As the first Baltic nation to become a member of the World Tourism Organisation, Lithuania demonstrated the importance of ecotourism to the country. Between 2003 and 2006, a National Tourism Development Programme was developed, and a marketing strategy was developed shortly after that. Some of the areas in which Lithuania wanted to focus on were national parks, local tourism, and seas and inland waters. Through proactive government support and a keen eye for sustainable tourism development, Lithuania has not only built a successful ecotourism industry, but has also been acknowledged as one of the world’s most ethical destinations.
Lithuania’s National Parks are a source of national pride, and play a significant role in the country’s tourism industry. Each park has something different to offer, whether it be coastal scenery, lakes, villages, or culture, and Lithuania works hard to preserve and conserve the uniqueness of each park.
Aukshtaitskiy national park, the oldest in Lithuania, is home to over 120 picturesque lakes, old windmills, and the Museum of Ancient Beekeeping. Dzukiyskiy national park is the largest in Lithuania, and is home to the Museum of Ethnography as well as extensive bicycle paths and rental facilities. Zhemaitia national park is where you’ll find ruins of castles and some of the most impressive landscapes in the country. This park is also a haven for water enthusiasts, and famous for its cycling, kayaking, birdwatching, fishing, and diving opportunities.
Not only is it essential for local communities to be a part of tourism development, it also enhances the tourist’s experience when they are participating in local activities. A company that really understands the notion of local experiences is Urban Adventures, who have a partner in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, offering two day tours of the city. With Vilnius Urban Adventures, visitors can get an authentic local perspective on life in Vilnius and the surrounding area. Visitors get to see the views and panoramas from Subaciaus Hill, visit the Vilnius Potter’s Guild, learn about the history and culture of the city, and sample some local produce and beer.
Seas and Inland Waters
The Zarasai region borders Latvia and Belarus, and is meant to be ‘Heavenly shore on Earth’, at least that’s what it’s called by the European Commission. Named as one of the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN), the Zarasai region is famed for its watery beauty, with lakes and rivers meandering throughout the area.
When visiting the Zarasai region, don’t expect to do anything that’s not on or in the water, as water activities dominate here. Rent a boat, kayak, or canoe and head out to explore the area that was named the cultural capital of Lithuania in 2008. Be sure to stop by the Great Island of Zarasas Lake, the largest island in Lithuania, and see if you can find the legendary pine that sits beside a pit of money and treasures.
Ecotourism in Lithuania
Lithuania is an ideal country in which to experience ecotourism due to its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and local opportunities. The government is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of Lithuania’s natural resources, like its revered national parks, and as such is a great place to travel responsibly and ethically.
Photo Credit: Nigel’s Europe