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Lithuania is one of Europe’s best kept secrets.  Even some travelers focusing their trip on the Baltic countries seem skip Lithuania since Latvia and Estonia are more easily accessible via air travel. This is a  huge mistake!  Vilnius is a cute, quirky capital that was a delight to experience and explore.   Although I could list many, here are 8 reasons to travel to Vilnius, Lithuania:

8 Reasons to Travel to Vilnius, Lithuania

1.  Vilnius has a beautiful historic Old Town filled with baroque architecture.

You could easily spend a day leisurely exploring Vilnius’ charming Old Town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Europe’s largest baroque capital.  Pop into shops, stroll the winding streets and admire the impressive baroque architecture.  Don’t forget to saunter around Vilnius University’s picturesque courtyards, admire the gothic architecture of St. Anne’s Church and wander through the impressive Gates of Dawn before you head down Vokiečiu gatvė to settle into a cafe and people watch.

 Reasons to Travel to Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius katedra

BBC’s War And Peace filming locations revealed … / The Daily Mail, 2016 01 06
Vilnius, Lithuania: Discover the setting of BBC1’s epic drama, War And Peace / The Express Saturday, 2016 01 08
Latvia and Lithuania: the fairytale filming locations for War and Peace / The Telegraph, 2016 01 22
На отдых в Литву / Линия полета, 2016 01-02
Литва знает секрет привлекательности / ТурБизнес, 2016 01-02
Den baltiske overraskelse / FerieMagasin, 2016 01 30
Литва: янтарными дорогами здоровья / Совершенство, 2016 02
Rating Europe’s Most and Least Happy Cities / Citylab.com, 2016 02 09
Want to Move to Europe? Here Are the Happiest Cities / Mental Floss, 2016 02 10
5 Eastern European Countries to Shoot Your Next Film and Save Money / The Hollywood Reporter, 2016 02 14
Baltic destination in top 25 EPI list / TravelMole.com, 2016 02 16
Vilnius – Auch für Golfer eine Reise wert / Reise-Pilot.de, 2016 02 22
Vilnius! The Baroque Capital of Europe / Tourism Around the World Monthly, 2016 03
TOP10 Incentive Travel Destinations for 2016 / Successful Meetings, 2016 03 06
Vilnius, Lituania / Tustyle Viaggi, 2016 03 07
Amazingly Fast Free Public Wi-Fi? / ITB Berlin News, 2016 03 12
The 13 cheapest European cities for a weekend break / Business Insider, 2016 03 21
Названы самые дешевые города Европы для посещения на выходных / Moya Planeta.ru, 2016 03 23
Top 5 Most Beautiful Cities to Visit in 2016 / Huffpost Travel Blog, 2016 03 29
Las ciudades culturales más económicas de Europa / Trivago.es, 2016 04 16
Citytrips: Auf zu einem neuen Hotspot / Travelnews.ch, 2016 04 19
Cheap City Breaks for When You’re Broke / Blog.Ryanair.com, 2016 04 29
The 10 Cheapest Tourist Destinations In Europe / The Culture Trip, 2016 05 17
The old world charm and new world feel of Vilnius, Lithuania / Examiner, 2016 05 22
Cap à l’Est : six villes d’Europe à petit budget / LeMonde, 2016 05 22
The 13 cities with the best work-life balance in the world / Business Insider, 2016 05 29
BBC TV series draws tourists to Vilnius, Lithuania / CCTV.com, 2016 05 30
Litva brana Pobaltia / Báječná Žena, 2016 06
A Local Expert Teaches Us How To Experience Lithuania’s Capital: Vilnius / JetsetTimes, 2016 06 21
Hoşgörünün Modern Yüzü. City of Modernity and Tolerance / Skylife, 2016 07
10 Things To Do In Vilnius / Epicwander, 2016 07 19
Just Back: Inside Uzupis, Lithuania’s free-thinking republic / The Telegraph, 2016 08 06
Please, Stop!: Things People Think Lithuania Is That It Is Really Not / No-Yolo.com, 2016 09 05
A statistical portrait of the cities, towns and suburbs across the European Union / Eurostat, 2016 09 07
Northern Europeans most satisfied with the life in cities / Politico, 2016 09 07
Litouwen: De facelift van Vilnius / National Geographic Traveler.nl, 2016 09 14
Vilnius, une capitale balte pas comme les autres / Planet.fr, 2016 09 16
The 10 cheapest European city breaks for autumn / The Telegraph, 2016 09 29
Things to do in Vilnius, Lithuania: Three-minute guide / Gippsland Times, 2016 10 08

