A Day Trip From Vilnius To Trakai (with Instawalk)

about 30 minutes away from Vilnius is Trakai, a lakeside (multi-lakeside?) getaway known for its island castle. the little booklet i got says the Island Castle is the most visited place in Lithuania, with nearly 300,000 tourists per year. it was so nice today, with the lovely weather and minimal crowds. good luck in high season, y’all! (but it’s definitely worth it if you have a day to spare in Vilnius.)

Trakai panorama

A panorama with a view of the island castle

getting there

Lithuania is planning to join the eurozone in 2015. the litas is pegged to the euro (€1 = 3.45280Lt) but i would expect prices to jump once the change happens.

there are bus and train departures from Vilnius (the main bus and train stations are located right next to each other); the bus is infinitely more convenient due its more frequent departures and drop-off location closer in to the old part of Trakai. i took the bus round trip, 6Lt each way; pay the driver when you board. note that if you take the train, be sure to get off at Trakai, NOT Senieji Trakai (Old Trakai).

A bus and train schedule I picked up from the Trakai Tourist Information office.

A bus and train schedule I picked up from the Trakai Tourist Information office. NOTE that departures should be confirmed with the signs or people in the ticket booths at both stations. I took a bus there that’s not listed on this sheet. You can also check schedules online. The lady at the information counter at the Vilnius bus station was very helpful!

the bus i was on this morning had barely any ventilation (despite having wifi!), but luckily the afternoon one had windows that opened. be warned!

once you reach the Trakai stop, exit the bus and follow the road to the right, the one that has the white column. that’s the main road (Vytauto g.) that will lead you up the strip of land to all the goodies. if you’re arriving by train, you’ll find yourself a bit further south.

This way to Trakai.

This way to Trakai.

a good 5-10 minute walk along Vytauto will lead you to the retro-modern-looking Tourist Information office on the left hand side, opposite from the Iki grocery store at number 69. i picked up a free pamphlet there that had a map of the city with a suggested walking path and information about sights along the way. i asked about bike rentals and despite what i read on the internet somewhere, they do not rent bikes there; the bike rental is back down by the bus station (although i think i saw a sign for another place about halfway). however, i found that unless you want to go quite a bit further afield, though, getting around by foot was just fine. if you are driving, there seemed to be plenty of parking lots on the north side of town with spots going for about 10Lt.

food

IMG_7252the local specialty is kibinai, which do indeed remind me of Cornish pasties. there is a chain of famous restaurants called Senoji Kibininė — i went to the original at Karaimų g. 65, past the bridges for the island castle. i got three, a mutton, chicken/ham/cheese, and a chicken and mushroom (my favorite). all of this including drink cost less than 25Lt (~$10). i probably should have only gotten two (they’re larger than i expected) but i managed (barely) to finish. note the cranberry drink was not what i expected — it was thick and kinda goopy!

the pictures

man i went a little overboard this time. i really do find myself instagramming more and more and taking pictures with my real camera less and less. i basically followed the suggested walking route in the back of the booklet i got at the TI.

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A small cemetery in front of the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God (mouthful!)

Wood

Pile of logs

Trakai Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Traditional wood carving next to the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Trakai Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

A tall cross in front of the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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An old house near the former Dominican Monastery (which is now a history museum, which was previously also a KGB office and a Soviet secret police prison).

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Public fountain

Peninsular Castle

Part of the Peninsular Castle

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Rowboats along the lakeshore

Floating bridge

Floating bridge heading to communities to the east. There’s also a fixed bridge visible to the left, but this was more fun. Just be aware that some planks are missing!

With the island castle visible in the distance

A shot back to the west after crossing the bridge — the Island Castle is barely visible in the distance. It was such a lovely day, and not very crowded at all at 11 AM.

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Stairway to heaven?

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The Island Castle

Lunch spot

The outside of Senoji Kibininė

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Back to the castle, this time for real.

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Old castle hinge. Well worth paying the admission price (18 Lt, about $7) for the exhibits and access to the inside of the Island Castle — trust me, there’s much more than old hinges!

They need to be playing some medieval music to help set the mood.

Inner courtyard of the Island Castle

Facing the other direction

Facing the other direction

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You can walk around the Island Castle and through the moat without paying admission, but again, I really recommend going inside if not for the museum (and its naturally cool interiors to escape the heat), then to at least see what a great job they did with the reconstruction — it was literally in ruins a couple decades ago.

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Walking back along the shore towards the bus station

Kinda collapsing?

A house in the old Karaite neighborhood

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Interior of the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

if you can, get there early when the crowds are still making their way up. i’m so rarely surrounded by nature all alone, and it was truly a treat.

1 Comment on "A Day Trip From Vilnius To Trakai (with Instawalk)"

  1. Trakai Castle is really impressive! I have been there several times. I was amazed with that lovely legend and catching historical background. Also, you can read it on the website //www.gotolithuania.com/trakai-island-castle/ . For those who are planning to visit Vilnius in the near future, I recommend not to miss a chance to visit Trakai Castle.

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