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Vilnius is the capital city of Lithuania and the largest city in the country with the population of over 550.000 and all major political, economic, social and cultural centres.
Vilnius on CouchSurfing
The Vilnius group currently consists of approximately 2000 members, who are locals, expats and travellers from all over the world. It is an active and constantly growing group with lots of events, meetings and activities - just follow posts in the forum.
Emergency couch in Vilnius
Emergency couch in Vilnius is a group of CS'ers from Vilnius who are able to offer a couch at a short notice for guests who are coming in 3-4 days or less and do not have a couch yet. Therefore, use this group to find a couch only if it is emergency situation so if you know you are coming in 1 month, please use couchsearch and send individual couch requests.
Vilnius CS Musicians
Vilnius CS Musicians is a new fresh group of local and traveling musicians for sharing great music. If you want to organise a concert, gig, jam-session or just meet CS'ers who love music, this is a group for you. There is a list of some useful live music spots and festivals held in all Lithuania. Let the music play!
Vilnius is one of the most frequently visited cities of Eastern Europe. It draws attention, not only because of its unique architectural character, but also by its cultural events and attractions.
Parts of the town you should definitely visit are first of all the Old Town (Senamiestis) which is one of the largest old town centres in Eastern Europe and is included in UNESCO World Heritage List. However, before starting your meanderings around the streets of the Old Town it is worth getting a bird’s eye view of Vilnius and taking in a panoramic view of the city. There are some high buildings suitable for this purpose namely the TV tower, Skybar of the Reval Hotel Lietuva and the top floor of the shopping mall Europa near the northern bank of the Neris River, on the edge of the Old Town. You can get the best open air view of the Old Town at the top of the Gediminas’ Hill, Hill of Three Crosses, Bastille Hill or Bekešo Hill.
Top attractions in the old town would include Gediminas’ Tower and upper castle; The cathedral with a Belfry by the side; Pilies & Didžioji streets with lots of luxurious boutiques, coffee shops, cultural centres, embassies, night clubs, souvenir sellers and the happy hubbub of the city; late Gothic architectural masterpiece that impressed Napoléon Bonaparte a lot - St. Anne’s Church; Townhall and Vokiečių street where many bars, clubs and restaurants are located; an area known as the “Jewish Ghetto” centred on Stiklių, Gaono, Antokolskio and Žydų streets; Presidential Palace and one of the oldest universities in Eastern Europe - Vilnius University which campus consists of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical buildings arranged around twelve closed courtyards and the tallest Church of St John; the Bastion which is an original Renaissance fortification; the only surviving gate of the first original five gates in the city wall named the Gates of Dawn and of course the main street of Vilnius - Gediminas’ Avenue, where you can find some important national institutions such as the Parliament or the National Library, as well as banks, hotels, shops, casinos, restaurants and cafés. Some small things also worth experiencing is Frank Zappa monument and a "magical" tyle with the word "Stebuklas" (Miracle) in the Cathedral square where one can make his wish come true by simply stepping on it and turning around with the eyes closed.
The Republic of Užupis is worth a separate notice and is a must while visiting Vilnius. Užupis is a recognised district for artists and won the name of the most bohemic, mysterious and romantic district of Vilnius which has its own constitution, national anthem, calendar, map, its own holidays, "main institutions" and so on. If you walk along the banks of the Vilnia River, you will be sure to come across artists working there who will invited to have a try at the various kinds of art, like photography and painting, or to take part in an evening of summer cinema or exhibitions.
Take a look at our album of Vilnius Sights in order to get a better view what the city looks like.
Museums and Galleries
Museum of Genocide Victims (KGB)is located in the former headquarters of the KGB and has the former execution chamber open to visitors.
Contemporary Art Centreis the largest art centre in the Baltic States presenting the latest international art tendencies of the contemporary art.
National Gallery of Art presents a collection of Lithuanian art of the 20th and 21st century and is a good space for active communication where the audience can see the permanent exposition and temporary exhibitions as well as participate in cultural events, lectures and educational programmes.