Need a cure for your winter wanderlust? Check out our editors’ list of the 10 Best Winter Trips. We've assembled a world of reasons to travel this season, starting with a European city with Old World charm. —Maryellen Kennedy Duckett

Vilnius, Lithuania

With its medieval layout, baroque cityscape, and cobblestone streets, the heart of Lithuania’s capital city, Vilnius, charms in any season of the year. But add a dusting of snow to the castles, Gothic churches, and red-tile roofs, and the Vilnius Historic Center, or Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage site), becomes an utterly enchanting winter wonderland.

“I love seeing the frozen River Neris in the middle of the beautiful Old Town,” says Vilnius resident Inga Aukselyte. “Every time I cross one of the bridges I notice the glaciers [ice floe] quietly flowing through the town. It is especially romantic in the evening when all the city lights are on.”

Celebrate winter in Vilnius at seasonal events such as the free Christmas in the Capital (November 27 to January 6); performances of "TheNutcracker" at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre; and aThree Kings Procession from the Gate of Dawn toward Cathedral Square (January 6). There’s also a Winter Safari on Snowmobile through nearby national park forest trails and across snow-covered fields and frozen lakes.

How to Get Around: Vilnius Airport is fewer than four miles south of the city. Take light rail from the airport to the Vilnius Railway Station, or bus 88 from the airport to Old Town. Walking is the best way to travel around Old Town and to nearby center city attractions.

Where to Stay: The 18-room Moon Garden Art Hotel is close to the Gate of Dawn, the only remaining gate from Old Town's original 16th-century city wall. Book a room through the hotel website for a free ride from the airport, and ask for help with your luggage—there’s no elevator. A larger Old Town option is the 118-room Artis Hotel. The popular conference hotel is located near the Presidential Palace. Rates include a buffet breakfast.

What to Eat or Drink: The menu at Old Town’s Ertlio Namas celebrates the traditions of early Lithuania. Dishes such as sturgeon with mustard sauce and veal with steamed root vegetables are based on recipes from the 17th to 19th century. Reservations recommended.

What to Buy: Locals keep their hands warm by wearing thick wool mittens knit in snowflake and geometric patterns. Buy a pair (and wool sweaters, hats, and scarves) at Wool House, a family-owned traditional woolen-wear enterprise originally founded in 1936 and revived in 1988.

What to Read Before You Go: Ellen Cassedy’s award-winning memoirWe Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust details her efforts to learn Yiddish as a way to discover her family’s Jewish Lithuanian roots and, in turn, explore Lithuania’s brutal history under Stalin’s Soviet regime and during Nazi occupation.

Helpful Links: Vilnius TourismLithuania Travel, and I Heart My City: Kamilė’s Vilnius

Fun Fact: The name of Vilnius’s main street reflects Lithuania’s tumultuous modern history. Built in 1836 as Georgij Avenue, the street was renamed Mickiewicz by the Polish, and first Stalin and then Lenin Avenue by the Soviets. The current name, Gediminas Avenue, was briefly used in 1939 and 1940 (between the Nazi and Soviet occupations) and was reinstated in 1989. The name honors Gediminas, Grand Duke of Lithuania (circa 1275 to 1341).

