Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Local's Secrets (2) : Elizabeth's Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is a great city for both families and young creatives/freelancers as the city is affordable and has a few really up-and-coming, hip neighborhoods. 
Vilnius Lithuanian

The Basics

What do people have to know about your city’s transportation?  Vilnius is a relatively small city, so I recommend getting around on foot. I only occasionally need to take public transportation (the only option is a bus) or a taxi. So, bring your walking shoes!

If someone is new to the city, which website should he check for daily or weekly free events?

A great place to check for events is the Vilnius Events webpage. I also put out a monthly newsletter with upcoming events and activities that I've compiled from all over the web/word of mouth. You can sign up on In Search Of's sidebar.

Tell us about the food scene! 

Signature dish and where to get the best servings: 
Lithuanian cuisine heavily features potatoes, meat, honey, and beetroot. I love the potato pancakes, which you can find at several spots throughout the city, but my favorite Lithuanian dishes are the two types of beetroot soup. Borscht (hot beetroot soup, usually served with potatoes on the side) is a delicious option on a cold day. Saltibarsciai is cold beetroot soup seasoned with dill and served with hot potatoes. Despite the surprisingly pink color it is delicious! I like the saltibarsciai from Vegafe, but you can find it anywhere in the city (seasonal).

Wackiest food in town and where to try them: 

One of the most creative restaurants in the city is Sweet Root. They try to serve only locally grown foods and mix the ingredients in a unique way.

Everyday food that foreigners might find exotic? 

I think that the color of Saltibarsciai would really surprise people (it is bright pink)!

Hidden Gems/ Elizabeth's Secrets

Sell us the one or two "things you should experience before you die” in your city.
Maybe not something that you need to experience before you die, but I think everyone visiting Vilnius (unless they are a young child) should visit the KGB Museum. It is really informative and shares a lot about Lithuania's tumultuous past. 

Hidden gems in the city that tourists tend to overlook? 

If you happen to be visiting Lithuania on All Saint's Day (the evening of Nov. 1), head to a graveyard to see the graves lit with candles.
Lithuania is also really well-known for mushrooms, so consider trying a mushroom dish while you are here.
The up-and-coming StoHo district (near the Egg Statue on Pylimo g.) has some great shopping, cool cafes, and unique restaurants. Walk along Pylimo gatve all the way to the Hales Market to find a different side of the city.

Let’s talk about the best festival in your city, and how to participate! 

The best time to visit Vilnius is in the summer or early fall. Most weekends you'll find outdoor craft festivals along Gedimino pr. If you are brave enough to visit during the long, cold winter, try to make your trip coincide with the Christmas market. Vilnius is really beautiful when it is decorated with huge trees, lights, and tiny markets.  

Tell us your favorite photo spots in your city and how to get there 
To photograph the skyline, I go to Vilnius Cathedral's Tower or Gediminas' Tower. 
My favorite secret (or not so secret) spot to take photo of  the old town is the Hill of Three Crosses.

The best day trip destination from the city and why is that your choice? 

From Vilnius, you could easily visit Trakai to see a beautiful castle set in the middle of a lake. It only takes about 30 minutes by train to get to Trakai, so this is a good option if your time is limited. If you can dedicate a full day, you should head to Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania. Kaunas has a long walking street and beautiful old town, but is a bit more rough around the edges than Vilnius, making it popular among hipsters.

(BONUS Tips) 

Vilnius has a ton of great parks, so I'd suggest visiting at least one during your visit. My favorites are Vingis Park and Bernardine Park.

Elizabeth Georgian
 Hi! I'm Elizabeth. I'm originally from Southeastern Connecticut, but I'm currently living in Vilnius, Lithuania with my husband, J, and our young son. I'm a botanist, freelance travel writer, and an editor specializing in proofreading for ESL authors. The three of us are currently exploring more and more of Lithuania, as well as finding adventures elsewhere in Europe. You can find out more at In Search Of or see where I am wandering on Facebook or Instagram.
Elizabeth Georgian, PhD Botany
Author and Photographer for In Search Of
Freelance proofreader (email for details)
Freelance writer for Trip101 and Pink Pangea
Social Media: @insearchofs

Have you been to Vilnius? Join in the discussion! 


Andrew Boland said...

Vilnius is a really nice city, I really liked it when I visited. Easy enough to explore on foot, wonderful cobblestone streets, top place!

Elizabeth Georgian said...

Thank you so much for having me!