Užupis Galera is an alternative gallery in Užupis where the expositions are pretty unique and you can witness the creatinion of it's masterpieces.
Kultflux is a gallery - platform on the river Neris next to Mindaugas bridge where various exhibitions and other cultural events take place.
Sightseeing outside Vilnius
If you are staying in Vilnius for few days, you might want to make some day trips and see few places outside Vilnius:
Trakai is a historical capital of Lithuania where one can find the only castle in Eastern Europe built on the island on the lake, Karaite national minority and it's unique cuisine. There are a lot of buses and trainsgoing there and it takes only about half an hour to get there. If the weather is good, you should take a chance to see it!
Open air museum of the center of Europe signifies the geographical centre of Europe in the language of contemporary art and is a place where nature and art are combined.
Belmontas park is very close to Vilnius center and is a complex of restaurants serving traditional meals arranged around little lakes, watermills, river and waterfalls and is a very nice place to spend a relaxing afternoon.
If your host cannot show you around or you like exploring the city by yourself, you might still find it helpful to get city maps and some additional information about the city, things to see&do, events etc. There are a few tourist information centres in the Old Town: one is inside the Townhall and another one is located in Vilniaus street.
You also have a superb possibility to go for Vilnius free tour and see the hiden side of Vilnius through the eyes of the people who live here. All you need to do is to appear at 12PM any day of the week in front of the Townhall and look for a person with a yellow suitcase. Enjoy!
You can get some more information about Vilnius prior to your arrival in [http://www.inyourpocket.com/lithuania/ city/vilnius.html?more=1 Vilnius in your pocket] guide or browse [http://www.vilnius-tourism.lt/topic.php?tid=63 Vilnius tourist information center website].
Map of Vilnius old town - quite a nice map with the routes you can explore either by bike or on foot.
Lithuanian routes is a really great website where Lithuanian routes are coherently presented with the help of textual, photo and video material for those who want to travel around Lithuania.
Vilnius from above - some nice pictures of Vilnius and other cities of Lithuania made from an air ballon.
Apart from Couchsurfing events there are plenty of things to do in Vilnius and around. Vilnius is European Capital of Culture 2009 and therefore there are a lot of cultural, artistic and social activities every month. Check out what's happening in Vilnius during your stay:
Cultural events in Vilnius about interesting events in Vilnius provided by Couchsurfers of Vilnius group;
Entertainment bank - the biggest database of all kinds of events in Vilnius and the rest of Lithuania;
Vilnius life - a very handy website with a lot of useful information about Vilnius;
Club.lt - and some more clubbing events
Ore.lt - one more event calendor. Please note that the website is only in Lithuanian;
- some clubbing events in Vilnius;
Events in Lithuania - if it's still not enough ;)
Cinema news. The website is in Lithuanian, but they have titles in original language as well, so it's easy to get it;)
Vilnius Jazz festival - takes place every October and invites lots of great jazz musicians from all over the world. Jazz lovers - don't miss a chance!
All non-hollywood movies fans should check out two cinemas in Vilnius (both of them are major venues for cinematic events – festivals, meetings with filmmakers, retrospectives, special screenings etc.):
- Cinema Pasaka - (Šv.Ignoto St. 4/3) is a very cozy little cinema in the heart of the
old town, same building as La Boheme wine bar.
- Skalvija - (A. Goštauto St. 2/15) is another cinema center
that focuses on non-commercial European and World cinema, both classics and recent film.
Other cinemas with more recent/Hollywood movie repertoire are:
- Forum Cinemas Vingis - Savanorių St. 7;
- Forum Cinemas Akropolis - Ozo St. 25 - the one in a shopping mall
Although Vilnius is not the capital of shopping, there are several places to do that:
- There are a lot of souvenir shops and little street market in the Old town. The typical Lithuanian souvenirs would
be amber, linen and mead, but the latter is available only in the shops where they sell alcohol.
- Shopping centers: the biggest in the city center are Europa (Konstitucijos 7a) and Gedimino 9 (Gedimino
Av.9) and VCUP (Konstitucijos St. 16); a bit out of the city center, but still in Vilnius - Akropolis (Ozo St. 25) and Panorama (Saltoniškių St. 9)
- The biggest grocery chain stores are Rimi, Maxima and Iki - you'll see them everywhere.