Staff Tip: During my Baltic tour, the quirky Užupis area of Vilnius stood out the most. This self-proclaimed republic of artists possesses its own anthem and has its constitution displayed on a fence, as well as a bronze angel keeping watch at the entrance to the neighborhood. Cross the river to find alternative shops, arts performances, and fashion festivals in this charming, unique district. —Christine Blau, @Chris_Blau, associate producer, National Geographic Travel

Roads to revolution: Druskininkai to Kaunas

Adrian Bridge meets Marx and Lenin on the road from Druskininkai to Kaunas.

10 Aug 2011

| 3 Comments
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Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, and second city Kaunas, harbour rich histories, taking in vodka by royal decree, the KGB, and bohemia. WORDS: JOHN SHERIDAN

I have a theory: if the name of a country ends in ‘ia’, it’s worth a visit. From Algeria to Armenia, Bulgaria to Bolivia, and Slovenia to Syria, all evoke a sense of adventure and the prospect of a steep cultural learning curve. 

Now, Lithuania might not spring readily to mind when thinking of a short break destination. But whether it’s sampling the local moonshine or coming face-to-face with the devil, I soon find Lithuania ticks all the right boxes.

The country’s second city, Kaunas, is where I start my trip and a very interesting, compact and walkable place it turns out to be – with the added advantage that it’s Lithuania’s largest producer of alcoholic spirits. Kaunas started making vodka in 1906 in a factory built at the personal decree of Nicholas II of Russia, and has been manufacturing it almost without a break to this day.



For the not-unreasonable sum of about £15, you get a tour of the distillery, a visit to the museum, and a tasting class with 10 different drinks varying in strength and age. Purely in the spirit of journalistic research, I feel that I have to go along and take part in the tasting class. 

During the talk, the difference between the spirits and the reactions to the aging process are explained. Basically, at a certain age the spirit gains a fiery temperament that changes with the temperature, and eventually mellows. The selection of vodkas and local specialities – some with a few herbs mixed in – all taste pretty similar, but ‘the older the spirit, the smoother the taste’ seems to be the rule.

After an hour of nosing and tasting, it’s time to move on. I head to 55° Restaurant (Laisves aleja, 79) for lunch. This intriguing cellar eatery gets its name from the alcohol content of the country’s traditional moonshine, samane. Here, I learn about the making (and drinking) of the moonshine, which commands more of my attention than lunch itself. There seems to be a pattern emerging …



It’s soon time to check out one of the city’s stranger attractions – the world’s only devil museum. Housed in what looks like an unimposing government building, it comprises a collection of devils from around the world, and visitors are encouraged to bring along their own creations to put on display. The curator looks at my wife, but decides that she would not fit in the display cabinet.

Departing Kaunas, I head by coach to the capital of Vilnius, and if ever there was a city of two halves, this is it. The best way to view the city is from the top of Gediminas Castle. It’s certainly worth the climb of 78 steps – although it seems more – to get panoramic views of castle turrets spiking out of forest greenery on one side, and high-rise glass buildings on the other.

Of everything I see in Vilnius, the independent republic of Uzupisdefinitely demands a visit. With its own president, constitution and Independence Day (which falls on April Fool’s Day), Uzupis is a district of Vilnius Old Town and home to many artists, local celebs, and even religious prophets. It’s often compared to Montmartre in Paris, with its citizens, their lifestyle and beliefs all contributing to the unfettled feel of the district, which seems like a cross between a Sixties hippy commune and a refugee camp.



In Uzupis, numerous art and socially responsible activities take place year-round, including the release of live fish into the Vilnia river, or voluntarily helping to clean up the neighbourhood. However, the actual contents of the shops and stalls – hand-woven rugs, paintings, odd-shaped ceramic jugs and colourful plastic cups on bits of string – leave little to be desired. 

Another highlight of my trip in Vilnius is a visit to the KGB, or Genocide, Museum. Here, I see the old KGB prison that was established in the basement of the building in the autumn of 1940, after Lithuania‘s occupation by the Soviet Union. Most frightening is that at street level, life and business continued as usual, but beneath the surface the misery, deprivation, torture and executions took place.



