How to get to the Hill of Crosses from Vilnius in Lithuania

How to get to the Hill of Crosses from Vilnius in Lithuania

Going to the Hill of Crosses had been high on my bucket list for a while. It’s a religious monument near Šiauliai in northern Lithuania, which as the name suggests is a hill completely covered in crosses.

I went from Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, to Šiauliai on the train, caught a bus from there to Domantai and walked to the Hill of Crosses. I returned to Šiauliai by bus and explored the city, went to a cat museum and caught the train back to Vilnius.

The trip took a whole day and required some planning as the trains and busses don’t run very often. It was totally worth the journey. Standing inside the Hill of Crosses was eerie. I’d never seen anything like this before.

Below is how to do this trip from Vilnius:

Train journey there

There is a 09:50 train from Vilnius main train station to Šiauliai. All train times are on the website: https://www.traukiniobilietas.lt/portal/en
Click on EN and it will change to English.

Train departure times from Vilnius to Šiauliai
Screen shots of train departure times from Vilnius to Šiauliai

You can also use this website to check trains to and from Vilnius to Vilnius airport (Vilniaus Oro Uostas).

The train to Šiauliai costs €11. You can buy the ticket from the counter to the right of the station’s main entrance. I found the woman at the counter spoke little English but luckily I’d written down the train and time I wanted and I showed this to her.

Šiauliai is pronounced – Show-lay, but I strongly advise if you don’t speak Lithuania to write everything down and show it to people. The level of English in Lithuania is low, especially in older people.

The train to Šiauliai takes 2hrs 11mins and is direct. There is a carriage and seat number on the ticket. The trains are nice and comfortable –  I slept the whole journey.

2nd class train carriage
2nd class train carriage

Get off at Šiauliai and walk to the bus station.

Bus

To get to the Šiaulai bus station – Turn left out of the train station, along Dubijos Street, past the church in the photo and then right onto Tilzes, and the bus station is next to the shopping mall.

Church on Dubijos Street, Šiauliai
Church on Dubijos Street, Šiauliai

The bus departs from platform 12, Šiauliai – Joniškis line.

IMPORTANT

Below is the bus timetable for Šiauliai to Domantai (the nearest bus stop to the Hill of Crosses). The train gets in at 12:01pm and the bus leaves at 12:15pm. If you don’t get this bus then you’ll have to wait 55 minutes for the next one.

Bus timetable from Šiauliai to Domantai
Bus timetable from Šiauliai to Domantai

Walk fast. 14 minutes is just enough time to get from the train station to the bus station.

The bus driver probably won’t speak English and mine didn’t even understand “Hill of Crosses” so I showed him a piece of paper with Domantai written on it and bought a ticket for €0.70.

Inside the bus
Inside the bus

It takes 20 minutes to get to Domantai. The stop has no sign and it’s a straight road with little to distinguish it so watch out.

Below are pictures of what the bus stop looks like. It’s just after a junction and there’s a brown sign just before it.

Junction and brown sign where to get off
Junction and brown sign where to get off
Bus stop at Domantai
Bus stop at Domantai

Hill of Crosses

From the bus stop it’s a 2 km walk to the Hill of Crosses. There’s only one way to walk.

Road to the Hill of Crosses
Road to the Hill of Crosses

After 20 minutes the crosses come into view. From a distance the hill won’t look that big but as you get closer you’ll see it’s actually huge and densely packed.

Below the hill are a few souvenir stalls where you can buy your own cross to add to the hill. There’s no entry fee.

The hill is formed of looming statues of Jesus and crosses of all sizes, wooden and metal with rosary beads hanging everywhere. Wikipedia says there’s over 100,000 crosses here, which I believe.

Hill of Crosses Šiauliai Lithuania
Hill of Crosses

This isn’t a popular site given its rural location so you might find yourself with only a few people there. The lack of people and the sheer density of the crosses make it incredibly creepy.

