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Top 10 Things to do in Anykščiai 2021, Lithuania

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About Anykščiai

Officially, Anykščiai is not a SPA town but definitely feels like one. The city of about 10.000 inhabitants clearly punches above its weight. The natural beauty of the surrounding landscape is well known in the whole country. All thanks to a local bishop, a mathematician, and most importantly a poet – Antanas Baranauskas, whose legendary “Anykščių šilelis” (eng Anykščiai pinewoods) is taught across Lithuania in schools. A. Baranauskas is not the only poet to come from Anykščiai, he was followed by famous Lithuanian writers like Jonas Biliūnas and Antanas Vienuolis-Žukauskas. For that particular reason, Anykščiai is sometimes called the Weimar of Lithuania. I wonder if all of this is random, or is there something special about the area of Anykščiai, capable of awakening the best qualities of men?

Antanas Baranauskas was the first to romantize the beautiful landscape of the areas surrounding Anykščiai. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

History of Anykščiai

The first settlers have moved to the location of Anykščiai as soon as it was possible around 9.000 years BC. It was the time when the last Ice Age has ended, leaving deglaciated lands, suitable for newcomers. Despite being populated since the paleolithic times, Anykščiai was relatively late to appear in historic terms. The town was first mentioned in 1422, which is 10.422 years later after the first archeological evidence of humans. Of course, Lithuania was late to the party of written history, but virtually nothing comes earlier than the XIII century in historic terms.

Antanas Vienuolis-Žukauskas played a huge role, shaping some of the most visited places in Anykščiai. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Anykščiai Details

Map of Anykščiai

River Šventoji from Anykščiai Treetop walking path. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Name Origins of Anykščiai

The casual boring explanations originate the name of Anykščiai from River Anykšta. Like anywhere else in the world, it is logical to assume that the landmark gave the name to a settlement, not otherwise.

A legend tells a rather simple story about a woman who went to a nameless river to do laundry and accidentally hurt her thumb. Naturally, the woman started shouting – “Awww, thumb!!! “, which translates to Lithuanian – “Aaaa, nykštys”. There are much more legends and tales about the origins of the town’s name but most of them are related to a thumb.

Though Anykščiai was probably named after River Anykšta, the main river in the town is River Šventoji. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Things to do in Anykščiai

Given the relatively small size of Anykščiai and the lack of SPA town status, the amount of things to do in the area is surprisingly high.  Therefore, the making of this list was relatively hard to do. You might disagree with this list, but I opted for natural locations, whose attractiveness made Anykščiai popular in the first place.

Puntukas boulder is also a memorial to the legendary pilots of Lituanica – Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas, who flew over the Atlantic Ocean in 1933. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

1. Puntukas Boulder

Falling just after Barstyčiai boulder, it is the second-largest but the most popular boulder in Lithuania. Given that Lithuania has no mountains, it is a rather unusual location for a 265-ton granite giant. An old legend tells a story of the devil himself carrying the rock to destroy Anykščiai Church but he got interrupted by the early morning roosters. In reality, the devil must have been a glacier that carried Puntukas boulder from Scandinavia and left it 6 km / 3.72 mi away from the current location of Anykščiai once the ice had withdrawn from the area.

2. Memorial Museum of A. Baranauskas ir A. Vienuolis-Žukauskas

The memorial site of poet A. Baranauskas is the oldest and first such site in Lithuania. It was opened in 1927 by another local writer A. Vienuolis, whose house stood right next to the barn of A. Baranauskas and soon after became a part of the important cultural museum of Anykščiai.

A. Vienuolio Žukausko namas (kairėje) ir A. Baranausko klėtelė (dešinėje). Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

3. Anykščių Šilelis

The famous pinewoods from the legendary poem of Antanas Baranauskas “Anykščių šilelis” (Eng. Anykščiai pinewoods). A great recreational walking getaway. 

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4. Anykščiai Treetop Walking Path

It is the first of the kind walking path in the Baltics and the whole of Eastern Europe. The 300 m / 984 ft treetop route gives a possibility to experience Anykščiai pinewoods from a different and impressive angle. The end of the walking route will impress with its lovely panorama of River Šventoji flowing in the midst of a scenic forest.

Anykščiai treetop walking path “Lajų takas” is the first of its kind in the Eastern Europe. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

5. Horse Museum and Niūronys

Located 8 km / 5 mi from Anykščiai, Niūronys is a tiny ethno-village famous for its one of the kind horse museum in whole Lithuania. Despite that, I would say that the whole village is like an open-air museum. Niūronys has a few reconstructed ethnographic homesteads of highlanders (lit. Aukštaičiai). People still practice traditional Lithuanian celebrations like rye harvest (lit. Rugiapjūtė).

Niūronys is the hometown of Lithuanian writer J. Biliūnas. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

6. Rubikių Lake and Viewpoint Tower

Situated about 10 km / 6,21 mi from Anykščiai, Lake Rubikiai serves as the main destination in the area during the summer season, and it has important symbolic value to Anykščiai – it is the source of River Anykšta. Lake Rubikiai is also known for its 13 islands. The beauty of the lake could be observed from the 15 m / 49 ft height observation tower near Bijeikiai.

7. Old Town of Anykščiai

Though parts of Anykščiai Old Town were destroyed during the Nazi withdrawal in 1944, parts of it, and most importantly the layout, remain intact to this day. Today, the heart of Anykščiai houses some cafes, restaurants, and other places, creating a perfect atmosphere for the next A. Baranauskas to write his or her poem about this cozy little town and the beautiful surrounding nature.

Anykščiai obtained city rights in 1516. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

8. Monument Beacon of Happiness

A monument and a burial place, built on Liudiškių hill in Anykščiai Regional Park, of the famous Lithuanian poet from the town – Jonas Biliūnas. 

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9. Anykščiai Church Tower Viewpoint

Standing 79 m / 259 ft high, the Church of Apostle Evangelist St. Matthew in Anykščiai is the highest church in Lithuania. Puntukas Boulder wouldn’t be enough to destroy this Church but Germans managed to destroy bell towers during World War I.

It is possible to climb the highest church bell tower in Lithuania if you dare to. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

10. Šeimyniškėliai hillfort

A rather controversial but interesting reconstruction of the only known castle of King Mindaugas – Voruta on Šeimyniškėliai Hillfort. The Archaeological site matches the dates of his reign but there is no direct evidence to prove this claim even though it is one of the most archeologically excavated hillforts in the whole Eastern Baltics. The hypothesis probably comes from the two river Šventoji tributaries: Volupis and Varelis, surrounding the ancient hillfort. 

View from the bell-tower of St Mathew Church. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

How to get to Anykščiai from Vilnius

The wide variety of activities and a good connection to the largest cities, especially the Capital of Lithuania – Vilnius, makes Anykščiai among the most popular tourist destinations in Lithuania.

Anykščiai hosts many different festivities throughout the year. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

By Bus

The Capital of Lithuania is relatively well connected to Anykščiai. You’ll find various buses routing from Vilnius to the resort town. The journey takes between 2 and 3 hours, depending on the operator. You can find the bus timetable Vilnius – Anykščiai here.


By Car

Two motorways with a discourse are leading from Vilnius to Anykščiai: Vilnius – Molėtai motorway (A14) and Vilnius – Ukmergė highway (A2), the latter one being a faster and more convenient choice. Just follow the road until you reach Ukmergė. Don‘t exit tr here but continue towards Panevežys. On the crossroads in Town Dukstyna, take the exit towards Utena on motorway A6. Continue straight for about 10 km / 6.21 mi and then take an exit towards Anykščiai on road 120.


By Tour

For foreign visitors of Lithuania a guided tour might be the most convenient way to reach Anykščiai. This way you won’t have to worry about all the fuss of planning the journey in an attempt to fit everything Anykščiai has to offer in one day. All you need to do is just to book the guided tour to Anykščiai in advance and everything will be taken care of for you. If you change your mind, it is possible to cancel the tour to get a full refund in advance up to 4 hours before the trip.

Personal Experience

I’ve been to Anykščiai before, and I knew that there are relatively quite a few things to do, and even more places worth visiting. Nevertheless, I have to admit that once I visited it again in 2021, I was pleasantly surprised. For a town with a population below 10.000 inhabitants, Anykščiai has much more places to eat and drink, compared to similar counterparts. This is where its SPA area (Ger. kurort) status comes in handy.

Given the location of the resort, it is a perfect day-trip destination from Vilnius. Though if you want to have enough time to see all the natural and cultural landmarks around the town, I would suggest making it a two-day trip. There is a high variety of apartments to rent within Anykščiai and a luxurious Anykščiai SPA Vilnius hotel for more picky visitors.  One way or another, I expect Anykščiai resort town to be a pleasure for any visitor, just as it was for me.

All content and photos by Alis Monte. If you want to collaborate, contact me on info@ctdots.eu Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

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