It’s a sobering and humbling few hours which, set against the devils, hippies and moonshine, shows the sheer breadth of experiences on offer in Lithuania.


For more information see lithuaniatourism.co.uk
More on the KGB museum at genocid.lt/muziejus



Click below for food, drink and hotel recommendations >>>

 

Balloon

 

 

SATURDAY OCTOBER 15, 12:00 AM


This year, instead of hopping in the car and going for a drive, take your fall foliage tour to a soaring new level in a hot air balloon.

1 FULL STORY »

"Vilnius is actually one of the few capitals to allow hot air balloon flights directly above the city, giving a unique perspective to both the bustling metropolis centre and its colourful, fall backdrop. If you’re looking for something more along the countryside, a few companies offer flights over Trakai and its medieval castle, rolling hills and gentle lakes."

 

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Lithuanian Heritage Magazine is the leading publication about Lithuania and Lithuanians in the  English language. Its readers are those of Lithuanian descent and their non-Lithuanian friends in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Lithuania, and many other countries. Its content is informative, educational, and entertaining. Every bimonthly issue brings articles, stories, photographs, and illustrations about a variety of subjects and themes of interest to those who want to know more about Lithuania, its past, present, and future.

Some of the topics covered in past issues include:

 

  1. Interesting and unusual highlights of early and modern Lithuanian history,

  2. Famous Lithuanian personalities of the past and present who helped shape Lithuanian, American, and world events,

  3. Brave Lithuanian kings, dukes, and warriors who extended Lithuania’s borders from the Baltic to the Black Sea,

  4. Stories, myths, legends, and fairytales about maidens with amber-colored hair, and young warriors who risked their lives to rescue and protect them,

  5. Legendary gods of the sea, land, and thunder,

  6. Unusual historic, artistic, architectural, and tourist attractions,

  7. Traveling tips, where to stay and eat, where to go, and what to see,

  8. Folk art, native costumes, holidays, language, customs and traditions,

  9. Searching for your Lithuanian “roots,”

  10. Lithuanian immigration, and places and events associated with it,

  11. What’s happening in Lithuania today, and in Lithuanian communities around the world,

  12. Lithuanian food recipes,

  13. Heritage Marketplace (books about Lithuania, maps, music CDs and cassettes, amber, folk art, and gifts),

  14. ... and much much more...

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http://www.jamieoliver.com/magazine/imgs/jamie-mag-logo.gifWords Holly O'Neill
Photography David Loftus

It may be the perfect winter escape. Blanketed in snow, Vilnius abounds in old-world charm. The central Old Town is recognised by UNESCO as one of the best collections of baroque-style architecture in the world, but just near the ornately grand pastel buildings and exquisite churches you’ll find farmers selling produce from trucks, and small workshops specialising in local craft. Although tourism is established, and the pound’s strength against the lita makes a jaunt to Vilnius a cheap long weekend, it’s not a go-to destination for rowdy stag nights. (But there are plenty of decent bars to warm up in, should you be inclined.)Director Dalia Ibelhauptaitė divides her life between London and Vilnius, where she’s sometimes joined by her husbandthe actor Dexter Fletcher. Dexter provides a frequent-visitor’s view, pointing out hidden gardens he’s found while walking, cafés where he likes to catch up on work and cultural differences he finds amusing. Dalia sets a tight agenda – shops, bars, pickles, markets – while managing the opening of her opera company’s revival production of Sweeney Todd – Stephen Sondheim’s opera about a cut-throat barber and the baker who turns his victims into pies. They’re fine guides to a city that’s unknown to many in the UK.

Once the biggest country in Europe, and an important trading and education centre, Lithuania was invaded, captured and liberated repeatedly until the 20th century, when it fell under Soviet, then Nazi, then again Soviet occupation. It was the first Soviet state to declare independence, with the last of the troops leaving in 1993, and was a country on the rise, financially and culturally, until the recent economic downturn. Driving into Vilnius from the airport, you’ll see Soviet Bloc architecture, its starkness enhanced by the proper picture-perfect snow.