- There are a lot of proprietary brand clothing shops in the Old town, especially in the area round the Town hall;)
Hopefully you will be able to find a host and will not need to look for accommodation, but in case you do, here are some useful websites:
[http://www.hostels.com/findabed.php?ChosenCity=Vilnius&ChosenCountry=Lithuania&Search=1 Inexpensive hostels, guesthouses and hotels]
Campsites across Lithuania - in case you feel like going to the nature ;)
Restaurants, cafés, bars, pubs & clubs
Restaurants & cafés
No doubt you will find McDonald's yourself, but in case you want to experience lithuanian cuisine, here are the most popular restaurants serving traditional lithuanian meals:
Čili Kaimas - a chain restaurant, located in Vokiečių St. 8 and Gedimino Ave. 14;
Forto dvaras - also a good one and is right in the center - Pilies St. 16;
Žemaičiai - a bit more expensive place in Vokiečių St. 24 and sometimes it takes ages to get your meal, but the result is usually rewarding.
Pilies menė in Pilies St. 8 or Amatininkų užeiga in Didžioji St. 19/2 might be also an option for traditional meals.
What shall you order there to get real lithuanian experience? A distinctive trait of Lithuanian cuisine is the preponderance of potato dishes, so try one of those:
- Cepelinai (‘Zeppelins’) - the most typical dish, large boiled potato dumplings (made from grated raw potato)
with fillings of minced meat or cottage cheese. Be careful - they are really filling;
- Kugelis (potato pie);
- Potato pancakes made from grated raw potato or boiled potato (sometimes – with a meat filling);
- Vėdarai (potato sausages) – a pretty creepy meal, made of pork intestines stuffed with grated raw potato,
baked in a wood stove or electric oven.
For a snack you should definitely try fried bread with cheese, marinated herring with boiled potatoes, various kinds of cottage cheese or fermented cheeses, and hot-smoked or cold-smoked hams and sausages. Lithuanians also know many recipes for mushroom dishes which are used in sauces, as fillings, or served as an accompaniment to meat dishes.
Soup is very popular in Lithuania and there are lots of kinds of it, but the most interesting Lithuanian soup is šaltibarščiai (cold beetroot soup), which is made from beetroot, kefir (a fermented milk product), greens and boiled eggs, is served chilled and is very refreshing on a hot summer day. Just don't get scared of a pink colour!
And finally, beer goes with pretty much everything, so go ahead! (ok, maybe not for breakfast;)
If you're done with typical lithuanian cuisine, there's plenty of other choices to eat out that match all tastes and budgets (in most restaurants approximately LTL 20-40 should be enough for lunch or dinner for one person):
- European cuisine is predominant in Vilnius restaurants, with a few Lithuanian dishes included in the menu - check
out Užupio cafe (Užupio 2) - a super place and a heart of Užupis Republic during the summer time; [http:// www.avilys.lt Avilys] - really nice beer brewery & restaurant (Gedimino Ave. 5); Cozy - a restaurant and a cozy club downstairs (Dominikonų St. 10); Steak House Helios (Didžioji St. 28, 2 floor, Helios Entertainment Centre).
- Restaurant with amazing view - Šventaragio sodas restaurant in Vilnius can accommodate more than 100 people inside and the same amount on the outdoor terrace. Where the the golden sun-shaded Vilnius Cathedral stands before the eyes and right where every hour the bell tower tolls you back to the present .
- Italian cuisine - Da Antonio I (Vilniaus St. 23) and Da Antonio
Tratoria (Pilies St. 20); St. Valentino (Vilniaus St. 47/Trakų St. 18); Pomodoro (Jogailos g. 4) and Fiorentino (Universiteto g. 4) with a nice inside yard during spring/summer. Note that pizzerias now outnumber Lithuanian restaurants, so do not be surprised to find a wide range of pizzas available at most restaurants (especially medium price range restaurants). The people of Vilnius are starting to jokingly say that pizza is becoming Lithuania’s national dish.
