The Best Places to Visit in Lithuania, and where to eat Urban Travel Blog

On arrival at Amandus I was given the chance to get my hands on some mushrooms of my own. Luckily, these were porcini mushrooms – meaning it was not a once in a lifetime opportunity – however these foraged fungi did look completely different to any mushrooms I had seen before. Through some feat of gastronomic sorcery they had been turned into thin discs with a similar texture to meringue. I was tasked with breaking these mushroom discs into smaller shapes and pressing them together with goat cheese into fancy sandwiches.

The theme of fresh, local and foraged food continued with a tasting menu of reimagined traditional dishes, such as: hazelnut and apple crackling, beetroot bread, whipped smoked eel, sharp arctic cod ceviche with grapefruit and dill, melt-in-your-mouth beef cheek with seasonal pickle and liquid nitrogen raspberry purée.

Užupis: A Country Within a City

Užupis was originally a sanctuary for marginalised elements of society during Soviet rule, and quite rundown. However, for the most part, the district has more of a bohemian vibe these days. Buildings are brightened by the pastel colours of local street artists, installations line the riverbank and speciality coffee shops neighbour craft beer houses opposite the famous Angel of Užupis statue.

The ‘Republic’ has its own flag, currency, mayor, constitution and cabinet members. The constitution, which features important assertions such as: “Every dog has the right to be a dog,” and “Everyone has the right to appreciate their unimportance,” can be found translated into over a dozen languages on Paupio Street. The foreign ambassador is a notoriously fat cat named Ponulis that spends most of its time in Keistoteka Bookstore. Uzupis street art Coffee & craft beer The constitution

Back in the old town Benas took us to an Amber Museum, where we downed shots of amber dissolved into 999 (a strong Lithuanian spirit made from 9 roots, 9 barks and 9 herbs… The Editor is familiar with it already). And then we visited Literatu Street (a beautiful collection of over 100 artworks dedicated to Lithuanian literature) en-route to the 45-metre high ancient bell tower.

Later, not in the slightest bit fed up by blogging, we pulled up alongside a convoy of trucks filled with orchard apples for a delicious and hearty lunch at Perinos Gastrobaras. I started with a cold, creamy, pink saltibarsciai beetroot soup and a local apple wine. “I’ve had hundreds of these beetroot soups in my life and almost every one is different,” said Linas, dipping a hot potato chip into the thick soup.

Freezing winter temperatures in Medieval Lithuania meant that it was impossible for families to store water for washing. Instead they built outhouses with fire pits to bathe and cleanse. Traditionally, men would enter first, when the sauna is hottest, followed by the women and children. “These weekly gatherings are still very important for many communities,” said Linas. “This is where issues get settled.”

After crossing the ferry from Klaipeda to the Spit, we drove along a forested road until we reached the Hill of Witches. “Most of these pagan wooden sculptures were built by Lithuanian artists in the summer of 1979,” said Linas as we strolled past dark wood dragons, bearded men and princesses. “The Soviets allowed them to honour Lithuania’s Pagan heritage because this area was closed off to the public. The civilian population was not able to see the transgressive sculptures.”

After gazing across the Curonian Lagoon at another border (the Lithuanian border with Russian Kaliningrad), we rented bicycles and explored the resort town of Nida. I worked up a hefty appetite during the scenic bike ride (and Baltic Sea swim), which was promptly satisfied by a three-course dinner of tomato and red pepper soup, bacon-wrapped chicken breast with girasole mushrooms and a pot of Eton mess at Skalva Hotel. Russia in the distance The Baltic Sea Street Art in Kaunas

Vista Puode is another top class restaurant specialising in fresh, seasonal interpretations of traditional Lithuanian cuisine, a fitting place for my last supper in the country. I tried another portion of cold saltibarsciai soup – this one thinner and more vinegary than the last – with a tower of fried potato pancakes with sharp garlic curd and a craft IPA from Klaipeda brewery Bocmano Usai. Not a bad way to say goodbye to Lithuania.