Depending on how much time you have during your trip in Vilnius, Lithuania, you may want to consider visiting Trakai. Trakai is a small town with a medieval castle built on an island in the middle of the lake. Only about a 30-minute train ride from Vilnius, Lithuania, Trakai is a perfect place for a day trip. Read on to learn more!
From Vilnius to Trakai
Arriving at Trakai from Vilnius is easy. There are several different modes of transportation that you can take including a tourist bus from Cathedral Square or the Town Hall (you’ll see mini buses specifically for day trips), a train, or a public bus.
Upon arrival to the town of Trakai, you’ll have the option of taking a taxi (from the train or bus station), or walking through the town or along the water to Trakai Island Castle. If you are able, I’d highly suggest walking to the castle along the water and back from the castle through the town. That way, you’ll be able to experience the beautiful nature and the interesting architecture of the houses in the town.
It takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes to walk from the train or bus station to Trakai Island Castle. There is a sign post with a tourist map at the train station or you can follow the crowds on the walking paths.
Visiting Trakai Island Castle
The Trakai Island Castle was built in the Gothic and Romanesque styles in the 15th century for defense purposes. It was frequently used by the grand duke until the 16th century. The castle is built of red brick and now contains a museum that showcases jewelry, ceramics, glassworks, and other odds and ends from the time period.
Some of the displays aren’t clearly explained in regards to what the collection has to do with the history of the castle or the people who lived there. There is definitely room for improvements in the museum displays. However, it is interesting to see the inside of the castle and learn about the excavations and restorations.
There are also areas in the museum where adults or children can pay an additional fee to learn to shoot a bow and arrow or a crossbow.
Entrance costs approximately 6 EUR / 6.67 USD for adults and 3 EUR / 3.33 USD for children. Hours change depending on the season, so you may want to check for specific opening hours before visiting.
Try a delicious Lithuanian meal at Bona Restaurant
All of that walking and archery is sure to make you hungry, so I’d suggest stopping for a delicious Lithuanian meal at Bona Pizzeria & Lounge, which overlooks the water surrounding the castle. At Bona Restaurant, be sure to get an outdoor table to best enjoy your meal with a good view. My favorite things to order at Bona Restaurant are meat kibinai (a meat stuffed pastry that supposedly originated from the Trakai area), and some soup or a delicious goat cheese salad.
Take a stroll in the town of Trakai
To walk off your lunch, take a stroll through the town of Trakai with its Karaites-style houses. Karaites are people of Turkish origin who settled in Trakai in the 14th century. There is a Karaites temple and a small (two room) museum that describes the history and culture of the Karaites people. Food-wise, Karaites are well-known in Lithuania because of their culinary contribution of kibinai, which hopefully you will have tried at a restaurant in Trakai. Kibinai, probably my favorite Lithuanian dish, are pastries filled with meat, vegetables, cheeses, or fruit jams.
If you would like to spend even more time in Trakai, consider renting a paddleboat or kayak to explore the lake and get a different view of the castle. You can find numerous rental companies along the water facing the castle.
Day trips from Vilnius
While Trakai is the top day trip from Vilnius, if you would like to explore more of the country, you may also consider visiting Kaunas, which is the second largest city in Lithuania. No matter where you visit in Lithuania, I’m sure you will be amazed by the stunning natural beauty and interesting architecture in the country.
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