When I got off the plane after midnight in Vilnius, I had no idea what to expect. I ended up there because it was easy to go for a weekend, and when I boarded the plane I really had no expectations. But a weekend away in a new city never disappoints!
Vilnius is a small and quiet city, but in many ways it has a modern and vibrant atmosphere. You need to look in the right places, but there are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants that are very cool.
Vilnius’ Old Town is a Unesco Heritage site, with winding roads and historical buildings as you’d expect. There are lots of churches around, and when we visited it seemed like every single one of them had a wedding on. It’s a nice area to spend a few hours exploring, especially if it’s a nice day.
The main street is called Pilies and it cuts through the Old Town starting from the Gate of Dawn, the only remaining gate into the city.
Gediminas Tower and Castle
After exploring the Old Town, we hiked up Gediminas Castle for a view over the city. It was a glorious sunny day, so we could see all the nice buildings in the Old Town as well as the newer areas of Vilnius.
We started our second day walking to the Genocide Museum, which unfortunately was closed. So we crossed the city centre and headed to Uzupis, a neighbourhood home to artists which declared the area an independent republic in the 1990s.
There’s even a local constitution on display. It’s a nice area by the river, so we stopped for a quick beer.
Lithuanian food, as most Eastern European food, isn’t really veggie-friendly, so we did some research in advance to find good options. We had lunch at Namai, a very nice but hard to find vegetarian cafe which served great pasta. Lunch for two including tip cost 17.50€.
We also visited Gyvas, a vegetarian restaurant and bar which had lots of vegan options. It was alright but not great. Dinner and snacks including tip cost 18€. Another place we visited was Radharane, a hare krishna restaurant. Food was good, and the place was nice and a good option for a break. Lunch for two including tip cost 13€.
There were lots of nice bars in the Old Town, many with outside seating which was ideal. I sipped white wine in the nice Franki, watching wedding parties go by. We found the great Manu Kiemas Terasa, reminiscent of Budapest ruin bars, which was lively and pretty cool.
A great find was Bambalyne, a bar with an impressive selection of over 80 local beers. Like other good finds in Vilnius, this place is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.
Lithuania is very cheap by British standards, with beers for £2 and a large glass of wine for less than £3.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Go: Wizzair has direct flights from Luton and it’s the cheapest option. It takes about 2.5h. A taxi from the airport should cost about 10€ but they often charge tourists more (not cool).
- Stay: We stayed at Eloft Hotel which was good and cheap. Vilnius is small so most things are within walking distance.
- When to go: We went in June, when it was amazingly sunny. Summers can get quite hot, but winters are really too cold – although there are Christmas markets around.