Lithuanian Escapes

Spend a Weekend Surrounded By Luxury: Escape to Northern Lithuanian Mansions

Birzai castle in LIthuania

This two-day itinerary covers the best of what you can find in Northern Lithuania—including mansions, historic towns and unique restaurants. 

Even though Lithuania is a small country, every region has its different traditions, architecture and dialect. Some parts of Lithuania are proud of their national parks, while others have spas and resorts to boast about.

The Northern part of Lithuania is proud of its mansions and brewing traditions. So, if you want to escape the throes of city life—spend a weekend surrounded by luxury at the manors of Northern Lithuanian.

Day 1: Biržai – Joniškėlis – Pakruojis

Heading to Biržai

The journey from Vilnius to Biržai lasts about two and a half hours by car (approx. 200 km). So, to save some time, it is better to start your journey early in the morning. During the drive from Vilnius, you will observe Lithuanian sceneries—from towns and villages, churches and forests.

At first glance, Biržai city looks like any ordinary Lithuanian city, though a closer look and you’ll quickly learn about the long history of this town and its people.

A brief history of Biržai castle and Biržai town

Biržai town is one of the oldest cities in Northern Lithuania—according to 15th-century writings. The biggest attraction of this town and the first stop of the journey is the historical Biržai castle. The castle was built by the duke Kristupas Radvila at the end of the 16th century.

Birzai castle in Lithuania
Photo courtesy: Flickr / Orange Weekends

The mansion itself is a Dutch-style fortress, used to defend Lithuania’s borders during the 17th-18th centuries. Nowadays the entire castle serves as a museum called Sėla, and the mansion is used as a venue for various cultural events.

Brewing traditions in Biržai

The castle reveals the deep traditions of the Biržai people—the roots of brewing are still widely alive in this region. If you are a big group of people, you can book the excursion called The way of beer. During this workshop, you will have a chance to try traditional homemade beer and delicacies —white Lithuanian cheese and rye bread. 

The brewing traditions in Biržai were born after the castle was built—the duke Radvila invited all the town’s people to make beer and build breweries. Until today, almost every family in Biržai has its beer-making tradition.

One interesting thing—differently from other parts of Lithuania, in Biržai, the beer is taken from glass mugs, not from cups made of clay—to savour the colour of the beer.

Getting around: lake Širvėna & Astravas Manor

The castle’s surroundings are also worth your visit – the gorgeous large lake of Širvėna puts some charm into the whole castle’s scenery. Heading towards the suburb of Biržai—Astravas, you will find a splendid neoclassical manor from the 19th century.

Built by the Tyszkiewiczs family, the Astravas Manor is an excellent place for a walk—the manor complex has an extensive classical park with a lot of tiny artificial lakes located within it.

At the backside of the manor, you will find the longest pedestrian path in Lithuania, connecting the Astravas manor and the Biržai town. It is a remarkable experience to observe the lake’s fauna as well!

Lakes in Lithuania
Photo courtesy:  Flickr / Harmish K.

Restaurant Alaus Kelias and the Sucré Bakery House 

The best coffee place in Biržai town, full of French macarons, canelés, various cakes, desserts and traditional bread is at the Sucré Bakery House. This boutique type of bakery belongs to the Biržų Duona bakery chain and is definitely a must-visit place while in Biržai.

For the proper lunch, stop at the restaurant called Alaus Kelias (means beer route). There you will be able to sample original craft beer and try exquisite cuisine like beef Carpaccio marinated in Black beer, spicy beer soup, pork ribs heated in beer or beefsteak with pepper and dark beer sauce. Just the thought of it while reading is appetising!

Sucré Bakery House in Birzai, Lithuania
Photo courtesy: Biržų Duona

Joniškėlis mansions and its spooky legends

The next mansion of Northern Lithuania is in a small town called Joniškėlis. So, after lunch at the Alaus Kelias restaurant head towards Pasvalys town (this city also attracts people for its lovely little Old Town & park with sinkholes) and in the halfway of Pakruojis, stop at Joniškelis town.

The Joniškėlis town is the old and lovely small town of Northern Lithuania, famous because of Karpiai noble family heritage—church, mansion complex and the whole village. Joniškėlis mansion is the perfect place for the spooky legends lovers, for decades the noble family Karpiai owned this 18th-century residential manor.

Legends tell about the cursed mansion’s park trees, the chance to see the nobleman Karpis ghost during a storm and explain why the town’s church’s architecture reminds a coffin. Spooky legends can be heard at the museum located in Joniškėlis mansion

The night at Pakruojis Manor

The final destination of the day—Pakruojis Mansion. This mansion is known from the beginning of the 19th century. The palace has two parts of the hotel—the central palace and the miller house. All hotel premises are decorated with a specific interior and look exactly like a manor from the 19th century.

So, after a long day on foot, you will surround yourself with a luxurious and vintage mansion’s interior. For fine dining, you can pre-book dinner at the Manor House Restaurant or get cosy chatting at the inn Traktierius.

Day 2: Spa, workshop and gaiety at Pakruojis mansion

The second day of this escape weekend is dedicated to pampering yourself—at the Pakruojis Mansion, you will be able to try various massages, traditional sauna or participate in workshops.

Pakruojis Manor during the summer season holds various workshops: perfume workshops, honey workshops, wool manufacturing, and a workshop about the art of blacksmithing. That’s a full-day of joyful activities!

SPA time in Birzai, Lithuania

Rich with history, traditional cuisine and luxurious mansions architecture, this getaway guarantees you an exciting time! 

This post was written by our contributing writer Monika.

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