Vilnius

Vilnius: A City for All Seasons

04 May 2017

What to do in Vilnius, when...
The warm season in Lithuania resembles a never-ending chess game of cyclones and anticyclones. So as not to be scared by any unexpected weather, we’ve prepared a guide to help you have a great time both on sunny and rainy days.
We’ve picked the best ways to discover the Lithuanian capital and have a great time, whatever the weather.
Take advantage of sunny days to enjoy active pursuits in the open air and explore this lush romantic city. If it's raining, you don’t have to limit yourself to museums – also keep warm with unexpected entertainment – the city has plenty to offer in any case, and the weather can only add to the atmosphere!

...A warm and sunny day

Bernardinai Park
Start a sunny day with a walk in Bernardinai Park, an open space the locals love.
The gate of the refurbished park belonging to Bernardine monks opened in 2014, delighting people who long for romantic walks.
The renovated environment restores the 19th century authenticity to the park. Paths stretching along the winding Vilnelė riverbank surrounded with nicely maintained flower gardens, benches with views of the flowing water and the sun shining through the trees will guarantee a fine start to the day.
If you can’t imagine a morning without a delicious cup of coffee, you’ll love the café Strange Love near the park gate, where in cosy surroundings you can reply to all the messages of your Facebook friends waiting to hear about your adventures.
(By the way, have you already liked our 'Vilnius in Your Pocket' FB page?)

Tymo Quarter
Bernardinai Park borders Maironio Street, so when leaving the park walk up this street a bit. Soon you’ll come across the famous Gothic masterpiece of St. Anne's, a church built at the turn of the 16th century.
A famous legend says that even Napoleon himself was astonished by this beauty; it’s said that he wanted to take the church back to Paris with him.
Slightly further on, the Tymo Quarter on the left bank of the Vilnelė now looks quiet and deserted, but it has piquant past. Cured goat skin is called tymas, and workshops of this craft were based here from the 16th century.
At the end of the 19th century, brothels flourished here, next to busy inns, pubs and small shops. Profligacy was legal in this suburb, so representatives of the oldest profession were looking for their clients in the area, regardless of the Cathedral of the Theotokos nearby.
The buildings in the quarter were demolished in the mid-20th century, but the church has survived and is one of the main Orthodox churches in Lithuania.
The busy life of the past has been replaced with a market square. On Thursdays, don’t miss the opportunity to buy organic products at the Tymo Market, and every Friday starting from May a real feast of food takes place here in the open air – Open Kitchen rallies mobile food restaurants and city residents and tourists who love delicious food.
Going further up Maironio, you’ll reach the Subačiaus viewpoint, from which you can enjoy a panorama of the Old Town’s beautiful architecture.

Užupis
An independent artists’ republic with its own constitution, anthem, president and bronze angel patron – all this can be found in bohemian Užupis, surrounded by a twisting river.
Until the 20th century, Užupis was the city’s poorest, most neglected district, ugly to most residents, but after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence it rapidly recovered and became an attractive, romantic place that refuses to be pigeonholed.
Wandering the streets you’ll feel its creative aura, because it was brought back to life by local artists, who started opening their workshops and exhibiting their art here.
There are many things to do:
on Paupio Street, you can read the Constitution of the Užupis Republic, which is written in nine languages; Bernardinai Cemetery, one of Europe’s most valuable cemeteries, is worth visiting, where some unusual gravestones have survived; meet Užupis’ mermaid sitting by the riverbank, where according to legend she enchants tourists to stay; and be charmed by the Užupis ‘art incubator’ Galera, as not only exhibitions but also the creative process itself can be felt here.
And don’t forget that smiling on the streets of Užupis is a must!

Hill of Three Crosses
The most visited sightseeing place in Vilnius, Gediminas Castle, is temporarily closed to tourists due to reconstruction of the hill.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative nearby – Bleak Hill, which is also called the Hill of Three Crosses due to the shining white monument standing on it.
A defensive tower once stood on this hill. Today, from it you can admire the UNESCO-protected Old Town with its colourful roofs, evaluate the size of the city’s residential districts and count all the visible green areas.
The path leading to the top guarantees a real afternoon’s cardio training!