At the top of the beautiful Old Town, in the Gates of Dawn, an icon of the Holy Virgin surrounded by heart symbols watches out down the hill – over the buskers and old ladies bundled up in coats and shawls, carrying their shopping – to the mammoth white cathedral. To the west is the main shopping street, Gedimino Avenue, for high-street fashion, and the national drama theatre. Round to the east is the red-brick St Anne’s church, then you reach a bridge where lovers stop and fasten padlocks engraved with their names, before casting the keys into the River Vilnia below.

On the other side of the bridge lies Užupis, a suburban bohemian haven that is far less grand than the imposing buildings of the Old Town but no less pretty. Ramshackle buildings are covered with murals, the brightly painted walls contrasting against the snow-covered banks of the partially frozen river. This artistic community declared independence in 2001. Their constitution is posted on a wall and includes such statutes as everyone has the right to die, but it is not a duty; no one has the right to violence; a dog has the right to be a dog; and everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof. By the river, the president of the republic and a few artists are building a fire and undertaking some maintenance – and making plans for a poetry and mead party that’s taking place the next night.

No one in Vilnius seems to find it particularly odd that a suburb has seceded from the major town, to be watched over by a statue of an angel standing on an egg. Vilnius residents take creativity seriously. Well, sort of seriously – when the country gained independence from the Soviets, artists chose to celebrate by commissioning a statue of mental rocker Frank Zappa. (What did he have to do with Vilnius? Nothing, except the new-found freedom for people to rejoice in what they wanted, without restriction.)

A European City of Culture in 2009, Vilnus boasts two opera companies for a population of just over 600,000 people. One of those is the one that Dalia founded. The darkly atmospheric posters for her revival Sweeney Todd are dotted around town. At the restaurant La Boheme, they’re making pies, as they did for the first production. But recent changes to the economic condition have brought a change to the pies. Meat was always out the question but the jams and vegetables that formerly filled the pies are now replaced with whatever the restaurant has left over from the previous day’s service – today it’s polenta. However, Dalia says it doesn’t matter what the stuffing is, the ravenous chorus will eat it: “You will not even see crumbs after the show.”

The diminishing quality of pie stuffing was a trivial but telling indicator of the state of the Lithuanian economy earlier this year. Everyone is struggling, particularly those in the creative fields, explains fashion designer Juozas Statkevičius. Juozas is Dalia’s friend and costume designer for her productions, and an internationally acclaimed fashion designer. Without the kind of funding available to artists in other European countries, it is difficult for him to put on a show in a fashion hub like Paris. The government recently revoked a favourable tax status for artists, making things harder, and people like Juozas and Dalia must look to forming relationships with private business to help fund productions.

Yet it’s not for a lack of public interest. As long as enterprising artists can put on shows, it seems the citizens of Vilnius will pay to see them. Sweeney Todd’s run is sold out, attracting an enthusiastic and diverse audience, from groups of teenagers to stately couples in fur coats (lots of people in fur – it’s very cold).

Those looking to get a glimpse of what Lithuanian life was like under Soviet rule can visit the old KGB prison. Now called the Museum of Genocide Victims, it has exhibits that document repression under the country’s most recent occupiers. Dalia, whose parents were both interred in Soviet work camps, won’t visit, or even recommend the museum. She does, however, suggest lunch at Neringa restaurant. A favourite with the intelligentsia under Soviet rule (Dalia says the regime bugged the banquettes), this strange space is locked in the past. You’ll see a different side of Vilnius society here. Older women with immaculately lacquered up-dos and big brooches lunch from a nostalgic menu of dishes that time forgot – chicken kiev with crinkle-cut chips, chanterelles with sour cream, beef tongue with jellied salad and chicken broth with dumplings. The service too seems leftover from the grim days. “When they throw a plate of food at you, it’s your problem to catch it so it doesn’t land on your lap,” says Dalia.

