Giedrius Akelis

What are the latest European Destinations of Excellence in Lithuania?

In late January, the latest Lithuanian additions to the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) network were announced. The theme for EDEN 2019 was Wellness, and Paliesius Manor with its physical therapy clinic, located in the district of Ignalina, was selected the overall winner. The panel of experts praised the manor for its uniqueness and commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability.

Paliesius Manor, which dates back to the 18th century, now houses a hotel, spa and restaurant, while the old stables hold a concert hall under a large glass roof. The wooden building nearby is home to the physical therapy clinic, which is frequented by tourists from Lithuania and abroad who go there for weight loss treatment and health issues like diabetes, stress and insomnia. Walking and cycling trails have been laid out through the forests surrounding the manor, and in winter, if there is snow, cross-country skiing trails are created.

The EDEN project, coordinated and part-financed by the European Commission, is implemented in Lithuania by the national tourism development agency Lithuania Travel. As Dalius Morkvėnas, its general manager, explains, current global trends show that when choosing a trip, in addition to new sensations and experiences, tourists are increasingly looking for healthy, active and meaningful leisure as a way to nurture their well-being and strive for a quality way of life. Lithuania’s tourism sector must therefore take into account the prospects for health tourism and take advantage of the opportunities it gives.

“The health tourism sector in Lithuania has something to offer to both domestic and international tourists. The variety of destinations participating in the competition this year is clear proof of that. The applicants competing for the title of the most attractive destination in health tourism ranged from spa centres in rural homesteads and manors to resorts and countryside retreats, from an ‘energy labyrinth park’ to sea or forest therapy providers, and even an amber sauna. What’s important is that destinations such as these are not only unique and of exceptional service quality but are also concerned with environmental sustainability,” Dalius Morkvėnas, general manager of Lithuania Travel, said.

Paliesius Manor will be presented alongside the most attractive health tourism destinations in other countries across Europe at an awards ceremony in Brussels. It will be a great opportunity for the manor to win wider recognition throughout the continent.

Second among Lithuania’s most alluring health tourism attractions was the Atokampis Boutique SPA & Resort, a unique and private spa, located in a remote spot on the outskirts of a forest in the hamlet of Visginai, Kaišiadorys district. In houses placed at discreet distances from one another beside the forest, professionals give spa treatments featuring locally harvested meadow herbs and tree buds. Guests can also enjoy halotherapy saunas and hot-tub aromatherapy. The homestead has an ‘eco-pool’ too, where even customers with allergies can enjoy a swim.

Karklė, an ethnographic village in the coastal Pajuris Regional Park took third place. With its history and traditions preserved, this gem by the Baltic Sea lures travellers looking for healthy recreation with shingle and white-sand beaches, seawater, fresh air rich with the scent of pine, wellness trails, cycling paths and natural sites of spectacular beauty.

The runners-up also included Anykščių šilelis, or the Forest of Anykščiai. The Forest of Anykščiai and Anykščiai Regional Park boast many natural and cultural wonders, and peace, wellness, culture and active leisure all blend together in this oasis. You can walk along a barefoot eco-path, or enjoy a refreshing cup of herbal tea that local experts show how to make and drink. In the forest, conscious breathing, stress reduction workshops and international events promoting a healthy lifestyle all take place. You can also experience the power of ‘scent therapy’, get to know the herbs growing in the surrounding meadows, hug sacred oaks or kayak down the River Šventoji.

This is the eighth time Lithuania’s most attractive tourist destination has been elected. Previous winners include the lakeside village of Plateliai, the Nemunas River Delta Regional Park, the scenic town of Zarasai and its sustainable water tourism, grand Rokiškis Manor recently brought back to life, the town of Telšiai for its efforts in addressing the needs of tourists with disabilities, and the cultural tourism destination Pakruojis Manor. The EDEN award has also been given to the šakotis, a cake baked on a spit over a roaring fire, a true gastronomic discovery and national trademark among many visitors to Lithuania.

Find more about European Destinations of Excellence in Lithuania here: