Travelling by

By carroadtrip

Lithuanian traffic moves on the right and, as with most of the world, all distances are posted in km.
The road network in Lithuania is fairly good, especially the motorways. The quality of road surface on minor roads can vary. The improvement work hampers traffic in many places. The Via Baltica road goes through Lithuania from Estonia to Poland. Another important road is the A1 from Vilnius to Klaipeda.

Unlike many European countries, but similar to North American practice, turning right at a red traffic light is allowed where indicated by a “green arrow” (square white sign next to the red light, containing a green arrow indicating the permitted direction), provided that it does not endanger other traffic. Be aware that the absence of such a sign means that turning right on red is not allowed, and the police will stop any driver seen breaking this rule.

Many bigger junctions have a separate green light for traffic turning left, but no red light. The green light for the other directions shows arrows going straight and to the right, but you need to look closely to make them out.

On two- or three- lane roads, it is polite to move out of the right-hand lane (if safe to do so) when you intend to travel straight ahead; this keeps the right-hand lane clear for right-turning traffic. When moving back to the right hand lane watch out for fast-moving vehicles approaching from behind.

On the motorways the u-turn is possible. The motorists do not observe traffic regulations so especially the pedestrians must be exact as conscientiously as elsewhere in former Soviet countries. Moving domestic animals and roe animals may cause dangerous situations on the roads and motorways.

Roundabouts are a feature of the Lithuanian road network, particularly in the cities. Visitors from countries where this type of junction is uncommon or not used at all, may find the Wikipedia article on roundabouts useful.

The alcohol limit is 0.4 in Lithuania’s traffic. The alcohol limit is being lowered to 0.2.

Fixed speed cameras are frequent along country roads and motorways, usually near crossroads or pedestrian crossings, and in cities. These are usually announced by a sign. Many of them appear to be designed to be turned around from time to time, watching the opposite direction.

miesto busBy bus

In Lithuania it is easy to move by buses and in practice, all the bigger even a little places can be reached with buses. The buses usually run more slowly than where a Western has got used due to if it is not a question of Ekspresas, the bus stops at every stop exactly. To be more precise, there are two types of bus lines (see below) and three types of the bus stops: “red” stops for “Ekspresas” buses (very few, the journey with “Ekspresas” is quick), “yellow” stops for the regular intercity buses, and the “blank” stops for suburban buses (very frequent, the journey is slow). The color is a color of a road sign for the bus stop. For example 40 km the trip by suburban bus can last thus an hour. Some buses are old cars that have mainly been brought from the Nordic countries, some are new ones, it is not predictable which one you will get. There is usually its own bus company on every town (district centre) and more than one company in the largest towns, and the best are Kautra, the TOKS of Kaunas, Vilnius and mini bus company, Transrevis, which will drive turns between Kaunas and Vilnius. A company to avoid is worthwhile is Busturas, they drive the old buses to Siauliai and are in a weak economic situation, but if you travel, the alternative is not always. Practically, when you travel the time is most important factor and the best decision is to take the closest bus which runs in the right direction.

The bulk of Lithuania’s bus routes and turns have been listed in an address from which you also can reserve the tickets for certain routes. However, pay attention to the fact that the payment system supports only some of the Lithuanian banks for the present and the credit card at the moment does not suit.

The list above is only for the intercity buses, which generally is sufficient. There are two types of bus lines in Lithuania: intercity (tarpmiestiniai) buses and suburban (priemiestiniai) buses. This is reflected in the structure of the bigger bus stations, for example Vilnius bus station has two sections, a suburban “blue” one (blue color dominates in the timetables, destination plates on buses are written in blue) and a intercity “red” one (red colour dominates in the timetables, destination plates on buses are written in either blue or red). Thus, for example, “Trakai” direction has two platforms, a “red” one where intercity buses leave directly towards Trakai, and a “blue” one where suburban buses leave to Trakai but run different routes, zig-zagging from village to village and finally arrive to Trakai. Similarly, at the Trakai bus station there are two platforms for “Vilnius” direction: blue one and red one. It is important to know that the “red” (intercity) bus always is faster. At the same time, intercity bus does not stop everywhere, for example the bus stop near the Hill of Crosses is for suburban buses only, if you wait there you can see many buses passing by but they won’t stop there, you have to wait for a “blue” (suburban) bus. Schedules for suburban buses usually are put up separately from the schedules for intercity buses.

Buses operate regularly between the main centres as well as the regional centres. Kautra operates a number of routes out of Kaunas with the cost of ~20-30 Litas for most journeys. Other companies with intercity routes worth to mention are Toks (from Vilnius) and Busturas from Šiauliai. For students with Lithuanian student id, bus companies grant 50% discount around the year with the exception of July and August. For students with ISIC (international student card), bus companies grant 50% discount.