While a nice insight into social history, Neringa is not a great look at Lithuania’s culinary culture. Better instead to head to the weekly farmers’ markets where small-scale producers travel in to the city to sell their wares, or the everyday market above the Old Town, or the well-stocked organic shop Senamiesčio Krautuvė. You’ll find the hearty, rustic food – jams, smoked meats and pickles – that you’d expect to find in Eastern Europe, but also flavours that echo further afield. Herring and deer are reminiscent of Scandinavia, which of course is just across the Baltic Sea. A trip to Trakai, about an hour’s drive away, not only shows Lithuania’s importance as a hub on historic trade routes but is an interesting culinary experience. The attractions here are a castle-museum with exhibits about the local ethnic minority, the Karaim, and a couple of restaurants that specialise in Karaim food. Most famous are kibinai, a type of pie like pierogi, but with, as you might imagine from the name, a Turkish vibe.

“The ancient cuisine in Lithuania was influenced by European cuisine,” says restaurateur Arūnas Oželis. “The cooks in the castles were foreigners, from France and Spain, and brought their own recipes and spices. We have food similar to Greek dolma, but wrapped in cabbage, while zeppelins come from Germany.”

If tourists have heard anything about Lithuanian cuisine, it will be about the infamously indigestible potato dumpling, known as zeppelin. Lithuanians,
we’re informed repeatedly by locals, don’t really eat it. Nevertheless, Arūnas’s restaurant Zemaičiai serves it to the curious, along with vederai. “Haggis is a good comparison,” Arunas says of this potato sausage, encased in pig’s intestine. “The smell is so strong,” Dexter says, wincing. “Dalia’s dad loved vederai but I can’t eat it.” He chooses to have another juniper-smoked slice of roebuck, which Arūnas says is a ‘royal meat’ in Lithuania, and a top-up of Svyturys, Lithuania’s best beer, available in an impressive range of shades and flavours. They’re going down well – turns out smoked meat, pickles and lots of potatoes are the perfect food to go with a decent brew on a cold night.

The local vodka is also very good. Better, Lithuanians boast, than Russian vodka. It’s smooth and best served ice-cold – and not as a rather lethal shot known as
a kalashnikov. “You’ve never had one?” asks Radvile, Dalia’s assistant, who’s at Cozy bar with her sister Teodora. She orders a round. Out come shots of vodka, accompanied by slices of lemon that are topped as half-sugar, half-ground-coffee. Down the vodka, suck the lemon. It doesn’t seem as violent as its name suggests. “Radvile, why didn’t you tell me about this before?” asks Dexter, ordering the third round. “To Radvile!” everyone toasts, as she mutters, “You’re only meant to have one…”

The damage is apparent the next day. After downfall at the suggestion of Radvile, redemption lies in the hands of Teodora, who in a happy vodka haze invited everyone round to breakfast. Dexter is unrousable, but Dalia is, as ever, indefatigable and leads a band of sorry souls to the sisters’ flat in the Old Town. Everyone sits in sore silence. Teodora’s paler-than-usual face suggests she regrets her invitation, and no one apart from Dalia is able to articulate appreciation. Yet, sitting in the kitchen of young Lithuanians, just-cooked traditional pancakes on the table, plans already being made for the evening ahead, snowy streets outside just waiting for intrepid footprints, markets to visit and amber to buy, Vilnius seems like a pretty great place to explore. And coffee helps.

