Dangers & Annoyances
Lithuania is a safe country and petty crime is the main concern for foreign tourists.
- Bicycle theft is common in cities. Ensure you have have adequate locks and chains.
- The train stations in Vilnius and Kaunas are hot-spots for pickpockets, particularly after dark.
- City taxi drivers love to overcharge tourists. Agree a fare, check the meter is on, or consider a ride-share app like Uber or Taxify.
- Mosquitoes are bothersome in summer but don't carry diseases, while ticks bring the risk of tick-borne encephalitis. When camping or in forest areas, prevent bites with long sleeves and trousers, and use repellent.
Embassies & Consulates
The website http://embassy-finder.com maintains an up-to-date list of consulate and embassies around the world. Embassies are located in Vilnius. For Lithuanian embassies abroad, see the website of the Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Ministry (www.urm.lt).
Emergency & Important Numbers
To dial a phone number from outside Lithuania, dial the international access code, Lithuania’s country code (370) then the number (including its area code).
|Lithuania's country code||370|
|International access code||00|
Entry & Exit Formalities
Entering Lithuania is no different to arriving in any other EU country. You'll barely notice you've crossed a border if you arrive from another country in the Schengen Area. Arriving from EU countries outside the Schengen zone will involve little more than a passport check as visas aren't required for many nationalities, including the USA, Canada and Australia. If arriving from outside the EU, you may be asked to produce proof of travel insurance.
EU customs rules apply to Lithuania. There's some information on the Lithuanian Customs Department website (https://vls.lrmuitine.lt) and a more comprehensive guide on the Vilnius Airport website (www.vilnius-airport.lt/en/tips-for-passengers/customs).
- From outside the EU you can import duty-free into Lithuania: 1L of spirits, 2L of wine or champagne, and 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco.
- Meat and dairy products cannot be brought from outside the EU.
- Upon entering, you must declare foreign currency in cash above €10,000, and the same amount when exiting.
- When travelling within the EU, there are no restrictions on what you can take in and out of Lithuania providing it’s for personal use.
- Prescription medicines for periods up to 30 days won't attract attention, provided they're in original, clearly labelled packaging; larger quantities are best accompanied by a doctor's note.
- Lithuania limits amber exports, but a few souvenirs is perfectly OK.
- You need a Culture Ministry permit, and to pay 10% to 20% duty, to export artworks over 50 years old. Contact the Committee of Cultural Heritage (www.kpd.lt) for info.
Not required for citizens of the EU, USA, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia for visits up to 90 days.
- When visiting a Lithuanian bring an odd number of flowers: even-numbered bouquets are for dead-solemn occasions – and the dead!
- Don’t shake hands across the threshold; it brings bad luck.
- Always maintain eye contact when toasting your host or they’ll think you’re shifty.
Lithuania has enviable internet speed, among the best in the EU. There's fast wi-fi through urban centres (and often good connectivity outside them). As elsewhere in Europe, internet cafes with PCs have fallen out of favour – high-speed co-working spaces have sprouted in Vilnius and Kaunas instead (though you'll still find the odd internet cafe with computer terminals, frequented by gamers).
Travellers with their own devices will have no problem hooking up to free wi-fi at hostels, hotels, cafes and in some public spaces. Guesthouses increasingly offer good wi-fi, too, though in-room wi-fi isn't a sure bet. A couple of top-end hotels in Vilnius and Kaunas have computer-equipped business centres for guests. Some budget and midrange places have a computer terminal in the lobby.
For travellers with unlocked phones, SIM cards are cheap (usually €1 or €2) and easy to pick up at convenience stores. Buying mobile data credit is also simple and well-priced (around €5 for 4GB).
When it comes to LGBT+ rights, Lithuania is late to the party. Conservative attitudes prevail, particularly among the older generation. Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993 and the first gay pride parade was only held in 2010 (it was met with violent protests). Progress towards same-sex marriage continues at a glacial pace.
