Paluse and the Aukštaitija National Park

Lots of practical tips for visiting a beautiful area of ​​Lithuania, fully experiencing nature and organizing outdoor activities and excursions. Here's where to stay and when to leave for Aukštaitija National Park.

Not only the old town of Vilnius and the 'living' dunes of Neringa, the Lithuania offers an uncontaminated and enveloping nature where placid blue lakes meet dense evergreen forests. If this seems to be right for you then you can't help but visit the oldest nature reserve in Lithuania, the Aukštaitija National Park.

Paluse and the Aukštaitija National Park

When to visit Aukštaitija National Park

The best time to visit the park is undoubtedly the summer, even better during the month of July, when the risk of summer showers is reduced to a minimum. You will find long and bright days (in the evening it gets dark at midnight!), Warm temperatures but which rarely exceed 30 degrees, and cool evenings that will allow you to sleep peacefully.
A little more than 100 km from Vilnius, The best way to reach the park is by car, to find yourself at your destination in about an hour and a half. Indeed, the Lithuanian railway system is still 'old style' and far from the performance of our high-speed trains. Reaching these locations would require a journey of several hours and at least a couple of changes.

For the rental I highly recommend theCityBee app, which allows you to rent cars and scooters directly, even for several days, without having to go through agencies or offices. In this way you will avoid the usual bureaucratic delays. To reach the park, on the faster A14 motorway, prefer the state road 102. In fact, at the cost of just ten more minutes of navigation, you can enjoy a much more evocative road that crosses dense fir forests and golden wheat fields.

Practical advice

Keep your eyes open to the side of the roadway: it is not so rare to come across roe deer and other animals standing by the roadside waiting for the most favorable moment to cross.

Where stay

Paluse is definitely the ideal base camp: small village that rises on the shores of the lake. In addition to houses with well-kept gardens, it offers all the necessary services for a pleasant stay, including a tourist center, a church, a mini-market and a bar. For the overnight stay, I recommend theTiki Inn hotel, a beautiful wooden hut with a slightly retro taste that overlooks the lake. This property is equipped with beach volleyball and basketball courts, sauna and outdoor whirlpool. A perfect place to relax after a long day in the canoe.

Paluse and the Aukštaitija National Park

Paluse and the Aukštaitija National Park

Alternatively they can be rented rooms and mini apartments in the local b'n'b: along the provincial road that crosses the town there are a couple of them indicated by the roadside signs. Do not hesitate to enter freely and ask for information on prices and availability. In fact, they often lack websites or if they have them they are rarely in a language other than Lithuanian or Russian.

Aukštaitija National Park: what to do

The most suggestive way to explore the park and fully enjoy its beauty is undoubtedly by water. To do this, you are spoiled for choice: kayaks, canoes, sailing boats, motorboats and pedal boats, allow you to enjoy 360 degrees of nature from a unique perspective. Simply choose the vehicle that suits you best.

A canoe adventure

Often it is possible to rent boats directly from the structure in which you are staying, otherwise you can rely on the two boat rentals on the lake shore. I highly recommend, even if only for a short distance, to try a canoe adventure. You can choose routes of varying length and difficulty, which wind through the 126 lakes of the region connected by rivers and canals that cross the forest. Circular routes several hundred meters long that can be covered in less than an hour, or more demanding routes of 20 km or more that require a whole day: the choice is wide and varied. If you don't have one, you will probably have to rent one waterproof bag to take on the canoe with you: try to bring only the bare minimum, every gram more when you paddle you feel!

Paluse and the Aukštaitija National Park

An important tip

The routes are poorly marked, so don't hesitate to ask for a plastic map of the region. During your trip you will notice on the shores of lakes and rivers various wooden piers make space between the reeds and small sandy beaches. Feel free to land for a short stop.

Adventures in the Park

To spend a few hours under the banner of adrenaline, at theZuvedra hotel in Ignalina (a few km from Paluse), there is an adventure park, where you can test your climbing skills on the path that winds through the pine trees. For the more daring there is also one zip-line which connects the two shores of the lake in front.
Alternatively, treat yourself to one walk in the woods on the slopes of the opposite bank, the path is well marked and there is no risk of getting lost.

For lovers of the genre or for a trip out of the ordinary, it is possible to visit the Ignalina nuclear power plant, 45 minutes north of Paluse. The power plant was made famous by the recent “Chernobyil” series. In fact, many scenes, given the similarity with the unfortunate Soviet power plant, were filmed right here. A guided tour (also in English) allows you to visit the interior, including the control room.

Paluse and the Aukštaitija National Park

The outdoor activities do not end here: bike rides on the paths that run along the lakes and the birdwatching both are valid excuses to extend your stay immersed in nature.

Gastronomic tips

Finally a couple of "gastronomic" tips. At sunset, if you want to relax while sipping a cocktail or one of the many local beers, a visit to the bar on the pier of the marina is a must. This place is called la Aukštaitijos laivai, a meeting place for young sailors, fishermen and sailing instructors. The ingredients for a simple but quality 'aperitif' are all there: the reflection of the sun in the lake, old pallets converted into sofas thanks to large white cushions and rock classics in the background.
To complete the experience I recommend that you delight yourself with one DIY Baltic style grill. In fact, hotels and b'n'b often provide grills and wood in the outdoor areas. Get everything you need in one of Ignalina's two large supermarkets: baked potatoes and marinated cucumbers are the perfect accompaniment to a bbq based on Šašlykai, the typical Lithuanian pork skewers marinated with aromatic herbs.

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