GUEST POST w/ Bharti Rana: Surprising Things to Do in Vilinus, Lithuania

It makes me very happy to introduce the wonderful person doing a guest post with me today!

Bharti Rana is an amazing writer who has been working as a guest blogger for about three years now, and I’ve luckily got the opportunity to write a post with them that I am so excited to share with you guys!!

If you want to get off the touristy beaten track and discover a city with historic charm, a thriving culture, and amazing cuisine, you can’t go wrong with Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

Among the hidden gems of the Baltic, Vilnius is one of the greenest cities in Europe as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Journey. There’s something in Vilnius for everyone— and more surprising activities than you may think.

The history of Vilnius is rich: it boasts a storied medieval old town, Baroque and Neoclassical buildings, and remnants from World War II and its Soviet past.

Vilnius isn’t just a feast for the eyes, but also a great place to experience the flavorful Lithuanian cuisine. From traditional dumpling-like potato cepelinai to craft beer and the latest trends in gourmet locavorism, you’ll find something to delight your palate.

And the culture? A large student population and artist-driven neighborhoods guarantee a lively and changing cultural scene to attract even the most demanding nomads. 

Persuaded yet? Here are seven surprising things to do in Vilnius, Lithuania.

1. Go on a local-led walking tour

Walking around a new city lets you discover well-kept secrets and picturesque spots you’d miss from a tour bus or car drive. And what better way to learn the mysteries of Vilnius than to take a walking tour organized by a local?

Among many Vilnius walking tours, you’ll find visits to picturesque residential areas, circuits that explore Jewish or Soviet history, and even beer tastings and scavenger hunts. And the best part is that most of these experiences are free, cheap, or tip-based. 

2. Take a kayak tour

Is walking not for you? With two rivers in its city center (the Neris and Vilnelė), Vilnius is a choice spot for a little kayaking. At different levels of difficulty, these unexpected tours in the heart of the capital are ideal for adventure lovers. Plus, you’ll get to see the city from the unique angle of its waterways. 

3. Go to a rock concert in an old prison

Lukiškės Prison, located just above the Old Town, is a stark reminder of Vilnius’ convoluted past. During the occupation of Lithuania by the Russian Empire, this prison was built to hold notorious criminals and political dissidents. Later, during the Nazi occupation, Lukiškės witnessed notorious atrocities.

But nowadays, the locals of Vilnius have reinvented Lukiškės. Now, it’s a thriving cultural space hosting concerts, a bar, art exhibitions, and an all-around celebration of life. Curiously enough, the prison was also a filming location for the show Stranger Things!

4. Visit the Museum of Illusions

If mind-boggling, reality-altering activities are your thing, you need to visit the Museum of Illusions in Vilnius. Inaugurated in 2016, it houses countless optical illusions, physics experiments, and avant-garde dance performances that tell the history of the city. It’s the perfect fun educational experience for all ages.

5. Try local food recommendations

There’s nothing like listening to locals to know where the best food and drinks are at. If you want to find the best coffee and bagels to start your day, head over to Beigelistai in the Old Town. You can also check out the Insta-friendly Augustas ir Barbora Love Story Café in the Jewish Ghetto.

To enjoy Lithuanian food with a novel twist, check out the modernist restaurant Ertlio Namas or the traditional Senolių Tradicija (translates as “Ancestors’ tradition”). And for an unforgettable dining experience, you can go to the rotating TV tower’s restaurant with a panoramic view of the city. 

6. Visit the Free Republic of Užupis

If you’re a free spirit, cross the Vilnelė river from the Old Town into the Free Republic of Užupis. You’ll find a place that feels like every bohemian dream you’ve ever had. Užupis is full of every kind of art and with a humorous, insightful constitution (clauses include “A dog has the right to be a dog” and “Everyone has the right to have faith”). 

the free republic of uzupis pictured above!!

Established as a bit of a joke during the cultural explosion after the fall of the USSR, Užupis has its own president, ministers, and unofficial international ties (the Dalai Lama is an honorary citizen).

If you visit on April 1, which is Independence Day, you’ll get your passport stamped at the bridge and witness the main square’s fountain flow with beer.

7. Check out the street art

Vilnius is world-famous for its vibrant street art scene. And these artists don’t limit themselves to the typical mural, either: you can find street sculptures, installations using antique objects, and even a Frank Zappa memorial. Walk around the city with your camera at the ready— you don’t want to miss these snap-worthy moments!

There’s so much to see and experience in Vilnius that you might just be tempted to stay longer. This is possible if you have Lithuanian ancestry, which qualifies you for dual citizenship Lithuania, and Vilnius in particular, are surprising places to visit and enjoy more than once.

In case you couldn’t tell, this was a guest post with the lovely Bharti Rana!! I have never worked with her before, but it was so fun having her write a post for my blog! It’s also something I’ve never written about, so it was also really interesting to read!

I hope you enjoy this post as much as I do, and also keep your eyes peeled for more of my content!!

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