Not many talk about it, so discovering Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, can be a true revelation for travellers in search of new experiences. But what’s it really like? First and foremost, you’re in for a compact and walkable city filled with urban green spaces and healthy doses of impressive architecture, tasty eats and all kinds of exciting leisure activities. Plus, Vilnius’ UNESCO-listed medieval Old Town is one of Eastern Europe’s biggest and most well preserved. Feel free to just wander around and let your curiosity lead the way through the courtyards and passageways further from the more touristic routes. You’re in for an array of exceptional discoveries.
The street art, murals and installations dotting Vilnius make it an urban gallery on its own, and the numerous high-level art festivals and cultural events throughout the year give the city its unique vibe. Longstanding food markets where people shop for local produce and eat either a pretty traditional lunch or something more contemporary; or one of the many boutiques, galleries and pop-up markets where local designers and artisans showcase and sell their latest creations allow you to feel the pulse of the city’s contemporary culture. Art is everywhere in Vilnius, but for the highest concentration of artistic ideas and sophisticated discussions visit Užupis, a district turned self-proclaimed independent republic with its own quirky constitution.
Vilnius is always ready to take you on an adventure. You can explore different parks and districts, take a kayak along one of the rivers for an entirely new perspective of the city, or go on a hike through beautiful natural landscapes sprinkled with historical landmarks. 46% of Vilnius is made up of green spaces, so you can definitely expect a breath of fresh air.
Traditional Lithuanian cuisine is essentially comfort food done right, so powering-up before embarking on a journey through the city is easy. But it’s not all about traditions – chefs in Vilnius are constantly experimenting and creating an entirely new food culture. Don’t be surprised if you end up having your tastiest street food experience here – whether it’s a succulent piece of meat or one of seemingly endless vegan options. Pairing a beer with your food will certainly hit the mark, especially in the warmth of summer. Inspired by Vilnius’ ancient brewing traditions, the modern craft beer scene is overflowing with local brews and other heavy-hitting European microbreweries. And if you need a jolt of energy, you’ll be in awe of the crazy selection of specialty coffees brewed in more ways than you could possibly imagine.
And just when you think you’ve seen and tried everything, it’s time to marvel at the city from above. Vilnius happens to be one of the few cities in Europe that allows hot air balloons to fly above the centre, and the views you’ll get of the labyrinth-like Old Town’s red roofs and the lush forests in and around the city are sure to take your breath away.