How to visit Vilnius for less than £100 a night
Few cities, like some people, are instantly dazzling. Vilnius has a softer charm.
It is a beautiful medieval city with cobbled streets, Gothic churches and an impressive history.
After suffering terribly during the Second World War and under the Soviet rule, Lithuania is up and ready for tourists.
Vilnius is a beautiful medieval city with cobbled streets, Gothic churches and an impressive history
Where to stay
Shakespeare Boutique Hotel
This old-school, beautifully run hotel is a stone’s throw from the Gothic St. Anne’s Church of Fame, each room is named after a famous writer and decorated accordingly. My Ernest Hemingway wall featured horns and rifles, along with moving photos of the great man. Doubles from £85 (shakespeare.lt).
Artagonist Art Hotel
The mural in my room of a large and sensual pair of lips was stunning. But there are no complaints about the location of this artistic, well-run hotel, right in the heart of the old town, or the quality of the excellent breakfast. Doubles from £85 (aragonist.lt).
Amberton Cathedral Square Hotel
This modern hotel is so close to Vilnius Cathedral that you could hit a brick. The staff will advise you on what to see and where to go in the nearby Old Town. You can look at the cathedral while enjoying your breakfast. Doubles from £60 (ambertonhotels.com).
Things to see and do
It is reported that the Lithuanians visiting London were disappointed in St. Paul’s Cathedral. They have one of their own that they rate higher. 18th century St. Peter and Paul Church, which is free to enter, is a baroque stucco extravaganza. Address: Antakalnis street (037 052 340 229).
Kudos to Dr. Lecter
Artists plastered the walls on Literatūs gat (Literatūros street) with boards, paying tribute to the authors associated with Vilnius.
Vilnius Old Town is full of cobbled streets, cozy cafes and pleasant surprises. Artists plastered the walls on Literatūs gat (Literatūros street) with boards, paying tribute to the authors associated with Vilnius. Among them you will see Thomas Harris, whose character the cannibal Hannibal Lecter was of Lithuanian origin.
First Hitler, then Stalin
For the faint of heart, but the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Struggles (£3.50) is a must-see. The first part of the title talks about the fact that Lithuania was occupied at a terrible price by the Nazis, and later by the Soviets. The second part talks about the partisans who continued to fight in the forests for many years after the end of the war. Address: Auku street (037 052 498 156).
Trakai Island Castle is built of red Gothic bricks and matching roof tiles. Entry costs £6
Half an hour outside Vilnius (£25 taxi) awaits the reddest castle you’ve ever seen. On the island, floating in the gray waters of the lake, there is a 15th-century Trakai Island Castle (pictured right) is built of red Gothic bricks and matching roof tiles. Entry costs £6. Take a boat ride around the lake.
In the NDG gallery on the northern bank of the Neris, art lovers will enjoy Lithuanian modern art. It’s so strangely empty of visitors that you’ll feel like you’re being given a private tour. And the restaurant is great. Address: Konstitucijos avenue (037 052 195 965).
Where to eat
When I asked for a large Cannabis, the waitress smiled. That’s the name of the local craft beer, delicious for just over £2 a glass. Other highlights of this traditional Lithuanian restaurant are herring with pickled onions (£4.40) and fat, meat-filled dough torpedoes called zeppelins, although only the brave should try them. Address: Pilies street (037 061 120 576).
Goodness of the Caucasus
Feasting on chinkals, small meatballs stuffed with meat (picture)
The sign outside boasts “the best coffee in Vilnius”, but the real draw is the £6 chinkalis. Small meatballs: they are difficult to eat elegantly, but absolutely delicious. Address: Pilies street (037 065 030 800).
Cafe in Susk
There’s a simple no-nonsense menu, including hearty toasted bread and cheese (£4), which is perfect after exploring the surrounding streets. The waitress doesn’t speak English, so refer to the menu carefully. Address: Paupio street (037 060 444 700).
For a treat, book a table at this European-Indian fusion restaurant. The garlic prawns were excellent (£6.60) as was the chicken tikka with cucumber and yoghurt sauce (£5.80). It’s more expensive than some, but it’s worth it – and you can be sure that owner and chef Gaspar, who is a die-hard Anglophile, will give you a warm welcome. Address: Pylimo Street (037 065 707 050).
Ryanair offers return flights from London Southend from £20 (ryanair.com).
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