When one thinks of the Baltics, the first answers will usually be Poland, Belarus, and probably Finland. It’s only after further probing that the name ‘Lithuania’ comes into play. It comes as no surprise that Lithuania flies under the radar, especially when being surrounded by these three popular countries. What was once a war-torn country fighting for its independence and survival, Lithuania has since become a country steeped in rich history and heritage. This all happened after it gained its independence in 1990 from the Soviet Union.
Its capital city, Vilnius is known for having a vibrant social life with a wide variety of beaches and coastal areas spread across the country. A unique selling point of Lithuania will also be its natural reserve parks, that have been in strict preservation since 1975. Vilnius, in particular, is considered to be the largest city in Lithuania while also being the second largest in the Baltic region.
Lithuanian cuisine primarily focuses on ingredients that suit its cool and moist northern climate. These include produces like barley, rye, berries, and mushrooms that are heavily featured in its cuisine. Soups also play a huge part in Lithuanian culture as well as pork and potatoes as Lithuania shares a common trait with its Baltic and northern neighbours.
One such restaurant that stands out from the crowd is Sweet Root, which places heavy emphasis on local cuisine inspired by seasonal ingredients. Sweet Root, which is part of the White Guide, is made up of a creative team of individuals whose common goal is to showcase the true heritage of Lithuanian cuisine. Its philosophy of ever-changing seasonal menus sets Sweet Root on a different path than many other restaurants in Vilnius. Its dishes tell a different story with each course highlighting the chef’s Lithuanian roots. The tasting menu comprises seven courses and five one-bite stories.
Family-run restaurant-bistro, Mykolo 4 is another local establishment that focuses on fresh local produce Lithuania has to offer. Located at the Old Town of Vilnius, Mykolo 4 shares the same name as St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of the people. The restaurant offers a cosy environment paired with unmistakable Lithuanian flavours for a comforting treat made for both locals and tourists alike.
While no place else could replicate the authenticity of Italian cuisine in its home country, Ristorante Sorrento carries itself well with its own take on authentic Italian food. Bringing its vibe all the way to the heart of Lithuania, Ristorante Sorrento brings many Italian classics onto the streets of Vilnius. From cold cuts and cheese to crowd-pleasing pasta dishes, there’s something for everyone.
Infused with great history and heritage, every part of Vilnius has a story to tell. The Old Town in Vilnius is known for its architecture and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Vilnius also has a storied history with Jewish people, being one of the largest Jewish centres in Europe prior to World War II. Of course, we all know how that turned out.
A cosmopolitan through and through, Vilnius has its own charm and personality towards its people and tourists alike. Adapting itself to the 21st century, Vilnius still maintains its medieval heritage, which is evident in its Gothic and Baroque architecture. Its streets are littered with a mixture of cathedrals and noble buildings amidst lavish restaurants and cafes on its cobblestone streets, giving it a sense of modernity while still keeping to its roots.
Cathedral Square is the main square of the Old Town of Vilnius. It is a site regularly used for many activities and special occasions like public events and large concerts. A key location in the public’s life, the cathedral square is located at the crossing of the city’s main streets.
Also known as Castle Street, Pilies Street is one of the main streets in the Old Town of Vilnius, running from Cathedral Square to Town Hall Square. A popular tourist district, Pilies Street comes to life on a daily basis with its hustle and bustle as well as being the main hub for cafes and street markets.
Festivals are a common sighting on Pilies Street with many processions passing through. From Christmas to Easter and even if the Lithuanian basketball team comes through with a huge win, there will be a cause for celebration.
Gates of Dawn
A historical landmark for the city of Vilnius, the Gates of Dawn was built between 1502 and 1522 as part of the city’s defence fortification. To date, it is the last remaining city gate out of the 10 that have been wiped out at the end of the 18th century. To this day, the Gates of Dawn remains as one of the most important religious and cultural landmarks in Vilnius.
While accommodations are aplenty in Vilnius, there are very few hotels that breach the four-star rating. Luckily, the Old Town of Vilnius houses a few of these four-star properties that have been able to incorporate its gothic and baroque architectural influences. Of course, there are also plenty of boutique hotels around the city that have retained its charm from many years before.
Moon Garden Art Hotel
Nestled in the heart of the Old Town of Vilnius, the Moon Garden Art Hotel is just a stone’s throw away from the Gates of Dawn. The hotel is a perfect choice for travellers who are more inclined towards the history and culture of the Old Town of Vilnius. Set in a historic building, the 18-room Moon Garden Art Hotel keeps the charm of the days of old Vilnius while still setting the standards for modern day hotel amenities.
Much like the Moon Garden Art Hotel, the Atrium Hotel is also situated in the centre of the Old Town of Vilnius. It’s also a short walk away from many other great sights around. While its exterior may not look like much, its interior tells a contrastingly different story. It ranges from post-modern designs with leather sofas and high ceilings to a more minimalist approach with exposed brick walls and traditional furniture.