National Parks

National parks are areas protected by the state by virtue of their region-specific landscape, distinctive settlements, or cultural valuables. In national parks, cognitive tourism – sightseeing of natural and cultural valuables – is promoted. Human activity in the parks is limited, so as not to harm nature. There are five national parks in Lithuania: Aukštaitija, Žemaitija, Trakai Historical, Dzūkija, and the Curonian Spit.

 

AUKŠTAITIJA NATIONAL PARK

The Aukštaitija National Park is famous for splendid clean interconnected lakes, ethnographic villages, expressive land surface forms, abundance of forests, and harmony of nature. Travelling in this territory is possible in all ways and in all seasons.

69% of the territory of the Park is covered by woods, pierced by 126 lakes, some of which are interconnected making a 70-kilometer-long waterway with an exit to the Žeimena River, from which a boat can even reach Vilnius. The hills here are over 200 meters high. The most impressive is the Šiliniškės crest, which, together with the mounds of Ginučiai and Papiliakalnė and the Ladakalnis Hill, is one of the most beautiful observation stations in Lithuania. Visitors can also enjoy the panorama of the Park from a specially equipped tower near Ginučiai.

Ancient Beekeeping museun in the Aukštaitija National Park is a must-see.

Photo from lithuaniatravel.com

 

The Park is home to over 200 species of birds, 60 species of mammals and 900 species of plants, including 120 species listed in the Red Book.

Campers can choose from among eight public and four private campsites; more comfortable accommodation is provided by countryside tourism homesteads.

Places to see:

  • The Stone Mokas, route Tauragnai –Kazitiškis
  • Authentic ethnographic villages of Salos, Varniškės, Vaišnoriškės, Šuminai (Pabaluošė), Strazdai, Kretuonys, and Benediktavas
  • Palūšė Church and Bell Tower
  • At least one of the six waterthe  Stripeikiai Village
  • In winter – Ignalina Winter Sport Centre

Area of the Park: 40,570 hectares

 

ŽEMAITIJA NATIONAL PARK

The Žemaitija National Park is a real discovery for travellers who wish to explore wild nature and authentic traditions of the region. The Park offers much to do and to see for people with different hobbies: nature explorers, cyclists, yachters and scuba-divers, lovers of water sports and tourism, fishing or bird watching.

The Plateliai Lake, vast woodlands, the architecture of Žemaičiai Calvary, wood-crafted articles, Shrove Tuesday festivities – these are just a few examples of attractions in the Žemaitija National Park. The Park can be explored by car, on bike or on foot.

Lake Plateliai - the biggest lake in Žemaitija (Samogitia).

Photo from fotoskrydis.lt

 

The Park contains more than 200 cultural heritage values, including 30 archaeological sites. Some 10% of the Park’s territory is not open to tourists; these include Plokštinė and Rukundžiai natural reserves, which also turn into wetland reserves in spring and summer. The National Park contains 21 monuments of nature: trees, springs, peninsulas and islands; however, not all of them are accessible easily.

Accommodation is available at guesthouses and hotels, countryside tourism homesteads, special camping sites.

Places to see:

  • The Plateliai Lake, the largest and the cleanest lake in Žemaitija
  • The Castle Island on the Plateliai Lake
  • The Ash-tree of Witch, which is the thickest ash-tree in Lithuania, and the Plateliai elm and linden, all in the Plateliai Manor Park
  • The Way of the Cross with 19 chapels built in the 17th century
  • The museum of Lithuanian writer Žemaitė
  • The museum of Lithuanian poet Vytautas Mačernis
  • The exposition of militarism established on the underground launch site of thermonuclear missiles built by the Soviet Army in 1962

Area of the Park: 21,720 hectares

 

TRAKAI HISTORICAL NATIONAL PARK

The Trakai Historical National is the only park of this type in Lithuania. Unlike in other national parks, special importance here is attached primarily to cultural heritage, history and archaeology.

In the Park, the history of Trakai can be seen intertwined with the history of the whole Lithuania. The Trakai islands and the Peninsular Castle together with the old town form the core of the Park. In the Park, there are about 50 old buildings or remains reminding of the majestic and romantic history of this part of the country. The Castle Island is completely occupied by the Castle and the Dukes’ Palace. This is the only surviving castle on an island on a lake in Lithuania.

Trakai Castle - center of attraction in the Trakai Historical National Park.

Photo from lithuaniatravel.com

 

Special role in the history of Trakai was played by Karaites, brought here by Duke Vytautas the Great together with the Crimean Tartars in the end of the 14th century.

Nearly one-fifth of the Park’s area is water: there are 32 lakes of different origin and size, many of which are suitable for sailing, canoeing or boat-trips.

