Take a short trip from Vilnius and find a hidden a slow-living haven; a little historic town and lake resort called Trakai. It was treasured by the Dukes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as their capital and is still loved by locals and visitors for its astonishing nature, traditional Karaim cuisine, and amazing views of the Trakai Island Castle. Take a look at our top five reasons to go out of your way and spend some time outside Vilnius.
The view of the Trakai Castle on an island surrounded by the Galvė Lake’s waters will take your breath away any time of the year. The unique 14th century castle was reconstructed in the 20th century. Admire it from the shore or walk the 300-metre wooden bridge and visit its history museum, often hosting mediaeval tournaments, various concerts and craft days. Check out the permanent collections of furniture, china and hunting trophies.
Karaims are the smallest nation of Turkic decent that presently live in Lithuania, with their largest community based in Trakai since the 14th century. Their national pastry kibinai, made with minced meat, mushrooms, or vegetables, have become Trakai’s main delicacy. Take a bite and you’ll understand why locals love them. The best way to enjoy the experience is to get kibinai to go and eat them sitting down with a view of the castle. If it’s too cold, Senoji Kibininė will give you a sense of traditional atmosphere of the olden days – they make the pastry using the traditional Karaim method. For a fun afternoon, take a lesson on making kibinai and learn more about the Karaim traditions in Lithuania.
If the lakes are not frozen yet, jump on a boat and explore the Galvė Lake or see the other side of the Trakai Island Castle. For some team or family fun get into a paddleboat and make some waves. A cruise around the lake in a yacht will give you a glimpse of its most beautiful spots. For an even more exciting adventure take a night paddleboard tour. Once the lakes are frozen, enjoy ice blockarting or ice skate right to the castle.
Get the best view of the castle and lake from the air. A hot air balloon will definitely give you a whole new take on the serene scenery – green forests, an impressive lake, winding roads, and the day-to–day life of the little town. If you’re more adventurous, you can try paragliding over Trakai – it’s great for beginners and skilled paragliders alike. Don’t really want to try it yourself? Watch the professionals do it at the Lithuanian Open Paragliding Accuracy Championship on 16-17 February.
Eating is a feast for the eyes as much as it is for the tastebuds. But what if you can’t see what you’re eating? When one sense is taken away, other senses become sharper. Try dining in the dark and see if you can recognise the flavours without seeing your food. The restaurant Apvalaus Stalo Klubas offers a surprising experience for groups – immerse yourself into the darkness and discover new flavours. Find out more here.
Check out the calendar for concerts and other events in Trakai here.
Trakai is easy to reach by car or public transport. Buses from Vilnius Bus Station go to Trakai at least twice an hour. The trip usually takes about 30-40 minutes. You can also travel by train; choose the time that suits you best here.