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Travel in Angola

Although it’s difficult to get and travel through Angola, no doubt that there is something really special about this country that makes it worth all the struggle.

So let’s uncover some of Angola’s travel mysteries and have a look at what to expect while exploring this stunning country.

Markets

Markets are the place where everything happens, they buzz with life and are a great place to meet and talk to some friendly locals and of course, buy fresh produce.

Don’t expect anything fancy here, only a lot of dust, and very basic infrastructures made out of some sticks, mud, and fabrics. The markets are normally massive and depending on the location and time of the day, can also be very crowded, so be patient, and on guard.

It’s also usual to see women and children selling fruits, vegetables and gasoline on the side of the road. You can also see between the thousands of street sellers in Angola, people selling car spares, school manuals, toilet paper, toilet seats, cell phones, well… literary everything.

Beaches

Angola has beautiful, quiet and untouched beaches but also beaches full of life, people and loud music. Angolans love to have a good time, to drink, dance and listen to music being Kizomba, kuduro and Semba the most popular genres.

Angola’s Countryside

Angola’s countryside is the vision of a country that is suspended in time with a past of war that didn’t disappear from its walls.

Picturesque small settlements, baobab trees, rivers, mountains and deserts are the richness of this country. The small settlements tell stories of a resourceful population that makes everything from nothing.

Slams

Slams in Angola are called musekes (musseques), it’s impossible to count how many you will see spreading through the country. An image of a sad reality. Extreme poverty and social inequities.

Nature at its best

Angola is a country with immense natural beauty that changes drastically from north to south, east to west.

What to visit and where to go
  1. Namibe, beaches, a magnificent desert, and Mucubais Tribe
  2. Lobito, great beaches
  3. Benguelaarchitecture and beaches
  4. Malange, national park and waterfalls 
  5. Serra de Leba, fantastic scenery 
  6. Catumbela, scenery, river and crocodiles 
  7. Cunene, Himba tribe and scenery 
  8. Chibia, Muila (Mumuila or Mumuhuila) tribe and the Mukumba tribal market
  9. Lubango, colonial architecture
  10. Oncocua, traditional place where different ethnic groups live, the Himba, the Mucawana and the Mutua.

Have you ever been to Angola? Find here all you need to know before going on a trip to Angola.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha 

Discovering Angola – Travel guide

Angola was my home for 2 years and I have great memories about this colourful, warm, magic and not yet well-known county.

Travelling through Angola is a real challenge, that starts with getting a visa. The country is not really open to tourism and to be fair doesn’t really like visitors… Although it seems that things are changing slowly in this regard.

Luanda

If you are lucky enough to get a visa you will land in the international airport of Luanda, Angola’s capital city. An extremely expensive place with a high level of violent crime, where you can’t walk on your own after dark. I’ve been to Luanda many times, but I don’t recommend it.

Angola has miles and miles of coastline, rainforests in the north, the world’s oldest desert in the south, and savannah in between.

Language and food

You need to know how to speak Portuguese to be able to communicate. A very low percentage of the local population can communicate in English.

Outside the big cities eating out is also difficult. There are no restaurants, so you will need to find where the markets are, buy the ingredients and cook your meals.

When you find a place selling food expect it to be expensive and some have poor hygienic conditions.

Transports –  getting around

Compared with Luanda the rest of the country is relatively safer but there are no reliable or safe public transports.

The options are the local minibuses that are called Candongueiros, painted in blue and white or you can also get a ride from a motorbike called cupapatas

This is the informal economy, they don’t belong to a company, so there is no timetables, no stipulated stops or standards by any means. 

The candogeiro’s driver shouts trough the window to advertise where they are going to. The cupapata is mainly for short distances and will go anywhere you want.

Both options are used by locals but are very unsafe. They have very bad driving habits and do unimaginable things like driving on the sidewalk. I don’t recommend you to use any of these options as a tourist. Because to do it you really need to know well what is going on and speak the local lingo.

Before buying my 4×4 I used those options and was involved in some minor accidents. But you see almost daily road accidents involving both cupapatas and Candongueiros. Road sinistrality in Angola is a serious issue.

Renting a car is difficult and extremely expensive, but getting your vehicle (4×4) is essential. Just bear in mind that driving standards and some road conditions are poor, to say the least. 

There is a good road between the capital Luanda – Lubango and Namibe but getting into remoter areas can be rough.

Police Officers

Angola’s police officers are notorious for asking for bribes—known as gasosa. It’s safe to say that if you are driving you will not miss this experience.

