Lithuania’s stunning and fabulously eccentric capital is the newest Eastern European city to step into the travel spotlight. With its UNESCO-listed baroque Old Town, quirky collection of traditional boutiques and shiny new nightlife scene, it’s a fabulous choice for an alternative city break.
If it’s not baroque…
Planning a weekend away to Vilnius from Glasgow Airport? Your first port of call should be the ancient city centre – Europe’s largest baroque Old Town is a treasure trove of architectural curiosity. Breathe in the views from the 14th-century Upper Castle on Gediminas Hill before ambling down to Cathedral Square to admire the neoclassical Vilnius Cathedral and the Palace of the Grand Dukes. If the sun is shining, a picnic in the Hill Park is the perfect way to round off a glorious morning.
Arts and crafts
Artisan workshops clutter the cobbled alleyways of Vilnius’ Old Town, and browsing the traditional crafts on sale is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend an afternoon in the city. Jonas Bugailiškis is the local artistic celebrity, and visits to his courtyard studio (Aušros Vartų 17-10) are by appointment only. For a fuss-free shopping experience, an alternative is to head to Zverynas, a fascinating suburban neighbourhood of tumbledown wooden houses that happens to house one of the best gift shops in the city (Aušros Vartų 13).
Eat, drink and be merry
Aside from a few cosmopolitan gems – Tuscan eatery Fiorentino (Universiteto gatvė 4) and Sue’s Indian Raja (Odminių gatvė 3) stand out from the crop – the Vilnius restaurant scene is still reassuringly traditional. Dine authentically on pig ears, wild boar goulash and goose roast at Žemaičiai (Vokiečių gatvė 24), an Old Town gem, or tuck into dumplings and potato pancakes at Leičiai (Stiklių gatvė 4). End your night with music and an impromptu wine tasting at the Riesling Klub (Teatro gatvė 7), one of the best new bars in the city.