Described by Lonely Planet as one of Europe’s "best kept secrets," Lithuania has quickly landed on traveling Britons’ radar, as the average annual rate of visits to the Baltic country grew nearly 18 percent over a four-year span.
A view of Trakai castle in Lithuania. Photo: AFP/vikau/Shutterstock.com
According to the latest figures out of the UK’s Office for National Statistics, released late last week, visits to Lithuania among British tourists rose from 103,000 in 2008 to 196,000 in 2012, auguring a growing interest in the small country bordered by Poland and Latvia.
Some of the country’s major tourist draws include sandy white beaches along the Baltic sea coastline; national parks like the Curonian Spit, a narrow sand strip birthed 5,000 years ago; and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Vilnius, the largest Baroque town in Eastern and Central Europe and the country’s capital city.
While predominantly Baroque, the town is also described as a textbook of architectural styles for reflecting late Gothic and Classic domes, towers, and castles which line the city’s crooked, narrow medieval streets.
Similarly, online reservation site Hotels.com named Vilnius the best value European city break in its annual Hotel Price Index last month, given that the average hotel room is estimated to clock in at £53 (€61).
Many of the destinations on the Hotel.com top 10 list also hailed from Baltic states or Eastern Europe, as the Latvian capital of Riga, Krakow, Bratislava (Slovakia) and Budapest rounded out the top five.
Meanwhile, other destinations which experienced annual growth in visits from British tourists between 2008 and 2012 included Nigeria (8 percent growth), and Romania (6 percent).