The Hill of Crosses is a pilgrimage site where a collection of around 200,000 crosses have been placed upon a hill in Lithuania’s countryside. Before we arrived in Lithuania, we had seen this iconic spot pop up regularly when looking for highlights to include in our itinerary. Though this site is somewhat remote, it’s a popular stop among those visiting Lithuania and it is fairly easy to reach. If you have the time to venture through the northern regions of the country, we definitely recommend adding the Hill of Crosses to your list!
Hill of Crosses History
The exact origin of the Hill of Crosses is unknown. But, it is predicted that people began placing crosses around Šiauliai in the medieval ages after the invasion by the Teutonic Knights. The Hill of Crosses itself is first mentioned in writing in the mid-1800s.
Lithuania has had a turbulent history and this site suffered many damages through WWII and Soviet era. Many crosses continued to appear on the hill even though the Soviets kept removing and burning them, forbidding prayer and the placement of crosses here, and even attempting to level the hill and destroy the surrounding area. Despite all of the destruction, people have long come to place crosses here to represent resistance to the oppression of Catholicism, hope for the future, and the strength of faith and Lithuanian identity.
Only in the 1980s was the hill finally left in peace. It gained worldwide fame in the Christian community when Pope John Paul II visited it in the 90s and it has since become a popular pilgrimage site. People still come to the hill today to pray and place their own cross upon the hill.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, the Hill of Crosses is a unique place to visit and an iconic symbol of Lithuania.
Getting to the Hill of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses sits out in the countryside near the northern Lithuanian city of Šiauliai. Even if you aren’t staying in Šiauliai, the Hill of Crosses is pretty easy to visit from Vilnius, Kaunas, or Klaipėda as a day trip.
Because the Hill of Crosses is a bit remote, many choose to take a tour for the convenience. There are numerous tour options that make trips from Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, and even Riga. You can also make your way to Šiauliai and then take a tour from there. You can find and book various options on sites like Viator, Get Your Guide, or specific tour company websites like the Hill of Crosses tour page.
On Your Own
If you’d like the flexibility and to save some money, you can easily visit the Hill of Crosses on your own. We were making our way from Vilnius to Klaipėda and decided to make a pit stop in Šiauliai to see it.
If you have your own vehicle, you can drive to the Hill of Crosses where there is ample parking near the Visitor’s Center. It costs under €1 to park. You can also rent a bike in Šiauliai and cruise to the Hill of Crosses. It is about 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) to the visitor’s center from the heart of town. For more information on bike rentals and visiting Šiauliai, visit the information center in town.
We reached the Hill of Crosses by public transport. Lithuania has a convenient transport system, which made it pretty easy. From Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, and various other cities, you can catch a train or bus to Šiauliai. We booked all of our train tickets on the Lithuanian rail site before the day of departure. Alternatively, you may find some bus tickets to Šiauliai online or at the station as well.
Once in Šiauliai, we caught a bus towards Joniškis and hopped off at the Domantai stop. We bought the ticket at the station for the way there and paid on the bus for the way back. Click here to see the timetable. The trip took only 10-15 minutes. The Domantai stop is just near the road leading to the Hill of Crosses, so we got off the bus and walked the road to the site. It was just under a mile to the visitor’s center from the stop.
Hours & Fees
Visitors can see the Hill of Crosses at any time of day – it does not close. However, if you want to visit the information center, note that it is open daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and may have varied hours for holidays.
There is no cost to access the site. Parking at the lot at the visitor’s center costs €0.90 per vehicle and the restrooms cost €0.50. If you would like to buy a cross to place on the hill, souvenirs, or something from the vending machine inside, bring additional money.
Exploring the Hill of Crosses
It was a chilly, but sunny afternoon as we approached the Hill of Crosses. Upon reaching a large gravel clearing, we began to see just how many crosses there were. There are a few paths that visitors can walk. Some wind around the base of the hill and there is also a main path that runs along the crest of the hill with smaller paths and steps leading off of it.
We meandered along the trail, trying to take in all of the details of the large and small crosses, beads, statues, and other items placed on the hill. Some crosses were wood, while others were metal or stone. There were tons of little crosses hanging on larger ones and also on trees in the area. New pieces were placed among crosses that are said to be around a hundred years old! A few other visitors strolled about, some looking for the perfect spot to place their own cross.
Not only was the Hill of Crosses interesting to see, but the countryside surrounding the hill was also pretty, especially with the fall colors that were beginning to show when we visited. We explored the area for just under an hour before walking the road back to the bus stop to catch a bus back to Šiauliai.