Lithuania’s capital was the 2009 European Culture Capital and you can sense with every step and every turn why. It is at once historic, baroque, a little bit nuts, and hip and trendy! Vilnius is young Europe but with its own unique personality traits.
But if you want to be polite and try anyway: Ačiù means “thank you.” It’s pronounced Ah-tschiu so that it sounds almost like a sneeze. Labas is “hello,” when meant for one person but it becomes sveiki when greeting a group. The cashier at the supermarket checkout, in any event, gave me a mischievous smile as I thanked her for the change with ačiù. Either I can’t pass as Lithuanian by my looks or I didn’t quite lose the accent ;-)
Vilnius is a museum-dense city. Based on local input, I came up with the following list. The Vilnius Tourism website will provide you with an overview of each:
- Money Museum
- Technology Museum
- Toy Museum
- Tolerance Center
- National Art Gallery
- Amber Museum
Because my schedule was tight, I only took in the Amber Museum. Admission costs 60 cents, and with it you get a personal guided tour explaining how Baltic amber comes about. I marveled at ostrich egg-sized amber lumps and learned also how to distinguish genuine amber from the fakes.
Amber Museum — Gintaro Galerija Muziejus Vilnius www.ambergallery.lt
Shopping in Vilnius
The main shopping street is Boulevard Gedimino Prospektas; straight as if drawn with a ruler, it starts from the cathedral square. Small boutiques, cafés, and flagship stores of famous brands and chains line the boulevard. The grand buildings lining it on both sides give it a wonderful flair.
In the Old Town, I came across original small stores practically every time I turned a corner. Senamiescio Krautuve, for example, is a little mom-and-pop shop selling local groceries. It’s perfect for picking up souvenir gewgaws. www.senamiesciokrautuve.lt
If you’re more into trendy: You’ll find the Vilnius hipster district behind the train station. Here the cafés and bars alternate with the studios of young designers. You may find yourself comparing the mood here with Zurich’s Kreis 4.
The secret tip for lovers of good design is the UPTOWN MARKET in the LOFTAS a fabulous old factory used for staging concerts, parties, fashion shows and all sorts of trendy events – it advertises itself as “a space for people to go wild in.” Check it out at www.menufabrikas.lt
UPTOWN MARKET provides young designers a venue for exhibiting and selling their mini-collections (clothes, accessories, jewelry, bric-a-brac, and pottery.) Besides the hip atmosphere, you can find some appealing things here.
2016 dates — UPTOWN MARKET
|5.29.16||Sunday||UPTOWN MARKET||Baltic fashion|
|6.18.16||Saturday||SMALL MARKET||Baltic pride|
|6.26.16||Sunday||UPTOWN MARKET||Less expensive, more fashionable|
|7.21.-7.24.16||Thursday – Saturday||UPTOWN MARKET||By the sea side|
|9.2.+ 9.3.16||Friday/Saturday||UPTOWN MARKET||We love autumn|
|11.5.16||Saturday||UPTOWN MARKET||What’s next in fashion|
|12.20.-12.23.16||Tuesday – Saturday.||LAST MINUTE MARKET|
Where to bed down
Because I slept there, I can recommend the Comfort Hotel. It’s a modern hotel, not quite located in the center but easily reached on foot from Old Town. The train station hipster district is close by; also in easy walking distance is the UPTOWN Market and the LOFTAS. The airport is just a few minutes’ taxi ride away. The rooms are furnished simply but offer enough space and comfort. The hotel’s TIME restaurant is on the recommended list here.
COMFORT HOTEL LT ROCK’N’ROLL VILNIUS – pretty damn good, I’d say. www.comforthotel.lt
For the more luxuriously inclined, there is the Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square located direct on… Cathedral Square. The breakfast honey comes from the luxury hotel’s own beehive on its roof. Alternatively, in the heart of Old Town, you have choice of charming boutique hotels, the Narutis and the Shakespeare Boutique Hotel.
Hotels can be booked directly on the Vilnius Tourism website or with us if you want to do comparison shopping.
Golfing near Vilnius
For golfers interested in stretching a Vilnius city trip with a stint on the golf course, the Vilnius Grand Resort north of Vilnius is to be recommended.
19 km from Vilnius
18-hole, par 72.
Other golf courses near Vilnius:
European Centre Golf Club
26 km from Vilnius
18-hole, par 71
Capitals Golf Club
47 km from Vilnius
18-hole, par 71
I’m most grateful for the invitation for this unforgettable getaway Marketing & PR Manager Severine Isaac, Chairman of the Board Urs A. Pelizzoni and CEO Tobias Somandin of Germania Flug AG and, last but not least, Simon Benz of PrimCom.