Even though Vilnius is not listed among top European destinations, it has definitely received much more attention in the last few years. Thanks to destination marketing campaign ‘’Vilnius the G spot of Europe’’ and featuring in ‘’Lonely Planet’s’’ top 10 destinations to visit in Europe in 2018, the city has surely appeared in the spotlight of travellers more frequently. While there certainly are some ‘must sees’ to tick off the list such as The Old Town, Cathedral Square or Gediminas Castle Tower, I suggest visiting the following 5 unique places in Vilnius.
1. The Hill of Three Crosses
The Hill of Three Crosses is, from my perspective, the greatest view point of the city. Especially because it rises above the Gediminas castle tower – a much more crowded and popular tourist attraction. It has a spacious platform allowing to enjoy 180 degrees view of the glorious Old Town from above.
While the monument itself is not particularly fascinating, the view is simply stunning. It gives you an opportunity to enjoy the sights of rooftops and church towers free of charge. On top of that, it is accessible either by foot or by car. If you opt for the former take the wooden stairs from the park called ‘Bernardinu Sodas’. Whereas, if you go with the latter you may drive up from T. Kosciuskos street. While driving up is much easier, keep in mind that the last part still has to be covered by foot.
2. Barbakanas Bastion
Barbakanas bastion is another location among 5 unique places in Vilnius. A part of the Old Town that is rather often overlooked by tourists, however is highly appreciated by the locals. On one hand, it’s a historic site featuring some of the defensive walls that back in the day surrounded the city. On the other, it is yet another awesome view point. From there, you can enjoy the Old Town from a different angle as well as have a glance at an independent district called The Republic of Užupis. (Keep on reading to find out what I am on about).
3. Republic of Užupis
The republic of Užupis is a neighbourhood in the Old Town of Vilnius, which literally translated means ‘beyond the river’. The district could be called a ‘hipster wonderland’ thanks to its bohemian vibe, great art scene and idyllic cafes. In fact, the area has its own constitution and a president, after it declared its independence in 1997. To give you an example, the district is a bit like Christinia in Copenhagen or Montmartre in Paris. Thus, if you are exploring the Old Town, be sure to make a detour across the bridge to Užupis. Once there, enjoy a pint of local draught beer at one of many pubs (‘Šnekutis’, ‘Špunka’, ‘Devinkė baras’). Or grab a bite to eat at ‘Užupio Picerija’.
Essentially, Belmontas is an authentic 19th century style leisure and entertainment centre. It is established in a very picturesque location relatively close to the city centre. It has many different venues that are popular among locals for weddings, anniversaries, graduations or other grand festivities, however its restaurants literally located within footsteps of waterfalls is a fantastic place to escape the hustle of the city and enjoy traditional Lithuanian cuisine. From potato dishes to barbeque meat – Belmontas has it all. Not to mention a great selection of beers and local liquor. If you are not into any of that, just come for a coffee and a stroll by the river.
5. Station district (Stotis)
Once overlooked, abandoned and poor reputation carrying area is currently up and coming hood with authentic bars, food places and good nightlife. Just ten years ago the area was ruled by gopniks and was home for prostitutes and drug dealers. Back then, even locals would be very cautious of going there at night, however now the place has a completely different face. From a bunch of unique, independent food places such as ‘Keulė Rūkė’ or ‘Vijokliai’ to cool bars, located by the train tracks or in actual carriages (‘Peronas’, ‘Platforma’), the district has it all for a cool night out. Also, be sure to check out ‘Halės turgus‘ which is a market place by day and a small party venue by night. In short, if you are up to more industrial style venues – make sure to put it on your ‘unique places to see in Vilnius’ list.