Vilnius is the capital and largest city in Lithuania, but that doesn’t mean that many people have ever heard of it. This is a small city with a very mixed population. There are significant Polish and Russian communities here, and there was a large Jewish community before World War II. The city is known for some rather unusual attractions, which give it a bit of an unusual edge compared to nearby cities.
What To Do
The old town in Vilnius is one of its major attractions all by itself. There is gorgeous architecture spanning all the way back to the 13th Century, including quite a few historic and interesting churches. The city was founded on the hill just above and there you can find the Gediminas Castle. You can climb up to it from Cathedral Square or take an elevator from the side facing the river.
You can visit what is supposedly the only Frank Zappa statue in the world here, but for fun of a different kind you can check out the new restaurant and nightlife scene in the old town area. This area is rather compact so it’s a great place for dinner and a pub-crawl to check out several of the small and charming places throughout this district. And surprisingly enough, this is a basketball-loving country so in season you’ll have opportunities to see the locals play the game they love best.
If you are coming from Warsaw or Berlin you should take the train to Vilnius, but if you are further away you’ll want to book a flight into Vilnius International Airport (code: VNO). It’s a small airport, but it is served by many of the major carriers. A local bus can get you into the city center. Some discount airlines are using Kaunas International Airport (code: KUN), which is about an hour away by bus.
Where To Stay
This is a small city so you shouldn’t have to worry about places being too far out of town. There are a few hostels in Vilnius and quite a few hotels in Vilnius as well. Summer is the busy season so it’s a good idea to plan ahead if you are coming during those months as the better and cheaper places can get booked up early.