A day trip to Trakai to see the gorgeous Trakai Island
Lithuania’s Trakai is the perfect destination for those seeking somewhere with a rich history and an abundance of nature. Home to the famous Trakai Salos Island Castle and countless lakes to walk around, there are plenty of things to do in Trakai.
Why Visit Trakai?
Once the capital of Lithuania, the region was originally utilised as a safe haven for people of different nationalities. Trakai is one most visited places in the country, with a vast amount of tourism throughout the year due to its unique sites, history and status as a resort territory.
Only a short distance from Vilnius, here’s why you should take a day or two to visit Trakai.
Salos Island Castle
The only island castle in Eastern Europe, Trakai Castle is the biggest tourist attraction in the area. Construction began back in the 14th century by Grand Duke Kęstutis and was finished by his son in the following century.
Used to assert Trakai’s place as Lithuania’s capital and as a defensive position against invasion, the Grand Duke then used it for residence, welcoming many emissaries.
After reconstruction over the last two centuries, Trakai Castle now hosts Summer festivals and concerts around the grounds. Open all year round, you can visit the attraction no matter when you’ve booked your holiday to Lithuania.
Whilst you’re there, the Exhibition of Liturgical Art and Shapshal Karaim Ethnographic Museum are well worth a visit to learn even more about Lithuania’s culture and important history. Both are open in the latter half of the week and there’s only a small fee for entrance for the whole family.
Trakai Peninsula Castle
Expect to see a lot of ruins when visiting Trakai, including the Peninsula Castle. Unfortunately, not much remains of the structure, with only a few pieces of it left to see. However, visiting the site is still a must-do when holidaying in the area.
Located between Lake Galve and Lake Luca, a walk around the ruins will give you a chance to take in the immense Lithuanian landscape and some of the breathtaking lakes on offer.
Like the Salos Island Castle, the Peninsula Castle was built in the 14th century for defensive purposes, specifically against the Teutonic Knights. After being used as a prison, attacks in the 17th century left it in ruins. All that remains are some of the walls and towers, now protected by the Trakai Historical National Park.
The Karaites Community
One of the most unique communities in the world, ensure you wander through the Karaites community when visiting to get all of Trakai’s history.
The colourful houses inundate the small community and are inhabited by Karaims, a Turkish ethnicity. These people were originally brought to Trakai by the Grand Duke as warriors, servants, and to protect the castles. Generations have now stayed in the area and have become notable for their colourful houses.
A perfect moment to take some holiday snaps (hoping the Trakai weather is on your side!) and embrace the culture of the area.
Trakai Is Home To Some Beautiful Churches
The region is home to some truly awe-inspiring buildings, proven already by the Trakai Castles. However, that’s not where the architecture stops and the intriguing and history-rich churches should definitely be on your agenda.
The most notable church is the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, constructed by the Grand Duke at the same time as the Salos Island Castle. Unlike most churches, the Church of the Visitation is intricately embellished, especially the baroque altar.
Inside stands the Mother of Trakai piece, a figure attributed to many miracles in the area. Perhaps visiting the important icon will grand your own miracle!
If one stunning church isn’t enough, then a short trip away is the Orthodox Church of the Birth of the Holy Mother of God. Filled with candles, figures and graves of former priests.
Trakai Historical National Park
When looking for things to do for Trakai, the Historical National Park is a must, full of activities and places of relaxation for all.
Only 82 square metres, the smallest National Park in Lithuania packs a lot in. Containing all the above castles, the space also has many lakes, forests and statues. Embark on a peaceful walk or picnic, or, during the summer months, take part in some thrilling activities such as kayaking and canoeing.
There are plenty of things to do in Trakai to fill a peaceful day trip away from the capital city. See what you can learn from its history, or have an adventure within its spectacular nature.