I can’t count how many times I was stopped and accused of an imagined traffic infraction and then offered to pay for a gasosa instead of paying a fine. My advice is – always offer to pay the fine.

Mines

When exploring less well-established routes outside major towns, mines and unexploded ordnance remain a problem, sometimes even in ‘cleared’ areas. So try to travel on well-established routes.

Accommodation

Outside the capital, accommodation is scarce, expensive and most of the times the conditions are deplorable. Once I stayed in the only place available in a remote country-side village, where there was no running water, the toilet was a hole on the floor, there was no electricity, and can’t even start describing how dirty it was, all of this for $100USD p/night! I know shocking.

Power and water can be cut off for days without notice, having a generator it’s essential.

Sometimes the best option is to camp on a deserted beach 🙂

Topics to avoid

Basic rules of politeness are essential at all times anywhere you are in the world. But in Angola, there are a few more things that you should keep in mind. Avoid talking about the government, politics and the civil war. Angola is a democracy in name only, and Angolans can be nationalistic and proud.

It will happen that when you are talking to a group of Angolans the discussions will turn to politics, just try to listen more than talk.

Be ready for the mosquitos

Mosquitos are your public enemy number one, try to keep safe. The last thing you need is to get malaria or even yellow fever. To enter the country you’ll need an International Certificate of Vaccination (Yellow Card)

Pollution and lack of basic sanitary conditions

There are a few severe problems with garbage, fly-tipping, open-air sewage, polluted water and in the big cities air pollution is very poor due to the heavy traffic and obsolete vehicles.

Find here more about what to see and where to go while travelling through Angola.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha 

Travelling in Armenia as a Vegan

Let’s start by saying that if you think veganism is too difficult or rare in Armenia, luckily you’re completely wrong 😊

Not that Armenia is full of trendy vegan restaurants and cafes, far from that. Armenians really love their meat and food is pretty dairy heavy… but because some traditional Armenian dishes are actually vegan.

Lent probably has an impact on it. Christians abstain from animal products for some time during the year and some restaurants even have a Lent Menu.

When eating out you can always find something vegan, like hummus, falafel, nuts, dried fruit or tabbouleh (green salad).

Here is a list of traditional Armenian food that is accidentally vegan

Tabbouleh – Salad made of bulgur, mint, onions, and tomatoes, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Ghapama – stuffed baked pumpkin dish with boiled rice and dried fruits and nuts.

Lavash – A thin flatbread made with flour, water, and salt, and sometimes sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds.

Armenian garden salad – Made with tomatoes, basil, parsley, cucumber, romaine lettuce, salt, lemon juice, wine, vinegar, and olive oil.

Dolma – cabbage leaf rolls stuffed with rice, a variety of herbs and normally meat but you can just ask have it without it.

Jengyalov Hac flatbread stuffed with green herbs.

Soups – vegetable soups can be found almost everywhere. Aveluk soup, Cornel soup and Rose hip soup are a must.

Basooc dolma – pickled cabbage leaf with lentils, chickpeas, red kidney beans, and grains, mixed with spices. It is served cold and sometimes with dried apricot.

Lenten Dolma – grape leaf rolls stuffed with rice and spices.

Yerevan has some great places serving delicious vegan meals that you can try while travelling in the capital city of Armenia. Here is a list of the TOP VEGAN RESTAURANTS IN YEREVAN.

Do you know any other Armenian traditional dishes that are vegan-friendly?

Top Vegan places to eat in Yerevan

Armenian cuisine is rich in vegetables, meat, fish and lavash (flatbread), what doesn’t mean, that is not a good country to travel as a vegan. Especially the capital Yerevan. 

You start seeing some vegan/vegetarian dishes poping in the menus slowly in Yerevan, and many traditional Armenian dishes are accidentally vegan.

From my experience, Yerevan restaurants, in general, serve quality food and have always some options for vegan even if not identified as such.

Here, is a list of great places from where you can have a delicious vegan meal while travelling in the capital city of Armenia, Yerevan.

TOP vegan restaurants in Yerevan
Jengyalov Hac

Cosy place that serves just one dish, the delicious Jengyalov Hac a flatbread with an assortment of about 20 types of fresh herbs from Artsakh. This is a great place for a cheap, traditional, tasty meal in Yerevan.

