Travel tips and advice for Vilnius, Lithuania: Ten things you should do


Vilnius has swanky outposts by Kempinski, Marriott and Radisson Blu, but for something more eclectic, check out Artagonist, a small, art-themed property in the heart of the World Heritage-listed old town. Rooms feature striking contemporary artworks by Lithuanian artists while the public spaces are decorated with daring murals and sculptures. Breakfast is a sumptuous buffet that will fuel you for most of the day and there's also an excellent onsite restaurant, Amandus, serving upscale, seasonal Lithuanian cuisine. See


The extravagantly-named Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania charts the country's complex 1000-year-old history and tumultuous relationships with its neighbours. Housed in an imposing building near the cathedral, it offers visitors four themed "routes" through its extensive collection, focusing on archaeology, architecture, weaponry and music. There's a lot to see, so either choose one or two, or split your visit over multiple days. See


Don't be put off by the constant line outside Etno Dvaras (or the fact it's a chain) – it's still a top spot for sampling traditional Lithuanian cuisine, which is best described as hearty. Highlights include thick, filling soups (try the chilled, luminous-pink beetroot soup), crispy potato pancakes and revolution-fuelling cepelinai – mince-filled potato dumplings topped with bacon and sour cream. Ask for a table in the atmospheric cellar and wash it all down with a refreshing local lager. See


Church-lovers are spoilt for choice in Vilnius. The city has more than its fair share of baroque beauties but for something more modest, check out the small chapel in the Gates of Dawn (the only surviving gate from a defensive wall that once surrounded the city). It's home to a 17th-century painting of the Virgin Mary that lures pilgrims from all over Europe and is also where Pope John Paul II prayed during his visit in 1993. See


Granted independence from the city in 1997, Uzupis is a self-governing bohemian republic brimming with street art, galleries, restaurants and bars. Originally formed by squatting hippies in the early '90s, ironically, it's now one of the city's most expensive districts. With ministers for important duties such as hugging and whistling, its own separate currency and an irreverent 41-article constitution displayed on a street wall, it's a delightfully quirky spot for an afternoon stroll. See


After being priced out of Uzupis, many artists and creatives relocated to the semi-industrial district around Vilnius train station. Formerly a den for drug dealers and prostitution, it's now a hip enclave of cool bars, stunning street art and hip restaurants (try Keule Ruke for great burgers and ribs). For an in-depth look at this up-and-coming district, join one of Vilnius with Locals' excellent Free Alternative Vilnius tours. See


Epitomising the station district's alternative vibe is Peronas, a bar on an abandoned platform inside Vilnius train station. Furnished with mismatched seating from disused carriages, the bar is particularly popular at weekends, when there are live bands and DJs. The surrounding area was once a no-go zone after dark, but the bar has its own special form of protection – an enormous sculpture of Tony Soprano in his underwear.


There's no shortage of vantage points from which to admire Vilnius' gorgeous cobblestoned old town. Gediminas Castle, Vilnius Cathedral bell tower and the 326-metre-high TV Tower all offer impressive panoramas. But if you want to feel like you've earnt it, climb the Hill of Three Crosses. Not only will you be rewarded with sweeping city views, but you'll also get a closer look at the Three Crosses memorial, built to honour a group of martyred 14th-century friars.


You'll find numerous cafes sprinkled along Pilies Street, Vilnius' main pedestrian thoroughfare, but for a less touristy experience, head to Strangelove Coffee inside the bucolic Bernardine Gardens. Using beans roasted onsite, its expert baristas can whip up everything from a flavoursome flat white to a refreshing espresso-infused rose lemonade. Enjoy your caffeine of choice on the cafe's balcony overlooking the gardens or in a beanbag in its fairylight-lit courtyard.



Looking for an unusual souvenir? How about some chocolate-covered cheese? Dziugas is an award-winning specialty cheesemaker famous for its delicious parmesan-like hard cheese. However, it also produces a range of other cheese-infused treats, including chocolate, cakes and ice-cream. You can sample its cheesy concoctions (plus a raft of other Lithuanian delicacies) on an Urban Adventures' Flavours of Vilnius tour. See

Rob McFarland was a guest of Intrepid Travel. See