If you are interested in travel to Lithuania, it’s likely you have heard of the Hill of Crosses. It’s likely, too, that you’re curious about how to get there so you can see this sacred place of pilgrimage and memory for yourself.
Getting to Šiauliai, the city near where the Hill of Crosses stands, from Vilnius is relatively easy via public transportation. The train is the fastest option at two-and-a-half hours; one runs regularly between Vilnius and Klaipeda with a stop in Šiauliai.
Train departure and arrival times can be checked at the website litrail.lt. From the main website, click the “en” at the top for English language and “passenger transportation in the left-hand corner. Choose Vilnius as your departure station and Šiauliai as your arrival station. Then specify on what date you would like to travel.
Trains from Vilnius to Šiauliai leave at 6:45 am, 9:41 am, and 5:40 pm. Unless you plan to spend the night in Šiauliai, expect to leave on one of the earlier trains. If you choose the train that leaves at 9:41 am, you will arrive at 12:18, giving you plenty of time to get to the Hill of Crosses and back to the train station for the last train back to Vilnius. (For a list of train routes from Šiauliai to Vilnius, use the search function again with your departure station set to Šiauliai and your arrival station set to Vilnius.) The last train from Šiauliai leaves at 7:11 pm and arrives back in Vilnius at 9:54 pm.
The train station is located at Gelezinkelio 16, in the southwestern part of Old Town Vilnius. A variety of buses and trolleybuses go there, but if the weather is nice, it’s also possible to walk there from points of interest in Old Town. Buy your ticket at the train station. Lithuanian language skills aren’t necessary.
Just say “Šiauliai” (pronounced, roughly, show-LAY) or write it down and show it to the person behind the counter. That will get you a ticket on the next train to Šiauliai, but you want to be sure to buy it at least 30 minutes before the train leaves. If you’re traveling in a group, it’s better to buy it even earlier if you want to sit together during the ride.
Digital signs will show you which platform and track to wait at for the train. Your ticket tells you what car and what seat you are assigned to—any rail service staff member can help you find your place. Stops are announced over a loudspeaker, first in Lithuanian, then in English. The upcoming stop is announced, then the next (kitas) stop follows. When you hear that the next stop will be Šiauliai, the train will stop at the immediate station and the following stop will be Siualiai. If you are uncertain, ask at the stop before you get off the train.
Bus from Šiauliai to the Hill of Crosses
Out of the train station, turn left at Dubijos Street, then right on Tilzes. You will buy your ticket, which will cost 3 litas, from the driver on the bus. You are looking for the bus that arrives at platform number 12, labeled Šiauliai – Joniškis.
The bus leaves the platform at the following times: 7:25 (except for Sunday), 8:25, 10:25, 11:00, 12:15, 1:10, 2:15, 3:40, and 5:05.
Get off the bus at the Domantai stop. It isn’t labeled, but if you let the bus driver know where you are going, he can make sure to stop at Domantai. Watch for the brown sign that says “Kryžių kalna,” which will let you know you are near. Once you get off the bus, follow the arrow down the road (about 2 kilometers) to where the Hill of Crosses is located. You’ll see it from a distance.
Getting back to Šiauliai
You can either walk back to the Domantai stop and wait for the bus, which arrives at 7:43, 8:50, 9:32 (except for Sunday), 10:43, 12:12, 1:03, 2:03, 3.02, 5:27, and 7:03, or you can walk across the street to the souvenir/information shop and ask for someone there to call you a taxi.
This may be the best option because some travelers have had difficulty catching the right bus back to Šiauliai. Depending upon where you want the taxi driver to drop you, the ride back to the city should cost about 20 litas, give or take a few litas. You can explore the town with the time you have left, visit the shopping center near the bus station, or get a bite to eat before taking the train back to Vilnius.