Tourism is an activity that has been showing rapid growth in Lithuania throughout the past few years. From 2016 to 2017 alone the number of foreign tourists has grown by 9,4% – over 130 thousand people.
Such rising popularity may be explained by several factors – one of those being the beauty of Lithuanian nature, yet undiscovered by those coming from bigger, modern cities such as Tokyo or New York City. Another reason could be the remnants of the mystical past. Even the very myth of how Vilnius came to be is incredibly interesting.
It is said that long time ago, the Grand Duke, Gediminas, was on a hunting trip. At night, he went off to sleep on top of a hill where in his dreams he was faced with an iron wolf. The wolf did not speak to him in words – only a powerful howl that resonated as a hundred wolves together were howling at the bright moon. Once he was awoken by the first rays of sun, the Grand Duke went to a pagan priest called Lizdeika, who was to help him interpret the dream. He told the Duke that the dream was a direction to found a city among these hills. The howling of the wolf, explained the priest, represented the fame of the future city: that city will be the capital of Lithuanian lands, and its reputation would spread far and wide, as far as the howling of the mysterious wolf…
And so it was. It is a given that if a city is born in such a magnificent way, it would stay so for ages to come. Perhaps the most wonderful part of Vilnius, if not Lithuania itself, is the old town. There are plenty of cozy cafes scattered throughout the entire city – an absolute must to visit is Mint Vinetu, a bookstore café located near Vokiečių street. If you have a sweet tooth, you cannot miss out on their cocoa with marshmallows. Delicious! For those willing to explore a little bit more, I have to suggest finding the smallest street of Vilnius, near the city hall, which used to have its own name, but right now serves merely as a yard of some houses – yet is still accessible to all. Vilnius even has its own cat café, found right by Lukiškių square, but it may be advisable to book some time there, as its popularity is nowhere near stopping. However, the wait is worth it if you’re truly a cat lover.
Of course, that’s not all the city has to offer. One of the most interesting night-life objects is the steampunk bar, Variokas. It is one of the most popular bars among youth, and if you time it right, you may just hear some live music playing, too – for most of the time, you won’t have to pay a cent. Another bar, or, rather, two, worth checking out purely for their location are Que Pasa and Peronas, both found by the very edge of some train rails. There is something magical about sitting outside a bar and watching a train go right past you. Truly an opportunity you cannot miss.
Certainly, one question rises inevitably – where can a tourist stay while visiting the city? There are more than enough options to pick from. Perhaps the most common one is living in a hotel. However, even those have two groups – the so-called elite hotels, that made their debut not so long ago, and standard ones. There are also guesthouses, hostels and even simple apartments aimed purely at tourists.
Let’s start with the elite hotels. One of the most prestigious hotels found in Vilnius is the Kempinski hotel, found in the very heart of the old town. This hotel never fails to impress its visitors with high-class décor, professional staff and a five-star quality that is found in everything they do. The location of it could not be better – Vilnius Cathedral is no more than five minutes away, it’s really a dream come true. Of course, this kind of luxury comes with certain price – one night may cost you from 180 to a whopping 1600 euros. Truly makes you wonder what glory may await, doesn’t it?
You can find two hotels worth mentioning in Pilies street. One of them is the Artagonist Art Hotel, offering apartments for those with a heart drawn to art or those wishing to rebel against the mundane life. The price of one night ranges from 110 to 350 euros. The other hotel is Narutis, where the price doesn’t differ much from the Artagonist Hotel – here one night will cost you from 105 to 320 euros. Both the Cathedral and Town Hall are within walking distance – both of which I highly recommend visiting, even if just for the architecture. The visitors of these hotels will find themselves surrounded by many boutiques and cafes, all unique to the Vilnius Old Town. They may even choose to visit the oldest and biggest university of Lithuania – the Vilnius University, founded all the way back in 1579.
Right by the town hall you can find another elite hotel – as evident from the title itself. Radisson Blu Royal Astorija is yet another name to remember when travelling to this gorgeous country. One night here is going to cost you from 100 to 660 euros. If you do decide on staying in this hotel, you absolutely must have breakfast in Sugamour. The sweets there are absolutely magnificent!
And the last hotel from the elite group to mention is the Imperial Hotel and Restaurant. Curious souls may just come in here to eat, get a taste of what it would be like to stay here full time. Doing so would cost you from 110 to 400 euros. Perhaps the best thing about this hotel is the Tamsta club, where you will more than often find live music and Artistai – a beer bar where you will frequently hear live concerts as well. Quite frankly, I prefer Artistai purely because it’s a much cozier place.