EU membership, and the increasing number of 'boomerang' workers – who spend periods of time working elsewhere in the EU before returning to Lithuania – is slowly increasing local exposure to gay-friendly cultures.
- Vilnius has a handful of LGBT+-specific venues, and many more gay-friendly ones. The National LGBT Rights Organization (www.lgl.lt) has a map of gay venues on their website.
- Friendly City (www.friendlycity.info) has a search engine for Vilnius businesses that welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans travellers.
- Kaunas and Klaipėda have much smaller, more discreet scenes than Vilnius. LGBT+ communities in rural Lithuania will seem almost invisible to visitors.
- Public hand-holding is unlikely to attract negative attention in Vilnius but it's a different story in the rest of the country.
Though Lithuanian lawmakers moved to legalise cannabis for medical purposes in 2018, the country's stance on recreational drug use remains draconian: heavy fines are slapped down and there's a possibility of jail time. Lithuanian law also doesn't see a difference between dealing drugs for profit and sharing them for free. That means you could technically get a prison sentence of up to seven years for handing an illegal substance to a friend.
Anyone arrested in Lithuania has the right to a lawyer and this should be explained upon arrest. Temporary apprehension cannot exceed 48 hours; after this time, the detainee must be released or the matter needs to go before a judge. You will be permitted to contact your embassy, who will hold a list of lawyers able to speak your language. The court is obliged to appoint an interpreter. If convicted of an offence, you have 20 days to file an appeal.
For Lithuania nothing can beat the interactive and searchable maps covering the entire country at www.maps.lt.
In print, Lithuania is best covered by the Lietuva (1:300,000) road map, published by Vilnius-based map publisher Briedis and sold by the publisher online. Bookshops, tourist offices and supermarkets in Lithuania sell it for €4.50. Jāņa sēta’s Lietuva (1:500,000) is also good, and is available for around the same price.
For stress-free navigation buy Jāņa sēta’s miesto planas (city maps) covering Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda at a scale of 1:25,000, with a 1:10,000 inset of the centre, and Palanga (1:15,000), Šiauliai and Panevėžys (1:20,000). They cost €1.70 to €3.50 apiece in bookshops and some tourist offices.
Note too that most international SatNav and GPS systems (including TomTom and Garmin) offer Lithuanian maps as part of their European downloads. If you’re planning on renting a car, pack your home GPS and use it on the road here just like you do at home.
ATMs are widespread and credit cards are accepted in most hotels. Cash is preferred for small purchases and at smaller-scale guesthouses.
Lithuania joined the Eurozone in January 2015, trading in its litas for the euro.
ATMs are ubiquitous in cities and towns, and even small villages are likely to have at least one. The majority accept Visa and MasterCard. You can change money at banks, though the easiest way to carry money is to bring a debit card, and withdraw cash as needed from an ATM.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted for goods and services. American Express cards may be accepted at larger hotels and restaurants, though they are not as widely recognised as other cards. It is worth carrying cash for small purchases (like museums and markets) and planning ahead if you're staying in small guesthouses, which are less likely to accept cards.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
- Hotels Tipping is restricted to top-end establishments with room service and porters.
- Personal services Tip hairdressers and others around 10%.
- Restaurants Tip 10% to reward good service. Say ačiū (thank you) to show you aren't expecting change back. Even if you're paying by card, tip with cash.
- Taxis Drivers won’t expect a tip, but it’s common to round up or add a couple of euros for assistance with baggage.
In destinations reliant on seasonal tourism, such as Curonian Spit, restaurants and bars may reduce their hours outside summer.
Banks 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
Bars 11am to midnight Sunday to Thursday, 11am to 2am Friday and Saturday
Clubs 10pm to 3am Thursday or Friday to Saturday
Post offices 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 2pm Saturday
Restaurants noon to 11pm; later on weekends
Shops 9am or 10am to 6pm or 7pm Monday to Saturday; some open Sunday
Lithuania’s postal system (www.post.lt) is quick and cheap. Posting letters or postcards costs €0.75 to other EU countries, €0.84 outside the EU and €0.39 domestically. Mail to the USA takes about 10 days, to Europe about a week. State-run EMS is the cheapest express mail service; find it in Vilnius at the central post office.
