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 widely spoken as a second language in Klaipėda, Vilnius and eastern districts of the country. Polish is spoken in Vilnius, south-east and southern districts of the country. German is spoken or understood better than elsewhere in Klaipėda, Neringa, Palanga and Šventoji. Basic English, especially the written form, is well understood everywhere, however spoken English is better mastered by the younger generation. Spoken Russian is better mastered by older generation. This is a generalization and should be not applied blindly, for example, if you're in Vilnius and the young person you try to talk to in English language can't understand you and shakes his head, it does not mean that information provided above is inaccurate. You can't know all specifics: this young person may be a student who arrived from the northern district of the country where the French traditionally is taught as a foreign language at schools. He may not know English or can't understand your pronunciation. There may be elderly person just next to you who may be fluent in English only because he or she worked in UK for several years. This applies country wide: communication skills in foreign languages depend on person and vary greatly. Differences and specifics by regions and cities are provided above, it means that chances to communicate in one or another language are greater in a corresponding region or city. Whether you will be understood depends on concrete person and your pronunciation. Those travellers who learn a few basic phrases of the local language are always amply awarded with good will and appreciation for their efforts, however sometimes it may be tricky: if your accent makes those local phrases unrecognizable you probably will be awarded with blank face and shy smile.
In case you managed to master some spoken Lithuanian, it may be extremely beneficial if you have any long-term or deeper interests. Just be prepared, that you will be learning the so called Standard Lithuanian, understood by all. However if local people respond in local dialect you may understand nothing, especially outside the largest cities. You have then to say: I'm from city, I have only learned the "city Lithuanian" - and the wide smile on local person's face will testify that you are on a right way.
In case you're quite indifferent to national identities, simply remember that you are in Lithuania, not in a Russian colony and no longer in the Soviet Union: Lithuanians won't appreciate your efforts to stress your indifference.
Foreigners interested in reading English news can access the Lithuania Tribune which is a part of Delfi, the most successful online news portal in the Baltic states and VilNews photos & short stories related to everything Lithuanian.
In general, safety depends on what country you are from. 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. Overall, if you are a man that prefers other men over females you should not be open about it. Usually, the ones that are proud about it get harassed. On the other hand, lesbians are not typically attacked.
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 in 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 homogeneous society, they may not have had any previous contact with a person of color. Therefore, if you are a dark skinned, do not be surprised that they whisper to each other. You might hear them saying something similar to "nigger". They do not say it because they mean to disrespect you. They do not understand why it is a wrong thing to do, since they hear this word in movies and music in a language which is foreign to them.
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 may be ignored by cheeky drivers. When driving be careful of aggressive, 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 you're bringing a laptop, Wireless LAN Hot-Spots are available in distinct places mostly "TEO Wi-Fi", sometimes free, otherwise not very cheap. Best chances of finding one are at airports, railway stations, in cafés, 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 - Laisvės Alėja. 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 do not want to change your SIM card but still use mobile internet and avoid huge data roaming charges, you could use Cheap Data Communications services, which offer affordable mobile internet for travellers.
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 quite popular. Facebook and LiveJournal both are quite different are the two most popular; such websites like One.lt, Yourspace.lt, Draugas.lt are rather unevenly popular, Myspace exists, but is not widely used, Twitter somehow does not fit.
Numbers begin 06nnn, where the three digits "n" indicate the original network provider.There are three mobile phone operators in Lithuania: Omnitel, BITĖ Lietuva 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.
Lietuvos paštas Lithuanian Postal Service, ☎ +370 700 55400 firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +370 5 216-3204. working hours M-F 09:00-19:00, Sa 09:00-14:00, may slightly vary from town to town. provides:
In 2006, the enterprise was reorganized to the Public Limited Company Lietuvos paštas. Shortly thereafter, it changed the management, marketing, and started gradually expand and improve the service.