- French cuisine - Les Amis (Savičiaus St. 9) and Saint Germain (Literatų g. 9), also La Provence
(Vokiečių St. 22), but this one is a bit expensive.
- Czech cuisine - Pas Rudolfą II (Gedimino Ave. 46-2) - not very cozy place, but they have some quite nice
- Argentine cuisine - El Gaucho Sano (Pilies St. 10) - meat lovers, please enjoy;)
- Chinese cuisine - there is a big and always growing number of chinese restaurants in the Old town, so you will see
them at once.
- Vegetarian - Balti drambliai (White Elephants) is a purely vegetarian restaurant and very cozy bar (Vilniaus
St. 41) although you might have to wait about an hour for a beer, so better don't go there if you are in a hurry. Vegetarians should be also able to find a suitable dish on the menu of almost any restaurant.
In terms of numbers of cafés, Vilnius is not far behind the traditional ‘café culture’ cities of Europe and they can be found in almost every street of the Old Town, mostly in Trakų, Pilies, Didžioji, Vokiečių, Domininkonų, Savičiaus streets and Gedimino Prospect. Most popular chain cafés are Double Coffee and Coffee Inn, but don't expect to find Starbucks Coffee here;)
There are few more mellow capitals than Vilnius - a hectic metropolis it ain't. But when night falls, there's no shortage of revellers who are up for a party. What's more, the local beers make for a tasty tipple really worth giving a try...again and again ;)
Note that many Vilnius bars function as restaurants during the day, and in terms of subtlety of interior décor and quality of cuisine, they compete with the best restaurants. Some of the bars could also be appropriately included in the list of intimate-sized clubs, because in the evenings they have live music or a DJ. List of suggested bars & pubs, which might have a dance-floor as well is the following:
- Cafe de Paris (Didžioji St. 1) - a small place in one of the main streets of the old
town, which has an incredible capacity to surprise with its wide range of events and installations, always vivid and full of interesting people,live music every Saturday, local and international DJ’s any other day, visual arts, alternative foods and international staff.
- Balti drambliai (Vilniaus St. 41) - cozy and extremely relaxed
atmosphere, very reasonable prices and live music once in a while.
- In Vino (Aušros Vartų St. 7) - is the kind of laid back haunt, especially recommended
during summertime when you can sit in outside in the inner yard, but note that it's not easy to get a table as this place is always crowded. But give it a try.
- Mohito Naktys (Didžioji St. 33/2)- cocktail bar famous for their Mojitos (the best
in town), currently one of Vilnius’ hottest night spots. Drinks are pricey enough here (so not the best place to get drunk;) therefore it tends to attract a bit more sophisticated but fun crowd rather than a beer-swilling rabble.
- La Boheme (Šv.Ignoto St. 4/3) - cozy and very beautiful wine place + nice atmosphere,
- Tappo d'oro ( l.Stuokos-Gucevičiaus St. 7) - cozy wine places
that has lots of inexpensive wines to offer;)
- Vasaros terasa (Vilniaus St. 39) - a very nice outdoor terrace located in the yard of the historic Teacher's
House, opened during spring/summer/early autumn, there are usually live concerts on weekends, as well as other cultural events during the week, like cinema, theatre, dance, market etc. Really nice place.
- Absento Fėjos (Aušros Vartų St. 11) - if you manage to get in (the queue at the door
is usually pretty long and the face control is trick enough as well) you will probably like it, though it's pretty expensive. No kids running around though :)
- Briusly (Islandijos St. 4.) - a very nice and cozy place, reasonably priced and very
popular + it also offers nice asian food.
- Cozy (Dominikonų St. 10) - combination of bar, cafe, restaurant and nightclub, where from
morning till nighttime, people can come to eat, drink and relax and later go downstairs for more lively activities.
- Šnekutis (Polocko St. 7A and Šv.Stepono St. 8) - if you want to try some awsome
home-brewed "live beer" without any ripoff, that's the place to be.
- Būsi trečias (Totoriu st.) 18 - mini brewery, offering a big range of
flavoured beers and hearty food.
