If you are tired of rushing cities and megapolises, you can come to Vilnius. Even though it is the largest city and a capital of Lithuania, life here is way calmer than in other European capitals. We can call it a city full of green spots, with lots of gothic, classic, baroque and modern buildings, what is more, Vilnius is full of Soviet architecture remains. It is a city, which offers lots of entertainment for different people, businessmen and students will find activities here depending on their budget.
The heart of Vilnius
Undeniably, we should start from the main square in Vilnius called Cathedral Square. It is a place, where main streets cross and a centre of public life is. From its name you can understand, that it is located near the Vilnius Cathedral. It is a most important place for worship in Lithuania, which originally was built in the 14th century. Now you can find old frescoes, other artistic works from different centuries. In addition, in the undergrounds of the cathedral, there are many remains of famous Lithuanians. The interesting fact is, that during the Soviet regime, it became a warehouse.
For those, who can’t live without amazing panoramic views there are few places perfect for that:
1. Subaciaus apžvalgos aikštelė / Tauro Kalnas/ 3 Crosses Hill
2. Skybar or TV Tower
3. Šv. Jonų varpinė (Campanile of St. Johns’ Church) or Vilnius Cathedral Bell Tower
4. And most iconic place in Vilnius Gediminas’ Tower. It is remaining part of the Upper Castle in Vilnius, which was built in the 15th century, but unfortunately only small part of the original building remains. However, it is an important state and historic symbol of Lithuania.
Among museums like – Lietuvos Nacionalinis Muziejus, Lietuvos Dailės Muziejus etc., there is one extraordinary museum for Vilnius. KGB museum (Genocido Auku Muziejus) is located in the former KGB headquarters. It is a historical memorial museum, which shows us the history of occupational regimes. The collection contains photographs, documents, original objects, what is more, there are execution rooms, with belongings of persecuted people. It is probably the darkest place in the city, but it is worth visiting because it gives you a chance, to feel the history.
Midpoint of Europe
If you have more time and want to travel around the Vilnius there is a place about 17 kilometers from Vilnius. Localization is interesting because it is a geographical midpoint of Europe. Nearby you will find Europos parkas museum, which is an open air modern museum with lots of interesting expositions. From Giant chairs, big stone eggs, to installations made of old TVs.
The other place worth visiting is Trakai. It is a small town near Vilnius, which once was a capital and residence of the Lithuanian royalty. Nowadays, you can visit an old medieval castle, which was built on the Galvė lake. Then try out traditional dish – kibinai, which is common for a small minority living in this city. These are Karaims, Turkic-speaking group, which resettled from Crimea to Lithuania, in the end of 14th century after Grand Duke Vytautas participated in military campaigns against Golden Horde.
City Full of Churches
Vilnius is a city with plenty of churches, but the most incredible and famous are gothic St. Anna’s church, which according to the legend has made such an impression on Napoleon Bonaparte, that he was eager to relocate it to Paris.
Also, visit St Peter and Paul’s Church, which is a pearl of Baroque in Vilnius. Church which is popular for its unique interior, with more than 2000 stucco figures. They are so different, that this church is considered to be mostly studied in Vilnius.
Then visit one of the most popular Shrines in Lithuania, called Gates of Dawn. Moreover, this is the only Gate which has survived from the 16th century. In the Chapel, you will find a painting of Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy. Furthermore, it is commonly believed that it has miracle-working powers.
Vilnius Creative Capital
Uzupis is considered to be a separate republic with its own constitution. In fact, it is probably the most iconic place in Vilnius where you can meet Lithuanian Bohème. As a result, the district itself looks like an art gallery, the walls have artistic drawings, graffitis and in the center, there is a sculpted angel symbol of Uzupis.
Vilnius From The Sky
For people lacking of adventures, there is an opportunity to try out! Vilnius is one of those cities, where you can fly by air balloon! If the weather is good, you can start your flight even from an old town and then fly above the medieval buildings and a tremendous amount of churches!
Kultūros naktis (Cultural night) one-night festival, which is happening each year in June. Vilnius invites you to spend not only a day but also night surrounded by a culture in the capital of Lithuania. You can find different activities, concerts, audiovisual and theatre performances in the narrow streets of Vilnius, cafes, theatres, squares and etc. In addition, organizers emphasise, that most of the activities are free and each year they invite more international participants.
Additionally, check out other festivals like Gatvės Muzikos Diena (Street Music Festival), Sostinės Dienos, etc.
Moreover, if you are a gastronomic tourist, you probably won’t be enthusiastic about Lithuanian cuisine. Lithuanians make their dishes mainly of meat and potatoes and are very similar to other traditional dishes in Eastern Europe. But, if you want to try it out we recommend you Cepelinai, Zemaiciu Blynai, Saltibarsciai and of course – Lithuanian beer.
Not to mention, Vilnius is full of cafes, from bigger chains to authentic places, like Mint Vinetu. It is a book store and a cafe in one. You can find old books, listen to someone playing a piano or guitar and order some homemade pastries. Also, check out Local T, Chaika, Coffis etc.
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