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Lithuania Country Information
Relatively small, with only 62 miles (100km) of Baltic coastline, and hemmed in by Latvia, Belarus, Poland and part of the Russian Federation, Lithuania has a big heart and wide variety of offerings for visitors, including around 2,500 lakes, 18 sizeable meandering rivers, and forests covering a third of its territory. The country can also boast of being officially the centre of Europe: the National Geographic Institute of France proclaimed a point (now a popular tourist attraction) 15 miles (24km) northwest of the capital, Vilnius, as the geographic centre of the continent in 1989.

Vilnius itself is an atmospheric historic city founded in 1323, with a beautiful old quarter that has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site and is undergoing tasteful renovations. Just a few miles from Vilnius lies Trakai, capital of Lithuania in the Middle Ages, on the shore of the scenic Lake Galve, and a little further west visitors revel in the peaceful Birstonas mineral water spa resort. Lithuania's second largest city, Kaunas, is a cultural centre boasting numerous museums and three theatres among its attractions. On its Baltic coastline Lithuania boasts seaside resorts, such as Palanga, with unspoilt white sandy beaches backed by pine forests.

An increasing number of travellers are savouring the delights of this re-discovered Baltic State, which is easily accessible from the main centres of Europe by air and road, and whose people are ready, willing and proud to show off its attributes.

The Basics
Time: Local time is GMT +2.

Electricity: European style two-pin sockets at 220 volts AC, 50Hz.

Money: The official currency is the Litas (LTL), which is linked to the euro at a fixed rate of 3.4528 Lt to €1. ATMs are found in Vilnius on the Cirrus and Visa networks, but are rare in smaller towns. Most retailers, hotels, restaurants and the like accept credit cards, and banks and hotels will cash travellers cheques.

Language: Lithuanian is the official language, but Russian and English are widely spoken.

Travel Health: The only health risks associated with visiting Lithuania are for those intending to visit forested areas, who are advised to take the necessary precautions against tick-borne encephalitis. EU citizens are entitled to emergency medical treatment if they have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their country of origin. Medical facilities are fair and there are plenty of doctors, but equipment and resources are lacking. There are a few private clinics of high standard. Doctors and hospitals usually expect immediate cash payment for services. Travel medical insurance is highly recommended.

Tipping: Tipping is not required as a matter of course, but is appreciated for exceptionally good service. Rounding up the bill to avoid accumulating small change is customary.

Safety Information: Safety in Lithuania is not a major issue for travellers, the country is devoid of civil unrest and the terrorism threat is low. Car theft is rife, and there is a risk of mugging, pick-pocketing and bag snatching especially on public transport. Visitors should exercise due care and avoid carrying valuables. It is advisable to carry a copy of your passport for identification purposes. Traffic accidents are common, so extra vigilance is required for driving, especially at night.

Business: Business in Lithuania is usually conducted formally, though the younger generation is less conservative. Face-to-face meetings are key, with good eye contact and a firm handshake upon greeting. Business cards are usually exchanged and it is important to be punctual. Use titles and surnames, unless otherwise indicated. Suits and ties are the norm. Lithuanians are hospitable and friendly and any invitation should be accepted, as this is a good opportunity to forge better business relations and build trust. Meetings tend to start with some small talk and can sometimes end with a summary of the discussions, though decision making and results can be slow. Business hours are usually from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.

Communications: The international dialling code for Lithuania is +370. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK) and the country has three-digit area codes. Vilnius has six different area codes: 521 and 523-527. Local calls can be dialled without the area codes. There are three major mobile GSM network service providers and connections are excellent. The Internet is well established in Lithuania and cities teem with Internet cafes. Small towns and villages have public Internet access points in libraries, post offices and tourist information centres.

Duty Free: Duty free allowances for travellers to Lithuania include 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco; 1 litre spirits, 2 litres wine or 5 litres beer; perfume for personal use.

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Visa and Entry Information

  • Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days in any half-year period.
  • Entry requirements for UK nationals: British Citizens do not require a visa to visit Lithuania. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days in any half-year period if British passport is endorsed British National (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizen or British Subject (with the right of abode in the UK).
  • Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days in any half-year period.
  • Entry requirements for Australians: Australians do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days in any half-year period.
  • Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans need a visa to enter Lithuania.
  • Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days in any half-year period.
  • Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals do not require a visa.

Passport/Visa Note: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least three months beyond their stay, unless a member of the EEA or Switzerland, in which case passport need only be valid on entry. Non-EEA visitors must also have sufficient health/travel insurance to cover any medical expenses, a return or onward ticket as well as sufficient funds and all necessary documentation for onward destinations. The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all.

