Upon arriving in Vilnius on a Friday evening in June the sun was shining although it was a little chilly. I find that the sunshine always makes such a difference when visiting anywhere for the first time.
My b&b, Real House B&B, was in the old town, a Unesco World Heritage site, so a great location and close to most sights. I headed out for a walk around the old town to get my bearings. I immediately liked what I saw, beautiful architecture, a mix of gothic, neoclassical, renaissance and baroque. There are many restaurants and bars all within close proximity and all along pretty cobblestoned streets. Dinner at a recommended restaurant called Forto Dvaras which served local dishes, did not disappoint, good food, and friendly service. The staples of local food are meat, potatoes and bread, slightly on the heavy side but very tasty.
The next day, another sunny one, I joined Vilnius with Locals for a 2hr free walking tour of the old city. The guide was friendly and informative without boring us with too many details, while showing us many interesting and beautiful sights. We visited the neighbourhood of Užupis, where they have their own constitution. A very pretty, arty locality. We passed by the beautiful gothic St Anne’s Church, and many more beautiful sights. After it was a steep walk up to Gediminas Castle Tower for a spectacular view of the city.
In the afternoon I joined Vilnius with Locals again for a food tour. We were taken to 5 different venues where we tried various local delicious dishes, mushroom soup in bread, deep fried bread with a delicious creamy sauce, various cheeses and local beers. Our guide was very informative about the origins of the food we were eating, which made it very interesting.
In the evening, again with Vilnius with Locals I joined a pub crawl with about 30 other tourists from various countries. We were taken to 4 different bars where drinks were discounted for us and free shots were given. Eventually they were taken to a club but I didn’t make it to that, I was too tired unfortunately but by then, it was 2am.
Sunday morning, another sunny one, I headed for a lazy brunch at Cozy. A great spot for people watching and since there was the marathon on, I could watch the runners go past and cheer them on. I tried to visit the KGB museum and the Grand Dukes Palace but both were closed. Apparently 4 June is a public holiday! The Cathedral Basilica was open so I went into that, really beautiful neoclassical architecture, worth a visit. I then wandered around the streets, admiring the various buildings with different architectures and popped my head into a couple of Russian Orthodox churches, very elaborately decorated. Since the sun was still shining, I then headed to sit at a bar by the river.
For dinner I headed to a smart, romantic restaurant, Lokys, recommended by a local friend, which did not disappoint. They mostly serve game dishes like boar, venison, beaver, quail, etc. I had the boar which was delicious, washed down with a good glass of red wine. Dessert was a chocolate salted caramel cake, slightly sweet but very good.
My last day was cloudy and drizzling so I took it easy. All museums are closed on Monday as in many cities. So I met a friend for a long lazy lunch at a restaurant called Kitchen which serves world cuisine. A trendy, modern restaurant with delicious food and good service.
Since I didn’t manage to see a couple of things and as I quite liked Vilnius I think I’ll be back some day to discover more of it.