Lithuania is one of the three Baltic countries we visited recently. Sandwiched between the Baltic Sea and almighty Russia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have a reputation for being affordable destinations, especially if compared with more established Western European countries or Scandinavia. So, how much does it cost to visit Lithuania?
Our daily travel expenses in Lithuania were EUR39.40 / USD44.14 per person per day. Our budget is USD50.00, so we were well under. As we explored Lithuania, we divided our time between the capital Vilnius (three nights), its second-biggest city Kaunas (also three nights), and Siauliai (one night).
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Travel Cost Assumptions
When reading this article, please keep the following in mind:
- The costs are based upon a couple travelling together.
- We are independent travellers, researching and organising our own itinerary using curated travel resources.
- Our travel style is reasonably consistent wherever we go, which is great when you want to compare travel costs between countries:
- Accommodation: We usually stay in self-catered accommodation - in our own room and (preferably) our own bathroom, though the kitchen may be shared.
- Dining and Groceries: We have at least two meals a day at home. We like to eat out at cafes or restaurants every few days.
- Transportation: Wherever possible, we travel by public transport.
- Experiences: We pay for some tourist attractions or activities, but are selective as our funds are limited (just like everyone elses).
- In addition to above expense categories, we also include in the overall daily costs (though only for the period we are in the country) our mail scanning and forwarding service, mobile phone plans and travel insurance.
- Not considered are the costs for entry or exit transport into/out of the country.
Where We Travelled
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We sourced our accommodation through booking, renting a private room with a shared bathroom in our host’s home and two small apartments.
Shared accommodation allows us to stay within budget while not compromising on certain comforts, such as a kitchen where we can prepare meals. It also allows us to learn more about our destinations through conversations with our hosts. This was certainly the case with our Vilnius hosts, Vilte and Aivaras, whom we even had dinner with on our last night in Vilnius.
Two of the three places we stayed at were austere, five-story apartment blocks from the 1960s/1970s, which reminded Sandra of her childhood (as she grew up in a very similar one in East Germany). Not luxurious, but comfortable and perfectly suitable nevertheless.
How to save money on accommodation?
For accommodation, as with any other travel expenses, it’s worth shopping around. When we book accommodation somewhere, we tend to look across a number of booking platforms to find the best value for money option. Wherever you book, do make sure you read the fine print to make sure you compare apples with apples. For example, your stay may incur extra charges (like local tourist taxes or cleaning fees). Some booking platforms include them, while with others, you have to pay them to your host upon arrival.
Nightly rates are generally cheaper outside of peak season. If you can only travel in peak season, look for accommodation options that are a little further away from the main tourist attractions, yet have good connections by public transport.
We use and recommend the following booking platforms.
Vilnius and Kaunas both had very efficient bus and trolleybus systems. A single ride was EUR1 per person (purchasing the tickets from the driver). If you are in Vilnius for more than a couple of days (and are better organised than we were), it pays to get the Vilniečio kortelė (Electronic Ticket) – a card that is credited with money and/or public transport tickets. The two benefits are:
- the ride cost is cheaper (EUR0.65), and
- you are able to transfer to another route on the same ticket.
How to save money on transportation?
Being flexible is what really pays when it comes to transportation and air travel in particular. Travel outside of peak season if you can. If you can't, fares might still be cheaper during certain times of the week and even hours of the day, so check websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights that allow you to see a whole month and all the options on any given date.
If there are several airports in the vicinity of your home (or in the vicinity of your destination) compare the prices between the different options. For example, flying to Mykonos and taking the ferry to Santorini might end up being way cheaper than flying from your home airport straight to Santorini.
We use and recommend the following online travel agents and service providers for our transportation needs:
To find good flight deals, we use one-stop travel sites or travel aggregators. Each shows the cheapest airfares on any given day, so you can choose to fly a day/week/month earlier or later, pending your flexibility.
If you find a good deal, book it there and then as prices change constantly. Ideally do your research with your browser in incognito mode, as cookies will show booking sites how keen you are to do a certain trip, which may affect the price quoted – that goes for all online travel bookings (not just flights). The best fares generally go first, so planning ahead is important when it comes to (air) transportation. The same is true if you want to use air points/miles, as there is only a very limited number of seats available for any given flight. We tend to not actually go through the flight aggregators, but book with the airline/s directly. The price is usually the same but we have a direct contract with the airline (rather than with the middleman) in case something goes wrong.
If you plan to travel across multiple continents, you may want to compare passes that offer several destinations as a package (such as around-the-world fares offered by One World or Star Alliance members) vs booking each leg of your trip individually. If you are travelling during peak season those multi-destination packages may be a better deal than booking each leg individually. You can do overland sections on around-the-world tickets too, which means you could supplement your around-the-world ticket with cheap flights, bus and train rides in between destinations.