Botanic Garden
Continue your adventures by visiting the Botanic Garden of the University in Kairėnai, where you can discover the impressive flora collection – in 2014, there were over 8,400 varieties of plants in the garden.
Events held here to commemorate various occasions of the university or the state, or international events by foreign embassies, have left their imprint. A grove of 400 oak trees was planted to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the university, while the blossom of 28 lime trees commemorates the recent Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The 191.5 ha garden situated in the territory of Kairėnai Manor is the largest in the Baltic states and one of the biggest in Eastern Europe, so all nature lovers should visit it.
Even if the largest collection of currants in Europe won’t make your heart beat faster (for your own sake, we would be worried if that happened to you), on a hot sunny day the park offers perfect spots for a picnic in the shade of the trees.

...Warm evenings

Night canoeing on the Neris
A close encounter with another symbol of the city, the River Neris, is a perfect attraction on a warm evening.
By entering 'night canoes in Vilnius’ into a search engine, you’ll find several offers to paddle downriver from Verkiai Regional Park to the White Bridge in the city centre. The organisers will escort you to the starting point and provide you with all the necessary equipment.
Canoeing downstream in the regional park will fill you with its characteristically tranquil and mysterious evening spirit.
Gradually, the landscape changes to urban views and the city reflections and already familiar symbols of Vilnius twinkle in the water, which when viewed from the river look unforgettably warming and magnificent.
And you will float under six bridges, so just imagine what jokes you can make when telling friends about your adventures under the bridges of Vilnius!

Cycle routes
Vilnius boasts a very convenient bicycle rental system, available to everyone over 14 years old.
There are many cycle paths in the city centre, so jump on a bicycle on a warm evening and cycle along Gediminas Avenue and the pretty streets of Vilniaus, Didžioji and Pilies.
You will see the city coming to life in the evening – locals like to seize the opportunity to have a pleasant stroll on a warm evening.
On a bicycle you’ll not only feel the evening buzz but also quickly reach such beautiful architectural monuments as St Catherine's Church and the Town Hall.
You could also choose a different route – the cycle paths along the Neris River bank are also worth a tour (especially if you don’t opt for a canoeing adventure.

Cafés with terraces
Café terraces in closed and open courtyards have a certain 'Je ne sais quoi’ about them, as the French would say, and the French spirit does suit them, especially when these courtyards are buzzing with locals chatting, sipping wine and enjoying life.
So we recommend choosing one of these terraces to end a warm evening – until late you can enjoy local and imported drinks and chat with the locals. Even if you happen to hear stereotypes about the Lithuanians, on such evenings everyone is friendly, relaxed and happy to tell you about their city and the culture of the country.
You can find places in our chapters Restaurants and Nightlife.

...A cold or rainy day

Centre for Civil Education
Opening in spring 2016, this centre can be proud of having the most modern exhibitions in the country, introducing Lithuania, its population, state institutions and their functions and the fundamental principles of the democratic state.
The museum, the founder of which is Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, is situated inside the Presidency building, symbolising the openness of this institution – so at the same time you will have an opportunity to take in the architecture of the Presidential Palace.
On entering the centre, you are provided with a tablet which contains information in the form of videos, 3D illustrations and games.
The interactive displays will help you define your political views, make a budget for the country, design your own coat of arms and leave your comments on a virtual map by naming the most beautiful places in Lithuania.
Welcome to the Lithuania of the 21st century!

Puzzle rooms
Those who love adventures, computer games and unexpected experiences, or who just love to compete, should choose one of the puzzle rooms, also called escape rooms, which burst onto the scene a few years ago and which have gained popularity very rapidly.
Over 40 different puzzle rooms can be found in the city, and the entertainment on offer is generally diverse and of excellent quality due to the huge competition between them.
It’s up to you which adventure you choose, from mystical, funny, erotic, historical or scientific rooms, where in order to leave you’ll have to employ your intuition, brain, knowledge, logic, sensations and spirit of success.
In any case, time is guaranteed to fly quickly in the room, the mysteries of which you’ll have to discover – and by doing so you will avoid freezing outside.

