It is recorded in historical sources that already in the 13th century were existed an important road connecting the state of Teutonic Order and Riga which ran along the Baltic Sea coast crossing Curonian Spit, and such towns as Klaipeda, Palanga, and Liepoja. As many as about 100 Lithuanian roads were mentioned in the messages of the Order scouts of the period from 1381 to 1402.

Charges and different duties were levied for the crossing of a certain territory, bridges, or rivers, and such additional expenses increased transportation expenses and cost of goods.

In the 15th and 16th centuries the roads connected Vilnius and Kaunas with Danzig, Konigsberg, Grodno, Krakow and other cities. In the 17th and 18th centuries two important roads were built from Kaunas: one to Riga (crossing Kedainiai and Siauliai), and another to the direction of Warsaw (along the left bank of the river Nemunas). The charges for travelling by roads, monitoring and maintenance works of the inland roads were regulated by the Statute (code of laws) of the Great Duchyof Lithuania.

At that time passengers and goods were carried by private businessmen or postal stations. Normally the trip from Vilnius to Kaunas took more than 24 hours. The first international highway across Lithuania was built during the period from 1830 to 1835. This was the St. Petersburg-Warsaw highway crossing the towns of Zarasai, Ukmerge, Kaunas, Suvalkai. The second important highway Riga-Konigsberg crossing such towns as Joniskis, Siauliai, Taurage was built in the period from 1836 to 1858. 

The first automobile appeared in Lithuania in 1896. It was ‘Panhard Levasseur’, registered by the Russian Ministry of Transport in 1896. Due to the shortage of funds, only 74 km of new highways were built in the period from 1930 to 1931 by the independent Lithuanian State. 

The so-called Zemaiciai highway of the total 193 km length (Kaunas-Raseiniai-Rietavas-Garg?dai) was built in the period from 1934 to 1938, and connected the interim Lithuanian capital Kaunas with the Lithuanian Baltic Sea coast. The so called Aukstaiciai highway of the total 170 km length, starting from Zemaiciai highway near the settlement of Babtai and reaching Birzai via Kedainiai, Panevezys, Pasvalys, was built in the period from 1937 to 1940.

The construction of the first Lithuanian high-speed motorway Vilnius-Kaunas was completed in 1970.

Last updated: 18-11-2023