One of the major things I kept seeing when I was researching Vilnius was the castle in the Island near Vilnius and I really wanted to go see it in person. I am so happy I went. It was only a half day trip and getting there was easy and comfortable.
History of Trakai (Why go to Trakai?)
There were two reasons that lead me to Trakai. The pretty castle on the island and the remaining population of the Turkish ethnic minority known as Karaimes, the people who followed a branch of the Jewish faith Full History of Trakai. Both of which date back to the 14th century.
Getting to Trakai from Vilnius with Public Transports
I took the 12:21 train from the train station in Vilnius straight to Trakai. It was a comfortable and warm double decker train. Each way was 1.80 euros and the journey was 40 minutes. I bought my tickets on the way there from the Vilnius train station. One the way back the station in Trakai was closed, so I just got it from the train for the same price. I got the 17:15 train back. Make sure you check the train times because they aren't very frequent. It's an hour or two wait between them. In worst case scenario, you are able to get two buses to Vilnius, but that's going to take much longer (an hour and a half).
The Trakai Island Castle
Entry: €3.50 Student/ €7 Adult ticket + Photography permission €1.50.
It takes half an hour of walking to reach the castle from the train station, but it's a pleasant walk that could either be done inside the village or alongside the three lakes on the way.
The castle was even more impressive in person rather than photos. March this year was unexpectedly cold and even colder in Trakai. It was so cold that the lake was completely frozen. I even walked on the lake to the castle rather than taking the bridge. Once you get there, it will take you between two to three hours to see it all, photograph and read most of the information. The structure of the place is what interested me the most. You can clearly see how the castle was rebuilt. the old part was the grey stones and the new one was the red bricks. The inside rooms where well heated and have various exhibitions related to the history of the area. One of the last ones was a little one specific to the Muslims who used to live there and their customs. It was such a good experience to see it. On a side note, the cafes directly around it are over priced and not that great. I went to the traditional one, but it wasn't all that. I would skip them and get something on the way back to the station.
Other Sights in Trakai
I am starting with the other sights in Trakai because they all come before the castle on the way to it. You can also see them after the castle, but I didn't have patience and wanted to see everything that was on my way.
This is actually one of the first sights I saw walking from the train station (15mins after walking). It was very quiet and there was only one lady observing the space. It was lovely to see. It takes between 5-10 minutes to see and photograph.
As you walk to the castle, you will pass by the wooden colourful houses along the main road. It was cool to see them. If it wasn't for the cars parked everywhere I could have taken some amazing photos of that part.
Kraimi House of Worship
As mentioned above the Kraimi is a minority ethnic group in Lithuania. I first thought they were Muslims because of how similar some of their traditions seems, but then realised it was a branch from the Jewish faith. The word used for thus house of worship is kenesset, which means church in Arabic. The location has always housed a place of worship, but this one was rebuilt only in the mid-nineteenth century. It's a square yellow wooden house. Sadly it was closed when I got there, so I couldn't see it on the inside. It should be open during summer times during the week.
For more information check the official tourism website of Trakai