The beautiful Lithuania received gracefully and immediately drew us into her spell. She surprised us on so many levels, seldom have we experienced this on our many travels. When we told our friends that we are planning a trip to Vilnius, they were surprised. When it comes to planning a weekend trip, most people immediately think of Rome, Paris or London, but the capital of Lithuania has at least as much, and a little bit of everything to offer and it is in no way inferior to other European cities. Here is what you should not miss when visiting Vilnius.
Churches, Churches, and again Churches
In Vilnius’ Old Town alone, there are more than 50 churches, one prettier than the other. It never gets boring because none is like the other. The different architectural styles make each building a very individual character. There is the red sandstone church in gothic style, which looks British and then the colorful lavish baroque churches, as they are known from Paris.
The most famous of them and one of the “must-sees” in Vilnius is the St. Stanislaus Cathedral, which with its gigantic pillars in noble white could just as well be standing in Greece. At the church, there is one of the many quirky things to discover in Vilnius – the miraculous paving stone. The saying goes that one should stand on the paving stone and turn around their own axis three times, for a wish to come true. It was the little things fascinated me so much about Vilnius.
Two Hills over Vilnius
Directly behind the church, the next highlight is waiting – The Gediminas Hill with its delightful castle that peacefully thrones upon the city. It can already be seen from afar and gives off a pretty motif over the colorful houses in the old town. When you have made the ascent, you will be rewarded with a great view over the historic center.
Those who want to go even higher, climb the mountain of the Three Crosses, which is only a few steps further. The best thing about Vilnius is that everything is somehow nearby within walking distance, which gives it the clear charm of a small town. We liked it a lot.
The TV Tower
Situated a bit remotely from the city center, the TV tower will give you the best views. High up there, you will also find a great and affordable restaurant.
While the platform on which the tables are arranged turns 360° within 50 min, you can enjoy one of the many dishes from the menu.
The artistic Republic of Uzupis
One of the funniest and quirkiest things, I ever encountered on my travels is the Uzupis Republic. The quarter, in which mainly artists live, was made into their own republic by them. Uzupis has its own government and even a constitution. The 12-man army has been dissolved meanwhile though.
However, the Republic has about 200 ambassadors around the world, amongst them is the famous Dalai Lama. Those who are brave enough can get an immigration stamp at the gallery pub “Uzupio Kavine” in the government building. I do not know what will happen at your next passport control though.
The fact that this must be the home of artists can be seen quickly when you stroll through the streets. The highlight, however, is clearly the wall on which the Constitution has been put up in a dozen languages. My favorite paragraph is number 13, it says: “A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in times of need.” In addition, every person has the explicit right to be unique, is that cool or what?
The Moated Castle of Trakai
A popular day trip from the city of Vilnius is Trakai castle. The beautiful water castle from the 13th century is a magnet for tourists from all over the world. The beautiful red sandstone moat blends in perfectly with the landscape that surrounds it. The red reflects radiantly on the blue water, which can be crossed by walking over two long wooden bridges. In summer, you can also rent a boat and leisurely paddle around the castle. There is a nicely laid out exhibition of historical relics and decorated rooms inside. Just like the winding castle itself, with its many balconies and steep spiral staircases, you feel a bit like traveling in time.
Shopping Queens and Kings
If you are into shopping, you will enjoy the many boutiques in the old town. If you need something bigger, it is best to head for the gigantic Akropolis Mall. Here you will find everything your shopping heart desires.
Airships on Plates
Vilnius is a culinary delight, I recommend you go and find a typical Lithuanian restaurant. On the menu you will find typical Lithuanian Cepelinai – potato zeppelins filled with meat. Very delicious. As are the potato pancakes in different variations. However, even classics, such as soups, salads and fish taste especially good when prepared the Lithuanian way. We have eaten our way through different menus with relish.
Written specially for airBalticBlog by Kathrin Gottweiß.