Eastern European cultural capital
The Lithuanian capital Vilnius is yet another hidden gem of Eastern Europe that has emerged from under the blanket of the Soviet Union within the last twenty years. Featuring breathtaking mediaeval buildings, winding cobblestone streets and a rich cultural heritage, Vilnius is nestled in a beautifully picturesque setting, backed by wooded hills. While Vilnius sometimes feels like it’s emerged from another era, it has become increasingly popular as one of Eastern Europe's modern party capitals, with a wide range bars and restaurants and a lively nightlife. As well as partying the night away, visitors to Vilnius can enjoy some of the stunning architecture for which the city is famous, including the neoclassical Town Hall, which stands on the site of the previous Gothic style structure.
Vilnius is a very attractive looking capital, and it is worth spending a good few days exploring the historic landmarks and medieval structures littered about the city. The nightlife in Vilnius is none too shabby either and more and more people are discovering what an unforgettable weekend break a trip to Vilnius can turn out to be.
When to Go?
Vilnius has quite defined seasons, with warm summers contrasted by very cold winters. Spring and summer are definitely the best times to go to make the most of the city, as winter can be really cold. However, be aware that even the middle of summer Vilnius is not without its rain showers, and at the height of the tourist season prices do tend to skyrocket in the hotels and guesthouses.
How to get there?
Flights to Vilnius are available from London Gatwick with the Latvian airline airBaltic. Vilnius is airBaltic’s second home after Riga Airport in Lativa. There are currently no other airlines offering direct flights to Vilnius International Airport (VNO), but indirect flights are available from airlines including KLM and Lufthansa via their home hubs. The airport is about 3.5 miles from the centre of Vilnius with taxis, trains, and bus services available for transfers.
The old town of Vilnius is on the UNESCO world Heritage list and contains buildings in several styles including the baroque style for which the city is famous. For great views of Vilnius, the Vilnius Castle Complex includes the Gediminas Tower, which you can reach on foot or via the funicular railway. The Lithuanian Art Museum has a collection of over 2,500 paintings, many of them 16th-18th century portraits of nobility. The museum also has sculptures spanning 600 years of Lithuanian and European history. The museum of genocide victims is a profoundly moving collection of exhibits documenting Soviet oppression of Lithuania.
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