I’m not religious at all, but I do like looking at weird stuff, and this tremendous pile of crosses is certainly weird to me. It takes the best part of a whole day to make the trip to the Hill of Crosses and back to Vilnius. I liked it – there’s something eerie about walking over the hill surrounded by all those crosses. Having said that, it took me a lot longer to get there than I actually spent there, which I understand for some people is a deal breaker. From what I understand it’s also possible to make the trip from Riga, Latvia. Here’s the best way I found to get there from Vilnius.
Getting there from Vilnius
Visiting the Hill of Crosses is relatively easy from Vilnius. The first thing you need to do is get the train to Šiauliai (pronounced shau-lay). You can check the train times at litrail.lt or here. You probably want to get your ticket at least 30 minutes before the train leaves, I got mine the night before. The cashier didn’t speak English, but I wrote the town name on a piece of paper and the time I wanted, and it all worked out. There’s an assigned carriage on the seat, there are ticket inspectors as you board the train who’ll point you to where you should sit. The train takes about 2 and a half hours.
Here’s where I fucked up, so pay attention.
Stops are announced in Lithuanian. The next stop will be announced as you come into the station before it. So when you hear that the next station is Šiauliai, the train will stop but you are arriving at the station before Šiauliai. Šiauliai will be the next stop. I got off the train immediately and ended up in some random Lithuanian village, and it took a few hours to sort out. Lesson is, check with someone before you get off the train.
Next, you need to get the bus. The bus station is a short walk from the train station. The bus you need will be at platform 12 and goes towards Joniškis. You can check the bus times here. Let the driver know you’re going to Domantai, and keep an eye out for the right hand turn to ‘Kryžių kalna’. It’s a brown sign and has a Celtic-style cross icon. The trip only takes about 15-20 minutes. The “bus stop” is just on the side of the highway, but take that right hand turn and just follow the road for about 2km. It’s an easy walk. You’ll see the hill for a while before you get to it.
Make sure you have a rough idea of which bus you want to get back to Šiauliai. If you do miss the last one (17:32 most days, check the schedule) you can ask someone at the souvenir shop to call you a taxi back to town. Then you just need to get the train back to Vilnius. Sorted.
Have you been to the Hill of Crosses? Let me know what you thought…