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Vilnius

The old town of Vilnius reminds one of a small Prague: there is an abundance of old churches, monuments and even a medieval castle on the hill. However, fortunately, Vilnius has yet to be discovered by the masses of tourists that invade Prague every year. As a result, it can still be considered unspoiled. But come soon as this will not last long. The crowds of tourists will eventually discover Vilnius as this place has much to offer.
 

The center of Vilnius for the visitor is Cathedral Square. Here you will find the Arch Cathedral Basilica, the enormous belfry (one of the oldest buildings in Lithuania) and a Granite monument to the Grand Duke Gediminas. But more important than these structures is the fact that the most important landmarks radiate from this place. To the west of Cathedral Square runs Pilies Street, arguably the main street of the old town. To the south of Cathedral Square runs Gediminas Street arguably the main street of the modern town. To the north is the beautiful Gediminas Tower on top of Castle hill and beyond that in the distance is the beautiful hill of the three crosses. Finally, to the west of Cathedral square runs the Neris River. With this in mind, when choosing a hotel, the first time visitor is advised to find one either in the old town or within a short walk to Cathedral Square. However, this is not difficult as there are many to choose from.
 
Free Wifi HotSpots in Vilnius
 
Are you looking for FREE wifi in Vilnius? Here is a list of our favorite free wifi hotspots.
 
 
Where to stay:

There often seems to be an over abundance of hotel rooms in Vilnius and as a result many hotels will negotiate their rates. We generally contact several centrally located hotels and ask what rates they can offer for the period of time that we will be staying there. Generally several will respond with nice offers to choose from. Below is a listing of several of the hotels we visited, in order of our preference:
 
 
Narutis
Probably our favorite hotel for its ambience and central location. Located on Pilies Street, the main street of the old town this hotel boasts some of the best designed rooms in Vilnius. It was built in a Mediterranean courtyard style. A glass elevator rises inside the lobby to offer a splendid view of the interior of the building. The service is friendly and helpful. The breakfast room has a wonderful cavern like atmosphere. Although it is a bit pricey, it comes highly recommended. Click Here
 
Le Meridien Hotel
We had such a nice time at this spa hotel that we did a detailed review of the Le Meridien Vilnius.
 
Reval Hotel
Located just outside the center and about a fifteen minute walk from the old town, the Reval is a large, impressive, business style hotel much like a Marriot or a Hilton. We treated ourselves to a luxurious double deluxe room with a dramatic view of the old town on Christmas Eve. This room was very large with a king sized bed and its own Sauna. Another treat was free access to a high speed internet connection, but to use that you must bring your own lap top. The hotel has a well equipped gym in the basement and a bar with a beautiful view of the city on the top floor. Buffet breakfast was excellent. Neighboring the hotel are a five floor shopping mall with a grocery store in the basement and a casino. Click Here
  
 
Mabre
This hotel is located in an old Orthodox monastery. The rooms are not spectacular but they are quite comfortable. If you are a sauna fan, it is highly recommended that you take advantage of the private facilities here as they are very luxurious and impressive. This hotel is quite centrally located and has a small court yard in front of it with a little pond that gives it a unique atmosphere. Click Here
 
 
Rinno
Located just on the outskirts of the old town, this hotel is well decorated and cozy. Ask for a weekend rate and you will find this hotel to be a great value.  When reserving with your hotel in the autumn months, check to see that heat is provided. There is no self control in the room to adjust the heating, and for a short period of time the rooms can get quite cold. This is a holdover from the soviet era. Some buildings are provided heat from the state and until the state heating service decides that it is cold enough to turn on the heat, residence must do without. Click Here

Avenue Apartments
This is an alternative to the local hotels. It has a great interior design which is quite spacious. It has a superb location in a good neighborhood on the recently renovated Gediminas Street. However, this is not a place to come for peaceful relaxation. From the constant noise from above, the upstairs apartment appears to house a team of football playing children. Also, the location next to the traffic light is unfortunate as on weekends, locals with loud engines seem to have drag race competitions. If you are a bit hard of hearing or with nerves of steel this place is a terrific find. Click Here

Discovering the fine restaurants of Vilnius has been an absolute pleasure. There are no end to the possibilities and like Christmas, it is almost best to just be surprised. However, here we point out are few that we recommended that might otherwise be easily missed.
 

