Lithuania is a country filled with beautiful lakes, historical architecture and great local cuisine. I’d previously visited one of its Baltic neighbours, Estonia, but I knew very little about the country I would be spending the next few day in. Luckily for me, I had a ready made tour guide in my Lithuanian girlfriend, who was very keen to show me her country.
It was the middle of September and the weather was changing (quickly) but we managed to get a couple of nice warm days in before it cooled down. The weather in Lithuania can get hot in the Summer, but also very cold (and snowy) in the winter. So if it’s camping and canoeing you’re after then the Summer months are for you! If it’s a winter wonderland, then between December and February shouldn't disappoint.
It was only a short trip for us so we had to squeeze in the highlights of the city (which there are many) and the surrounding areas, but here are my top tips for visiting Vilnius.
Visit one of the (many) lakes
Head out of the capital and it doesn’t take long before you find yourself near a lake. There are around 6000 lakes in the country so there is plenty to choose from. We stayed in a lake-house just outside of Vilnius where you could go for a swim, take a boat out, ‘chill-out’ in a sauna, play multiple sports and, most importantly, relax. The lakes are crystal clear and essentially private due to the size of them. Do a bit of research before your trip and there will be plenty of offerings for summer lake-house holidays to choose from!
Climb to the Castle for a View of the City
Vilnius has a castle complex which towers over the city. Dating back to the 10th Century it is of great historical and cultural significance. If you don’t feel like climbing to the top (it can be quite tiring) then there is a hill lift which will take you up and down for a small fee. Once at the top you get a great view across the extremely beautiful city.
Eat a Cepelinai or Cold Beetroot Soup
I had very little knowledge of what Lithuanian cuisine was like before my trip to Vilnius. However, it certainly didn’t disappoint. A cold refreshing beetroot soup with sour cream is perfect to try for a light lunch. For a more substantial meal, you should try the Cepelinai (named after the flying Zeppelin). These are potato dumplings filled with pork and covered in a bacon and sour cream sauce.
Stroll Around the Old Town
Vilnius old town is one of the oldest surviving medieval areas in Northern Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its cobblestone streets and stunning architecture, you can spend hours ambling around and taking a step back in time. Some things worth looking out for are Vilnius University (the oldest university in the Baltic States), The Gate of Dawn (one of the most important historical and cultural monuments in the city) and The Bastion of the Vilnius Defensive Wall (a renaissance fortification).
Visit the Skybar in the Radisson Blu Hotel
This bar is at the top of the Radisson Blu hotel complex and is brilliant for a view across the city whilst the sun sets. Alternatively, go there on any given day during the summer and watch as the sky fills with hot air balloons floating across the cityscape. Vilnius is actually the only capital city in the world where it is not illegal to travel over the top in a hot air balloon (For this and many more fun facts, download the Gratitude App!)
I’ll be going back to Lithuania late this year and will be sure to update the blog with any additional tips, so watch this space!