Vilnius is one of Eastern Europe’s great underrated destinations. Old Town Vilnius
is sprawling and full of interesting attractions such as Uzupis
, Vilnius University
, and Gediminas Castle Tower
. The following tips will help you enjoy your time in Vilnius.
- 1. Always carry an umbrella. Lithuania’s name, “Lietuva” is derived from the local word for rain. A sudden downpour can happen even on the sunniest day, and the temperature can change drastically as soon as clouds cover the sun. You’ll also be glad to have a scarf to protect against a brisk wind.
- 2. Always watch before crossing the road. Cars generally stop for people in Old Town Vilnius, but the drivers can be careless and aggressive. Use the sidewalks where possible and cross the road at designated crosswalks.
- 3. Wear comfortable shoes. Old Town Vilnius is paved with flat stone tile rather than cobblestone, but they can lay unevenly and cause a tripping hazard. Additionally, walking is the best way to see the old town and it’s likely that is how you will get from one point to another.
- 4. Carry cash. While credit cards will be taken at most shops and restaurants, Lithuania’s society is largely a cash-based one. ATMs, from which you can withdraw litas, are located all over the old town.
- 5. Take in free events. Vilnius calendar of events is full of free concerts, performances, or art exhibitions. On any given weekend, you may be able to attend a traditional market, watch a dance troupe, or visit a photo gallery for free.
- 6. Go exploring. By all means, take a map if you need it, but don’t be afraid to duck down side streets, pop into courtyards, take an unexpected turn, or enter an open church. Vilnius is full of secrets, and any visitor who sidesteps the tourists thoroughfares catch a glimpse of the city’s soul.
- 7. Try Lithuanian food. Yes, it’s heavy. Yes, the soup is pink. Yes, you’ll waddle out of the restaurant. But Lithuanian food, with its focus on meat and potatoes, is satisfying and tasty. The pink cold beet soup is a staple appetizer course; the red of beets and the white of sour cream or kefir mix to produce its particular color. Cepelinai, the meat- or cheese-filled potato dumplings are another must-try dish.
- 8. Shop for amber and other souvenirs. Amber, that golden jewel from the sea, is an affordable and beautiful souvenir from Lithuania. Artists transform the fossilized tree resin into elegant wearables sold in souvenir shops and from street vendors. Additionally, there’s always a piece of amber that will suit your budget. Linen is another local product that comes in the form of clothing, accessories, and home décor items.
- 9. Enjoy the nightlife. Old Town is well-lit at night, and bars, clubs, and restaurants stay open late. Wine bars, pubs specializing in Lithuanian beer, and upscale cocktail lounges appeal to a range of preferences and budgets.
- 10. Don’t hurry. Because no one else will, and you may as well enjoy the slower pace of life in Vilnius. Restaurants service is notoriously slow, banks require you to take a number according to your type of transaction, and sales people will take their time.
- 11. Seat yourself. In most restaurants, it is expected that guests will seat themselves. It’s a good idea to catch the host’s or waiter’s eye as you do so to make sure they’re aware that you have arrived.
- 12. Visit Vilnius’ must-see sights. From Gediminas Castle Tower to the Gate of Dawn, the city resonates with historic memory that is preserved in important landmarks.