Rebellious, quirky and vibrant, Lithuania (Lietuva) is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Though the country rarely makes it into newspapers outside its borders (and when it does, it’s for some basketball exploit), the southernmost of the three Baltic countries holds a bag of treats.
Foremost among these is the country’s majestic Baltic coastline and the unique sliver of white sand known as the Curonian Spit. Inland, lush forests watch over lakes that twinkle between the pine trees, and lonely coastal wetlands lure migrating birds by the tens of thousands.
The capital, Vilnius, is a beguiling artists’ enclave, with mysterious courtyards, worn cobbled streets and crumbling corners, overshadowed by baroque beauty beyond belief.
Further afield, remnants of Soviet times – a disused nuclear missile site (now a museum to the Cold War) and a Soviet sculpture park – fascinate and shock. The Hill of Crosses and Orvydas stone garden are two more oddities of this awe-inspiring land.