The most recommended nightclubs would be the following:
- Tamsta (Subačiaus St. 11A) - probably the best club with live music (unfortunately
closed for summer holidays..).
- Pabo Latino (Trakų St. 3/2)- if you like salsa, then that's the place to be. Beautiful
interior, nice cocktails, if you come a bit earlier, the entrance fee is not too bad + you get a free drink.
- Cozy (Dominikonų St. 10) - a really cozy place to chill out and the entry is always free of
- Pacha club (Gynėjų St. 14) - the name already speaks for itself, and people say it is
one of best clubs in Vilnius, posh and expensive though, but pretty worth it.
- Tarantino club (Trakų g. 2) - quite cozy and nice club, sometimes have live
concerts, sometimes the entrance is free, so might be worth checking it out.
- Artistai (Šv. Kazimiero St. 3) - pretty simple and relaxed place, especially popular
among students, so expect to be surrounded by a very young crowd and a possibility to get drinks in a plastic cup. Has a nice inside yard and there is karaoke night on Tuesday.
- Havana Social Club (Šermukšnių St. 4a) - pretty nice place with friendly
atmosphere, not too posh, but nice interrior, has some good cocktails as well;)
- Brodvėjus pub (Mesiniu St. 4) is mostly attended by foreigners and students and the
music is mostly 90's pop, however, the place is still quite popular.
- Gravity Club is a good place for electronic music lovers, located in a former bunker,
usually crowded and always lacks oxygen.
- Play Club(Pamenkalnio St. 17/3) - you either love it or hate it: it's very small, very
alternative and simple, drinks usually come in plastic cups, but it has some charm for sure. And a football table.
- Bix baras(Etmonų St. 6) - rock club, pretty laid back and very popular among students.
Getting in & around
Transportation to/from Vilnius
Choose the best way to get to Vilnius city:
- If you are coming by plane to Vilnius international airport you can take
a train to the central railway station (it only takes 7 minutes to get there, it goes twice an hour and costs less than EUR 1) or take a bus Nr.1 going to the bus station or bus Nr. 2 going to the center of the city. There are lockers in the railway station if you need to leave your luggage before heading to the city, it is very close to the bus station (just across the street) and they both are close to the Old town even if you are going on foot (but note that almost every trolleybus goes to the city center). You can always take a taxi, but it if you catch the ones standing in front of the airport, they will charge you much more than you would if you call one. The journey should cost you about EUR 7.
If you are landing in Kaunas airport, there is a bus going to Vilnius (the bus schedule is in accordance with operating flights).
- Lithuanian railways - for those who are travelling by train. Note that
unfortunatelly Interrail, Eurorail and similar tickets are not valid in Lithuania :(
- Vilnius bus station website might be useful if you are travelling by bus.
Eurolines coach company offers probably the cheapest and the most popular international bus routes in the Baltics and the rest of Europe.
- Hitch-hiking is pretty popular way to travel in Lithuania as well as to the other countries and is safe
enough as long as you are staying rational yourself. Hitch-hiking Club's members can help you a lot with tips on the best hitch-hiking-routes both in Lithuania and to nearby countries, what are the best spots to hitch-hike etc. so definitely check out the website if you choose to travele this way.
- It is also possible to take a ferry to Klaipeda and then come to Vilnius by bus, car or train. Check out the
website of Klaipeda seaport for the ferry lines.
Transportation in Vilnius
A good thing about Vilnius is that it's small enough for you to easily get around on foot, by bike or by public transport.
