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Forgotten European Destination Could Be Summer’s Best Kept Secret

“Combining both the duties of work and the pleasure of travel, people are given the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a different culture and experience it like a true local.”

Whether you think digital nomads are locusts (sucking the globe’s free wifi and swarming over its cheap digs) or revolutionaries (liberté, égalité, four hour work week!) no one can deny the remote work appeal is growing.

Even though the pandemic has prevented many new acolytes from joining the movement, it has freed up many to work more independently, made working from out of the office more culturally acceptable, and set the stage for an even greater flow of digital nomadism around the world once travel gets back to normal.

It would appear many tourism operators and national tourism boards around the globe are anticipating this. As DMARGE reported last year, everyone from Portugal to Bermuda has been throwing out enticing offers in order to attract this new wave of self-sufficient workers, offering everything from special visas to (in some cases) healthcare and even monetary grants.

Lithuania is also now also recognising this (slow) resurgence in travel, inviting visitors (both digital nomads and regular tourists) to come and see some of the country’s most overlooked gems. As Lithuania Travel (the country’s national tourism agency) recently announced, as part of an effort to promote its nation, “Remote work options now allow millions to stay in their travel destination for a longer period of time.”

“Combining both the duties of work and the pleasure of travel, people are given the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a different culture and experience it like a true local.”

Image: Lithuania Travel

To that end, Lithuania Travel has prepared a list of locals’ favourite places and activities in each of the country’s three biggest cities – Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipėda.

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Check out what’s on offer, courtesy of Lithuania Travel (who recently released the below list of “secret places to visit in Lithuania’s biggest cities – as recommended by locals,”) below.

Vilnius – the cozy capital

Filled with culture and life, Vilnius city centre is only a 15-minute drive from the airport. This is where Paupys, one of the historical districts of the old-town, and one of the most culturally diverse, blooms. While it is still off most tourists’ radar, a freshly open area – Paupys market – has already become an acclaimed modern gastronomic space that houses many cultural events.

 

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The locals’ old-time favourite, Barbakanas, is a spot situated just a short walk away from Paupys area. This original renaissance bastion – part of the UNESCO World Heritage List – offers a full view over the red-roofed Vilnius old-town and serves as a hang-out spot for the residents and visitors alike. Another short walk away, surrounded by picnic grass fields, basketball courts, and a skate park, The White Bridge square attracts countless spectators as hot air balloons rise above daily to catch the sunset.

 

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MO Museum is the most residents’ go-to place for a modern art experience offering a collection of over 5,000 modern and contemporary pieces dating from the 1960s to this day. For those keen to spend some time surrounded by nature, Belmontas – a common choice of local joggers and hikers – offers a showcase of waterfalls on the dam and verdant forest trails. It is also home to a host of unique geological wonders, such as the Pučkoriai outcrop – the largest one in Lithuania.

Kaunas – an urban open-air museum

The second-biggest city of Lithuania has plenty to offer as a city-break destination. The recently redeveloped Unity Square serves as a skate park for local skateboarders and families, and is filled with lunch spots for the local students and workers. Marked by its extravagant architecture, it has been awarded a prestigious iF Design award. Lastly, the square is littered with 40 fountains—a spectacle that the youngest country’s visitors particularly enjoy.

The Book Ministry is a bookshop cafe adored for its unique book selection and the seven types of Arabica coffee – a selection that is sure to appeal to each taste. The bookshop’s terrace is located right on the main pedestrian boulevard in the city – Liberty Avenue. Just a short walk away, Courtyard Gallery is a tiny, self-managed open-air gallery that has been built in cooperation with the residing neighbours and perfectly captures the unique charm of the city.

 

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For a green break, Panemunės Šilas is just a short (bike) ride away from the city centre. Being the largest park in Kaunas, it is frequented by the local joggers and bike enthusiasts for its beautiful scenery of Nemunas – the largest river in Lithuania.

Klaipėda – among pine forests and white beaches of the Baltic Sea

 

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Sitting pretty on the shore of the Baltic Sea, Klaipėda offers a variety of nature activities for its residents (and tourists) and is perfect for those looking to spend more time in nature. The Baltic breeze on the white beaches in Giruliai and Melnragė accompanies those sunbathing, swimming, or riding a bike along the seashore – the most common choices for a weekend activity, especially during sunny weather. Just a few minutes away – Melnragės pier provides a perfect spot to watch the sunset.

Located by the river Danė, Žvejų street offers its visitors the chance to discover the city’s less-known old-town charm, and is where many locals gather to have a dinner out or simply enjoy a warm afternoon. This cobblestone street leads towards Smiltynė terminal, the only place to catch the ferry and visit the magnificent dunes of Curonian Spit that lure people from the whole country and abroad.

Balancing various natural and urban attractions, Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipėda, Tourism Lithuania says, provide visitors with a different lifestyle experience.

Their catchphrase? Feel the true, authentic soul of these cities and immerse yourself into the real urban environment by living this real local experience – because “Real is beautiful.”

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