One of the top seasonal activities in Lithuania, taking a hot air balloon ride over Vilnius is an amazing experience. With such a gentle take off, you might not even know that you’ve left the ground. Soon, you’ll be soaring over the clay tile roofs and spotting the church steeples. As the balloon travels further out of Vilnius, visitors will be treated to sights of agricultural fields, lakes, and dense forests of birch and evergreen trees. We’ve got five tips for visitors to Lithuania planning to take a hot air balloon ride.
Balloons only take off when the weather is clear, because balloon pilots rely on sight for navigation; therefore, visitors will need to be prepared to reschedule if necessary. To insure you are able to experience soaring over Lithuania, you might want to schedule it for the first day or two of your trip in case it needs to be rescheduled due to poor weather conditions.
How to prepare
Visitors don’t have much to prepare before taking off, because the experienced pilots take care of most everything. However, to insure a comfortable trip, visitors should plan on using the bathroom before the balloon ride as there is obviously no bathroom on the balloon, and the trip back to the city from where the balloon lands might take some time.
Arriving early to help with the balloon set up and blow up is also recommended. The balloon preparation provides great photo ops with the colorful balloons.
Dressing appropriately is also essential for a comfortable ride. Because visitors will need to climb in and out of the basket, avoiding skirts or dresses and opting for comfortable pants will prevent flashing. Dressing for the temperature should also be kept in mind as it may be cool up in the air.
What to bring
As you may expect, ballooning, especially over the UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site of Vilnius’ old town, creates the opportunity for uncountable, stellar photos. Don’t forget to bring along a camera, GoPro, or cell phone for excellent shots. Just be careful to make sure your camera is securely strapped to your wrist or neck – it would be awful to drop it! Though it might sound odd, visitors should bring along a passport because, on rare occasions, the balloon might be pushed by the wind towards the nearby border with Belarus. Visitors shouldn’t plan to bring along much else as space is limited.
After a gentle take-off, balloons drift gently over Vilnius (or elsewhere depending on your flight), over the former Soviet bloc outskirts, past the suburbs, and into the countryside. The experienced pilots know of numerous landing spots depending on the direction of the wind, so each ride would provide a different experience. Those prone to motion sickness needn’t worry as the time in flight is smooth.
Sometimes landing is gentle, and sometimes it’s a bit bumpy, but your experienced balloon pilot will let you know what to expect. On a gentle, upright landing, the basket calmly lands and visitors can climb out after some air has been let out of the balloon. After a more bumpy landing, the basket may land on the side with visitors snuggled together on their sides. Again, after the balloon is deflated, visitors can climb out, perhaps with the help of their instructor. This is another instance that balloon passengers will be happy to be wearing pants and appropriate shoes. At the end of the ride, visitors will often be treated to champagne or wine to toast a fun ride.