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Skuodas, Vilnius, Europe: Your Guide to Three European Gems Discovering Skuodas, Lithuania: A Hidden Gem in Northern Europe So you want to take a trip to Europe but don't want to get lost in the crowd of tourists flocking to Paris, Rome or London? Look no further than Lithuania and Latvia, two countries with stunning historic cities that remain largely undiscovered.
In this three-part travel guide, you’ll explore some real European gems - from the picturesque town of Skuodas in western Lithuania to the cosmopolitan capital city of Vilnius, and finally to Riga, Latvia, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Art Nouveau architecture lover’s dream.
Follow along as we show you the best of what these Baltic beauties have to offer, from colorful buildings and cobblestone streets to delicious food, vibrant culture, and a warm welcome from locals happy to share the secrets of their home.
By the end, you’ll be ready to book your tickets and experience the wonder of this unforgettable region for yourself.
The adventure begins now! Visiting the Bustling Capital of Vilnius, Lithuania Discovering Skuodas, Lithuania: A Hidden Gem in Northern Europe Nestled in the scenic Šilutė district of northern Lithuania, the small town of Skuodas is an undiscovered treasure waiting to be explored.
Only a 90-minute drive from Vilnius, Skuodas offers a peaceful escape into nature without the crowds.
Surrounded by dense forests, the town lies on the banks of the Bartuva River, with scenic walking and biking trails along its winding waterways.
- Rent a bike to cycle the Bartuva River Route, stopping to picnic in meadows filled with wildflowers.
- Take a guided tour to spot wildlife like otters, beavers, and over 200 species of birds in their native habitat.
In the town center, stroll down Freedom Alley to soak in the historic atmosphere.
Check out the neoclassical church of St.
John the Baptist, built in 1814, and the old brewery, now home to the Šilutė District Museum.
- Pop into one of the local craft shops to buy handmade pottery, linen, or amber and wood carvings.
- Grab a pint of Švyturys, a beer first brewed in Skuodas in 1784, at one of the traditional taverns on Vilnius Street.
With its laid-back vibe, natural scenery, and vibrant cultural heritage, Skuodas offers an authentic slice of Lithuanian life off the beaten path.
Head there now before the secret gets out! Must-See Sights in Historic Vilnius Visiting the bustling capital of Vilnius, Lithuania, is like stepping into a fairytale.
Founded in the 14th century, Vilnius boasts a charming Old Town recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with architectural gems like Vilnius Cathedral and Vilnius University.
Walk the cobblestone streets to discover cafés, shops, and galleries housed in historic buildings with Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic facades.
You'll want to spend hours just soaking in the atmosphere.
For panoramic views, head to Gediminas Tower or Vilnius Cathedral Belfry.
- Gediminas Tower: Climb the spiral staircase to the top of Vilnius’ most iconic landmark.
The tower is all that remains of the Upper Castle, but the views of Old Town and beyond are unparalleled.
- Vilnius Cathedral Belfry: The bell tower of Vilnius Cathedral offers sweeping 360° views from its observation deck.
Spot landmarks like Vilnius Castle and Gate of Dawn.
Outside Old Town, don’t miss Vilnius’ most moving site: the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum.
Set on the site of a former Jewish cemetery, it commemorates the once-vibrant Jewish community.
You can also take free walking tours of the former Jewish ghetto and holocaust sites.
Vilnius charms visitors with its blend of architectural elegance, natural beauty (it’s called the “City of Green”), and complex history.
Spend a few days exploring all it has to offer—you’ll leave enchanted.
Day Trips From Vilnius to Natural Wonders Must-See Sights in Historic Vilnius Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is a historic city founded in the 14th century.
It is home to many architectural and cultural landmarks that showcase its long, complex history.
As you explore the charming Old Town, here are some of the must-see sights.
The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was once the political and cultural center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Reconstructed in recent decades, the palace now houses museums, cultural events, and government offices.
Walking through its courtyards and halls provides insight into how the grand dukes lived and ruled.
Vilnius Cathedral, also known as Cathedral Basilica of St.
Stanislaus and St.
Vladislaus, is the heart of Catholic faith in Lithuania.
The original cathedral was built in the 13th century, with major reconstructions in the 15th and 19th centuries.
Gorgeous architecture, historic crypts, and religious artwork make this a highlight of any visit.
Gediminas Tower is the only remaining part of Vilnius Castle, built in the 14th century.
Climbing the winding staircase to the top of the 47-meter (154-foot) tower rewards you with panoramic views of Vilnius’ red rooftops and the surrounding countryside.
Gediminas Tower is an iconic symbol of Vilnius and Lithuania’s long history.
The Gate of Dawn is one of the most important cultural landmarks, not only in Vilnius but all of Lithuania.
The historic gate is part of the original city wall and contains the Chapel of St.
Mary, which houses a renowned painting of the Virgin Mary called “Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn.
” Hundreds of thousands of Catholics flock here each year to pray.
With its cobbled streets, Baroque churches, and medieval history, Vilnius’ UNESCO-listed Old Town is a magical place to wander.
Spending a few days exploring all it has to offer will leave you captivated by the city’s storied past and vibrant present.
Experiencing the Rich Culture and History of Europe Vilnius is a perfect hub for exploring the natural wonders surrounding the city.
Here are some of the best day trips to get your fill of fresh air and beautiful scenery.
Trakai Historical National Park Just 30 minutes from Vilnius, Trakai Historical National Park is home to over 200 lakes, forests, and the scenic Trakai Castle.
Originally built in the 14th century, the red brick castle sits on an island in Lake Galvė.
Take a boat tour to explore the lake and spot nesting birds, then tour the castle to learn about its history as a strategic fortress.
The park offers walking and biking trails, as well as spots for swimming, canoeing, and sailing in the summer.
Aukštaitija National Park About an hour from Vilnius, Aukštaitija National Park is one of the most popular escapes into nature.
It's known for its dense forests, hills, and over 120 lakes.
Go hiking, biking, or horseback riding through the scenic trails.
Spot wildlife like deer, wild boar, and over 200 bird species in their natural habitat.
Or go boating, swimming, or fishing in the crystal clear lakes.
The park's hub, Palūšė, offers restaurants, accommodation, and activities for a perfect forest getaway.
Kernavė Cultural Reserve Just 30 minutes west of Vilnius, the Kernavė Cultural Reserve protects scenic hills, forests and the Neris River.
But its main attraction are the remains of the medieval Kernavė castle mounds, archaeological sites from the 14th century.
Climb the mounds for panoramic views of the reserve.
The area is also popular for hiking, biking, camping, and other outdoor recreation along the river.
Stop for a meal at the Kernavė village, which has preserved its historic wooden architecture and charm.
Vilnius’ proximity to diverse natural escapes is a perfect combination.
Experience history, culture, and outdoor adventure all within a short drive from the city.
Pack a picnic, charge your camera, and head out on an adventure to make the most of these Baltic wonders.

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