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Travel Tuesday: Get Lost in Lithuania

Lithuania is a Baltic State country, a former Soviet bloc nation that borders Poland, Latvia and Belarus (keep that in mind next time you are writing or participating in a pub quiz…)

With the Euro as its currency and prices generally being a little lower than almost-neighbouring Riga, Capital city Vilnius is definitely somewhere that you should stick on your list of places to go.

Here is a look at this beautiful city to give you a taster of what to expect.

Starting with a little culture…

The Republic of Užupis is said to be the heart of Vilnius, and is also often referred to as being a country within a country. It is a small, mock republic formed by local artists that was declared as independent back in 1997. Of the 0.60 square kilometres Užupis occupies, there are 7000 inhabitants, 1000 of which are artists. It even has three mottos: "Don't Fight", "Don't Win", "Don't Surrender".

The Gates of Dawn via Wikimedia

The Gates of Dawn is a city gate in Vilnius, and is considered to be one of the most important cultural, historical and religious monuments of the city. Built somewhere between 1503 and 1522, The Gates of Dawn are a must see, whether your interest is in architecture, history, or religion. It is also a pathway to a good number of cafes down a long, cobbled street that makes you feel as though you might be stepping back through time.

If parks and peace and quiet for an hour or two are what you are after, a good choice would be either Markučiai Mansion Park which is a cozy little park with a historical feel to it, or Bernardine Gardens, complete with water fountain, botanical gardens, and the River Vilnele nearby.

Finally, Rudninku Knygynas might not strictly be a cultural place worthy of visit, but it is absolutely worth a visit nonetheless. This tiny establishment is part bookshop, part art exhibition, and part place to learn about and play vinyl. You will even find a good selection of magazines and music in English if you don’t feel confident trying out the local Lithuanian language!

Photo via Wikimedia

Something to eat and drink?

Because there is always something to learn from a city’s street market area, the Open Market, Vilnius’ street market, is definitely worth a look. At Tymo Turgus in Užupis, you will find delicious food from the city’s restaurants, bistros and cafes on display here, as well as from local farmers and independent chefs bringing their own flavours to the streets. Lunch, after work snacks, beer; the choices here feel a little endless and are worth investigating.

If you need to check in with work but are also in need of a caffeine fix, look no further than Coffice. It is a cozy working space with excellent wifi, the perfect coffee, and deep, plush sofas to sink in should you want to take a few moments away from your laptop screen.

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If it is beer you are after then the place you need to head to is Špunka. Beers served here come directly from local microbreweries, giving you a fresh beer perspective away from the more typical Lithuanian beers.

Want to try some authentic Lithuanian food? Šnekutisis the place for you! Cheap food that is served in huge portions alongside excellent local beer by eccentric staff in a place that looks cobbled together by the most random of objects, this is a real non-touristy place for you to visit to satisfy your hunger.

How about some nightlife?

We’re glad you asked.

Exit Vilnius is considered the best club in the country, with incredible light displays, music from international DJs, and of course, dancing by those with the most beautiful moves. Entrance is cheap, from three euros, and it stays open until 5am most mornings so you can dance and welcome in the morning sun.

Pabo Latino has both live and DJ-ed music, serving the 20s and 30s crowds over three halls and two bars. There is a tough-but-fair door policy which means once you’re inside you are not going to be bothered by undesirables, and on certain nights you might even be lucky enough to get some free Latino dance classes. Entrance is either free, or between five and ten euros, depending on when you go.

Old Town, Vilnius via Wikimedia

And finally…

May we suggest a visit to Vasaros Terasa. This is, unsurprisingly, a terrace area. It is a dance floor, a weekend market, a live music venue, and many other things. In essence, it is everything, all at once, evolving all the time. Summer is apparently not summer in Vilnius without a visit to Vasaros Terasa (which, conveniently, translates as Summer Terrace).

There is so much to see in Vilnius that we would definitely recommend giving yourself a day or two here in this incredible city to explore.

Į sveikatą! (Cheers!)