Places to see:

  • Lake Galvė with 21 islands
  • The peak of a hill on the northern coast of Lake Galvė – the peak has won the highest recognition for displaying the best aesthetic view and panorama in Lithuania
  • Horse club Perkūno žirgai (Thunder Horses) in the territory of the Užutrakis Manor
  • The Trakai Island with the Castle and the Dukes’ Palace

Area of the Park: 8,200 hectares

 

DZŪKIJA NATIONAL PARK

The Dzūkija National is the largest protected area in Lithuania. It is a land of dry pinewoods, seif dunes, crystal-clear deep-valley rivulets and rivers. Forest area accounts for as much as 91% of the total territory of the Park.

Ethno-cultural villages deserve special attention. Four of them – Dubininkas, Lynežeris, Musteika ir Zervynos – have been declared architectural monuments. A visitor will also find over 40 monuments of art: people living in the surroundings of Merkinė are specialists in black ceramics, other villagers still know how to weave, knit or make wickerwork in the traditional way.

Travelling in the Park is possible all year round; canoeing or cycling is the most popular way of travelling in summer. Those who love water tourism can take a canoe down the Ūla River, choosing among routes of different complexity and duration. However, the number of canoeist is limited there – a permit must be obtained in advance.

The Dzūkija National Park  a land of dry pinewoods and seif dunes.

Photo from fotoskrydis.lt

In autumn, the Dzūkija National Park is popular among mushroom-pickers as this area is particularly abundant in mushrooms. Bird-watching is another tourist attraction, best at the Nemunas River and the Grybaulia Dam.

There are a dozen of campsites at lakes and rivers, also a number of guesthouses or homesteads.

Places to see:

  • Unique and ever-impressing villages of Zervynos, Margionys, Žiūrai and Musteika
  • The indescribably meandering Skroblus River
  • One of the most impressive rives in Lithuania, the Ūla River, and the unique Ūla Eye, a small spring-fed lake in the valley of the Ūla River
  • Relics of the old beekeeping tradition: pine-trees with oblong vertical cavities for bees to nest. As many as 21 pine-trees have been declared natural heritage objects
  • The Liškiava fort-hill
  • The St. Trinity Church built in the 18th century and the Jacobin Monastery. The seven altars of the Rococo style are probably the most beautiful ones in Lithuania
  • The Čepkeliai Nature Museum

Area of the Park: 55,900 hectares

 

KURSIU NERIJA (CURONIAN SPIT) NATIONAL PARK

The Curonian Spit National Park is the most frequently visited protected area in Lithuania, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. The Park is also on the Natura 2000 List of the European network of protected areas. The aim is to preserve typical and rare flora and fauna species having special importance for biodiversity of the whole Europe.

The formation of this long and narrow sand strip between the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon started around 5 thousand years ago, of the sand carried by water streams and drifted by wind. The current landscape of the spit is the result of human activities and natural forces combined. Stirred by deforestation in the 15th–17th centuries, the sand dunes started moving, burying everything on their way. The only way to stop the moving sand was to regenerate forest, which was ultimately done.

The Curonian Spit - lon and narrow sand strip between the baltic Sea and Curonian Lagoon.

Photo from fotoskrydis.lt

 

The Curonian Spit National Park is distinguished by unique landscape, flora and fauna. Visit the Large Dune Ridge, the old parabolic dunes near Juodkrantė, the Grey Dune between Juodkrantė and Pervalka, and the drifted Parnidžio and Sklandytojų (Eng. gliders’) dunes. Enjoy sandy beaches, clean sea water and sun-lit pinewoods. The best way to look around is by cycling.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the Curonian Spit was very popular among Germans. Many prominent figures of German art and culture would spend their summer holidays there. German writer Thomas Mann even had his own villa there. The Curonian Spit has a well-developed network of hotels and holiday homes. Local residents, too, provide accommodation services.

Places to see:

  • Ethnographic fishermen’s homesteads
  • Old villas in Nida, Juodkrantė and Smiltynė, built in the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century
  • The old cemetery in Nida
  • The Evangelical-Lutheran churches of Nida and Juodkrantė
  • The Lithuanian Sea Museum-Aquarium and Dolphinarium in Smiltynė
  • The Weathercock Museum-Gallery in Juodkrantė
  • The Fisherman’s Ethnographic Home
  • The Amber Gallery-Museum
  • The Thomas Mann Culture Centre in Nida
  • The brooding place of the grey herons and the great cormorants near Juodkrantė

Area of the Park: 26,461 hectares, of which: 9,761 hectares of land area, 4,200 hectares of water area in the Curonian Lagoon, and 12,500 hectares of water area in the Baltic Sea