I visited Vilnius, Lithuania from August 8th to August 17th of 2016. Here are my brief thoughts packed into a brief Vilnius City Guide.
IN A PARAGRAPH: The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius has tons of charm packed into a small town feel. Those looking for hustle and bustle will be disappointed, but those who like friendly locals and a proud culture will be thrilled.
WHERE TO STAY: There aren’t a lot of choices–Vilnius is that small. Most Western travelers should have no issues with the budget to stay in the city center. Everything is walkable from there–you can quite literally walk from one end of the city to the other in twenty minutes.
FOOD: Meat, potatoes, dumplings. Especially the dumplings 😉
The local beer is better than Budweiser, but it’s no craft beer (though there are some craft breweries around).
DRINKING WATER: Most of the locals drink tap water. I did, and suffered greatly because of it. I’d recommend sticking with bottled water. It’s cheap enough.
LANGUAGE SITUATION: Everybody under 30 speaks English and is excited to do so. Sometimes I even heard Lithuanian speaking to each other in English just for the hell of it. All the restaurants have English menus.
LEVEL OF FRIENDLINESS TO WESTERNERS: Very high. Lithuanian people are very curious why you’ve chosen to visit—as Vilnius doesn’t scream tourist destination as opposed to some other, larger Eastern European capitols such as Prague or Budapest.
TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT: You can take a taxi from the airport to the city center for 10 to 15 euros. There’s also a bus or train that will drop you off at the main station for 1 euro. The main bus and train stations are at the south end of the city.
PUBLIC TRANSIT: Busses are clean and modern. There is no metro.
RIDE SHARES/TAXI: You can take a taxi across the city for just a couple of Euros. Search your app store for a Lithuanian taxi app. Uber is available but not that common (yet).
SAFETY: Completely and utterly safe. Perhaps you wouldn’t have the same feel if you wandered outside of the main area, but I doubt it.
BEAUTY: While it’s clean and has it’s own beauty, Vilnius lacks the big-city feel that is typically accompanied by impressive architectural monuments. The Rotunda is quite nice, and it’s green. However, it feels like a small town–the buildings are rarely higher than a couple of stories.
THINGS TO DO: Trakai Castle, just 15 or so kilometers outside of the city, is worth a visit. Other than that, you can cover most of the tourist sights in just a day.
NIGHTLIFE SCENE: The primary nightlife scene in Vilnius is pub and bar based. Some nightclubs go off during the week (and definitely do on the weekends), but you can always find people out and about on the weeknights at the pubs. Just walk down Vilnius Gatve (Vilnius Street) and you’ll find something.
CONCLUSION: I enjoyed my ten days in Vilnius, but feel as if I got the most out of the city. I ran out of tourist things to do, and the local nightlife scene wasn’t interesting enough that I’d feel a huge urge to stick around. It’s worth a visit–but once is enough.