Vilnius was the last of the Baltic capitals I visited on my Baltic Explorer trip and I was expecting it to be similar to the others. And it is, yet it also has a character all its own! It has a beautiful old town to wander, well organized museums to feed your cultural needs and great restaurants to feed your more physical needs! It also has a very modern feel to it with a bustling downtown that invites to hang out!
Vilnius old town is beautifully restored. Lithuania’s “golden age” was more recent than Tallinn, giving the downtown a more modern feel. While you still find cobblestone streets, they are wider and straighter. Instead of the medieval feel of Tallinn, you’ll get an impression that feels more like an Italian town of the Renaissance. Beautiful palaces and impressive churches line the streets and you can still find the old fortress and city walls on the former edge of town. You can explore all of that easily by foot and Wander through Vilnius’ Old Town!
And while Vilnius also has a modern business district on the other side of the river going through town, the “old town” is not a “tourist zone” – with the presidential palace and administrational buildings, the university and a lot of shopping in the old heart of the city, you get a lively and modern feel to the city that also invites to just hang out, relax or people-watch. If I had to pick one of the Baltic capitals to hang out and pretend I’d live there for a while, I’d pick Vilnius for that mixture of vibrant and relaxed, history and modernity! It mixes the new and old in a way Rome does, when students take a break in front of the Presidential Palace or tourists mingle at a coffee shop with business people at lunch!
And other activities are close at hand as well: you can go from prehistoric finds at the National Museum to the Genocide Museum of the 20th century and on to shopping of the 21st century within a few hundred meters and a few minutes walk! Add to that numerous hotels of all budgets located in the city center and easy access to bus, train and plane, and you’ll have a great destination to visit! So, while Vilnius doesn’t have the picturesque, medieval village feel or beautiful ocean setting, it has a great vibe and a relaxed feel that invites to stay longer and explore. I recommend to make Vilnius your last stop and plan for a few extra days to enjoy the town and let all you have seen sink in!