Vichy Water Park
If you were expecting to see a sunny Vilnius but the weather turns rainy, please accept our excuses for the unpredictable Lithuanian spring and summer.
But you can’t imagine a holiday without warm weather, so look no further than the Vichy Water Park to relax amid its prevailing theme of the Polynesian islands.
The water park offers nine attractions, which are probably the most modern of their kind in the Baltic states – including Shriek of the Maori, the largest slide of any indoor water park in the world, where you can feel zero gravity. There’s also a complex of saunas and relaxation rooms and dozens of attractions for children.
Palm trees, volcanos and a subtropical climate are probably not what you were expecting in Vilnius, but you’ll definitely get into the holiday mood here – especially when it's cloudy outside and you’re in a warm swimming pool sipping a Pina Colada!

St Peter and Paul's Church
This Baroque Catholic church in the suburb of Antakalnis is mentioned in lists of the most beautiful churches in the world – and you’ll not understand this until you see its breath-taking interior for yourself.
It’s worth visiting for several reasons.
The interior of the church, the construction of which started in the 17th century, was decorated by Italian sculptors for 30 years, filling the space with stunning white stucco ornaments, sculptures and religious scenes.
The magnificent vaults of the church tell stories, with some of the details looking like they are made of lace.
It is believed that more than 2,000 separate sculptures are here.
Gazing at the interior, it’s worth remembering that this is the only church in Vilnius with an authentic interior that has survived intact since the date of its opening (probably that’s the reason why you have goose bumps when looking into the faces of angels and speechless saints that are several hundred years old).

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
There is no better place to discover the history of Lithuania than in this national museum, based in the restored historical residence, the former Lower Castle of Vilnius.
A virtual reality experience in the museum will reveal the history of the palace, counting the centuries much better than we could describe.
Besides that, archaeological finds, mock-ups and a glimmering collection of treasures are displayed in the museum.
Representative rooms imitating the interiors of various epochs can also be found. You will hardly find a more dignified place to hide from the rain.

Museum of Genocide Victims
During the Soviet occupation of 1940 to 1991, Lithuania suffered from repression in which people disliked or not approved of by the ruling authority were prosecuted, imprisoned, deported and killed.
In 1992, the Museum of Genocide Victims was opened to commemorate that period – in the epicentre of those crimes, the former headquarters of the Soviet Union’s security service.
High-tech displays and authentic spaces, for example a listening equipment room, tell visitors about the sovietisation, partisan war and people's deportation and imprisonment in the gulag.
In the cold semi-basement of the building, the preserved KGB prison cells are exhibited without any changes made since their discovery after the prison was closed. Detained individuals were tortured here before examination.
An execution room with a display commemorating the victims can also be visited.
The imagination can go wild here, especially when it's gloomy outside...

...A cold evening

TV Tower
You can’t miss this superstructure in the Vilnius city panorama. Your eyes will always turn towards the television tower, the tallest building in Lithuania, which is 326.5 metres tall.
At the top, on the 19th floor, the restaurant Paukščių takas (Milky Way) turns 360 degrees providing incredible views. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Belarus.
But even if it’s a cold evening, you can enjoy a meal with the fascinating, floating, changing views of the illuminated city – it couldn’t be more romantic!
The only disadvantage is its distance from the city centre, but if you’ve had an active day there's no better place to rush in the evening!
(For more information about transport in Vilnius, take a look at Arriving and Getting Around).

Nightclubs
Where is it really hot, even on the coldest evenings? On the dancefloor, of course!
Popular new entertainment places are opening every year, and the diversity of the city’s nightclubs is almost as surprising as the weather.
The best places to see live music are probably Tamsta, Loftas, Jazz Cellar and Legends.
If you love dancing into the early hours, you’d probably love the lively weekend parties at clubs like Opium, Mojito naktys and Pantera.
Full descriptions of these and other nightspots can be found in our pages dedicated to Nightlife.

Pubs
On a rainy evening, a filling glass of beer will definitely cheer you up. Not trying beer in Lithuania would simply be a sin!
If you prefer conversation to dancing and loud music, opt for one of Vilnius’ bustling pubs to spend your evenings in.
You can discover a very broad selection of pubs here, from Alaus Biblioteka (Beer Library), whose name hints that you’ll not only drink the stuff but also learn a lot about it, to PianoMan Bar, which pays tribute to the culture of pubs, to probably the most authentic Lithuanian bar in Vilnius, Šnekutis, where tourists are guaranteed to keep lifting their eyebrows with surprise.
When raising a glass, say 'Į sveikatą' (ee svay-KAA-ta!), wishing yourself and your comrades to stay healthy, despite the cold or rainy night.

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