Guests to Lithuania’s modern and open capital are in for much more than the cultural heritage and history the city is known for. An impressive museum of modern art, some of the best restaurants in the Baltics, numerous exclusive experiences, and a selection of newly opened hotels make Vilnius an attractive destination for independent travellers and groups alike. Contemporary ideas and new talents are easily nourished in such a lively atmosphere. This means that the city offers more than a history lesson for those interested in the past, or an introduction to Baroque, Gothic, Classical and Renaissance architecture for those wondering why the city’s Old Town earned its spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Guests to Vilnius can uncover the harmony between urban life and nature, active leisure in the heart of the Old Town, dynamic cultural life, and unexpected flavours of contemporary Baltic cuisine. Here’s a glimpse into what to expect in Vilnius in 2019.
Contemporary culture has been budding in Vilnius for some time now, and art lovers from around the world are taking note of the exciting development the local modern art movement is undergoing. The new MO Modern Art Museum unites an active community of modernists and invites visitors to discover the extensive collection of modern Lithuanian art owned by Danguolė and Viktoras Butkai. Designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, together with a team from Do Architects, the building itself is like a modern work of art and is already critically acclaimed – it has won two awards and was nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award for Contemporary Architecture.
Vilnius is quickly becoming a hotspot for gastronomic tourism. Two of the three best restaurants in the Baltics are in Vilnius – Nineteen18 and Sweet Root both succeeded in captivating the White Guide judges with seasonal cuisine that uses locally sourced ingredients. Many other local restaurants operate with the same kind of passion for their craft, and guests can expect to be introduced to a number of unique flavours and ingredient combinations. The soon-to-be-released Vilnius Restaurant Guide will invite visitors to take part in numerous exceptional gastronomic experiences. “We have noticed that people visiting Vilnius are often searching for unique food adventures filled with delicious flavours. Together with the Lithuanian Association of Hotels and Restaurants and the organisers of the 30 Best Restaurants, we decided to put together a collection of 47 of the city’s most cutting-edge restaurants offering extraordinary experiences,” says Inga Romanovskienė, Director of Go Vilnius.
It’s not just the traditional restaurants, either. There are several ways to enjoy the flavours of the world in Vilnius – the street food scene is on the rise and can be experienced in food markets right in the heart of the city. Halės Market and the Downtown Food Hall are two such places that charm their visitors with laid-back atmospheres and high-quality food.
Unlocking Vilnius while staying on budget is now possible with the new Vilnius Pass. The card offers users access to tours, public transportation, and numerous museums. The package includes more than 70 offers and special discounts on various activities in Vilnius. The Vilnius Pass can be bought online in advance of a trip or can be found at one of the Vilnius Tourist Information Centres.
Vilnius is ideal for individual travellers and larger groups, company retreats, and conference participants. The new English guide published this January is filled with a number of top-notch activity ideas for companies, event planners, and travel organisers. The guide divides activities into seven categories: Discover Vilnius, Tradition & History; History, Action & Adventure, Green & Sustainable, Culinary Delights, Luxury Experiences, and City Escapes. Plus, a number of notable annual cultural and leisure events are also included in the guide. More information here.
With more and more business and leisure travellers visiting Vilnius annually and the city’s 700th anniversary taking place in January 2023, Vilnius is attracting new international and local hotel chains. In 2018, 600 new hotel rooms were available to guests. This year, over 300 fine business class hotel rooms will be ready, and some 550 new hotel rooms are planned for 2020.
It’s already easier to stay close to the airport thanks to the 4-star Loop Hotel, and the new Park Inn by Radisson Vilnius Airport Hotel is also slated to open by 2020.
Travellers looking for luxury can find it at the famous 5-star Hotel PACAI by Design Hotels, or the 4-star Hotel Vilnia, right in the heart of the Old Town. Double Tree by Hilton, another luxury hotel, will open its doors in 2019, and the new Nordic Choice Hotel chain’s Clarion Hotel Vilnius will be up and running in 2020.
Business travellers often choose the new 4-star Courtyard by Marriott Vilnius City Centre, the 3-star Ibis Vilnius Centre, or the city’s largest hotel, the recently renovated Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva, which now offers 465 rooms. The modern business centre on Gediminas Avenue will include Hilton Garden Inn in 2019, and Radisson RED will be a welcome addition in 2020 next to the business centres on Konstitucijos Avenue.
The event calendar at www.vilnius-events.lt makes it easier to plan a trip and experience the best of Vilnius. Residents of Vilnius are active and dedicated to the local cultural life, so it’s always great to plan ahead to make sure not to miss the hottest exhibitions, impressive dinners, or a hot-air balloon ride over the Old Town. But saving some space on the agenda for pleasant surprises is always a must – Vilnius has plenty to offer.