What to buy in Vilnius

20 Mar 2018
The fossilised sap has been washing up on Lithuania’s sandy shores for aeons. If you can’t be bothered gathering tiny bits of it on the beach (best after choppy weather), chunks are plentiful in the shops. And for something gleaming, millions of years old and sometimes containing ancient plants and insects, it’s ridiculously cheap. There are shops all the way up Pilies, Didžioji and Aušros Vartų.

The deeply ingrained tradition of flax growing is centuries old, and while you won’t find endless fields of it blowing in the wind these days, the durable yarn is still woven into tablecloths, runners, napkins, chair covers, etc. As clothing, linen easily absorbs perspiration, making it pleasant to wear in summer. Try the shops on Stiklių.

Lithuanian mythology says bees are holy, and the buzzy beasts are still revered. To try some honey, head to Bitinėlis (V Šopeno 12, I-11, open Mon-Sat) or find a stall at Halės Market.

Local food
In any supermarket you can find easily transportable hard white cheeses with caraway seeds or herbs in the dairy section, or Lithuanian black bread and local biscuits.

There aren’t many music shops around these days, but for Lithuanian classical, folk and pop CDs you could try Rūdninkų knygynas near All Saints’ Church (Rūdninkų 20).

Starka and mead
There’s lots of local firewater to guzzle yourself or take home as a souvenir from the airport’s Duty Free shops. Starka is a traditional caramel-coloured, slightly sweet vodka made from natural rye spirit. Mead is also a great souvenir, often packaged in attractive wee boxes. And look out for Trejos devynerios (Three Nines), an infusion of 26 herbs, and the strong, sour Malūnininkų.

Based in the city of Šiauliai, Rūta has been churning out the sweet stuff for over 100 years. Though its founding family was persecuted during the Soviet era, the firm is now back in family hands and its chocs, truffles, soufflés and creams are the tastiest in the land. Rūta has shops at Klaipėdos 1, V Šopeno 6 and A Jakšto 5, among other places.
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