Tour distances: cycling ~238 km /149 mi., by train ~124 km/78 mi.
Cycling grade: We rate this trip as moderate level. Daily biking routes mainly on low traffic paved roads and some cycle paths, gravel roads range from 25 to 65 km (16-41 miles) each day. The terrain is varied and rolling with some gradual hills on riding days around Trakai, Aukštadvaris Regional Park and river valleys in Dzūkija Region.
Arrival & departure airports:
KAUNAS (110 km/69 mi. away from Vilnius and 220 km/64 mi. away from Klaipėda) with regular flights operated by low cost airline RYANAIR. There is a regular Kaunas Airport Express minibus connection to Vilnius and Klaipėda.
7 days self-guided cycling tour from/to Vilnius (Code SG10)
Explore two national parks and one regional park of Lithuania on very scenic routes. The tour includes the capital city Vilnius with its Old town designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – Trakai known as the historical national park due to the 15thC Insular castle. The most interesting route of this tour leads through Aukštadvaris Hills Region and the Čepkeliai - Dzūkija National park which is the largest nature reserve in Lithuania and it’s one of 13 unique PAN parks in Europe. This park is especially famous for its rich forests and multitude of rivers. As much as 91 % of the park territory is covered by forest where one can still see traditional bee-keeping caves, historically made from holes carved high up in the trunks of pine trees. The tour includes a few journeys by local trains, while our cycle route goes along paved routes, gravel roads and forest paths, through many ethnographical villages, Grūtas Park of soviet sculptures, ancient monastery in Liškiava, etc. Guests spend 2 nights in Druskininkai, a wellness springs resort town, famous for its ion-filled mineral water springs and clean air.
Day 1: Vilnius
Arrive individually in Vilnius and transfer to your hotel (not included). Hotel check-in followed by information meeting and a guided city tour by bicycle, “All sides of Vilnius”. The capital city is mostly famous for its old town but you will get a deeper look how people do live in this city. Let’s explore the city in a world of baroque, wood-and high-rise buildings; and in the multi-ethnic mix, the Jewish, Polish and of course Lithuanian stories, just as they are here. Overnight in Vilnius.
Day 2: Vilnius- Čepkeliai - Dzūkija National/PAN park -Druskininkai (cycling ~50 km/31 mi., by train 99 km/62 miles)
Take a morning train to Marcinkonys (2 hrs.), an administration centre of the Čepkeliai - Dzūkija National/PAN park and a beautiful little village having many cultural and natural heritage sights like a wooden church from 19thC. Here begins our cycle route which goes along paved routes, gravel roads and forest paths, through ethnographical villages (Musteika, Kableliai, Margionys, Kapiniškiai, Latežeris). The route also passes through Grūtas Park, which has a unique distinction in Lithuania of being the place where all unwanted statues of Lenin were taken after Lithuania regained its independence from the Soviet Union. The day ends in Druskininkai. Overnight in Druskininkai.
Day 3. Druskininkai Wellness Springs Resort (cycling ~25 km/17 mi.)
Druskininkai is a Wellness Springs Resort rich in green pinewoods and mineral waters since 18thC. Besides a wide network of local cycle trails in the surrounding woods (possible circuit route 25 km), now it has modern, internationally approved medical SPA centres, Aqua Parks, Health Resorts, various attractions from bicycles to golf and skis. Druskininkai is home of the famous Lithuanian artist and musician, M.K.Čiurlionis, there are many museums, art galleries, sculpture parks and other cultural sights. Overnight in Druskininkai.
Day 4: Along the Nemunas River (cycling ~60 km/38 miles)
Today’s cycle route passes through Liškiava famous for its 17-18thC Dominican monastery ensemble on the Nemunas River bank. Here you may visit an impressive church (17thC) and it’s cellar where lies Jacobin remains and exposition of liturgical heritage. Continue cycling to Merkinė where you can enjoy spectacular view of a confluence of the Nemunas and Merkys rivers from a top of Merkinė Mound which once housed one of the strongest medieval castles in Eastern Europe. The cycling day ends at a beautiful lake. Overnight at a guesthouse near Daugai.
Day 5: Aukštadvaris Regional Park & Trakai (cycling ~67 km/42 miles)
Today cycle on rolling road to Trakai, a former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. En route cycle through one of the most picturesque sites in the country, Aukštaitija Regional Park, with numerous scenic lakes (the park boasts about 80 of them), the rivers Verknė and Strėva enclosed by old pine forests and hills. oldest original building is also worth visiting. Overnight in Trakai.
Day 6: Trakai Historical National Park & Vilnius (cycling ~25 km/16 mi, by train 18 km/11 miles)
This morning you may explore Trakai Historical National Park by visiting the Island Castle (15thC) a Lithuanian “must see” and the peninsular Trakai Castle ruins (14thC) with historic town centre. Then cycle through picturesque countryside on gentle hills around Lake Galvė to visit Užutrakis manor house with park created in 1897-1902 by count Józef Tyszkiewicz. In the afternoon cycle back to Trakai which offers many cafés and restaurants to choose from for a lunch break and further continue to Lentvaris, then take 22 min ride by train back to Vilnius. The backdrop is beautiful landscape with lakes around. Overnight in Vilnius.
Day 7: Vilnius
Breakfast at the hotel. End of the tour.
SG10. 01.05 – 30.09.2016 (daily departure)
TOUR PRICE per person (level I - Comfort hotels 3*)
3* middle-range comfort hotels and guethouse (1 night)
Rental of trekking bicycle with 7-speed Shimano Nexus hub gears & back-pedal break or 24-speed Shimano derailleur gears & free-wheel (optionally) – 55 EUR per person
Rental of a pair of waterproof panniers (Ortlieb) for mounting on back rack (total capacity of 20 or 40 litres) – € 20
Rental of waterproof handlebar bag with plastic map holder (Ortlieb) – € 10
Bicycle tachometer rental (min. 4 functions) - € 10
Pre/post-tour accommodation with breakfast in Vilnius 3*
Double/twin room - € 75
Single room - € 65
Luggage transport (Vilnius-Druskininkai, Druskininkai-Daugai, Daugai-Trakai, Trakai-Vilnius) – € 369 for a group up to 10 people
Transfer by car from/toVilnius airport (price for one way up to 3 people): € 30