As its name suggests, simple and homely Koldunine specialises in koldunai, ravioli-like dumplings which are basically the Lithuanian version of Polish pierogi or Russian pelmeni. I popped in for lunch and tried koldunai filled with potato, which were much tastier than they sound. The service was quick and friendly, and if I had more time in Vilnius, I would have definitely gone back. Koldunai is not a gourmet restaurant, but it’s a good option for lunch or when you’ve built up an appetite after sightseeing. The food is tasty and authentic, and doesn’t cost much either.
Savičiaus g. 6,
+370 679 26259
Google map: bit.ly/U5X4gW
Coffee Inn is ubiquitous in Vilnius (and in Riga too), and I stopped by a few times. I really enjoyed the coffee and filling hot chocolate, and the small range of snacks included cheesecake, which was some of the best I’ve ever eaten. Coffee Inn was reasonably priced, and the staff were friendly.
While I instinctively prefer individually-owned coffee shops, this establishment seemed a bit more than just another you-could-be-anywhere chain. For example, I visited two branches in Vilnius (and two in Riga), and each one was different. Most had a random assortment of very comfy, mismatched chairs, and some had a small but diverse collection of books, which you could read at large tables, giving the coffee shops a slightly Bohemian feel. And the branch at Gedimino 2 is actually inside a bookshop. A good place for a quick stop-off, but equally good if you’re in no hurry.
Branches throughout Vilnius including at Gedimino pr. 2, Pilies g. 3 and Vokiečių g. 18
Be sure to visit the only synagogue in Vilnius and also the Jewish Museum about a mile away on the same street, where there is a room dedicated to the Righteous Gentiles. Before WW2 there were over 100 synagogues, and now there is only one.
The National Gallery of Art in Vilnius is one of my favourites. Housed in a contemporary building on the bank of the River Neris, it traces the history of modern Lithuania through art. There is no forgotten Picasso or must-see Monet here to distract you, all the permanent works are 20th and 21st century Lithuanian. A combination of paintings, photography, installations, video and graphic art combine to show the effects that World War II, Soviet occupation, the Cold War and revolution had on art, and the Lithuanian people. There’s some really good stuff here, and all for 6 litas (£1.50).
Former Gestapo/KGB prison from the 1940s to 1990.
The prison downstairs is still intact and makes for grim viewing.
One interesting point is that while the building was controlled by the Gestapo between 1941 - 1944 from where they ran the Holocaust in Lithuania with their Lithuanian accomplices, very little coverage is given to this in the museum.
Still an essential part of your visit to Vilnius.
Aukų g. 2a, LT-01113, Vilnius
+370 5 249 81 55
Google map: bit.ly/gBjYl3
With Ryanair setting up a new base in Kaunas, this is very much the cheapest way of getting to Vilnius.
Vilnius is only two hours away from Kaunas by train and costs about £4 each way.
Having said that Kaunas is worth a visit itself for it's old town and Nazi era Ninth Fort concentration camp.
Absolutely beautiful old town. Full of charming restaurants, picturesque churches and quaint cobblestone roads.
Sort of like a tiny Prague, but less crowded and less expensive.
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A beautiful hotel located in the old town of Vilnius. A superb place to take a woman you need to impress. The room we had had excellent views of Vilnius castle, the hill of the Three Crosses,St Casimirs church and looked straight down Didzioji. The staff are brilliant and attend to your every need and the bar is a fantastic place to people watch.
Didzioji 35/2 Tel. 212 0110.
Wonderful Italian restaurant, the food is tremendous and the selection is amazing, and the price is so reasonable it's beyond belief. Relax and enjoy your meal in opulent surroundings whilst you are attended to by the most beautiful and attentive waitresses in Vilnius. This place is a must for any trip to the Lithuanian capital, but either book or arrive early as when we were there the place filled up very quickly.
On the corner of Traku and Vilniaus, just at the end of Vokieciu. The opposite end to the Radisson hotel.
A gorgeous bar on the 22nd floor of the Reval Hotel, situated by the Europa Tower. Awesome cocktails and a stunning view over the whole of Vilnius. If this were in London it would cost a fortune. Only open from 1600 every day.
A compact suburb just east of the Old Town, Uzupis has all the charm of the city centre without the crowds. A former working-class area now occupied by artists and writers, who proclaimed the district a republic in 1998, Uzupis is a great place to stroll through on a summer evening.
Highlight of the area is Tores, an initially unremarkable hilltop restaurant with an unbelievable view of the Old Town from its secluded terrace.
Head out of the Old Town past St. Ann's Church and cross the Vilnius river - you should see signs informing you of your arrival in the Republic. Tores restaurant is on Uzopio gatve, a 5 minute walk uphill from the central angel statue.
A blot on the landscape from anywhere in the city, you can't miss the TV Tower's horrible 1970's architecture. Take a trip up it however and you'll find the Milky Way, a slowly revolving bar that offers fantastic panoramic views of the city and surroundings without, of course, seeing the TV tower. Enter by a creepy tunnel that puts you in mind of a James Bond film, pay the surly lift attendant a small fee, and you are transported 21 floors upwards at great speed into a different world. Also on the ground floor is an exhibition dedicated to the Lithuanians who lost their lives in the 1991 siege, which eventually led to the overthrowing the USSR occupation.
Sausio 13-osios 10;
tel: 252 53 33;
The cafe attached to the Contemporary Art Centre is effortlessly cool. Its dimly-lit interior suits winter well, in summer it sprawls outside. The soup of the day is usually pretty good and I hear good things about the pancakes too.
Bilingual staff, a non-pretentious art crowd and great music make give it a really good atmosphere. It also hosts talks for the CAC and often has DJs in the evenings.
Vokieciu 2, Vilnius; it's on the corner opposite the town hall
A small lake in which you'll see a quite preposterous number of toads in the springtime (April/May). An unusual sight given that it's so close to the city centre.
Why not help a few across the road before they're killed by passing cars?
You can stop in the bar for a drink on your way back, warm in the knowledge that you've just saved a few amphibious lives!
Go to Belmontas on the eastern edge of the city (5 minutes by taxi from the centre, or a nice cycle ride on a sunny afternoon). Here you'll find a newly-built and rather spectacular riverside complex, consisting of outdoor bars, cafes and restaurants.
Cross the river via the bridge and walk along the adjacent road northwards, away from the river. It shouldn't be long before you see/hear the toads! After a couple of hundred metres you'll come across a lake on the right - this is where they're heading to breed.
A church that is really stunning, even for those who get a bit jaded by Orthodox churches. Restored after the Soviets left, as so many are, the colours are bright and fresh but I won't say any more or it will spoil the surprise.
Close to the Gates of Dawn, on the southern side of the old city. Look for the big entrance gate on the east side of the road.
This is an excellent viewpoint less than 45 minutes from Vilnius city centre. The modern crosses replace a series of earlier ones destroyed by the Russians. Not mentioned in guide books.
Pass the Cathedral and the Museum, cross small tributary river and take first right. A road on the left goes to the car park. Carry on on foot past some 'interesting' toilets, then up steps to the viewpoint. You can come down by a different route, turning right on a track at the bottom of the steps.
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