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Dzūkija or Dainava is one of the five "cultural regions" of Lithuania, in the south of the country bordering Belarus. This region is ill-defined, so on these pages it's taken as Vilnius city and county plus Alytus county.


  • 1 Vilnius is the attractive capital of Lithuania.
  • 2 Trakai is a scenic village with an island castle.
  • 3 Medininkai Medininkai Castle on Wikipedia on the Belarus border has a restored castle.
  • 4 Alytus is industrial but has two 19th century churches.
  • 5 Daugai is a resort town ringed by lakes.
  • 6 Druskininkai is a historic spa for its salty springs.
  • 7 Purnuškės is the centre of Europe by some measures, and a point on Struve Geodetic Arc.
  • 8 Ukmergė is industrial, with little to interest a visitor.

Other destinations

  • 1 Dzūkija National Park Dzūkija National Park on Wikipedia contains the largest forest and swamp in the country, dunes, and hidden villages. There's no accommodation, visitors day-trip from Vilnius or Kaunas, both 100 km away. South is Čepkeliai Marsh, and this section along the border with Belarus is closed to visitors.
  • 2 Kernavė Kernavė on Wikipedia — Former Lithuanian capital at the bank of the river Neris and now a well-preserved archaeological site that is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 3 Dieveniškės is a village almost surrounded by Belarus but linked by Highway 104. This "appendix" is a quiet place of farms, forests and wooden houses. Its other lanes end blind at the border: for the nearest crossing back-track to Šalčininkai, which stands on A15 towards Grodno.



Lithuania is divided into five "cultural regions", ten counties (apskritys) and 60 municipalities (savivaldybės). The five regions are ill-defined but are said to have distinct cultural characteristics, which for Dzūkija means a light sandy soil with limited agriculture but lots of lakes and forests, and a significant Polish population. Its northern part is the cradle of Lithuanian statehood and includes the current capital Vilnius, and two medieval capitals Kernavė and Trakai.

For the sake of clarity this page hews to the county boundaries of Vilnius and Alytus; neither regions nor counties have any administrative function. That means it includes the city of Vilnius, which as the cosmopolitan capital is culturally distinct, and the town of Ukmergė.


Orthodox Church in Druskininkai

As elsewhere in Lithuania, the official language is Lithuanian. However Polish is widely used in this region as it has a large Polish population - it was captured by Poland in 1921, so the capital re-located for some years to Kaunas.

People in the service sector in Vilnius often speak good English, that's less common further out.

Get in


Vilnius is the transport hub for the entire country. Its airport (VNO IATA) is six km south of the city and has flights from across Europe, many by budget carriers.

You could also fly into Kaunas (KUN IATA) and take the direct bus to Vilnius.

Trains converge on Vilnius from all quarters: from Kaunas they run hourly and take 90 min. From Poland a daily train runs from Kraków via Warsaw, Białystok and Kaunas to Vilnius. The train from Riga was restored in 2023, running daily, though the line from Latvia via Daugavpils remains closed. Trains from Minsk and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad are suspended, but it's still possible to cross those borders by bus.

Flixbus is the main long distance bus line, and Kautra the main domestic inter-city line.

Get around

Trakai Castle

You need your own car to see much of this region. Highways radiate from Vilnius and are in good condition, well-signposted and toll-free. Winter driving can be challenging.

Bus routes follow the main highways. Railways have withered south of Vilnius because historically they crossed into Belarus, and closed when that became a "hard" border. One exception is Trakai, but the train from Vilnius is less frequent than the bus, and the station is further from the village sights.


  • Vilnius old town is outstanding and needs a few days to explore. It's baroque, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Užupis is a wacky eastern district of Vilnius that has declared itself a separate republic, more rive gauche than a micro-Transnistria.
  • Trakai has a gorgeous castle perched on a lake islet.
  • Kernavė was burned down in 1390 and rebuilt elsewhere, so its hillforts remain intact.
  • Old churches are found in all the towns. Druskininkai has one of the best, a wooden Orthodox church.
  • Medininkai Castle was built in the 14th century and is now a museum.
  • The highest hill or is it? Juozapinė Hill 1.5 km south of Medininkai was believed to be the country's highest point, and adorned with a cross and monument. Re-measurement in 2004 put it a metre shorter, and edged by Aukštojas Hill at 293.8 m a further 500 m south. Nothing that couldn't have been fixed by a taller monument, but vandals keep diminishing these.
  • Centre of Europe is somewhere round here, maybe. About a dozen sites across the Baltic nations make this claim and one is at Purnuškės / Girija 25 km north of Vilnius, off Highway A14. They even have a Centre of Europe golf course to prove it, which was enough to convince Guinness Book of Records. But it depends which bits of land count as Europe - what about Malta? - and whether you interpolate between its extremities or take account of land mass or population , or . . . But at least if you locate the monument by the driveway to the golf course, you may rest assured that you are not at the centre of any other continent.
  • Meschkanzi, nowadays Meškonys, is a point on Struve Geodetic Arc, a 19th century project to map the earth's shape by triangulating over 2820 km of the 30° Meridian, from Hammerfest to the Black Sea. Follow A14 for 2 km north of Purnuškės, turn onto Highway 5207 west to Meškonys village, and the marker is in a meadow 200 m north of the parking lot. The next point north along the arc is "Karischki" in Panemunėlis, north Lithuania, and the next south is "Beresnäki" on the outskirts of Vilnius.


Hill fort mounds in Kernave
  • Vilnius has opera, ballet and theatres.
  • Water sports such as kayaking use the region's many lakes.
  • Football: internationals are played in Vilnius, and there are top-tier clubs there and in Alytus.


  • All the towns have places serving trad fare. Vilnius is the only place with international cuisines.
  • Trakai has the oddity of Crimean Karaite cuisine.


  • The tap-water is safe to drink.
  • Most cafes serve beer and vodka.

Stay safe

  • Obvious stuff: care of valuables, watch the traffic, and usual safety measures out on the lakes.

Go next

  • Kaunas to the west is the main city of Sūduva region bordering Poland.
  • With your own car, you can cross into Poland on the highway from Alytus to Augustów. Buses and trains run further north via Kaunas and Marijampolė towards Suwałki.
  • Belarus is nowadays difficult for westerners to enter, but the border crossings are still open. From Vilnius take A3 southeast for Minsk, or A15 south for Grodno.

This region travel guide to Dzūkija is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.