Now for the standard hotels. There are plenty of them in old town, of course. By Kudirkos square you can find Congress Avenue (prices are from 85 to 170 euros), Novotel (prices from 66 to 120 euros) and Hotel Tilto (prices from 56 to 90 euros). This is most likely the best place to live if you want to truly experience as much as possible. Most bus routes connect here, so you can ultimately get anywhere you wish! There are plenty of bars – Mr. Pub is a must to visit –, cafes and shops of all sorts. Right by the Cathedral you can find Amberton, where for one night you may pay from 66 up to 155 euros. The location is near identical to the Kempinski hotel, so if you want the place without the luxury, this may be your best shot. And last but not least, the Hotel Moon Garden, found by Aušros gates. The prices here range from 50 to 175 euros per night. The best food place here has to be “Gusto blyninė“, which serves pancakes of every kind. There are pancakes with oreos, pancakes with vegetables or pancakes with meat, and many more to name.
If hotels do not seem appropriate, there are other options to choose from. Recently one has been gaining popularity in particular. Visitors of Vilnius may rent a flat wherever they find one that suits their needs. Of course, if the visit to Lithuania is short, it may be quite difficult to find a fitting apartment if one is searching independently. People tend to rent out only a couple of apartments, mostly hoping to get a stable income. To make it easier, there are companies that offer flats of various sizes for tourists. You have plenty of options to choose from – Vivulskio Apartment (35-65 euros), Rehouse (45-65 euros), Rentida Apartments (35-75 euros), Spot Inn Traku (45-50 euros), Vilnius Centre Apartment (30-40 euros), Old Town Apartment (36-60 euros). Almost every one of these offers only a couple of flats, except for Rentida Apartments – I was surprised to find that they offer over twenty different apartments in Vokiečių, Šv. Mikalojaus and Pranciškonų streets. And here’s a tip – if you decide to go with this company, apparently, you can rent out the apartment directly from their website. That’s not even it – they’re willing to offer a discount if you simply call or write them an email inquiring about the city or possible activities. The interesting thing is that they recently opened a Waffle Bar and offer breakfast and lunch for reasonable price. You can choose not only from sweet waffles, but also from nutritious waffles with goat cheese or salted salmon and many more. I’ve yet to find another company that’s so easy to give in. As for the other companies, you can rent out their apartments through such sites as booking.com or hotels.com. Maybe try ringing them as well, who knows what may happen! If you won’t get a discount, you will surely get some special treatment. After all, communication is key no matter where you go.
It is also possible to live in hostels, something Lithuania has plenty of as well. The best choice for young people may be the Jamaika hostel. From there one can reach plenty of bars and night clubs – perfect for those who may want to relax with some partying or drinks. Of course, since it is right by Aušros Gate, there is plenty of exploring to do as well – and the prices are more than favorable, starting at a mere 9 euros per night! The most expensive room you can get costs 42 euros here – though I doubt it’s worth it, if you ask me. The only hostel that could rival Jamaika is Hostel Oras. Here one night will cost you from 7 to 30 euros. You can be sure you’ll get a bed, but who knows what else seven euros would get you. Another cheap option would be Center Stay Hostel, where the prices range from 10 to 79 euros – possibly the biggest variety in prices so far. Perhaps you could start at the highest price and go lower as your money drains throughout the journey? That may just be a fun experience.
Two more hostels to give you food for thought would be Sodų Hostel (20-65 euros per night) and Old Town Trio Hostel Rooms (27-32 euros per night). While looking at the prices I got so used to seeing a big difference between the lowest and highest price, the Old Town Trio Hostel Rooms even seem fake – yet they’re not. You can be sure they know what they’re doing and that you will get good quality in every room you pick.
The last option accommodation wise I feel is worth mentioning would be a guesthouse. Found 300 meters away from Jamaika, there is a newly opened Rentida Guesthouse. The prices start at 30 euros, making this a slightly more expensive choice. And once more, a side tip – you can rent this out directly from their website as well. Makes things so much easier, trust me.
Both Pylimo guesthouse and guesthouse Ameda offer prices from 30 to 50 euros for one night. Silvija guesthouse starts at 30, but leaves it at 45 while Gueshouse Taurus dares to go higher, and offers prices from 30 to 55 euros. Guesthouses are a wonderful choice for people who wish to escape a little bit from the buzz of the city, perhaps enjoy some calmness and warmth instead of clubbing or drinking every night – of course, there is nothing stopping you from indulging in such activities while living in a guesthouse either.
Vilnius is ready for anyone who may wish to experience its beauty and unique charm. There are more than enough activities and accommodations to choose from, satisfying even the pickiest tourist. Whether you want to party all night long, explore some dungeons or just find a cozy place to sit with a coffee and a book – you’ll find it. I hope you have a wonderful trip – perhaps not even just once. It truly is a place you want to visit over and over again.