Welcome to Eastern & Southern Lithuania
Aukštaitija National Park is Lithuania’s oldest, framed by the 900-sq-km Labanoras-Pabradė Forest. Outdoor purists will have a ball here, pursuing canoeing, hiking, windsurfing, sailing, birdwatching and, in winter, ice-fishing and even some skiing.
Dzūkija in the far south is the biggest national park, surrounded by the 1500-sq-km Druskininkai-Varėna Forest. Both parks are blessed with an abundant berry crop in early summer, while mushrooms of all shapes and guises sprout by the bucketful from early spring until late autumn.
Close to the Dzūkija National Park is the spa resort of Druskininkai, where rich Lithuanians indulge in winter breaks and the likes of warm honey massages. The Grūtas sculpture park next door, with its busts of Lenin, Stalin and the gang, is a sure nostalgia cure for anyone longing for those ‘good old days’.
A few words of warning: mosquitoes are a menace so bring insect repellent; and only pick mushrooms with a local guide and be aware that the stomach of the guide – reared on mushrooms since birth – is substantially more tolerant of certain species than your own.