A delightful city!
34 people found this review helpful
When my sister bought me a 3 day trip to Vilnius as a Christmas present I wasn’t really sure where it was! I had heard of people going for short breaks in Tallinn and Riga but Vilnius did not sound familiar at all! However, after a trusty google search, I was excited to be visiting Lithuania, another country to tick off my bucket list! Helen had booked with Broadway Travel and we were flying from Stansted Airport with Ryan Air. As per usual we had to sort out the baggage situation. Ryan Air have gradually made their free baggage allowance smaller and smaller. The usual “weekend bag” is now too large to be taken into the cabin and involves more costs. I wish the cheap airlines would sort out a standard baggage rule that they all adhere to. At the moment it is very confusing!
Anyway our flight was OK and we got a cab from the airport to our hotel as it was quite late. It cost 15 Euros but 3 days late we did the return journey on the train from Vilnius to the Airport and it cost us 70 cents each! That has to be the cheapest airport journey ever! Our hotel was the Hotel Conti on Raugyklos Street. The rooms were nice and the staff friendly. They have a small bar but don’t seem to have much stock so we found the bar on the opposite corner from the hotel much more atmospheric and with a larger selection of drinks.
On our first day in Vilnius we left our hotel armed with a tourist map and headed to Cathedral Square. This city is very small but there seems to be a church on every corner! If you are a church aficionado this is definitely the city for you. Catholic churches, Russian Orthodox churches, big churches, little churches and shrines, Vilnius has them all! The Cathedral is very impressive and has a lovely bell tower where you can climb to the top. In the Square outside the Cathedral is a “magic stone” set into the floor. It is said that if you find the stone and stand on it and turn 360 degrees all your dreams will come true! Unfortunately no one can pass on the directions to the stone so you have to find it for yourself (to be honest it wasn’t too hard!). When we had finished making our dreams come true there was a slight snow flurry and as we saw some mini bus sightseeing tours in the square we jumped on one of those and did an hour and a half journey around the city in the warm. We saw The KGB Museum, The Town Hall, we went over the White Bridge and we passed by an area of the city called Uzopia. This is an interesting part of the town, it seems the residents declared (on April Fools Day) that they were independent and they have their own Constitution and flag! On our third day there we went back to see the Constitutional Plaque. It has clauses such as:
“Everyone has a right to die but this is not an obligation” and “Everyone has the right to look after the dog until one of them dies” and “A dog has the right to be a dog”. It is certainly a rather wacky area!
If you want great views of the City take a trip up the funicular to Gediminas Tower. You can climb the tower and see for miles. (However, beware if you decide to walk down. I did and the cobbles were very difficult to walk on). Another good place for views if the Sky Bar at the top of the Raddison Bleu Hotel. We had cocktails whilst watching the sun go down one evening. Beautiful!
On our second day, having exhausted most of the City sights we took a bus trip to Trakai. This lovely area, a 40 minute drive from Vilnius is full of lakes and has a wonderful castle set on an island. There are craft and souvenir shops and lots of cosy restaurants. You can walk around the lakes edges and watch the ducks and swans slipping on the ice on the lakes. It is probably even more beautiful in the summer.
Being vegetarian we had expected a problem with food but we found plenty to eat in the less traditional restaurants. We had veggie paella in a Portuguese restaurant and pizza (for just 2 euros) in Charlies Pizza! In Trakai, a lakeside restaurant made us a veggie roast meal which was lovely.
So Lithuania is definitely a place to add to your bucket list. It is very cheap and especially clean (we hardly saw any litter anywhere). The people are very friendly and love to test out their English with you. It has a lot of history, a lot of museums and probably too many churches!
My only reservation would be that for disabled people or people who are unsteady on their feet the streets are very uneven with broken cobbles and uneven steps. Otherwise it is an absolutely lovely place for a 3 day break!
34 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.