Vilnius is the largest city and capital of Lithuania. Name of the city comes from River Vilna. Lithuania, one of the Soviet Union Socialist Republics (USSR), achieved independence in 1991, is one of the Baltic countries along with Estonia and Latvia.
A city of long history, notable architecture, authenticity, a diverse feeling that you can easily get when arriving, especially when being in the old town.
When visited Vilnius I had the idea to join a walking tour. Free walking tours, are organised by Vilnius with Locals Tour, start every day, all year round, – 10: 00 am and 12:00 pm- from Town Hall.
Raminta, our tour guide, a lovely Lithuanian girl provided us with so much information of the history of Vilnious and a lot of useful tips.
Our tour included the most popular landmarks of the capital, as Užupis district, the cathedral, Gediminas Hill, Literatu street, Pille’s street, soviet and german buildings street, St. Virgin Maria’s Church, old town and more. What impressed me the most is that, as Raminta said, Vilnius has 70 churches !!!
The tour is free, however a donation is welcomed and deserved, as I experienced it and I can say worth joining.
Sugamour, is an elegant patisserie and restaurant, vegetarian friendly, with gluten – free options, impressive decoration, with a great variety of desserts, macaroons, cakes, serving coffee, chocolates and hot beverages.
Sugamour is a little pricey, however the crêpe was delicious. I ordered a crêpe with curd, stuffed creamy filling, crème brûlée, white chocolate sauce and fresh berries and a cappuccino (9,50 €). Yummy 😋
The Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, previously known as the Museum of Genocide, is situated in the former KGB building, where the crimes of the Soviet regime were planned and executed.
Your visit starts from the basement, where you can see the former KGB prison, which, as said, was repainted up to 18 layers. Exhibition on the ground floor displays photos and videos by the nine-year-long partisan war and Lithuanian history back in 1940. In the first floor are displayed photographs, documents, and videos related to deportees and Lithuanian history, when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union. Entrance to the museum is 4 €, paid only in cash.
The best part of my visit to Vilnius was Gediminas Hill and Tower. Simply you can not miss the best view of the city, especially if you visit on sunset. The view is breathtaking and in short walking distance from Cathedral Square. Be prepared for a short climb to the top of the hill 😉 Entrance to the hill is free. If you fancy entering the tower price is 5 €.
One of the most popular best deal eats in Vilnius is Forro Davras restaurant. A popular restaurant with friendly staff, central situated. A queue always to be expected for about 10- 15 min, especially Friday night and the weekends. What do the locals eat? Potatoes !!!
Lithuanians love potatoes! Potatoes filled with meat, fried potatoes, potato pancakes, potato- meat dumplings, potatoes with bacon, potatoes with pork and beetroot, and more. I had a starter of beetroot soup with wild mushrooms and slices of pork meat. Lovely soup, amazingly tasty. I had a main of roast bacon with horseradish sauce, potato mash, and beetroot salad. As the waitress recommended I was about to taste a popular Lithuanian dish. Not sure how Lithuanians prefer to cook their bacon and mash, but I felt there was no taste. Nice ambiance, friendly service, great price and a great variety of choices (13 €).
The cathedral square is the main square of the old town, right in front of the Cathedral. Cathedral is a popular meeting point and one of the most important religious venues in the city. If you fancy shopping, major shopping streets are Gediminas Avenue, a clothing and souvenir shops street, and Pilies Street, Didzoji Street.
Lithuanians are not of those super smiley people. What I realised is that they do smile but they need to get to know you a little better. On the contrary, in Užupis, an independent free spirit republic in Vilnius, is clearly stated that primary requirement to enter the community is to smile and if you don’t you are not welcome.
Užupis, is an artistic neighbourhood, means beyond the river, and was created by 12 Lithuanian artists. What impressed me the most that Užupis has it’s own constitution and you can get your passport stamped.
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