If you should ever decide to visit Lithuania you will now use the euro there. It is represented by the currency code EUR. Since Lithuania is in Europe there was always a chance its former currency, the litas, would eventually be replaced by the euro. This was expected to happen some years ago but the uneasy economic situation has delayed the process. However the date of the change was January 2015.
The currency is a decimal one and each euro is divided into 100 cents. There are one and two euro coins and also a selection of cent-based coins. You will find ones valued at 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents each.
The most commonly-used and found banknotes are the €10, €20 and €50 euro notes. While there are other larger-valued ones they aren’t used as much. While they are legal tender they are generally not as popular since they tend to attract the attention of those who want to forge them. Consider this and check the €100, €200 and €500 banknotes carefully before you use them.
We can trace the original litas back to 1922 and it was brought in specifically to mark the country’s independence after the First World War. Before this the people living in Lithuania used the ostruble and ostmark, as a result of the invasion of the country by Germany.
However the country’s status would lead to another change in the situation in years to come. In 1941 Lithuania was absorbed by the USSR and thus started using the rouble. It won’t come as a big surprise then to learn that when the USSR came to an end, Lithuania re-established its independence and decided to switch currencies once more. It didn’t start using the litas again immediately though – instead it opted for the talonas. It wouldn’t be until 1993 that the litas came back. As you can see the history of currency use in Lithuania has been changeable at best, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise to learn there would be another change – this time to the euro. One wonders whether this will be the final currency the country will enjoy, or whether the litas might yet make another comeback at some point.
You can take euros with you as they are quite easy to get hold of elsewhere. You can also get cash at the airport or at a bank in Lithuania. Of course they also have a good network of cash machines that you can use. Most cards will be acceptable here but the Cirrus logo is quite widely seen on the cash machines, so look for this if you have this card. Credit cards can also be used to obtain cash. Bear in mind that cash is much easier to get in cities and large towns; don’t be too surprised not to find anywhere to get cash if you visit a small village. Always be prepared and have some euros to get by with in these situations.
You can of course also use credit cards to pay for goods and services anywhere in Lithuania. Just check prior to eating a meal or something similar that your particular card is accepted. You should see the sign for the card before you go into the restaurant or café.
The euro is a popular and very well-known currency so you will find it on many currency converters around today. This means you will find it very easy to get the latest exchange rate on the currency when compared to your own. Enter your own currency first and then find the euro from the list of currencies provided in the second drop-down box. Even the more basic converters should list it, but most of the good and reliable ones will have it there.
If you are considering visiting Lithuania and you want to find out a little more about the country beyond what we have for you here, the best place to go is the official website for their embassy in the UK. Formally called the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in the United Kingdom, this can be found at http://www.lithuanianembassy.co.uk/.
The biggest threat you will face in Lithuania is that of petty crime. Pickpocketing is a possibility and so is bag snatching, so it makes sense to remain as safe as you can possibly be in this sense.
For example you can divide up your cash so you don’t carry too much of it in one pocket or purse/wallet. Don’t carry around more cash than you have to either – someone might spot you if you take out a large stash of notes to pay for something and then try to pick your pocket later on. Be very careful when using cards to make payments as well, as this can be problematic. Some tourists have found their cards are charged for large sums instead of small ones, or they have later found other charges were added afterwards. Never let any of your cards out of your sight and check what you are being charged at all times. If you stay in a hotel that offers you a safe, make sure you use it.
So we have covered the currency and how and where to get it. Now we have to explore the various opportunities you will have to use it in Lithuania. You will find the country in northern Europe on a map, and it shares borders with several other countries. Latvia is to the north, while Belarus is to the south east. Poland shares only a small part of the border with Lithuania because there is an exclave that separates much of the Polish border with the Lithuanian border in this area. This is called Kaliningrad Oblast. The east of the country has a small coastal section too.
The first place you may want to consider visiting is the capital, Vilnius. This has some amazing sights that are well worth seeking out. Indeed if you wanted to take a long weekend somewhere in Europe you could do a lot worse! The historic centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its history as a medieval town, and there are many delightful things to note about this area. For example the streets are narrow in places and open out into charming courtyards and squares. You could simply wander around for hours and appreciate the sights here without even thinking about going elsewhere. The style is Baroque but the buildings were not all created at the same time. The historic centre was created over time to provide the outstanding look and feel there is today.
Make sure you see the Vilnius Castle Complex too, which dates back in part to the 10th century. This is a massive site and originally there were actually three castles here. Not all of the areas survive to the present day but there is more than enough to see and appreciate for you to look at.
But what of the rest of Lithuania? Well, you can visit a charming part of the country known as Aukstaitija National Park. This can be found in the north eastern part of the country and boasts more than one hundred lakes in all. This might give you an idea of how vast the park is and how much it has to offer. The park is popular among many people who want to get out and about in nature. You can enjoy numerous walks and hikes here, as well as water sports that are possible on some of the lakes.
There are some quirks to this country as well, and surely one of the main ones is known as the Hill of Crosses. This is a very accurate description but you might be surprised to learn just how many crosses there are here – around 100,000 in all. They are of all sizes and built from various materials. There is a walkway that takes you up between them as well. The exact history of the Hill of Crosses is unknown but it is thought that the crosses began to be placed here in the early 1800s. Many Lithuanians now see the area as one of pilgrimage, but it is popular among tourists as well.
Lithuania is a fascinating country that has a lot to offer. It is great to visit for a weekend away as well as for longer holidays. It is a relatively safe country too, and its history has allowed it to provide the stunning attractions it has in cities such as its capital, as well as the delights of the countryside. When will you find the time to spend some euros here?