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Weather and Climate in Lithuania
With a continental/maritime climate, Vilnius has vast discrepancies between its summer and winter temperatures. In summer the mercury can reach as high as 86°F (30°C), bringing holidaymakers and locals alike into the outdoor bars and cafes to enjoy the long, light evenings. Usually though temperatures are more moderate. Winter, by contrast, is bitterly cold with temperatures dropping below 32°F (0°C) and the rivers often freezing over, making ice-fishing a popular pastime. Rainy days are possible all year round, but most rain falls during mid-summer.

Attractions in Vilnius

  • Gediminas Castle - Standing sentinel over Vilnius since the 13th century, the landmark Gediminas Castle was built by the founder of the city, and has served as defence bastion, prison, and now major tourist attraction.
  • Vilnius Cathedral - The resplendent Vilnius Cathedral, which stands proudly on the central square of the Old City, has a chequered history that left it decaying and abandoned through the Soviet era.
  • European Park - A few miles north of Vilnius town centre Lithuanian sculptor Gintaras Karosas founded the Europos Parkas (European Park) on a 55-hectare site that encompasses the geographic centre of Europe, as determined by the French National Geographic Institute in 1989.
  • Museum of Genocide Victims - The dark days of the Soviet occupation of Lithuania are preserved in this disturbing collection of exhibits, which is contained in the former KGB headquarters building. Those who drew the antagonism of the authorities were detained, tortured and often executed in this building.
  • Hill of the Three Crosses - Near the Gediminas Castle in the Old City stands a hill topped with a trio of crosses, originally erected in the 17th century in memory of seven Franciscan monks who were crucified and thrown into the Vilnia River.

Airports in Lithuania

Vilnius International Airport (VNO)

  • Location: The airport is situated four miles (7km) south of Vilnius.
  • Time: GMT +2.
  • Contacts: Tel: +370 (527) 39305
  • Getting to the city: A bus service connects the airport to the railway station, and another runs from the airport to the city centre and suburbs, roughly every 15 minutes. A minibus service is also available from the bus stop outside the Arrivals terminal covering various routes through the city and outskirts. Taxis are plentiful outside arrivals, and are relatively cheap.
  • Car rental: Car rental agents with offices on site in the arrivals lounge are Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt and Unirent.
  • Facilities: There is a currency exchange counter in the arrivals concourse, and a post office on the departures ground floor level. There are coffee bars and cafes in arrivals and departures, and a newsagent. The airport offers a VIP Lounge, which can be utilised by all passengers at an hourly rate. There is also a medical aid station and small duty free shop.
  • Parking: Short and long term parking is available.
  • Departure Tax: 60 Lt

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Driving Information

Drinking and driving:
If the level of alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.04 per cent or more severe penalties include a fine and/or withdrawal of driving licence for up to one and a half years.

Driving licence:
All national driving licences accepted. Minimum age for driving a temporarily imported car and / or motorcycle is 18. UK licences that do not incorporate a photograph must be accompanied by photographic proof of identity e.g. passport.

On-the-spot (some fines may be paid at a local bank dependant upon the amount / traffic violation). Wheel clamps are in use.

Leaded petrol available at statoil petrol stations. Unleaded petrol (95 & 98 octane), diesel and LPG are available. Petrol in a can permitted (duty payable). Credit cards accepted at filling stations, check with your card issuer for usage in Lithuania before travel.

Driving Distances:
Please click here http://www.viamichelin.com/ for driving distances

Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory, fine for non compliance.

Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory, fine for non- compliance. Wearing of crash helmets is compulsory for both driver and passenger. Child under 12 cannot travel as passenger.

Motor Insurance:
Third-party compulsory, but fully comprehensive recommended.

Passengers / Children in cars:
Children under 12 cannot travel as a front seat passenger unless using a child restraint appropriate to age and size.

Seat belts:
Compulsory for front / rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.

Speed limits:
Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers: In built-up areas 31 mph (50 km/h), other roads 43 mph (70 km/h), outside built-up areas 55 mph (90 km/h). On dual carriageways 1 October to 30 March 62 mph (100 km/h) and from 1st April to 30 September a limit of 68 mph (110 km/h) applies. On motorways 1st October to 30th March 68 mph (110 km/h) and from 1st April to 30th September a limit of 80 mph (130 km/h) applies between (i) Vilnius - Panevezys and (ii) Kaunas - Klaipeda. The police control speeds closely and give fines for even the smallest of speeding offences.

Compulsory equipment:

  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Warning triangle
  • Winter tyres - compulsory between the 1 November and the 1 April. Spiked tyres may also be used during this period.

Other rules / requirements:

It is recommended that visitors carry an assortment of spares for their vehicle for example: - a fan belt, replacement bulbs and spark plugs.

It is compulsory to call the police to the scene of an accident.

For safety reasons a reflective waistcoat is recommended.

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