeting space for culture, artistic expression, and community. Tours are conducted constantly throughout the day, introducing visitors to what life was like for the people imprisoned here. Today, it is home to approximately 250 artists, historical and art exhibitions, various bars, and an alternative performance venue attracting various internationally-known acts including UK indie act King Krule and German techno group Moderat.

To get a good overview of all the city has to offer, one just has to go up to the tallest building in the country — the 326,5 m tall Television Tower. A rotating viewing platform — which was recently opened as a seasonal attraction for exploration on foot —  is located on the Television Tower's circular section at 170 m. After a short briefing and getting harnessed up, visitors can freely walk around the platform, giving the impression that Vilnius sits in the palm of one’s hand for those gutsy enough to climb up.

Spa towns — quality rest and abundance of natural procedures

Lithuania is an off-the-beaten-path location with a plethora of natural therapeutic resources — amber, pine trees, mineral waters, and many more — that entice tourists to immerse themselves in healing and rejuvenating experiences. As the cold season sets in across the Baltics, locals and travelers alike escape into cozy local spas and resorts to restore their health. 

For example, the towns of Druskininkai and Birštonas, both spa capitals in their own right, are brimming with natural mineral water sources, whose healing benefits have been known for centuries. Birštonas is home to Eglės Sanatorija — a renowned medical spa that offers multiple procedures with locally sourced water, rich in sulfates, calcium, and magnesium. Various baths are offered with a selection of additives — from calming lavender to invigorating pine — to maximize the feeling of rest. Another way to unwind is by immersing oneself in a warm bath of white or back peat mud — beneficial to the skin, muscles, and joints — at the world-class spa Vilnius Druskininkai complex.

But there is a multitude of wellness havens around Lithuania to choose from, such as the Esperanza Resort — an elegant, luxurious hotel located in the stunningly beautiful nature of the Trakai District, Aukštadvaris Regional Park. It is situated next to Lake Ungurys, surrounded by the silence of a fragrant forest. The residence has three restaurants serving gourmet cuisine, where unique flavor combinations and enchanting aromas await those who stay in this haven.

Fuzzy guests roam Lithuania’s peaceful groves

While the landscapes of Lithuania may not seem all that different from Latvia’s vast meadows and dense forests, there are many hidden treasures left to be discovered. The uniquely eclectic Lithuanian wilderness can be experienced by embarking on a trip to Safari Park, where more than 200 animals roam over 50 hectares of lush hills, forests, and swamps. Zebras, fallow deer, donkeys, and many more fuzzy creatures all eagerly stick their heads through vehicle windows to nibble on treats brought by visitors.

Alternatively, trekking through a rural route displays the unparalleled tranquility of Lithuanian nature. Being the longest boardwalk in Lithuania, the Cognitive Walkway of Mūšos Tyrelis in Žagarė Regional Park is truly special. Peace and quiet envelop the area, only broken by the grouse, gray cranes, and geese that live there. The country’s natural diversity becomes apparent when hiking through the 13,8 km long Zackagiris cognitive trail as it follows sandy riverbanks with beaver houses, dunes, and rustic wetlands.

To quickly get a feel for what makes Lithuania’s untamed nature unique, taking a look from the POV of a giant would help. The observation tower at Labanoras Regional Park is the second highest in Lithuania, standing 36 meters high. You will be stunned by the aerial view of the woodlands, the Baltieji Lakajai and Juodieji Lakajai lakes, and their numerous islands and peninsulas once you have ascended the spiral staircase. Meanwhile, the Merkinė Observation Tower provides a panoramic view of the Dzūkija National Park's woodlands and the Nemunas River Valley — the biggest river in Lithuania. You can view the environment from various vantage points thanks to the distinctive architectural tower's several observation decks.