New Year’s Day 1 January
Independence Day (Nepriklausomybės diena) 16 February; anniversary of 1918 independence declaration
Lithuanian Independence Restoration Day 11 March
Easter Sunday March/April
Easter Monday March/April
International Labour Day 1 May
Mothers’ Day First Sunday in May
Fathers' Day First Sunday in June
Feast of St John (Midsummer) 24 June
Statehood Day 6 July; commemoration of coronation of Grand Duke Mindaugas in the 13th century
Assumption of Blessed Virgin 15 August
All Saints’ Day 1 November
Christmas (Kalėdos) 25 and 26 December
Feature: Celebration Days
Along with official public holidays, Lithuania celebrates such days as the Day of the Lithuanian Flag (1 January), St Casimir’s Day (4 March), Partisans’ Day (late May), Black Ribbon Day (23 August) and the Genocide Day of Lithuanian Jews (23 September) – but people generally still work on these days (aside from 1 January, which as New Year's Day is already a public holiday).
- Smoking It's prohibited to smoke in restaurants and other enclosed public spaces in Lithuania.
To call other cities from a landline within Lithuania, dial 8, wait for the tone, then dial the area code and telephone number. To make an international call from Lithuania, dial 00 followed by the country code.
When calling Lithuania from abroad, the country code is 370; next dial the area code and telephone number.
Mobile numbers comprise a three-digit code and a five-digit number. Many a hotel and restaurant – especially in more rural parts – lists a mobile telephone as its main number. To call a mobile within Lithuania, dial 8 followed by the eight-digit mobile number. To call a mobile from abroad, dial 370 followed by the eight-digit mobile number.
Public telephones – increasingly rare given the widespread use of mobiles – are blue and only accept phone cards, sold at newspaper kiosks.
Mobile companies Bitė (www.bite.lt), Telia (www.telia.lt) and Tele2 (www.tele2.lt) sell prepaid SIM cards; Tele2 offers free roaming with its prepaid cards, making it the best choice for those also travelling in Estonia, Latvia and Poland.
All of Lithuania follows Eastern European Standard Time (GMT/UTC plus two hours) and adheres to daylight savings time. When it's 8am in Vilnius it is:
- The overwhelming majority of toilets in Lithuania are in the Western European 'throne' style.
- Squat toilets are very rare, though they may be encountered in some rural locations.
The country's official tourism website (www.lithuania.travel/en) is easy to navigate and packed with up-to-date info. Most towns have a tourist office with staff who usually speak at least some English. Among the best tourist offices in the country are those in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda and Trakai.
Vilnius Old Town Tourist Office Head office of the capital's tourist information service.
Kaunas Tourist Office Inside the Town Hall.
Klaipėda Tourist Office Open business hours and also during weekends in summer.
Travel with Children
Families are at the heart of Lithuanian life, so pint-sized travellers will be welcomed with open arms.
For tips and tricks for travelling with the whole family, grab a copy of Lonely Planet's Travel with Children.
- In cities, museum and public-transport tickets are often half-price for kids.
- Nappies, formula and baby food are easy to find in supermarkets and some pharmacies.
- Lithuanian foods like dumplings and pancakes are very popular with kids, and the local penchant for pizza ensures there is familiar food at hand.
- Food allergies are slowly being understood, though Vilnius' vegetarian and vegan eateries, and top-end restaurants, are the best equipped to cater to children with dietary needs.
- Cots and extra beds are common requests at Lithuanian hotels, though they're best made in advance (they'll sometimes carry a small extra fee).
- Vilnius is a good destination for family travel. Check out Vilnius Tourism's downloadable maps of kid-friendly spots, including playgrounds, ice rinks and museums (www.vilnius-tourism.lt/en/what-to-see/vilnius-for-you).
- Curonian Spit is a superb active destination for families, with plenty of beaches to scamper along and pancake-flat cycling trails.