Dr.Veggie
A health-food shop and vegan cafe with an entirely vegan menu, serving some local dishes without meat. They have salads, dolma, blinchik and delicious soups.
Life food 

Raw vegan restaurant with a beautiful terrace space on Saryan Street. The food is delicious and they make creative combinations of flavours. They serve amazing burgers, pizza, ice cream, cake, drinks, bowls, soups and wraps.

Twelve Tables

A restaurant with great vegan options like soups, salads, bruschetta, burger and an absolutely divine raw vegan chocolate cake that you can’t miss.

Gouroo Club & Garden 

A cosy restaurant on Saryan Street offering organic, sustainable, natural, and local food. The most popular vegan dishes are the salad with avocado and apple, Soup Laksa and Cauliflower steak. The green juices are also a must.

Soul Kitchen

A Western Armenian home-style cooking restaurant that offers some absolutely delicious vegan dishes.

Elie’s Lahmajun

A cosy traditional family-run business that has some vegan options and exceptionally friendly staff.  They serve Armenian food in the heart of Yerevan and have an affordable menu and delicious food.

Crumbs The Bread Factory 

A coffee shop specialised in European bread and pastry baking.

But apart from the huge bread varieties its also a perfect place to stop and have a cup of coffee or a light healthy lunch. They have a few vegan options on the menu, including a baked falafel sandwich, soup, a delicious vegan sandwich and salad.

Eat&Fit

A great place with a fair amount of vegan options, perfect to go for a cup of fresh juice, a delicious snack or a light healthy meal.

Karas 

A vegan-friendly fast-food franchise with some vegan options such as Lenten dolma, vegetable cutlets and lentil soup.

Have you been in Yerevan, are there any other worth mentioning places serving delicious vegan food?

Top Vegan places to eat in Tbilisi

Once in Georgia, you will find out that lots of local Georgian dishes just happen to be vegan and true to be told.. they are delicious! So don’t worry, if you’re planning to visit this stunning country finding vegan food will not be a problem.

Tbilisi is the vibrant and cosmopolitan capital of Georgia, where the vegan scene is growing. Nowadays there are several outstanding options to choose from.

Here is a list of my favourite places in Tbilisi to eat a great vegan meal.

TOP 5 Vegan restaurants in Tbilisi
Namu

Outstanding place with mainly raw vegan food, gluten-free, sugar-free and table salt-free. Namu was the first raw plant-based place opening in Georgia.

They use high-quality ingredients and create something that is both a treat to the eyes and also incredibly tasty.

They serve fresh juice, kombucha, granola, chocolate, cake, soup, delicious toasts, bowls and rolls. If you want to try some of Ana Tikaradze’s creations she has some recipes on this website.

Irmale’s Cafe

Irmale’s is a small cafe serving healthy vegan dishes and indulgent dessert. They have an eclectic mix of breakfast and lunch options including salads, soups, buckwheat pancakes, juices, smoothies, avocado toast, vegan chocolate and cakes.

Living Vino: Natural Wine Bar & Vegan Food

A wonderful place serving delicious healthy vegan food. Ingredients are sourced from eco farms and the wines from local producers.

Kiwi Vegan Café

One of the most popular places for local vegans. They have an extensive menu, that includes delicious tofu, aubergine sandwich, a cheeseburger with fries, hummus, falafels, pizza, salads, soups, pasta dishes, and wraps.

Muhudo 

Vegan falafel shop in the centre Tbilisi that serves falafel, dips and drinks. The perfect place for a quick tasty snack.

Muhudo მუხუდო vegan yerevan

TOP 2 restaurants in Tbilisi serving vegan food
Mama Terra – Veggie corner

Mama terra is a vegetarian restaurant with lots of vegan options. The food is absolutely delicious from the wide selection of vegan sandwiches, quinoa bowls, tacos, raw spring rolls, soups, desserts, teas, kombucha and coffees.

The menu is well-marked as vegan, raw food and gluten-free and they use high-quality ingredients. The menu is constantly expanding.

Goby 

Goby is a healthy fast food place offering a wide variety of delicious food with a mixture of Georgian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.

They serve flavorful and filling falafels, different types of hummus including beetroot, tasty sandwich, fritters, soups like yellow pea soup and salads.

Have you been to Tbilisi? have you tried any of the restaurants mentioned? Share with me if you know any other outstanding places to eat delicious vegan food.

If you are travelling around the country you will need to know which traditional Georgian food is vegan! Find here how amazingly vegan-friendly Georgia is.

Travelling vegan in Georgia

Georgia is a stunning country to travel to and the vegan food is abundant, fresh and delicious. When you find your way around the meat and cheese, you discover a whole world of beans, veggies, bread, potatoes and mushrooms.

