If you’ve been working on a travel bucket list and already have adventures like “backpack through Asia” or “tour the US in an RV” crossed off, then maybe it’s time to venture over to Europe’s hidden gems.
Imagine jumping into a hot air balloon and watching the sun set over a 15th-century castle while listening to the sounds of a “Skamba skamba kankliai” music festival.
Sound intriguing? I think so too.
I’m diving into eight reasons why Vilnius, Lithuania should be your next vacation destination.
1. Vilnius, Lithuania’s Architectural Treasures
Whether you’re a history buff or enjoy romantic views from a medieval castle, Vilnius is a treasure trove of historic architecture. It’s famous for its baroque Old Town and features Europe’s greatest architectural styles like gothic, renaissance, and neoclassical. You can also enjoy seeing traditional Lithuanian architecture.
Do you like castles? Are you fascinated by cathedrals? You can visit the famous Gediminas Castle or admire the beautiful Vilnius Cathedral.
2. Centuries of Jewish History
Also called the “Jerusalem of the North,” Vilnius has Jewish roots dating back to the 8th century. Once a vibrant Litvak (Lithuanian Jewish) community of 100,000, it now bears the scars of WWII after 90% were murdered during the Holocaust.
Today, visitors can go on a walking tour of the city and see the Old Jewish Cemetery or attend the Choral Synagogue, which is its only remaining Jewish place of worship.
3. Enjoy the Stunning Views
After you’ve soaked up Vilnius’ gorgeous architecture and quirky cobbled streets, you can spend a day enjoying the city’s natural landscape.
Fancy a hike? You can climb the 40-meters up Gediminas Hill to visit the city’s medieval castle. If you’re up for a challenge, then tackle the steep ascent up the Hill of Three Crosses– the 17th-century monument for a group of martyred monks.
Hot air balloon tours are also available for visitors wanting a bird’s eye view of the city.
4. Catch a Folk Music Festival
An easy way to get to know Lithuania’s culture is to attend one of its popular folk music festivals, such as the “Skamba skamba Kankliai” international music festival that Vilnius hosts annually. It features traditional song and dance performances and is a great family activity.
5. Shopping in Old Town Vilnius
You can’t go home without grabbing a few unique souvenirs! With the city’s rich culture, you won’t be disappointed by the artistic boutiques and high-end shopping strips.
“Pilies Gatve” (Pilies Street) is known for its traditional shops that sell wooden crafts, amber jewelry, and handmade ceramics.
6. Try New Flavors
While you’re exploring the cobbled streets and shops, don’t forget to take a break at one of the many small cafes. Here, you can expect to find “kibinais”–traditional pasties that are either sweet or savory.
7. Share a Beer with the Locals
Vilnius’ bar scene will surprise you–there’s no shortage of trendy bars to stop and grab a pint. You can try one of the many varieties of Lithuanian craft beers or play it safe with a traditional, sweet brew.
The city’s friendly pride and culture means it’s easy to share a drink with the locals. You can learn more about life in Lithuania and, in exchange, share your own stories about fishing in Lake Tahoe or taking a cross-country road trip in your family’s Frost RV.
8. Don’t Sweat–Vilnius is Easy on the Wallet
A major plus to visiting Vilnius is that it accommodates any-sized budget. Often bragged about as one of the cheapest travel destinations in Europe, you won’t struggle to find value hotels and restaurants.
An Old City with New Experiences
Vilnius, Lithuania is a centuries-old town filled with classic architecture and historical monuments, and it’s bustling with over 500,000 people today. There are endless opportunities in this city to try new foods, learn about history, or take in views that you’ve never seen before.
Are you ready to add this unique city to your travel bucket list? It promises to be a stunning and easy European travel destination.