Druskininkai surprised me with its walking street, cute cafes, and great park. With a small town, resort atmosphere, I thought that there wouldn't be anything unique or special, but I was absolutely wrong. There were unique sculptures all along the pedestrian street (Vilniaus al.) and outdoor artwork throughout the small downtown.
To see everything that Druskininkai and its surroundings have to offer, you could visit with a rental car on a weekend trip from Vilnius.
What is there to do and see in Druskininkai?
At the start the pedestrian-only Vilniaus al., you'll see the brick St. Mary's Church. Continue walking down Vilniaus al. to see interesting outdoor sculptures and artwork dotted along the street. If you walk all the way to the end of Vilniaus al. (5-10 minutes depending on how fast you walk), you'll find the Druskininkai Water Park and Spa and a cable car that takes you on a ride over the trees.
Off to the side of Vilniaus al. is the Russian Orthodox Church. This tiny, but magnificent blue structure really should not be missed (and can't be missed because it is so bright in a sea of grey and brown buildings). Walk all the way around the church because it really is stunning.
After wandering the remaining few streets of the downtown, be sure to walk into Vijuneles Park to enjoy a stroll around the Druskonis and Vijuneles Tvenkinys Lakes. In this park, you'll also find monuments, memorials, and a graveyard.
If you are visiting with a car, but staying outside of the easily walkable downtown, you can park in the plentiful street and lot parking.
Located about 15 minutes outside of the downtown, you'll find Gruto Parkas, or Soviet Park. I'll talk more about this another day, but Gruto Parkas is not to be missed if you are in Lithuania.
Where should I eat in Druskininkai?
We found two really awesome places to eat in Druskininkai: City Coffee and Toli Toli.
We all know that Lithuania runs on coffee, so I was hopefully that we'd find at least one independent cafe. City Coffee on V. Kudrikos g. 37 was it! The staff members were incredibly kind, even helping us to bring our stroller up the stairs, and both the coffee and cake were perfect. My espresso was perfectly made and not bitter at all. J and I shared a slice of Belgian chocolate cake, which was rich and surprisingly good. If you are in Druskininkai you should definitely visit City Coffee!
We ate lunch at Toli Toli twice -- that is how good it was. Though it wasn't on the menu during our second visit, the beet and coconut soup (seen in the photo below) was bursting with flavor. It was a really unique take on borscht. They also served Crooked Nose Coffee served in a Chemex, which was an excellent surprise.
You can find Toli Toli on Vilnaius al. 8, but it located slightly around the corner of the building.
Where should I stay in Druskininkai?
Where we stayed in Druskininkai was our biggest let down. We stayed in the Medea Hotel & Spa, located outside of old town, and although our hotel room was comfortable, clean, and nice, miscommunications got the better of us. I planned to enjoy several spa treatments (my back hurts from carrying around a baby all day!) while in Druskininkai -- it is a resort town after all -- but we couldn't communicate well enough with the hotel staff to set up any treatments. This was a total bummer as the website stated that staff speaks Lithuania, Russian, English, and Polish and the person I spoke with on the phone to make the booking spoke great English. Though it was very confusing, we were able to set up a massage and unfortunately, it was not great. The spa area itself is in need of renovations. Parking at the Medea Spa was also limited, so keep this in mind if traveling with a car.
Our friends; however, stayed at the Spa Vilnius Druskininkai, which is located right in the downtown. They were all able to schedule several treatments each and enjoyed everything. Spa Vilnius also had a pool, bathrobes, and free breakfast. If we were to visit Druskininkai again, I would stay here.
Other things to mention:
We visited Druskininkai in early March over Catholic Easter, when Druskininkai was very quiet. I have a feeling that Druskininkai gets really crowded in the summer.
Have you ever visited a resort town?