Hill of Crosses Šiauliai Lithuania

Hill of Crosses Šiauliai Lithuania

Hill of Crosses Šiauliai Lithuania

Hill of Crosses Šiauliai Lithuania

From the main path there are smaller ones which allow you to go within the crosses.

Path within the Hill of Crosses
Path within the Hill of Crosses
Me and the crosses
Me and the crosses

Below is a video I took while standing in the Hill of Crosses:

It was completely silent except for the howling of the wind and bells playing from the iPhone of a guy praying. I’m not sure if this guy worked there or is just really religious and hangs around.

Steps up the Hill of Crosses
Steps up the Hill of Crosses

I wandered along the path and up the steps to find a white statue of the Virgin Mary.

Walk to the Virgin Mary statue
Walk to the Virgin Mary statue

Hill of Crosses Šiauliai Lithuania

Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary

Information at the site is very limited. If you’re hoping for info from people working there, you might not get it. Especially if you don’t speak Lithuanian.

Jesus covered in crosses
Jesus covered in crosses

Hill of Crosses Šiauliai Lithuania

Hill of Crosses Šiauliai Lithuania

Hill of Crosses Šiauliai Lithuania

The temperature drops in the afternoon. You can head back to the bus stop and catch the 14:02 or 15:02 bus to Šiauliai (Show-lay). The Hill of Crosses only needs 1-2 hours to look around.

Hill of Crosses Šiauliai Lithuania

The iconic Jesus statue at the Hill of Crosses
The iconic Jesus statue at the Hill of Crosses

Return train journey

The main problem with this trip is the train back. It’s not until 17:25. This means you have to hang around in Šiauliai which isn’t a very happening town. It is home to a cat museum but if you don’t like cats you can either visit the bike museum, Cathedral or go to a bar.

Cat museum

The cat museum is a 30 minute walk from Šiauliai bus station. There isn’t much to see on the walk but it’s worth it if you like cats.

Katinų Muziejus aka Cat Museum sign
Katinų Muziejus aka Cat Museum sign
Katinų Muziejus aka Cat Museum
Katinų Muziejus aka Cat Museum

Entry is €1.50 and inside the museum is lots of cat memorabilia, porcelain statues, calendars, posters and most importantly – cats!

Katinų Muziejus aka Cat Museum Šiauliai
Cat museum, Šiauliai
Katinų Muziejus aka Cat Museum Šiauliai
Cat museum Šiauliai

The cats are beautiful and gentle in nature. As it’s a very quiet place (you’ll probably be the only person there) you can play with these adorable cats.

My wonderful tour guides
My wonderful tour guides

Katinų Muziejus aka Cat Museum Šiauliai

After playing with the cats there are restaurants and shops back in the shopping mall next to the bus station to pass the time.

Trains back to Vilnius

There are two trains to Vilnius from Šiauliai between 5pm and 6pm.

Return train times to Vilnius from Šiauliai
Screen shots of the return train times to Vilnius from Šiauliai

You return to Vilnius by 9pm which gives you time to enjoy Vilnius’ nightlife or get an early night to explore the city the next morning.

Šiauliai train station
Šiauliai train station

Overall

I really enjoyed my trip to the Hill of Crosses and it was worth taking a day out of my Vilnius trip. The hill is awe inspiring. The return train journey only cost €19 and considering the length of the journey and train quality, it was a bargain. Plus the bus to the hill was only €0.70 and the hill is free to look around.

The only problem is waiting for the train back to Vilnius from Šiaulai as no trains run between 12:22 and 17:25. This means extra time in Šiaulai which doesn’t have much to offer except a cathedral and a few museums. Which if you love cats and bikes is awesome, otherwise you’re out of luck.

There are other ways to get to the Hill of Crosses. These include taking a coach tour from Vilnius, which can be expensive but you learn more information about the hill. Alternatively take a tour bus trip from Vilnius to Riga, the capital of Latvia, which stops off at landmarks on the way. If I hadn’t been to Riga before I would have considered doing that bus trip.

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