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Why choose Vilnius for city break?

If you follow us or have read any of the blogs you probably know that Justina was born, raised and grew up in Lithuania. She lived in Vilnius during her study years and she has a great knowledge of Vilnius sightseeing spots and its old town in particular. The old town of Vilnius is where she spent most of her time as she studied there. She fell in love with the city and never stopped exploring as she lived there.

Vilnius is a long-standing historic capital of Lithuania with its roots going back to medieval times. It is a wonderful destination for a city break as it has a rich cultural scene, nightlife, loads of greenery, parks, cheap transportation, affordable quality hotels, picturesque historical old town but it isn't too busy, it's quite peaceful compared to other European capitals. Sounds like a long and promising list, that's right. 

 We live in London now but we go there at least twice a year to visit Justina's family and friends who live there but also to enjoy this beautiful city which just keeps on growing and improving year on year. 

 

In this blog post, Justina shares some of her favourite things to do and see in the capital of Lithuania (these are just a few things, there is so much more!)

Your guide to Vilnius

Explore the old town

Old town of Vilnius plays a massive part in the country's historical past and is a Unesco world heritage site. It's one of the biggest in Northern Europe (correct, not Eastern, we are in Northern Europe)!

 

Main historic and architectural monuments  you should visit

 

Vilnius Cathedral square and bell tower - a must

Palace of grand dukes - a must

Church of St Anne (they say that Napoleon wanted to take that renaissance architecture wonder with him when he was crossing Lithuania) - a must

Church of St Paul and Peter

Town hall

Presidential palace 

University of Vilnius (founded in 1579 it's the oldest university in Baltic states) - a must

Main walking streets

 

Pilies street   oldest street in the old town , pedestrianised route with restaurants, boutique shops, souvenir shops and cafes. Pilies street is the best place to look for Lithuanian souvenirs and gifts. Open air market stalls dotted along the street selling handmade items of clothing, famous wool scarfs, gloves, and slippers. This is where you will also find lithuanian "gold" - amber shops. 

Vokiečių street  another beautiful promenade linking Vilnius town hall "Rotušė" to Gediminas avenue. Some of the best coffee and dessert places are located over here as well as modern art gallery (huge white buildingby the side of the town hall). If you walk from the town hall towards Gediminas avenue you will unavoidably cross two very famous streets for their bars and nightlife -  Vilnius and Islandijos streets. 

Wonder off Vokiečių street towards university street and you will get into a little labyrinth of cobbled picturesque old town streets featuring local designer shops, boutiques, wine bars and trendy dessert places and cafes. Just when you need those instagram “worthy” shots! Every corner of Stiklių street is picture worthy.

Gediminas avenue

 

The longest avenue in the old town starting at Cathedral Square and ending by the river Neris next to the Lithuanian parliament. This is where you will find most of the government institutions and embassies, theatres, restaurants and the only shopping mall in the old town “Gedo 9”.  Constructed in 1836 1,8 km long(just over a mile) it's the main street in the old and cannot be missed during your visit. Walk along the avenue and explore it's buildings, shops, restaurants, museums, squares and you can even pay a visit to the Drama theatre or museum of occupation and freedom fights to learn more about Lithuania's history at the time. 

 Visit Republic of Užupis 

It’s a unique and small neighbourhood short walk from the old town located on the other side of the river Vilnia. I would agree with many who say that it's a very tiny area in the town but also the most bohemian area in the whole of Lithuania housing art galleries, boutique shops and artist galleries. Recently some very popular bakeries and restaurants opened there making it a great place for food if you want to escape the business of the old town. If old buildings are your weakness, you will be in for a treat!

 

It is called the Republic of Užupis as if it's another country because back in 1997 it was declared an independent state of Vilnius town. It has its own flag, unofficial currency, president and constitution. Constitution that has been translated in 23 languages and is displayed on the mural wall in Paupio street. Dalai Lama has visited the constitution himself in 2013 and in September 2018 Pope Francesco gave it a blessing during his visit in Lithuania.