DHL Lietuva A subsidiary of German Deutsche Post DHL. Offers normal postal services letters, parcels, packages, domestic and international express services, express and online shipping, customs support, wide range of freight transportation options. Has 2 bases in Lithuania:
DPD Lietuva Liepkalnio St 180, LT-02121 Vilnius At the southern outskirts of Vilnius, ☎ +370 5 210-6750, for customers +370 5 210-6777 toll free: online orders 8 700 55700, email@example.com, fax: +370 5 210-6740. Workdays 08:00-18:00. A subsidiary of French La Poste Group. Offers domestic and international parcel shipping "from door to door", classic and express service. Has a number of Service Points in Lithuania: several in Vilnius and Kaunas, also in Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Panevėžys, and 1 in Marijampolė. Service points are conveniently located within the malls, supermarkets, hotels. Their main partner is Optika Vizija, but also works with other companies, all details are comprehensibly listed on their website's Lithuanian language page "Siuntų taškai" Service Points.
UPS Lietuva firstname.lastname@example.org. has 3 offices in Lithuania:
In Lithuania, internal area codes consist of a zero mostly followed by 2 digits for the town, followed by 6 digits for the local subscriber number. Smaller towns have a zero and then 3 digits and the 5 digit local subscriber number. Vilnius has 7 digit numbers and just 5 as the city code. The national number's total length is always 8 digits if one excludes the initial zero as one must, of course, when dialling from abroad.
To call abroad from Lithuania, the international access code is 00
International and roaming calls are expensive. To reduce your bill you can:
No inoculations are needed to enter or leave Lithuania. In the winter only influenza can cause you a considerable inconvenience. Official list of health institutions with the contact information is presented on a web site of Ministry of Health. Service of laboratory tests is provided by National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory.
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. Public phone booths are used with cards, whitch you can find in kiosks, "TEO" or newspaper stands, however this service is left mostly in hospitals, dorms and some other institutions, as well as at the relevant points in the largest cities, for example in Vilnius bus and train stations. So far existing rules does not allow to refuse this service, but TEO, which is responsible for maintenance, will do that in the nearest future at the first opportunity. There is no data of how much and whether at all it is useful for people who come from abroad.
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 most archaic Indo-European languages, belonging to the Baltic not the Slavic branch of Indo-European 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 travelers 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 Lithuanians. 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 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.
In Vilnius:Shambu School of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Šambu aštanga vinjasa jogos mokykla, Žirmūnų St 68, LT-09124 Vilnius 3rd floor to the right, ☎ +370 655 00628 12:00-17:30. Weekdays. Contact form Consultation ~€30; 1 private class “Ashtanga I” €37, “Breathing therapy” €43/1 session, “Ashtanga II” ~€45 Eur, yoga therapy ~€60. Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Šivananda jogos vendetos centras, M. K. Čiurlionis St 66, LT-03100 Vilnius, ☎ +370 648 72864 email@example.com. Booking in advance. ~€52/6 regular classes, quick class on weekend ~€22/2 classes. In Kaunas:Yoga Academy Jogos akademija, Savanorių Ave 192, Kaunas Business centre “Nordic”, entrance from the yard, 4th floor, ☎ +370 685 18997. Mo-Fr, hours vary. E-mail form at the bottom.Yoga Studio “Buddha On Bike” Laisvės al 26, LT-44238 Kaunas, ☎ +370 662 17944 firstname.lastname@example.org. Downloadable schedule PDF of the classes. In the group: 1 time ~€10, season ticket for 1 month up to ~€50. Private: 1 class ~€20/1.5h, 10 classes ~€150. Yoga Studio “Urban Yoga” Miesto joga, Veiverių St 150, Aleksotas district, Kaunas, ☎ +370 37 328-241 email@example.com, fax: +370 37 328-239. Mo-Sa, hours vary. 1 month season ticket ~€20 1 time per week, ~€60 4 times per week. Kaunas’ Yoga House Kauno jogos namai, Leliūnų St 10, LT- 50177, Kaunas Žaliakalnis district near Savanoriai Ave, ☎ +370 686 54671, +370 687 19976 firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Th 08:00-21:00, Fr 08:00-20:00, lunch break 13:00-14:00. Shedule of classes. Private classes ~€30-60. In Klaipėda:Joga Klaipėda Naujojo Sodo St 1, LT-92118, Klaipėda Premises of “Amberton” Hotel, 11th floor, ☎ Booking +370 615 16862. Mo 19:00–20:15, Th 19:00–20:15. 1 time €15, next time €10, 4 times in the group €30. Yoga "Guru" Studio Žvejų St 12, Klaipėda LT-91248 Klaipėda's centre, ☎ +370 687 26108 email@example.com. 08:30-19:00. 1 time ~€4, 8 times ~€25. "Pažinimas" Baltijos Ave 14-102, Klaipėda, ☎ +370 683 74280, +370 605 07034 firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo 19:00–20:30, W 19:00-20:30. Message form for additional info. 1 time ~€7, 6 weeks season ticket ~€20.