One of the reasons Georgian food is so vegan-friendly is because of the Orthodox fasting periods, that many adopt, where they can’t have any food from land animals. You will find that many restaurants have a ‘fasting menu’.

Many local Georgian dishes just happen to be vegan, making our life easier while travelling. In Tbilisi, you have some choices of restaurants and cafes serving specifically vegan food, but outside the capital, the reality is different.

I assure you will not have any problems to eat vegan even when visiting small villages.

Here is a list of some of my favourite vegan dishes that you can get from a regular place in Georgia serving local food.

Vegan-friendly Georgian food
Veggie pâtés

Pkhali – different coloured balls of vegetables minced with walnuts and seasonings, normally with garlic, onion, herbs. The most common are spinach, aubergine and beetroot.

Eggplant with walnuts (Nigvziani Badrijani) – Slices of eggplant that filled with walnuts, coriander and garlic, served cold topped with pomegranates.

Red pepper stuffed with walnuts – as the name says is a red pepper filled with hearty walnut paste.

Beans and bread

Lobio – It’s a bean stew served in a clay pot, made with red beans, onion, garlic, herbs, and local seasonings. Mchadi – cornbread that is usually eaten with Lobio. Comes in fried and non-fried varieties.

Acharuli, Stew boats – a boat-shaped bread from Georgia, is the most popular filling melted salty cheese and egg. Although I found other options, from aubergine stew, wild mushrooms, spinach and other greens and even with tomato and cucumber salad.

Georgian Pastries: Lobiani – Is a mashed bean-filled bread easily found everywhere. Similar to lobiani is the Mkhvlovani- made with a mixture of different kinds of herbs. I did find other pastries that were vegan but couldn’t memorise the names.

Georgian traditional dumplings

Khinkali – The easiest vegan ones to find are the ones with potato and mushroom fillings, but I also found some with beans and spinach.

Mushrooms

There are several dishes with mushrooms served in clay pots.

They also have wild stewed mushrooms, fried mushrooms, grilled mushrooms, etc.. If you are a mushroom lover like me Georgia is heaven on earth. 

Ojakhuri with mushrooms – instead of the traditional potatoes with pork, this one is with mushrooms.

Shilaplavi – Kind of a Georgian risotto with mushrooms.

Vegetable stews

Ajapsandali – is a vegetable stew made with onion, potato, aubergine, pepper, tomato, parsley and other seasonings, a little bit like a ratatouille.

Salads 

The most common one is Cucumber and Tomato Salad with a creamy walnut and herb sauce, but there are various other kinds of salads too. The Georgian beetroot salad with tkemali (plum sauce) is also quite easy to find.

Mexican potatoes – Thickly cut potatoes with lots of seasoning. They can be fried or baked.

Pickles – you can order mixed pickles or plates of specific pickles.

Vegan Georgian Sweets

Churchkhela –  also known as the Georgian Snickers is a traditional sweet made from nuts and fruit juice. It is extremely delicious, nutritious, healthy and energizing. To prepare it the string of nuts is repeatedly dipped in concentrated fresh fruit juice.

Tklapi – Thin fruit sheet.

Pelamushi – reminds a frozen pudding prepared with grape juice and walnuts.

Georgian Markets and Street food

There is no best place to explore Georgian food culture than visiting some of the markets.   Here you can find the best deals to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, dried fruit and grains, coffee and tea, spices and much more.

Street food is not a strong concept in Georgia by any means, but you can occasionally find small stalls selling, fresh fruit, fresh cold-pressed juice and Turkish coffee.

Have you been to Georgia and tried any of these dishes? Do you know any other traditional Georgian dish that is accidentally vegan?

If you are looking for some great vegan restaurants in Tbilisi find them here!

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Rundale Palace guide

Known as the “Versailles of Latvia,” the Rundāle Palace is a gorgeous gem worth spending a day visiting while in Latvia.

This 18th Century Baroque palace is located just a little over an hour out of Riga. From its ornate interiors, baroque architecture to detailed, flourishing gardens, everything is a must here.

Rundāle Palace houses a museum which displays applied arts, fine arts and historical expositions.

The French style park is really well kept. you can walk around the rose garden, the Green Theatre, ornamental parterres and the fountain.

The entrance fee for what they call the Long Route is €8, this includes the palace and the French gardens.

How to get to Rundale Palace from Riga

There are no direct trains or buses to reach Rundāle, but it’s still quite easy to get here from Riga.

