In general, Lithuania is a safe country. But you should take basic safety measures:
Take care when visiting potentially dangerous neighbourhoods at night. After dark it is safer to walk along main roads, than to take a short cut through a park or apartment complex, as these areas often have very poor lighting. Take a taxi if you are nervous. A thing to watch out for is bicycle theft, and it is advisable not to leave valuable things in your car.
As with eastern Europe in general, openly gay behaviour such as holding hands or kissing may result in a violent confrontation from an onlooker. Suspicion of homosexuality may also cause problems; two male visitors to a straight nightclub should sit a respectable distance apart, even if they are heterosexual.
Members of ethnic minorities, particularly those of African descent, may experience some form of racism. This is not tolerated by the authorities and racist attacks are rare. However non-whites may at least have to get used to being stared at by locals, especially in rural areas. More often than not this can be out of pure curiosity rather than malice. The issue of race relations, the history of slavery and civil rights are relatively unknown. That said, the presence of several Afro-American basketball players in the Lithuanian league does help and means that racism is perhaps not as big a problem as other eastern European countries. The best way to overcome any minor issues is to maintain a dignified air and understanding, that for many Lithuanians living in a homogenous society, they may not have had any previous contact with a person of colour.
Driving in Lithuania is considered dangerous according to European standards. Lithuania's rapidly expanding economy has lead to an increase in traffic density, thus accident rates are high. As a pedestrian, take great care when crossing the roads, as pedestrian crossings are widely ignored. When driving be careful of aggresive, quickly going and irresponsible drivers. It's better to pass them even if they are flouting rules. Keep in mind that traffic police could be corrupt. Mind the forest roads, collisions with wildlife animals can easily occur.
If bitten by a dog, wild animal or a snake, seek medical attention immediately. Snakes are not venomous in Lithuania, except for the European Viper angis whose bite only rarely is lethal though quite painful. A dog Å¡uo or cat katÄ bite can carry the risk of rabies. Mosquitoes uodai carry no disease and are only an annoyance in the summer months. A forest tick erkÄ bite carries the risk of Lyme disease or encephalitis.
If you are searching for some health treatment or recreation the best resorts for that are Druskininkai and Palanga. Neringa is a great option for a nice, calm holiday for becoming one with yourself.
Basketball is the national sport, and the nation is basketball mad, comparable to the british with Soccer and New Zealand with rugby. Lithuania is one of the most successful teams in international competition, winning medals in three out of four Olympic tournaments, bronze, and finishing fourth in 2008. All this from just five Olympic appearances. Major domestic clubs are BC Å½algiris from Kaunas and BC Lietuvos Rytas from Vilnius. For this reason in almost every park and playground you will find a basketball court.
Be careful if some people challenge you to a basketball game. Common Lithuanians are very good in basketball, and you might just embarrass yourself.
Land line phones
There is monopoly operator for land line phones - TEO now it belongs to "TeliaSonera AB", a subsidiary of Sweden Telia and Finland Sonera. Land line phones are easy to find in all country. Phones are used with cards, witch you can find in kiosks, "TEO" or newspaper stands.
There are three mobile phone operators in Lithuania: Omnitel, BITE and TELE 2. About 97% of the country's surface is covered by the standard European GSM 900/1800 MHz network, the remaining 3% are non-walkable forests.
To call abroad from Lithuania:
From a land line phone: 00 Your Country Code The Number Abroad
From a mobile phone: + Your Country Code The Number Abroad
To call to Lithuania from abroad, dial the Lithuania country code, 370, then the number, as if calling from a domestic mobile phone.
International and roaming calls are expensive. To reduce your bill you can:
Buy "phone cards" for international calls
Talk over the Internet
If you're bringing a laptop, Wireless LAN Hot-Spots are available in distinct places mostly "Zebra" from - TEO, sometimes free, otherwise not very cheap. Best chances of finding one are at airports, railway stations, in cafÃ©s, shopping malls, universities, various places. You can ask in your hotel, but be prepared to pay. For those who need to connect at an Internet cafes, major cities do have internet cafes. You can get free wireless Internet in Kaunas main pedestrian street - LaisvÄs AlÄja. Internet speed in Lithuania is actually better than American internet speed. Download speed reaches 26.2 Mb/s, while upload speed is 16.8 Mb/s. Keep in mind that the internet service that provide such speeds are not free.