- If you are staying in the Old town, the best way to explore it is on foot. Most sights are within the walking
distance and don't be afraid to get lost, as it is the best way to discover the wonders of the city ;)
- Public transport is neither the worse nor the best: there are quite
enough of buses and trolleybuses during the day, but they stop at 11:30 P.M. and there are no more night buses available :( You can buy a ticket either in a kiosk (LTL 2) or from the driver (LTL 2.5) There are also tickets valid for 1 day (LTL 13), 3 days (LTL 23) or 10 days (LTL 46), but see if it's worth it. [http://www.marsrutai.lt/ vilnius/?a=p.routes&transport_id=bus&t=xhtml&l=en Traffic schedules and route planning]might be handy as well. Note that the public transport starts running at 5:30 AM and stops around 11:30 PM, so if you happen to fall in this gap, choose taxi, walking, friends car or killing a night in a club ;)
- Taxi...uh, if you need to get a cab, there are two things you should bear in mind:
1)it is way cheaper to call a cab than to catch one on the street and 2)most likely they will try to rip you off anyway, so ask some local how much your journey should cost in advance (the rate varies from LTL 2.2 to LTL 4 per km). You may try calling one of those taxi companies
- Bike can also be an option so if you or your host doesn't have one, you can try to rent. Some places hiring bikes
- If you're coming by car, well, be careful :) but if you wish to rent a car, you can do it in the centre of the
city as well as at the airport. Note that you will be asked for your identification card and a valid international credit card. Check out the list of [http://www.vilnius-tourism.lt/topic.php?tid=62&sid=76&aid=461 car rental companies]
Other useful information
- There are many Wi-fi places in Vilnius, but if you need an Internet cafe, here are some of them (click for
[http://www.travel.lt/turizmas/map.do?addresscaseid=780BEC7DC51211D8AC97746164617373 [http://www.travel.lt/turizmas/map.do?addresscaseid=112C5A2E7C2E11DA8602746164617373 [http://www.travel.lt/turizmas/map.do?addresscaseid=70651542C51411D8AC97746164617373 [http://www.travel.lt/turizmas/map.do?addresscaseid=5064990FC51311D8AC97746164617373 [http://www.travel.lt/turizmas/map.do?addresscaseid=A37A73BA7C2B11DA8602746164617373 [http://www.travel.lt/turizmas/map.do?addresscaseid=7113DE227C3111DA8602746164617373
- Weather forecast if you want to check what the weather is like during
- You can exchange money in any bank, which may also be located in bigger shopping centers, there is an
exchange booth at the airport (arrivals hall) and outside railway/bus station as well. Note that Parex bank is the only bank that accepts coins for exchange.
- Smoking is prohibited inside all restaurants, cafes, bars etc. unless there are tables outside.
- If you you can use your phone with other SIM cards, it would be cheaper to buy local sim card in a kiosk or in any
mobile phone shop. The most popular ones are Pildyk, Labas, Ezys, Extra. The SIM card costs from 5 to 10 lt (1,5-2,5 euros) and you can top it up.
- Free Wifi internet spots are available at many cafes in the whole city. Please ask the staff or watch for a Wifi-
sign at the door.
- Emergency number is the same as for the rest of Europe - 112.
Some websites to give you an idea about the costs in Vilnius, but note that the prices are rising all the time, so the information can really be not accurate enough:
International City Cost Guide] - update the prices by doubling the given ones;)
Foreigners about Vilnius, LT & CS
Colleqium] - Pilies St. 22-1; Avineta] - Naugarduko St. 76; Bazė] - A. Rotundo St. 2; Fantazija] - Naugarduko St. 34; Liumineta] - Antakalnio St. 40; Netcafe]- Antakalnio St. 36
thread on foreigners' impression about Vilnius.
where expats share their experience in LT. Can't promise all the information is correct, but might be useful.
CS in the Press
There are several articles about CS in the media in Lithuanian:
http://www.zebra.lt/lt/laisvalaikis/keliones/Couch-surfing-kitoks-keliavimo-budas-2009-10-12.html http://whatson.delfi.lt/news/travel/article.php?id=16689368 http://whatson.delfi.lt/news/travel/article.php?id=16695835 http://whatson.delfi.lt/news/travel/article.php?id=17138568 http://whatson.delfi.lt/news/travel/article.php?id=17188256 http://whatson.delfi.lt/news/travel/article.php?id=17203292 http://whatson.delfi.lt/news/travel/article.php?id=17285172 http://www.alfa.lt/straipsnis/157702 http://www.universitetozurnalistas.lt/uz/skotija/pub4.html
[UPDATE] and in english: