Vilnius is a charming city. Yet, one of my top recommendations if you are in the lithuanian capital, is to take a day to relax and visit Trakai. In fact, spend some time in Vilnius and not visiting Trakai is like to be in Rome and not to see the Pope.
Trakai is a like a fairytale dream: imagine to arrive to an imponent castle surrounded by a lake inside a national park. The Trakai Island Castle was build in the 14th century and became the most important fortress in Lithuania. Composed by a series of towers, the red-bricked castle is accessible by a wooden bridge, long and iconic in the same measure. Kind of ‘Game of the Thrones’ vibe.
Trakai peninsula, as part of the heritage of the Karaims, is a place to be in touch with the nature: there are dozens of green pathways to roam and the lake Galve with picturesque shores to discover. It is possible to take a boat trip in the lake, for 5 euros and 30 minutes, and get a different view from the castle and the surroundings.
How to get to Trakai?
Trakai lies 28 km west of Vilnius and the best (and cheapest) way to get there is by public transportation.
From Vilnius Bus Station ~ Vilniaus autobusų stotis ~, next to the central train station, there are several buses to Trakai, departing every 10 to 20 minutes. You can check the schedule here.
My tip for you to save some money is to buy a round trip ticket (not more than 4 euros) in one of the few offices inside the bus station (to the driver is, generally, more expensive) and then find your bus in the platforms 6, 7, 8 (local bus), 28 or 29.
The journey takes no more than 45 minutes and drops passengers off at the local bus station. From there, be ready to walk 20 minutes to cross this pleasant town and finally arrive at the Trakai castle.
Trakai is definitely a low-key place. Appreciate the typical Baltic wooden houses on the way and take some time to look beyond it: you will find several lakes that make Trakai an unforgetable place to be… and to return someday, hopefully.