Aukštaitija National Park

Aukštaitija is a region of hills, lakes and forests. For everyone looking for new impressions, it is recommended to visit this land as it would only take a few hours to get there by car or by train from the biggest Lithuanian cities. Quite a small investment of your time would buy off an unforgettable experience.

The Aukštaitija National Park was approved as one in 1974. The park then was called National Park of Lithuanian SSR, but as soon as Lithuania got back its independence, the current name for it was given. The main purpose of establishing of this park was to preserve cultural and natural heritage of Aukštaitija region which distinguishes in unique ethnography and also to spread an idea of eco-awareness.

Download Aukštaitija National park self-guided tour for free here!

Nature

The Aukštaitija National Park is located in Eastern Lithuania, only a hundred kilometers far from Vilnius. It covers an area of 3 districts which in total is larger than 4000 hectares. The relief here was formed by glaciers thus it is pretty broken. Waters cover  15% of the whole area – 126 smaller and bigger lakes here stretch. The biggest are Kretuonas and Drignis, Tauragnas lake is the deepest one not only in Aukštaitija National Park, but in all Lithuania. The climate here is pretty unpredictable, even the local microclimate may surprise with sudden changes thus it is recommended for coming visitors to be prepared for both- heat and slob. Approximately 70% of territory of the park is covered with forests. The variety of flora here is really amazing though. 663 kinds of mushrooms, 779 different kinds of higher plants, exceptional nature monuments like 800 year old Tranaiškis oak, a group of 14 junipers, the highest one is 12 meters tall, and other sights can be found here.  But even more impressive is the “collection” of local fauna. Aukštaitija National Park is proud to have 51 species of birds included into the Red book. Variety of insects here is so affluent that it`s hard to investigate all of them. A probability here to see a  worm of inconceivable colors or a bug that you have never even imaged could exist as a creature of such shapes is pretty big. And of course, waters here are rich in fish, reaches of forests hide many species of reptiles and mammals. No doubt that in these forests there is an amazing world where there are also many rules and many inhabitants that communicate in their wild animal language.

Places to visit

There are 6 old watermills in the Aukštaitija National Park. The most famous of them is the 200 years old Ginučiai watermill. Inside the mill there is a unique equipment preserved, this mill is included into heritage list of Lithuanian technique. In addition, Aukštaitija National Park is full of mounds that were settled  in the 9th-12th centuries.  One of the most spectacular  mounds is the Taurapilis mound. Located among 3 lakes the mound is well known for its legendary history. There are also a few hills worth visiting – Ladakalnis and the Lygumų kalnas (Hill of Flats). In order to strengthen the impression of natural monuments, some sights here were built by human. One of the examples is a wooden church of Palūšė which is a monument of wooden architecture in Lithuania. As being a unique architectural example in Lithuania including an octangular belfry, it was even printed on a banknote of 1 litas. The banknote is not used in money circulation anymore, however, an example of it will always be kept somewhere as a valuable exhibit of Lithuanian history. By the way, in Palūšė village there a famous Lithuanian composer Mikas Petrauskas was born and lived. He was an author of the very first Lithuanian opera “Birutė”. There was a monument erected for this musician in 1973.

Museums

Perhaps the most interesting museum in the Aukštaitija National Park is the museum of Ancient Beekeeping. It is a place where visitors can get acquainted with Lithuanian beekeeping traditions and history. Also, entire ethnographic villages scattered around the territory of Aukštaitija National Park are all as open air museums.