Lithuania is a country located on the southwestern shore of the Baltic Sea and although many haven’t heard about the country, it’s worth visiting. The wonderful architecture and the bustling streets of happy people are a sight for sore eyes. Vilnius, the capital city, is starting to be a city worth travelling to.
Getting directions in Vilnius and also in the surrounding areas is fairly easy as many Lithuanians are English speakers. Also, travelling inside the country is easy as well, using the numerous transportation systems implemented there.
Also, the Lithuanian seaside is like a Mecca for long walks along the beach.
Apart from the amazing view that Lithuania, there are some things that you should consider if you really want a peaceful vacation without any unpleasant scenarios. With a big number of tourists, come a big number of scammers, thieves, and pickpockets. And believe it or not, scammers in Vilnius are excellent English speakers.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Lithuania
Overall Risks in Lithuania: MEDIUM
Although many people have voted that Lithuania is safe to visit, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security has assessed the country as being of medium risk. This is mainly due to the high number of thefts happening when the tourist flow is big and the city centre of Vilnius is crowded.
As matter of fact, statistics show that the number of thefts is over 19000 in 2017, with 13.2% lower than in 2016, which is not so alarming. However, thefts usually take place in the Old Town of Vilnius.
The country has a huge problem with organized crime and it is steadily taking its toll on the police forces. Due to the country's location, smuggling, gambling, and prostitution are the biggest problems. These criminal activities come from the fact that it neighbours Belarus and the country is known for its organized crime.
Also, sources warned that you should not take a free drink from anyone in any bar in Vilnius and in other towns. There is a chance that those drinks are spiked. Not only, offering drinks to anyone that asks for a drink will put you in a really great debt at the bar and for certain, but the people that ask for drinks also will not pay. As stated above, scammers are usually great English speakers.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Lithuania: MEDIUM
Lithuania has a serious problem involving theft and pickpocketing, especially in the summer when the number of tourists is large. Most thefts happen near bus and trains stations. People often leave their belongings unattended and they are subjected to theft. Not only, leaving a handbag or a coat unattended in a restaurant or coffee shop will have the same result.
If you are an ex-pat and you will need to live for a period of time in Lithuania, be sure to mount an anti-theft alarm. Residential burglaries are common in the country due to a window or door left open. Also, weak security features as the absence of an alarm are the main cause of residential burglaries.
As stated by some statistics, almost all violent crimes happen between 22:00 and 06:00, when the streets are almost empty. To avoid any unpleasant scenarios, travel in groups and avoid poorly illuminated streets and areas that you don’t know.
When withdrawing money from a stand-alone ATM, be aware of your surroundings, especially in the nighttime. Paying by credit card is accepted in Vilnius and in larger cities at restaurants, shops and gas stations. However, it is recommended once you leave a big city, always carry with you cash as ATMs are pretty scarce.
Scam Risk in Lithuania: MEDIUM
Scams in Lithuania are very common and they are not out of the ordinary. Almost all scams are similar to those found in other countries, so if you have some experience travelling, you can tell if it's a scam or not.
The most common scam is the beggar that will not leave you alone after you have given them some money. But be aware, that some of them are not beggars at all and certainly not poor. Some beggars work along with the organized crime there and you are basically feeding an organized crime syndicate.
When thinking about grabbing a cab, to make your journey easier from point A to point B, use Uber or Taxify. Some taxis in Lithuania are not registered and if they are registered, some taxi drivers will take advantage of you by being a tourist and not being able to speak Lithuanian.
The possible outcome of this is that you will get driven around in circles around the city. Before you grab a random cab, make sure that you’ve consulted a map before jumping in a cab.
Also, be aware of street shops that have no price tags. These shops are baits for unwary tourists that are looking to buy a souvenir and paying lots of money for basically nothing. Street sellers usually give you the wrong change and not because they are bad at math. Always double-check the chance you received from a street seller.
Kidnapping Risk in Lithuania: LOW
Being kidnapped in Lithuania is uncommon. In the past years, detaining a person against their will had a rate of 1.7 per 100000 people in Lithuania.
Terrorism Risk in Lithuania: LOW
According to a number of sources, terrorism in Lithuania is absent and no one sympathizes with terrorism in the country. Also, no terrorist organizations had been established in the country. To make matters safer for tourists, Lithuania is an ally of the US when it comes to fighting terrorism.
However, a small risk resides in the country as it belongs to the Schengen Area, but Special Forces and the government are ready to fight off threats that imply terrorist activities.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Lithuania: LOW
According to some bloggers and female solo travellers, Vilnius and the whole of Lithuania is safe to visit by solo backpackers. Taking normal safety precautions is mandatory as things could get messy near the Old Town Vilnius and especially near the area where all the pubs are present.
