I visited Lithuania and its capital Vilnius for the first time this autumn. I had rather low expectations, as my research and reading on the city in advance had been slim to none. I pictured a grey city with strong hints of Soviet occupation still roaming the streets, and figured it would be a trip filled with shopping and spa days, and not much else.
I was extremely wrong and sincerely apologise to any Lithuanian readers out there.
Vilnius proved to be an incredibly beautiful and vibrant city, with adorable cobblestoned street, stunning churches on every corner, nice people, great food and lots of interesting sights to see for the culturally interested.
A day well spent in Vilnius is a day spent strolling around the Old Town. The houses were adorable, with tiny cobbled streets going in all and any direction (we didn’t find one straight corner there), and small parks and green areas scattered around. The last part particularly surprised me – there were so many pretty parks and green squares wherever we went.
What to do in Vilnius
Visit and walk around Gedimina’s Tower
Spend some time walking around Old Town, take some pictures and just enjoy the history of the place.
Visit Bernadine Gardens and the musical fountain!
Visiting The KGB Museum is a must, and it will teach you so much of Lithuanian history.
Shopping: Acropolis Shopping Centre & Gedomino Prospektus – seemingly the main shopping street of the city!
Hit up a Spa and get those nails done (duh)
Any or all the beautiful churches and religious houses
Restaurants in Vilnius
We had a table booked here one evening, as we found the restaurant on TripAdvisor in advance. We ended up having an amazing time, eating great food and being thoroughly entertained by the staff! The restaurant is family owned, and you could really tell that the server was proud of this. He told us about all the courses, about his favourites, the local food they served and which beer to drink with it. The service was perfect, in other words – which is an impressive feat considering we were 16 people.
The restaurant is located in a rather dead street outside of Old Town, so I would advise you to catch a taxi there and back. It didn’t seem like an ideal neighbourhood to be walking around in, but the food at Senoji Trobele was worth it. Some of my friends were completely blown away by the lamb shanks, I loved the chicken stuffed with broccoli, and their chicken Kiev was apparently killer too! You must also order their ice shot after dinner – served in a shot glass made entirely of ice, keeping the spirit at a perfect -20 Celsius.
We ended up eating here twice during our short stay, the food was just too good! It is extremely easy to find, and located just a 2 minute walk from the Cathedral square. Blue Lotus serves Thai and Indian food – you’ll notice a lot of Asian fusion restaurants around the city, they seem to be very popular. On our first evening eating there I was actually so torn about which menu to follow that I ended up ordering a Thai chicken meal with Naan bread, and none of the staff even batted an eyelash! I was extremely happy, and the Garlic Naan was absolutely amazing.
The restaurant did a great job with keeping up with us all when we were sixteen around the table, and offered great service the first evening when there were only four of us dining there. They were friendly and helpful, giving us the impression that they didn’t find us obnoxious Norwegians irritating at all, even though our sound levels rose accordingly with the wine bottles we emptied. I strongly recommend the Blue Lotus, and am positive that you will enjoy it as much as we did!
Bonus: Across the street from the restaurant is a salsa bar called ‘Mojito’, with fun dancing, cheap drinks and a great atmosphere. We may or may not have met Captain Morgan himself there during our after dinner drinks! They are open until 6am on weekends, so don’t worry if dinner drags out a little.
Good to know when visiting Vilnius
Taxis are very cheap in the city, but they are more expensive when you hail them off the street than if you book them in advance. Download the free ‘Taksi’ app to order taxi’s to wherever you are, straight from your phone!
For example: from the airport to our hotel (near Old Town) we paid 20 Euros including tips, but from the hotel to the airport, a booked taxi cost 6 Euros including tips! The taxi rates are considerably higher when catching a taxi from the airport though, so don’t feel like you’ve been tricked or ripped off.
Not all toilets in the city have new piping, so many places they expect you to throw your paper in the rubbish bin. It is not uncommon in older European cities, but I was surprised at the lack of signs regarding this in the toilets there. Ask your hotel lobby if you are unsure and there are no signs in the bathroom. Better safe than sorry, I’m sure clogging a hotel toilet isn’t a fun experience.
Now I hope you are excited to visit the Lithuanian capital! Have you been before or are you planning a trip?
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