 
Restaurants

 
The food in Vilnius is surprisingly good and surprisingly inexpensive. Restaurants change frequently, so it is difficult to keep an accurate list of good restaurants. Basically, with very few exceptions, you can not go too far wrong in a Vilnius restaurant. We almost never have a problem with the food quality, it is usually excellent. Service could sometimes be better, but even that is improving. We would argue that Vilnius probably has some of the best dining we have enjoyed in Europe. Here are a few of our favorites at the moment:
 
Amatininku Uzeiga (The Craftsman Inn)
 
This restaurant just at the end of Pilies street at Didzioji 19. It is a local place. The atmosphere is casual, and the menu is full of traditional Lithuanian fare. One such dish is Pork Ham hocks, boiled potatoes and sauerkraut (sauerkraut is not only German!).  Another dish is mushrooms in cream sauce with potatoes. Various potato pancakes can be ordered as well. This is simple food, but carefully prepared. The restaurant seems to be open all hours and appears to be enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.

Grill Brazil

 
This is a fun restaurant located in Panorama Shopping Mall. Why is it fun? Grill Brazil is an all-you-can eat restaurant. You pay a flat rate (currently around Lta 30). You help yourself to a large salad and vegetable buffet. Then waiters with skewers of grilled meat come non-stop to your table and offer you every variety of grilled meat you can imagine. Last time we enjoyed grilled ribs, pork, beef, chicken sausages, turkey, etc. There was even heart and tongue offered but as these are not in my diet I can not tell you how they were.  We always have fun at Grill Brazil and hope that Grill Brazil is one restaurant which will stay for a long time.

Csarda:

Fine dining at an affordable price. Csarda is a Hungarian restaurant located just off of Pilies street. Csarda is small, but the romantic atmosphere and high quality food are the reasons we like this spot.  Csarda is one of our favorite restaurants in Vilnius.

Pizza Jazz

Do you enjoy casual dining in a cozy atmosphere, with jazz music? Then Pizza Jazz is for you. Pizza Jazz does not have the best Pizza in Vilnius. The Pizza is not bad, but we order from the rest of the menu, which includes ribs, salmon, pasta, grilled food, etc. The food is always tasty, the atmosphere is relaxing and the prices are good.

Bistro 18

We have only been here once, but we had such a nice time, we wanted to include it. This is a French style restaurant with a nice selection of foods, comfortable atmosphere and excellent service. We will return and tell you more later!

 
Wind Mill (Vandens Malunas)
This restaurant is located in a stunning surrounding a few kilometers outside of  Vilnius. It stands on a small charming brook in a wood and appears to be a renovated 19 century water mill. The place is very romantic and atmospheric with dimmed light and farm house style wooden beams everywhere. The service is very nice and attentive. The food is not sophisticates but tasty. This charming place will enchant you by the wonderful location and atmosphere. Best to get there by taxi, about 15 litas if called in advance.
 
The list of restaurants we enjoy are just too numerous to mention them all. (Zoe's, Cili Kaimas,

Transportation: Taxi
Here is a secret that only seasoned travelers to Vilnius know. If you want a good taxi experience use a telephone. If you call ahead, prices for taxis are likely to be 1/3 of the price as if you just hop into a taxi. For example, a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport to the center will cost you around 30 litas ($10) or more if you choose a taxi waiting at the airport. However, if you arrange one in advance, the price will be around 10 litas ($3) or less. One more secret: make sure that the meter is turned on before the taxi moves. If not, you will almost certainly pay for this mistake. Our two favorite taxi companies are Martono (telephone 1422) and EKIPIJAS (telephone 1446).

Telephone calls
Do you have a mobile telephone that works in Europe? As soon as you get to Lithuania, buy a SIM card. This can be purchased at many kiosks in town including one at the airport. For under 20 Litas you will get a Lithuanian SIM card that you can put in your mobile phone and have a local Lithuanian telephone number. Plus you get 10 litas of telephone credits. Once you have done this, you can make local calls and send SMS messages for little more than a few cents. Even long distance calls may be cheaper than from your hotel room. Save the plastic holder that your SIM card was in. If you need more credits, simply go to any kiosk you see, flash it and say “DE-SYAT” (Russian for ten) or simply show ten fingers hand over 10 litas and you will have bought a card with English instructions you can follow to add credit your telephone.
 
To see a short video of the city of Vilnus Click Here to see a longer video Click Here or Click Here