Zarasai was first mentioned in historical sources in 1387. This area used to belong to an ancient Baltic tribe, the Seliai. Today Zarasai is a quiet resort town located at the north-eastern border of Lithuania. Its picturesque surroundings are especially popular with tourists from the cities of Vilnius and Kaunas as well as from Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
Today Zarasai district is characterized by the wonderful, pure and picturesque nature and by flora and fauna rarely seen elsewhere. Hence, it is not surprising that in the district there are even two regional parks: Grazute and Sartai. Zarasai district is one of the districts in Lithuania that has so many lakes; there are over 300 lakes and small lakes of various sizes. Although the largest Lithuanian lake - Druksciai Lake - as well as Sartai Lake, Luodis Lake and Avilis Lake that are included into the top ten of the largest lakes of Lithuania are situated in the territory of the district, small, up to 10 ha, water bodies prevail in the district. 8 rivers, one of which is Sventoji, cross the district. Despite the wonderful water resources, the district is special for its flora. Forests, mostly pinewoods, cover app. 30% of the territory. The plenty of natural resources create extremely favourable conditions for developing tourism and wellness services, thus, Zarasai has been famous as a territory perfectly suitable for relaxation and recreation for a long time. In 2008 Zarasai town was awarded a status of the resort territory. In 2010 Zarasai district declared as the EDEN destination in Lithuania for aquatic tourism.
Tourism – one of the most attractive fields of business and investment trends in Zarasai district. Such situation is presupposed not only by the extremely favourable natural conditions and the picturesque landscapes but also by the plenty of objects of interest (including Stelmuze oak, one of the oldest trees in Europe, Dusetos art gallery and many other objects), spectacular cultural events and the well-known cultural heritage. In the recent years the increase of tourism services, developers of the resources and guests from Lithuania and abroad is seen.
Currently the project-based activities which aim at creating more favourable environment for the local people and the guests are being extremely developed in Zarasai district. Zarasai becomes a district open to investments and sustainable development. The local public institutions actively develop international relations; at the moment the partnership relations are maintained with Ballan-Mire (France), Daugavpils (Latvia), Zdunska Wola (Poland), Mottafollone (Italy), L-Isla (Malta).
When talking about the district, the distinctive cultural surrounding and the distinctive cultural life have to be mentioned. The fact that the culture has a special place in the life of Zarasai district is proved by the name of the first Lithuanian capital of culture awarded to Zarasai in 2008. Hardly could we find someone who has not heard about the traditional republican harness horserace, which reminds of the ancient traditions of the Baltic people, and which takes place in Sartai on the first Saturday of February. Didzioji Island of Zarasas Lake – unconventional space for culture – has become a place where many traditional summer events for people of various likings and viewpoints take place. Not only the unique events but also a gallery of professional art where works of the most famous Lithuanian artists are exhibited that attract more and more people to Dusetos and Zarasai every year simply cannot be leaved unmentioned. And all this is only a part of all, bigger and smaller, cultural and sport events that take place in the district.