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
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.
Vilnius destination guides
Get packing: 10 easy trips this December
Getting itchy feet but don't have a trip planned? Lonely Planet magazine looks at 10 easy trips for December from Christmas shopping in Oman to ice-skating with the choir boys of Winchester. Get packing those bags! 1.
Vilnius City Sightseeing Tour
See the best that Vilnus has to offer. During the Vilnius City Sightseeing Tour you will see the following places of interest: Gediminas Avenue until you reach the Parliament.
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.