CITY GUIDE

EAT & DRINK
Cozy 10 Dominikonu gatve; +370 5 2611137, cozy.lt. A welcoming atmosphere means this is where the city’s media and creative set descend for a late-night meal, glass of wine, and good music.
Domm Vilnius Town Hall, Didžioji 31; +370 686 77707, domm.lt. If you like your gastronomy to be molecular, this restaurant, under the guidance of Spaniard Javier Lopez in the kitchen, is a world away from the rustic setting and comfortable cuisine of owner Arunas Oželis’s other two restaurants (below).
La Provence Vokieciu gatve 22; +370 5 262 02 57, laprovence.lt. If you want a change from the rustic pickle-and-black-bread fare of traditional Lithuanian food, try the Mediterranean style fare at this restaurant – the first in the city to invest effort into sourcing quality fresh fish.
Zemaiciai Vokieciu gatve 24; +370 5 261 65 73, zemaiciai.lt. In the maze of cellars, you can experience high-quality traditional Lithuanian food. While locals view dishes such as the infamous zeppelin (potato dumplings, boiled or fried) with mirth, they appreciate the dishes such as beetroot soup with pork ribs, and the excellent smoked meats and pickles.
Bistro 18 Stikliu gatve 18; +370 687 72091, bistro18.lt. Duck confit, pasta, Irish stew – bistro fare with a side of comfort is yours for a very reasonable price in this cosy restaurant-cum-wine bar, owned by an Irish-Lithuanian couple.
La Boheme Šv. Ignoto 4/3; +370 5 2121087, laboheme.lt. Below an art-house cinema, this is another restaurant of interconnecting rooms, and another haunt of the Vilnius glamorous and creative set, especially in winter. Though the French/Italian/local menu is variable in execution, the spirits of the punters keep the atmosphere jolly.
In Vino Aušros Vartu gatve 7; +370 8-5-2121210, invino.lt. Not as hip as it
was a few years ago, this wine bar is nevertheless humming with locals drinking reasonably priced wine and tapas-style small plates and snacks.
The Tavern Hotel Stikliai, Gaono 7; +370 5 264 9595, stikliaihotel.lt. Though the hotel has a fine-dining restaurant in a pretty domed atrium, this less-formal space offers excellent Lithuanian cuisine such as herrings, potato pancakes that stay the palatable side of stodgy, and very good bread and vodka ice-cream with apple jam.
Stikliai Café Next to Stikliai Hotel (see previous); +370 5 264 9581. Elaborate cakes, handmade chocolates and marzipan sweets, plus jams and honey from the country home of the hotel’s manager.
Neringa Gedimino prospektas 23; +370 5 2614058, restoranasneringa.lt. Worth a look for a glimpse of life past but, as Dalia says, don’t eat here and think you’ve had Lithuanian food.
El Gaucho Sano Pilies gatve 10; +370 5 210 77 73, atrium.lt. Meat on wooden boards with sides and sauces. This basement Argentine restaurant in the Old Town, is where Dexter and Dalia come for a mean steak after shows.
Pilies Kepyklele Pilies gatve 19; +370 5 2608992. “Just wait till we go to my crêpe place,” says Dexter, promising it’ll be a highlight of Vilnius food. The low-key vibe and friendly staff are part of the attraction but Dexter’s proof is in the pudding – the crêpes really are good, as is the coffee. A perfect pit-stop on a cold afternoon.