For buses and trolley-buses on routes within towns and cities it is usual to buy the ticket in advance from a kiosk, board the vehicle using the middle door and stamp the ticket using one of the ticket punches. These were historically located near the middle door, but with the introduction of electronic ticketing, there is often a single ticket punch located just behind the driver’s seat. Tickets bought from the driver, rather than kiosks, are more expensive and may also generate an off-handed response if the bus is late or crowded and you don’t provide the exact change. Inspectors periodically check tickets and will issue a fine if you cannot produce a correctly punched ticket. The bus is exited by the middle door and it is important to head for the door before the bus has stopped – it can be impossible to leave once people have started boarding.

Some towns fully introduced electronic ticketing and terminated the sale of paper tickets in the kiosks, visitors have to board the bus and buy the ticket from driver. Such ticket, after stamping in the punch, is valid for the one ride. Also there are different regulations in different towns which door to use when boarding the vehicle, just look how other people do and follow them.

In addition to common buses, there are minibuses which usually operate express routes. For schedules, consult

By traintraukiania

Litrail has services to major cities in Lithuania as well as to some small towns and villages which are difficult to reach by other public transport (e.g. popular holiday/weekend destinations in Dzūkija and Aukštaitija National Parks, Neris Regional Park and, for example, Kretinga town, a final stop for those who are traveling to Palanga seaside resort by train). Fares are low compared to Western Europe: Vilnius-Kaunas ~17 LTL (5 Euro), Vilnius-Klaipeda ~50 LTL (14.5 Euro), Šeštokai (Lithuanian-Polish border) – Kaunas ~20 LTL (5.8 Euro).

Many of the long distance trains have compartments which can accommodate six seated passengers or four sleeping passengers. The headrest can be lifted up to form a very comfortable bunk bed, which can be used while people are seated below. The seats themselves form the other pair of beds. As some journeys are quite long (about 5 hr in the case of Vilnius-Klaipėda), it is common to see people sleeping on the upper bunks during daytime journeys as well.

Generally the railway network is not considered as an alternative to the road network as it does not exactly duplicates the roads. As a result some places are more convenient to reach by train, some other places by bus, even if the railway and the highway are not far apart. Examples of the destinations which are more convenient to reach by train: Ignalina, a main point where the trip to Aukštaitija National Park begins; Kaunas’ eastern part around the dam where several recreation areas and tourist objects are situated (one have to get off at Palemonas suburb). This makes the question “which one is better, train or bus?” rather hard to answer because it depends on the nuances.

Narrow Gauge Railway in Anykščiai offers short trips to a near-by lake. In summer it runs on regular schedule, rest of the time tours must be booked in advance.

taxi-300x200By taxi

Taxis are run on a meter and can be booked by the phone numbers shown on the door of the taxi. Taxis are relatively cheap compared to western Europe. Beware however, some companies may not be as safe as others, common sense will keep you safe in this regard. “Taking the long way round” used to be common but had nearly been irradicated, western Europeans may still find themselves taking the scenic route, don’t worry though, the maximum that this will add is a few litas. It is customary to give a small tip at the end of your journey.

It’s usually cheaper to order a taxi by phone instead of taking one in the street, especially in bus stations or airports.

Recently (spring 2009) taxi prices, especially in Vilnius, have dropped dramatically from previous level during the boom years. If you don’t need a fancy ride, taxi can be as cheap as 1.25 litas (37 euro cents) per km.

dviraciaiBy bicycle

Cycling in Lithuania is quite popular, however it depends on the exact location as in major cities pavements usually will have a bicycle pathways with numerous signs, although getting around by bicycle in rural areas might become a bit of a challenge. Two international EuroVelo cycle routes across the country, EuroVelo No. 10 and EuroVelo No. 11 equipped with quality signs, bikepaths are of excellent quality.

Just as it is in Western Europe, it might be dangerous to leave your bicycle outside alone for more than a few hours without locking it.

The international bicycle project BaltiCCycle may provide you with information and help.

thumb-hitch-hiking-on-side-of-roadBy thumb

Hitchhiking in Lithuania is generally good. Get to the outskirts of the city, but before cars speed up to the highway speeds. The middle letter on the older licence plates (with Lithuanian flag) of the three letter code usually corresponds with the city of registration (V for Vilnius, K for Kaunas, L for Klaipeda, etc.). Newer licence plates (with EU flag) are not bound to city of registration in any way.

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