Vehicle rental (including relocations)
Unless your trip takes you across oceans, another way to save on transport is to look for vehicle/motorhome relocations. There are websites in many countries offering massively discounted one-way rates (often including fuel and/or insurance) to those driving a vehicle/motorhome from A to B within a certain period. These deals are fairly last minute, and A and B are usually bigger transport hubs, but if that’s an option just search for vehicle/motorhome relocation at your destination.
Speaking of vehicles: If you are planning to hire a vehicle at your destination, it also pays to shop around. We use and recommend Discover Cars, an aggregator website that allows you to search across major car rental companies at once. And you don’t have to pay for the hire until you pick up the car.
A final option to save on transport costs is… to hitch a ride. While Paul and I did it safely in Dominica on a public holiday (when there was no other option), and we have taken plenty of people along in our campervan in New Zealand, there are many countries we wouldn’t feel safe hitchhiking. Judge for yourself where and when you can and can’t do it.
Groceries and Dining
Trying typical Lithuanian dishes and beverages was certainly something we were looking forward to, and we were not disappointed. We just had to get away from the touristy areas and eat where the locals eat. As usual, we ate a hot lunch at cafes and a cold dinner of cheese, meat and bread in the evening.
On average, our daily lunch costs EUR5.70 per person. The most traditional Lithuanian restaurant we checked out was Berneliu Uzeiga in Kaunas. We had the Farmer’s Feast which was a whole lot of potatoes (in all variations) and meat. Thankfully, we asked for one portion to share. And it was still way more than we could eat. Including a drink each, it cost EUR20.49.
As mentioned, on our final night in Vilnius, we went out for dinner with our hosts. Bambalynė is a beer hall in the basement down an alleyway in the Old Town. We shared five different beers and a cheese and meat platter. The total bill for a great night out was EUR11.45 each.
How to save money on dining and groceries?
Dining out all the time can quickly get expensive. We always try and book accommodation where we have access to a kitchen - either our own little kitchenette or the kitchen of our host. That way, we can store food in the fridge and make our own meals. We usually have breakfast and one other meal at our accommodation, and one meal when we're out and about.
Restaurants (even in tourist hotspots) often have special lunch offers (for example, a three-course meal for EUR10). Portion sizes in many parts of the world are usually quite substantial, so we often share a three-course meal. The same applies if you go out for dinner: Order a starter or salad and a main, and that's usually enough for two people. An added benefit: there is less food waste.
As for groceries: every country has more expensive and cheaper supermarkets. Ask your host what the cheaper options are (for example, Aldi or Lidl in many European countries) and avoid convenience stores as much as possible.
Experiencing the local cuisine is one of the reasons why WE travel… Paul and I tend to only eat out once a day (sometimes only once a week), usually at lunchtime. This allows us to try local dishes while taking advantage of awesome lunch deals. It also means we don’t have to roam around unknown parts of town every night in search of a restaurant.
We only paid for four tourist attractions in total (all others we chose were free):
- Gediminas Castle Tower and the Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fights (highly recommended) in Vilnius
- the Christ Resurrection Church (with amazing views of the town and beyond) and the House of Perkūnas in Kaunas.
In Siauliai, we visited the famous Kryžių Kalnas, or Hill of Crosses, located 12km north of the city. Although free to explore, you would need (to pay for) public transport to get there.
How to save money on experiences?
Free activities or experiences
Many activities (and some of our most treasured experiences) are free or cost very little. On our journeys, we have
- Visited many museums free of charge (including the Colosseum and Forum in Rome which are free on the first Sunday of the month)
- Joined Al Green’s Baptist Church Service in Memphis (rather than pay the exorbitant entry fees at nearby Graceland)
- Attended free guided walking tours around the world (you pay a tip at the end based on your budget and how much you liked the tour)
- Did countless self-guided walks and used public transport to get to know a city
- Hiked in the Andes in Ecuador and climbed volcanoes in the Caribbean
- Swam and snorkelled at countless beaches, using tree shade rather than paying for parasols; and
- Attended free performances and danced with locals in Cuba.
Just search for free activities in your destination and chances are someone has made a nice list for you already.
Paying for experiences or activities can add up quickly, especially if you're travelling as a family. Make use of family passes (if available). Look out for special deals and discount coupons. If you travel in a group, it may also pay to book a private tour and share the cost. Definitely shop around - here are some of the service providers we have used and can recommend:
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Travel Costs Summary Table
From a safety point of view, we like to have as little cash as possible on us, yet enough to not feel uncomfortable. Of the expenses incurred in Lithuania, we paid 21% in cash. The biggest cash amount was EUR10 for entry into the Gediminas Castle Tower. No credit card facilities were available.
How much did it cost you to explore Lithuania?
I wrote this Lithuania travel costs guide based on our own peronal experiences. If you have explored Lithuania as well and you have something to add about your travel costs, please feel free to contact me. If you liked my travel cost saving tips and found them helpful, I would appreciate it if you could share them with your friends and family via the Share buttons below. Even better, link to the page from your personal blog or social media platforms.