Country profile

Lithuania: About the country

Lithuania is a Baltic state which lies on the Baltic Sea, neighbouring Latvia, Belarus, Russia and Poland. One of Europe’s oldest countries, it was also once its largest. The first Soviet state to formally declare independence in 1990, Lithuania today has one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union, and this is reflected in the improvements to everything from transport infrastructure to medical facilities.

Lithuania is a beautiful and very old country, with more than 30 towns over 750 years old. Almost everywhere you go you will find stunning examples of well preserved gothic, classical and baroque architecture, and nowhere more so than in the capital, Vilnius. European Capital of Culture 2009, Vilnius has a beautiful old town, with the 16th century university particularly worth a visit for its historic courtyards and renaissance buildings. Watching the world go by from one of the timeless pavement cafes of Vilnius is one of the great pleasures of the city.

Yet Lithuania is no forgotten relic; the country has efficient roads and motorways and an improving international rail system, as well as modern airports with quick and cheap connections across Europe. And it’s not just the getting there that is cheap; the cost of living in Lithuania is incredibly affordable, making it a great value place to visit. A meal out in a restaurant will cost little more than €5 and local buses less than €1 each way.

Away from the cities, Lithuania has much to offer, with a rolling landscape of hills punctuated by almost 3,000 lakes and miles of Northern European forests, which cover around a third of the countryside. Much of the coast is protected by the huge Curonian Split, which separates the Curonian Sea from the wilder Baltic, creating safe sandy beaches. That said, with summer temperatures peaking at around 62oF (16oC) it’s not exactly a sunbathing hotspot.

Lithuania takes life very easily, with countless natural spas and springs. The towns of Birstonas and Druskininkai are especially well known for their restorative mud baths and mineral springs, which, if you believe the folklore, have remarkable healing powers for a range of ills.

As a former Soviet Bloc country in chilly Northern Europe, Lithuania may not be the first destination to spring to mind when considering medical tourism, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised.

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Quick facts

Population: 3 Million
Currency: Lithuanian litas
Capital: Vilnius
Languages: Lithuanian
Religions: Catholic 77%