If bitten by a dog or a wild animal, seek medical attention immediately; emergency phone number: 112.
In some parts of the country, particularly in pastures, forest outskirts and meadows with a high grass, there is a low risk of contracting tick-borne encephalitis. Vaccination is advised at least 2 weeks before you plan out-door activities in a wild nature. Risky areas mostly agricultural areas of pastures with some woodland are annually updated on the map of the prevalence of encephalitis-infected ticks. The risk of Lyme disease is similarly low, vaccination is not available. Prevention: avoid high grass areas and wear long trousers and appropriate shoes.
The main wild animals that transmit rabies are raccoon dog and red fox. All occurrences of this horrible disease are FATAL, but a prior course of vaccination and proper emergency prophylactic treatment may buy you 12 hours before proper its onset. Plan your activities in the forest accordingly. Oral vaccination of wildlife is regularly carried out since 2006 up to date. According to State Food and Veterinary Service the number of infected animals has significantly decreased; all infected animals occur in the eastern districts of the country, supposedly from Belarus. State Food and Veterinary Service regularly informs that if rabies vaccine bait is found, leave it alone and do not touch it.
There is a one species of poisonous snake, the European adder, which has a distinct dark zig-zag on its pale back. Poisonous insects are bees, wasps and bumblebees. The only poisonous plant is Sosnowsky's Hogweed, an invasive plant which appeared in Lithuania in c. 1950. Since 1990 it has quickly spread all over the country and in 2001 it was included in the list of malicious animals and plants. The plant is 3–5 m in height, the leaves are 50–60 cm long and its all parts are extremely toxic; skin contact causes severe chemical burns up to 3rd degree and skin necrosis.
In Vilnius:Akarma Reiki Mykalojaus Katkaus St 1 get to the main Tuskulėnai St, turn W slightly north of a bus stop and walk almost up to the school; Žirmūnai district, ☎ +370 688 56671 email@example.com. Tu 18:00–20:00. In addition: diagnostics, meditation, yoga classes, massages, shop. ~€30. 54.70095,25.29599 In Kaunas:Culture and Health Centre Kultūros ir sveikatos centras, ☎ +370 688 91498 firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: -, skype Akmeology. Workdays 11:00–20:00, by agreement. Physical Well-Being Centre Fizinės gerovės centras, Utenos St 12/Kalniečių St 54, Kaunas on a corner of 2 streets, ☎ +370 688 56671 email@example.com, . Tu 18:00–20:00. In addition: psychologist, cosmetologist, therapeutic exercises, massage. 1 time ~€30.
Ayurveda and holistic centres
Offers holistic treatment and yoga therapy indications: bronchial asthma, allergies, increased or reduced blood pressure, headaches, digestive disorders and some other psychosomatic ailments, depression, qigong and yoga classes.
Offers: massages, qigong, tai chi, oriental dance workouts, meditation, aura diagnostics, aromatherapy; hall rental: size 78m², up to 30 people, fully equipped.
Group sessions at Verkių St 29, Šeimos Square 8, Vilnius. Offers holistic treatment procedures, consultations, diagnostics musculoskeletal system, internal organs and metabolism, manual therapy for infants up to a 1 yo with dystonia or cranial asymmetry, body psychotherapy, muscle testing for adults, classic massage, qigong.