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About city Gallery Where to stay

After adopting the Euro in 2015, both Lithuania and its capital city Vilnius took their place among the 'hottest' places in the world for adventurous travellers in search of variety. A UNESCO-protected Old Town, heritage of pre-WWII Jews, Poles and other peoples, a cosy environment, many parks and other green spaces, tall glass buildings on the banks of the River Neris, and the bohemian artist neighbourhood of Užupis are the business cards of Vilnius.

The first mention of Vilnius appeared in Grand Duke Gediminas's letters to German cities in 1323. The innovative ruler of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania understood the importance of intercultural exchange, which prompted him to invite people from foreign lands to visit the small, remote and stark Vilnius, hitherto virtually unknown to Europeans, and encourage them to trade or even take residence here.

Parade in traditional Lithuanian Song Celebration
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Parade in traditional Lithuanian Song Celebration

According to legend, Gediminas was once hunting in the vicinity of Vilnius, where he dreamed about an iron wolf, howling at the top of a hill. A priest explained the dream to him – the hill where the wolf stood marks the spot where a world renowned city will spring up. This affected Gediminas and encouraged him to build a castle there. Later it became the capital of Lithuania. Even though this city is not even nearly as big and economically viable as, London or Istanbul, Vilnius became an important centre of Eastern European politics, economics and science.

During the great European and world wars, Vilnius would constantly end up on the front lines and was conquered time and time again. This gave the city a degree of variety, but also hindered its economic development. After Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, Vilnius became integrated into the global community – the capital of Lithuania can now easily be reached by plane. If all goes well, Vilnius will soon be connected with the capitals of neighbouring countries via railways and highways.

An aerial view of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  An aerial view of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania

Vilnius is green and suitable for comfortable living. In terms of size, it's as big as Paris, but home to only slightly more than half a million people. It's is one of the few European cities with sombre forests and emerald lakes in the suburbs.

The best time to visit Vilnius is in the summer, when the streets are buzzing with fairs and festivals, and the air temperature is a pleasant 20-25 degrees. During the summer, there is no shortage of entertainment even outside the city limits. But as the winter comes, the city rapidly changes – during the coldest months of January and February, the air temperature can get as low as -25 degrees, the days become short and filled with snow and freezing rain. So life moves indoors. However, the Christmas tale, shown on the walls of the city cathedral, and the skiing track in Liepkalnis are slowly turning Vilnius into a city of winter entertainment.

People trade food in annual traditional Christmas fair
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  People trade food in annual traditional Christmas fair

Once in Vilnius, be sure to try the traditional Lithuanian cuisine, dominated by pork, potatoes, mushrooms, dairy products and dark, rye bread.

In recent years, Vilnius has seen an increase in foreign tourism, and has improved its accommodation and food services, and begun providing different kinds of entertainment. Cheap travel enthusiasts and young people can choose from an ever-increasing number of guest houses and cosy places populated by newcomers from all around Europe.

Where to stay

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