SHOP & SEE
Jonas Bugailiškis Aušros Vartu gatve 17-10; +370 86 5236613, bugailiskis.com. If you want to visit the workshop and store of this sculptor, you may need to call ahead and arrange an appointment. Worth a look if you’re looking for some Lithuanian folk art – decorative carvings, toys and musical instruments.
Amber Museum Gallery St. Mykolo gatve 8; +370 5 2623092; ambergallery.lt. Artefacts and souvenirs, information on Baltic ambers, as well as finely crafted jewellery and objets.
Juozas Statkevicius Odminiu gatve 11; statkevicius.com. The showroom of Lithuania’s leading, and Dalia’s favourite, designer. Juozas’s clothes combine classic feminine tailoring with directional flourishes.
Souvenir market Pilies gatve 23. In the main street of the baroque Old Town, you’ll find paintings of the kitten-and-sunset variety, as well as local handicrafts and amber that’s of questionable quality (and authenticity) but is pleasing aesthetically and fiscally.
Contemporary Art Centre Vokieciu 2; cac.lt. The largest contemporary art centre in the Baltic States has changing exhibitions from Lithuanian, regional and international artists across different media. And if you prefer the company of arty people, rather than their work, the café is pretty good too.
Akademija Galerija Pilies gatve 44/2; + 370 5 2612094. Gallery exhibiting the works of students and staff of the Vilnius Academy of Arts,some of which make beautiful and affordable souvenirs.
Senamiescio Krautuve Literatu gatve 5; +370 6 9969998.senamiesciokrautuve.lt. Any resident in any city would love this as their cornershop. Hanging cured meats, slabs of lard, big ceramic jars of pickles, honey, birch and sea buckthorn juice, freshly baked cakes and a huge range of digestive teas. The best of local and organic produce – you can easily spend an hour browsing, and could easily spend a fortune.
Thelonious Stikliu gatve 12; +370 5 2121076. As you’ll have guessed from the name, this secondhand vinyl shop specialises in jazz.
Number 1 Linen & Amber Studio Stikliu gatve 3; +370 5 2610213, lgstudija.lt. Sells two of the things Lithuania is most famed for. This is the best place to buy traditional, simple but high-quality linen, mainly tableware and bed linen.
Tymo Turgus – Farmers’ Market Aukštaiciu/Maironio. If your feet are feeling (or not) the effects of tramping through the snow, the felt in-soles here provide welcome relief. Pop them in your shoes then taste your way down the market trying black bread, all manner of sausages, jams and, of course, pickled vegetables, sold from stalls or the trucks of small-scale producers and farmers. Every Thursday.
Hales Turgus Pylimo 58/1. A covered market where locals shop for smoked and fresh meat, fish, local honey and juices, as well as cheap clothes.

STAY
Stikliai Hotel Gaono 7; +370 5 264 9595, stikliaihotel.lt. Right in the heart of the Old Town, and within walking distance of everything you could want in a weekend away, this is a five-star hotel with two excellent restaurants. All the rooms are decorated differently, and the hotel has traditional and contemporary artworks. Favoured by visiting statesmen, the exchange rate makes it an attractive
option for accommodation in Vilnius.

INFORMATION
Bohemieciai For more information about Dalia’s opera company, see bohemieciai.lt.
Getting there At time of press there were no direct flights from the UK to Vilnius. You can fly with stopovers on Air Baltic or Lufthansa, among others.

Half-day tour to Trakai

Trakai (4 hours tour) is one of the oldest Grand Duchy of Lithuania residence and capitals. Trakai is the second capital of Lithuania.

Tour to Kernave

Kernave village (4 hours tour) located on the banks of the river Neris (35 km from Vilnius) has been known as the capital of Lithuania before Trakai and Vilnius. 

Country life museum in Rumsiskes

Country life Open Air Museum of Lithuania (6 hours tour) is a unique and one of the largest (195 ha) open-air ethnographic museums in Europe.

Fly & Lease of campers in the Baltic.

Camper on the road

Take a tour and discover Baltics by yourself!

You will be able to travel comfortably throughout Baltic Sates in our campers, as passengers really may feel themselves like home and take any necessary stuff with them, even their most loved cup for coffee.
A virtue of motor homes is the possibility to be in the cabin in all companionship while going from place to place.
Moreover, you will be free as you will be independent from hotels and every evening you will be able to spend in any place you wish!

Prepaid individual transfer :

no trouble with money exchange upon arrival,
no need to take care oftaxi search,
no language problems !

The driver will wait for you at arrival hall with your name on the card, will help you with luggage and will safely transfer you to agreed place.
Please fill in the Transfer Reservation and we will contact you within 24 business hours with confirmation

KIA CARNIVAL  25 EUR (max 5 persons)                                                
MERCEDES-BENZ VIANO  35 EUR (max 7 persons)

per car only!