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Panemune Castle | © Steveo89/Wikimedia Commons
Panemune Castle | © Steveo89/Wikimedia Commons

From Vilnius to the Curonian Spit: A Road Trip Itinerary for Lithuania

Picture of Elizabeth Georgian
Updated: 18 May 2017

With flat, scenic roads, and well-maintained highways, Lithuania is an excellent country for a road trip. We suggest heading out after seeing Vilnius’ historic museums, beautiful churches, and Old Town, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Vilnius to Lithuania’s second largest city, Kaunas, and beyond, let this road trip itinerary guide you through Lithuania’s scenic countryside, all while stopping at some of the country’s many highlights. This approximately five-day long itinerary can be shortened or lengthened to accommodate any visitor’s travel style and preferences.

Overview

Total Distance (approximate): 394 km

Total Driving Time (approximate): 5 hours and 37 minutes

Recommended Number of Days Traveling: 7 days

Best for: History lovers, families, couples, and solo travelers

 

Day 1: Vilnius

Distance: 0 km

Travel Time: 0 minutes

Visitors to Lithuania will likely start their trip in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, making this a great starting point for any road trip. With so many sights to see, including churches with splendid architecture, expansive green parks, excellent museums, and tasty restaurants, visitors need only decide how long to stay.

Days 2 and 3: Vilnius to Kaunas

Distance: 104 km

Travel Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Lithuania’s second largest city, and temporary capital during the interwar period, certainly has plenty of charm to spare. Because Kaunas didn’t suffer as much damage as other cities in Lithuania, its medieval Old Town is surprisingly well preserved. During the day or two spent sightseeing in Kaunas, visitors might be interested in seeing the Kaunas Town Hall, numerous churches, Laisves al., the Kaunas Castle, and the quirky Devil’s Museum. Treat yourself to spurga (Lithuanian doughnuts with various sweet and savory fillings) from Spurgine along the way. To learn about Lithuania’s terrible recent past, visit the Ninth Fort, which is both a museum and memorial to the 50,000 Lithuanians and Jews who were killed there during the Holocaust.

How about spending the night in a monastery? Located approximately 7 km from Kaunas’ city center is the Pazaislis Monastery. The Pazaislis Monastery is the largest monastery complex in Lithuania and is also notable due to its stunning frescoes painted by Italian artists in the 17th century. The monastery as well as its beautiful frescoes survived occupation by both Germans and Soviets, which is surprising. While still an active monastery, it also comprises a small museum, restaurant, and a guest house. The guest house only has seven basic rooms, but inquiries can be made about booking a room via phone or email (rekolekcijos.pazaislyje@gmail.com).

Spurgine:

Ninth Fort: ,

Pazaislis Monastery: T. Masiulio g. 31, Kaunas, Lietuva, 8 37 458868

Day 4: Kaunas to Panemune Road Castles

Distance: 73.6 km

Travel Time: 67 minutes

Taking the scenic route is always the way to go when it leads past riparian scenery and to several castles and manor houses. Only about a 20-minute drive from Kaunas along Panemune Road (Rt. 141), visitors will come across Raudondvaris Manor Castle. Raudondvaris features a beautiful brick home with a round tower, stables, an ice house, and an orangerie all located in the quaint town of Raudondvaris. At Raudondvaris, visitors can enjoy lush green views of forests while visiting the 17th-century manor house.

About 40 minutes northwest of Raudondvaris, visitors will pass by Raudone Castle. Raudone Castle is another red brick structure and features a round, 33.5-meter-tall Gothic tower. Raudone Castle was originally built as a manor house in the 1300s, but was later reconstructed into a castle in the 16th century. Raudone Castle is now a school, but the tower can be visited, providing great views of the Nemunas River.

Panemune Castle is located only ten minutes further northwest along Panemune Road from Raudone Castle. Panemune Castle is a large, two-tower castle constructed from red brick covered by stucco. The stunning towers are dark in color, making them really stand out among the green trees and surrounding lakes. Panemune Castle was built in the early 1600s by a Dutch architect. Panemune Castle is now owned by the Vilnius Academy of Arts and features student art exhibitions as well as historical exhibits.

Driving along the Panemune Road (Rt. 141) follows the Nemunas River and comes very close to Kaliningrad (Russia), thus visitors should be careful to stay in Lithuania. Visitors can then plan to follow Panemune Road for a scenic drive, or take the A1 for a quicker route to Klaipeda.

Raudone Castle:

Panemune Castle:

Day 5: Panemune Castle to Klaipeda

Distance: 166 km

Travel Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

The next stop along this Lithuanian road trip is spending a day or two relaxing in Lithuania’s third largest city and only port, Klaipeda. This cozy city boasts some excellent restaurants and cafés, such as Momo Grill, Stora Antis, and Kavos Architektai, as well as a stunning Old Town with some half-timbered buildings. Both the park along the Dane River and the Sculpture Park provide a rejuvenating place to stretch your legs after a long time spent in the car. The hand-cranked bridge, nearby Black Ghost Statue, and beautiful Old Mill Hotel are also worth visiting.

Momo Grill: ,

Stora Antis: ,

Kavos Architektai:

Old Mill Hotel: ,

Klaipeda Old Town ©Elizabeth Georgian

Klaipeda Old Town | © Elizabeth Georgian

Days 6 and 7: Klaipeda to the Curonian Spit

Distance: 50.7 km

Travel Time: 1 and 30 minutes. Please note that this route includes a ferry, so travel times might vary.

From Klaipeda, the trip to the Curonian Spit is as simple as driving the rental car onto the ferry in Klaipeda’s new town. The Curonian Spit is a long, narrow strip of land, separating the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. Both because of its cultural and historical importance as an ancient human settlement and for its natural wonders, the Curonian Spit was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Along the Curonian Spit, visitors interested in Lithuanian folklore might be interested in a stop in the village of Juodkrantė to see the Hill of Witches. The Hill of Witches contains numerous wooden sculptures depicting Lithuanian mythological figures including Neringa, a beloved giant girl who is said to have created the Curonian Spit.

Hill of Witches in the fall ©Elizabeth Georgian

Hill of Witches in the fall | © Elizabeth Georgian

Driving further west along the Curonian Spit, visitors will come to the fishing village of Nida. This historical village features beautiful cottages with unique weather vanes, walking trails, as well as the Dead Dunes. Saving a visit to the Dead Dunes until sunrise, golden hour, or sunset is a top tip as the resulting photos will be stunning.

Lithuania is an absolutely gorgeous country, and visitors could spend weeks road tripping through its scenic countryside. This road trip, coupled either with an additional Lithuania road trip to the eastern part of the country, or continuing on to the rest of the Baltics would make for a memorable vacation.

 

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