Also, staying away from districts outside the city centre is recommended as some muggings and thefts happened before, especially targeting lone tourists.
Rape Risk in Lithuania: LOW
The rape risk is low in Lithuania. A statistic shows that from 2004 to 2015, rapes have decreased from 7.7 cases to 100000 to 5.4 cases. However, in 2017, from 63,846 reported criminal cases, 12.7& were rapes.
To avoid this from happening, walking in the nighttime in other districts of Vilnius, away from the city centre increases the chance of rape.
Risks for People Traveling With Children in Lithuania: LOW
Travelling with children in Lithuania is as safe as it gets. There are many attractions for children in the country, especially by the seashore. Waterparks and amusement parks are numerous in the Baltic regions, so children will not be at rest until they will try them all.
Some hotel rooms are actually designed for families, with bunk beds and/or private playgrounds.
When considering getting a rental car, be sure to ask the rental service to provide you with a child safety seat, although the road conditions in Lithuania are pretty good.
Natural Disaster Risks in Lithuania: LOW
It is remembered that Lithuania is a northern country and winters could be very harsh and temperatures could plummet below freezing. Grabbing some extra clothes to take with you when travelling in the winter is highly recommended.
Slippery roads and ice formations are pretty common, so exercise great caution in the wintertime.
Thawing in the spring could result in floods, especially in low altitude cities and villages.
Transportation Risks in Lithuania: MEDIUM
Roads are generally in a good condition and meet Western European standards. In some parts of the country, road conditions may vary from very good to very poor. And in terms of illumination, it can also get from bad to worse outside big cities.
When it comes to the aggressiveness of Lithuanian drivers, some of them display aggressive driving, so you should embrace some defensive driving techniques. Driving in the nighttime is not recommended and some say that getting a cab is far safer than driving yourself to the destination.
Alcohol consumption and driving is the number one cause of death in Lithuania. As a matter of fact, statistics show that Lithuania leads the EU in the annual number of accidents caused by alcohol. And with this being said, the penalties for drunk driving are very severe.
Speed traps and random roadblocks are to be seen on every major road and highway in Lithuania. So if you’re thinking that you’ll have a beer and then go home with your car, you’ll better rethink another strategy of getting home safely.
Public transportation is generally reliable, fast, and cheap and they can provide an alternative to your personal or rental car.
Taxi companies are generally safe and they can save you lots of money on gas if you own a car. But beware, that some taxis are not metered and prices could go high if you choose the wrong taxi. It is recommended that you dispatch a cab to your location or order via Taxify.
Night-clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Lithuania: LOW
Bars and pubs are safe in Lithuania, but there are also prime targets for thieves. When in a bar, pub or restaurant, never leave your coat or jacket unattended and certainly do not leave any valuables inside your jacket.
Also, when in a bar, do not accept any drinks or food from strangers. There is a risk that the drink is spiked or food poisoning. Money extortion is also present in bars and pubs. This happens when somebody approaches you, befriends you and then indulges you to buy them drinks and of course, they will leave without paying and you will be left with a very big bill to cover.
Health Risks in Lithuania: LOW
All the quality medical services are available in Vilnius, Klaipeda, and Kaunas, but outside these cities and in the rural side of the country, health services can be limited. In the bigger cities, the quality of health services are good, but however, do not meet western standards.
Before going to Lithuania, be sure that your health insurance is available for the country as well. Also, be sure that you have all your prescribed medication plus the medical recommendation from your doctor.
List of Vaccines You Need in Lithuania
The CDC has released a list of vaccines that are mandatory to take before you visit Lithuania. Although they are common, you should have them:
- measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
- diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
- varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
- polio vaccine
- flu shot
- hepatitis A and B
- anti-rabies shot (especially for children as they are more subjected to play with animals)
Most Dangerous Area in Lithuania
In Vilnius, there are some districts that you should avoid. These districts are prone to crime and theft and they are also very depressing to look at and certainly, not as safe as the city centre. Naujamiestis, Naujoji Vilnia, and Savanoriu-Gerosios are best to be avoided at any given time.
Concluding Remarks: Is Lithuania Safe to Visit?
Lithuania is true, a safe place to visit, but there are things that you should consider before going there. So, normal safety features must be taken, especially when you’re visiting the city centre. Beggars that reside in the city centre may harass you and sometimes follow you if they have your attention.
Although terrorism is basically absent, crime still remains a concern in Lithuania, so keeping a close eye on your possessions is the key to having a safe vacation.
In means of transportation, be aware that some Lithuanians tend to be aggressive in driving and you should embrace defensive driving all the time. And certainly, do not drink and drive, as the fines are pretty hard to swallow and you could even face imprisonment.