Bizarre, beautiful and bewitching, Lithuania's capital seduces visitors with its astonishing Old Town charm. Its chocolate-box baroque skyline littered with the spires of Orthodox and Catholic churches are intoxicating, decadent and fragile - so much so that Unesco has declared this, Europe's largest baroque old town, a World Heritage site. But there's more to this devilishly attractive capital than meets the eye. There is an underlying oddness that creates its soul.
Where else could there be the world's only statue of psychedelic musician and composer Frank Zappa? Or a self-proclaimed, unofficial, independent republic inhabited by artists and dreaming bohemians? Where else is there the spirit of freedom and resistance that existed during Soviet occupation? There are reminders of loss and pain everywhere, from the horror of the KGB's torture cells to the ghetto in the centre of all this beauty where the Jewish community lived before their mass wartime slaughter.
Strange bars glow inside dark courtyards and medieval archways frame the life of the narrow, cobbled streets through which change has swept with panache. Using foreign cash and local vision, this stylish little city has big plans. But new business and infrastructure - even a skyscraper skyline - won't disguise the curious charm of eccentric, soulful Vilnius.
Best places to stay in Vilnius
Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania - Lithuania (Chapter)
Rebellious, quirky and vibrant, Lithuania (Lietuva) is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Though the country rarely makes it into newspapers outside its, the southernmost of the three Baltic countries holds a bag of treats.
Vilnius destination guides
Baltics to St Petersburg
Decades after the fall of communism, the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia remain a mystery to most travellers. We’re not complaining, though; more mystery means fewer crowds and an easier time getting to know these fantastic countries.
Not many people have heard of Grutas Park in Lithuania. Even if you call it by its more popular nickname, Stalin World, it is still comparatively unknown. But the existence of Stalin World shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise...
Private Jewish Vilnius Tour
Walk the ancient streets of Vilnius old town, where Lithuanian Jewish history can be traced back to the 14th century. The classic Lithuanian Jew (Litvak) is known in folklore for a love of education, no-nonsense straight-talk and certain sardonic wit.
Europe on a Shoestring - Lithuania (Chapter)
Those with a passion for baroque architecture, ancient castles and archaeological treasures will find plenty in the capital and beyond. Throw in a whirlwind of great restaurants, beer gardens and bars, modern-art spaces and late-night clubbing,...
Private Open-Air Folk Life Museum of Rumsiskes Tour
Situated 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the northwest of Vilnius and 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Kaunas is the Rumsiskes, an Open-Air Museum of Lithuanian Folk life, located on a 40-acre park. You can see all four areas of Lithuania as they looked 100 years ago.