With your mobile phone you can use: CSD, HSCSD, GPRS or EDGE, but the cost may be unattractive. UMTS is only available in some bigger cities. If your phone is not SIM-locked, you may consider purchasing a pre-paid SIM card designed for data access.
If you want to communicate with your friends or locals using internet, you'll need two programs Skype or ICQ. The most popular chatting program is Skype, all of which can be used in English as well. As well in Lithuania social websites are getting very popular. The most popular is ONE.lt, second popular >600000 users is Facebook. Myspace exists, but it is not widely used.
Lithuanians are a Baltic nation; however, it's common for tourists to think that they are somehow connected with Russians.
Lithuanians form their own distinct ethnic group and speak their own language Lithuanian, which is one of the oldest Indo-European languages, belonging to the Baltic not the Slavic branch of Indo-European languages although Lithuanian and Latvian have some common similarities with Finnish or Estonian languages.
It is a notoriously difficult language to master, but learning how to greet locals in their own language can go a long way. They will appreciate your efforts in Lithuanian.
Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union from the end of World War II until 1991. You should also try to remember that the Lithuanian capital is Vilnius, not Riga, which is the capital of neighbouring Latvia, a common mistake for travellers and an annoyance to locals.
Because of war time occupations by Tsarist Russia in the 19th century, the Soviet Union in the 20th century and the territorial disputes with Poland in the early 20th century, conversations revolving around disputes with neighboring countries are not a good idea for those not from the region. Be careful when mentioning Lithuania in the context of the former USSR. Any praising of Soviet practices is very unlikely to be understood or appreciated by the Lithuanias. Talking about World War II or the Holocaust is not something to talk about either. This is because this is a very touchy subject to many Lithuanians.
Lithuanians may appear at times nationalistic; however, it is with good reason that they are a proud nation as they have fought to maintain their cultural identity through dark times, and this has kept them a unique and in general a warm and charming race. Although most Lithuanians officially are Catholics, native pagan Lithuanian religion is still alive in traditions, ethnoculture, festivals, music etc.
Lithuanians may appear sad, depressive suicide rates in Lithuania are among the highest in the world, a little bit rude and suspicious, so talking about your good health, wealth, and happiness could be sometimes taken negatively. Smile at a Lithuanian in the street and most likely they will not respond in kindness. Smiling in Lithuania is traditionally reserved for friends; smile at a stranger and they will either think you're making fun of them and there's something wrong with their clothes or hairdo, or that you must be an idiot. Furthermore, an automatic Western smile is widely regarded as insincere.
Women in the entire former USSR area are traditionally treated with utmost respect. Female travellers should not act surprised or indignant when their Lithuanian male friends pay their bills at restaurants, open every door in front of them, offer their hand to help them climb down that little step or help them carry anything heavier than a handbag - this is not sexual harassment or being condescending to the weaker sex. Male travellers should understand that this is exactly the sort of behavior that most Lithuanian girls and women will expect from them, too.
The official language of Lithuania is Lithuanian, making up one of only two languages along with Latvian on the Baltic branch of the Indo-European family. Despite the kinship of Lithuanian to many other European languages, the archaic nature of its grammar makes it hard for foreigners unfamiliar with the language to form even basic sentences.
Russian is spoken as a second language by about 80% of the population according to European Union statistics, clearly making it the most useful non-Lithuanian language to know. The younger generation is becoming more and more proficient in English, but still only 32% of Lithuanians can speak it. Polish and, to a lesser extent, German are also spoken in some places for historical reasons. Lithuanians are always eager for an opportunity to practice their English, but those who learn a few basic phrases of the local language are always amply awarded with good will and appreciation for their efforts.
In Samogitia Western Lithuania, most people talk in Samogitian, which is somewhat different from Standard Lithuanian and is sometimes called an independent language.
Remember that you are in Lithuania, not in a Russian colony and no longer in the Soviet Union: Lithuanians do not want to hear their language being 'almost Russian' because it is not and they do not like to be associated with Russia.
Lithuanian and Latvian are the last living languages of the Baltic language family. Local people greatly appreciate even small attempts to speak Lithuanian.