Travel Tips – Lithuania

Aušros vartai

Right then, how about the nuts and bolts of that trip to Lithuania.

My flights were with SAS – Edinburgh to Vilnius via Copenhagen, and the return flight was via Stockholm. The cost was £190, booked a couple of months in advance, and the price included a 23kg checked in bag. The flight from Copenhagen to Vilnius was about 30 minutes late and either the airport or SAS was very poor in communicating about it, but we got there in the end. Apart from that everything was on time and very good value.

EDI Boarding

I had looked at Ryanair’s Edinburgh to Kaunas service, but by the time you add Ryanair’s extras (like a checked in bag) and the cost of getting from Kaunas to Vilnius, the price was almost the same. The time involved in getting from Kaunas to Vilnius meant the SAS option was quicker too.

Stylish

I had an Airbnb apartment in Vilnius, for £26 per night – which included a discount for staying more than a week. It was excellent. Almost just what I was looking for. It is in the Naujamiestis area – New Town – close to where I stayed on my last visit. It was a comfortable and relaxing base.

Soviet Era

It is an easy (25 minutes) walk to the railway station and on the right side of the city for the airport – less than €5 in a taxi from the city. It was much more in an airport taxi at midnight when I arrived – €15 I think – but it would be easy to arrange a cheaper taxi by booking one in advance. Ideally the apartment would have been a bit closer to shops. The nearest mini-market was a 10 minute walk. On the other hand, takeaway pizza (for example) was only 400m away.

In Klaipeda I stayed at the Memel Hotel, just on the edge of the Old Town. It was €70 per night in a spacious twin room (for single occupancy), including a buffet breakfast. I was very happy with it. The room was great, the staff were friendly and helpful, the breakfast was delicious, and the location was perfect.

Memel Welcome

I rented a car in Klaipeda from Solorent. It was €55 for 24 hours, including fully comprehensive insurance. They have a cheaper offer if you’re willing to take a chance on a €450 excess. They also have a base at Vilnius Airport, and a few other places. I was upgraded to a Toyota Corolla automatic (from a Yaris) and an upgrade always makes new friends (often at no cost to the company). Their Klaipeda base is at the Toyota dealership just outside the city centre – a 25 minute walk or 5 minutes in a taxi. The person I dealt with was friendly and helpful, and his English was excellent.

Trains? The services I used were excellent.

Between Vilnius and Kaunas the service runs virtually every hour during the day. Certainly the slower trains stop a lot, but the express ones only once. Journey times vary between 1:06 and 1:40. The trains themselves are modern and comfortable – better than the equivalent in the UK and on a par with Germany. It’s €4.80 each way on the slower off-peak trains.

Vilnius to Kaunas

On the Vilnius – Klaipeda service I spoiled myself and went 1st class. Most days they run 4 trains in each direction. Journey times are between 3:47 and 4:18. Again the trains were modern and comfortable. My fares were €22.10 and €25 respectively, and that included a sandwich, coffee/tea and water. In 2nd class it would have been €14.50 or €17.40 (no sandwich, obviously).

Those fares were for tickets bought on the day. I’m not sure if you can get a discount by booking in advance. You can buy tickets online, which saves dealing with things at the ticket office. I never had to wait in a queue, and the staff were always helpful, but didn’t speak much English. My Lithuanian is less than their English of course.

ⓒ iain taylor, 2018 🇱🇹

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