Take a bus to Bauska then transfer to another bus for Pilsrundāle, where the palace is located. It takes around 90-minute in total (not including transfer time).

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Tartu travel guide

Tartu is located in the southeast of Estonia close to Russia’s border and is the country second city.

Tartu is a university town with a great vibe, picturesque wooden houses, stately buildings, beautiful parks and riverfront and classically designed 18th-century buildings.

How to get to Tartu

Tartu is located about 185 kilometres southeast of Tallinn and connections between the two cities are frequent. The bus is your best option. While there are trains available, they are less frequent and more expensive.

I recommend spending at least two full days in Tartu to have enough time to get a good feel of the city and enjoy some of its unique culture and atmosphere.

How yo move around

The best way to get around is on foot. Most places of interest are located within walking distance of each other. If you prefer there is an extensive and easy-to-use bus system in Tartu.

Best Things To Do In Tartu, Estonia
Raekoja Square (Raekoja Plats)

Tartu’s main square, Raekoja plats is a scenic place, with cobblestone, decorative architecture in shades of pastel colours, classically designed 18th-century buildings and rows of restaurants.

A great place to start a visit to Tartu. This funny-shaped square runs from the city’s town hall down towards the Emajõgi River.

You can find here the beloved Kissing Students Fountain, a symbol of Tartu in front of the Town Hall.

The Town Hall (which also doubles as the tourist information centre) is a neoclassical gem, built in 1789. On the end opposite the town hall, there is a yellow National Geographic frame, one of 21 such frames in Southern Estonia.

St. John’s Church

St. John’s Church is a gothic brick Lutheran church in the Old Town with an eye-catching and beautiful brick design.

The inside is not that spectacular but it is one of the highest buildings in Tartu and it is possible to climb up the tower for views over the city. Inside there are some cool sculptures.

Soup Town (Supilinn neighbourhood)

One of the more unusually interesting neighbourhoods to visit in Tartu is the Supilinn neighbourhood also known as Soup Town.

The neighbourhood is full of old wooden houses and the streets are named after soup ingredients. Soup Town is being rapidly renovated, but still offers an interesting look into Tartu pre-WWII.

Toome Hill and Toomemäe Cathedral Ruins

Toome Hill is home to Toomemäe Park, a lovely green space filled with statues and beautiful monuments. In this place, early settlers built fortifications in the 7th century.

The park of Toome Hill is also home to two curiously named bridges that link up walking paths, the Angel’s Bridge and Devil’s Bridge.

At the centre of Toome Hill are the open-air ruins of the old cathedral that was destroyed not long after during the Livonian War.

The intact part of the cathedral is now the University of Tartu Museum. You can visit the museum and climb up its towers for good views over Tartu.

University of Tartu

Tartu University is the country’s largest university (which happens to also be one of Europe’s oldest!). It was established in 1632, and has been the beating heart of the city for centuries.

The main university building is an elegant neoclassical building in Old Town.

University of Tartu Botanical Garden

The Tartu Botanical Gardens are absolutely stunning and incredibly peaceful, a must if the weather is good. It is free to enter the outdoor gardens, but the greenhouses do charge an entry fee of €3 adults.

Local Street Art

Tartu’s creative spirit is alive and you can see that on the strong culture of street art.

To find from large murals to little portraits you can use the street art map to find and experience the best of Tartu’s graffiti.

Karlova neighbourhood is the epicentre of most of Tartu’s street art and where the annual Stencibility Street Art Festival takes place.

Emajõgi Riverfront

The Emajogi River translating from Estonian as “Mother River” runs through Tartu between Lake Vortsjarv and Lake Peipsi and is the only navigable river in Estonia. The gentle Emajõgi Riverfront is an important defining feature of Tartu’s landscape.

There is a lovely riverside to stroll along with many cafes and trendy bars, bench swings, and a lovely park. It is definitely worth taking a stroll along the river. Perfect place to take a rest and watch as boats float.

Aparaaditehas

Aparaaditehas is a hip and creative complex similar to the Telliskivi Creative City in Tallinn. A trendy area housed in a former Soviet Widget factory with a number of cool restaurants, shops, and cafes with a very artistic vibe.

Markets

The Tartu market hall is an indoor market located in the centre of Tartu, that offers a large selection of fresh food.

The open-air Tartu Market is located on the shore of the River Emajõgi. A great place to buy fresh produce.

Although most visitors to Estonia keep to the capital, Tallinn, it’s not the only city worth exploring. Tartu is a fascinating city filled with interesting and unique things to do. 

Are you planning on visiting Tartu? Have you been? Let me know in the comments!

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Travelling vegan in Macedonia

Travelling vegan in North Macedonia

Macedonia is not the most vegan-friendly of countries. Traditional Macedonian food involves quite a lot of meat, but also delicious salads.

If you are up to come up with your own quick vegan meal, some supermarkets have some choice of plant-based milk, nuts, crackers, fruits and veggies.

But there are also some dishes that are vegan in the traditional Macedonian cuisine. Just keep in mind that the word vegan or even vegetarian doesn’t mean much to the majority of people. Plus not all people speak English very well, and because I don’t speak Macedonian either, google translator was my way to go.

Traditional vegan Macedonian Food

While in Macedonia there are a few things that you can’t miss trying.

Ajvar is a spread made out of roasted peppers, aubergine, garlic and olive oil. It goes amazingly well with bread and vegetables. You can find Ajvar in all supermarket. Lutenica is similar to ajvar but has carrots, onion and tomatoes.

Gevrek is a circular bread ring covered in sesame seeds. It’s easily found on the street or in bakeries and is delicious on its own or with Ajvar.

Tavche Gravche is a traditional Macedonian dish that is vegan by default. Its a bean stew made with spices cooked in an earthenware pot. Sometimes it can contain sausage so just double-check before you ask for it. Most traditional restaurants serve this dish.

Polneti Piperki is a dish where peppers are usually stuffed with meat, but some restaurants will be happy to do it with rice and vegetables.

Travelling vegan in Skopje

Skopje the capital city of North Macedonia is probably the place where you will find more vegan option, but with that, I’m not saying that it is a well-spread concept or that it is super easy to find good vegan options.

The Juicy&Co makes a perfect stop for fresh juices, smoothies, fruit salads, muesli bowls and raw balls.

The green market, also known as Bit Pazar located in the heart of the Old Bazaar is the biggest market for fruit and vegetables, a great place to buy fresh produce.

Top 3 vegan places in Ohrid

Chances are, if you are travelling through north Macedonia, you will visit the charming Ohrid. That goes without saying that doesn’t have many options for you to choose from.

Sezers Food & Salads

Sezers serves delicious Turkish salads, soups, grilled vegetables, veggie spreads, and bean salads. It’s a perfect place to go for lunch or dinner. The food is fresh and tasty.

Dr.Falafel

As stated on the name, Dr. Falafel is a place specialized in falafel. Here you can have your falafel server on bread with hummus or you can have a falafel bun with carrot, cucumber, cauliflower and cabbage. Both options are delicious and filling.

Fruit Box

Fruit Box is a juice and smoothie bar that also serves vegan snacks, energy balls and raw cake. Everything I tried was incredible.

Have you been to North Macedonia? Do you know any other Macedonian dish that is vegan by default? 🙂

Visiting Trakai Castle in Lithuania

Trakai is a small town with a fairy-tale castle, located just 28 Km away from the capital Vilnius. Most of the town stands on a 2km long piece of land between two lakes.

Trakai Castle: A Medieval Fairytale in Lithuania

The castle is the main attraction here, and the views from outside are sublime. The Trakai Island Castle (Lithuanian: Trakų salos pilis) was built in the Gothic and Romanesque styles for defence purposes, estimated to date from around 1400.

When inside the castle, which now acts as a museum (€7), you’re free to walk around and explore, through the corridors and courtyards, but would be nice if they had more exhibitions going on.

Aside from the museum exhibitions, the grounds of Trakai make for an interesting visit. The main courtyard of the castle has several devices of punishment, that you can test, like a human-sized cage.

A visit to Trakai makes a great day out from Vilnius and during the short journey you get to see a little of the countryside.

From Vilnius to Trakai Castle by public transport

To get here from Vilnius it’s quite easy and cheap.

Go to Vilnius bus station (by the train station, outside the old town), and get an intercity bus that rides on Trakai direction. It costs €2 each way. You pay the ticket inside the bus from the driver.

Platforms No. 6, 7, 8 (local), 28 and 29 (intercity, via Alytus).

The Castle is at the opposite end of Trakai town, so takes around 20-30 mins walking to get to the castle.

Take a stroll in the town of Trakai

If you have time is also nice to have a stroll through the town of Trakai with its Karaites-style houses. It’s also possible to rent a paddleboat or kayak to explore the lake and get a different view of the castle.

Would you like to visit Trakai Castle in Lithuania?

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha