Something that tourists should know about Vilnius

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Vilnius .. gymnasium

Something that tourists should know about Vilnius

Vilnius, 2002

Introduction

Although Lithuania is not a big country, but it has wonderful green forests, wide fields and cities full of interesting sights. Our country is situated in the center of Europe. The capital of Lithuania is Vilnius. It’s lively, full of energy and originality city. You can have a great fun in clubs, get a little culture in theatres, see the old town or even have a bussiness trip.

We have ouur independence only for about years, but city is developing very fast. Only decade ago it was hard o find a decent hotel, to have a good meal or to find some place to have fun at night. Now you can choose hotels taking into account price, comfort or even stile, you can have a dinner in different cultures restaurants and a lot of young people are in the at night

Our city is developing. Last ten years was a big brreak through and now we all hope that it will only get better. Now each year we can see more tourists in Vilnius. Our government is doing everything they can to satisfy tourists from big developed countries. So we decided to

o do something too.

In our work, we preset great amount of hotels, cafes, bars, restaurants and interesting sights. It could help tourists to decide where he wants to stay, where to eat and what places to visit. Here you can find addresses, prices and recommendations.

Legend about Vilnius
The establishment of the City of Vilnius has a very popular legend. Once upon a time the Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas was hunting in the holy woods of the Valley of Šventaragis. Tired after the successful day hunt the Grand Duke settled for night there. He fell asleep soundly and had a dream. A huge iron wolf was standing on top a hill and the sound of hundreds of other wolves inside it fiilled all surrounding fields and woods. Upon wakeup, the Duke asked the pagan priest Lizdeika to reveal the secret of the dream. And he told: “What is destined for the ruler and the state of Lithuania, let it be: the iron wolf means a castle and a town which will be established by the ruler on this site. The town will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of rulers the and glory of their deeds shall ec

cho throughout the world”.

General information
Lithuania is situated on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea and covers 65.300 sq. km. The length of coastline is 99 km. The capital city is Vilnius. It is situated 300 km East of the Baltic seashore at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnele rivers surrounded by beautiful forested hills. Total area of Vilnius is 394 sq. km. Most northerly point of Vilnius is 54° 50′ Lat N, most southerly point – 54° 34′ Lat N, most westerly point – 25° 02′ Long E, most easterly point – 25° 30′ Long E. Highest point of Vilnius – 230,7 m. in the eastern part of town, nearby Rokantiskiu settlement. The geographical centre of continental Europe lays in Lithuania (24 km north of Vilnius). It was calculated by the National Geographical Institute of France in 1989.

Population
The population of Lithuania totaled 3,7 million at the beginning of 1999. Of this 81,3% were Lithuanians, 8,4% Russians, 7% Poles, 1,5% Byelorussians, 1% Ukrainians, 0,1% Jews and 0,7% Germans, Latvians, Tatars, Gypsies and others. Lithuania is mostly Roman Catholic, while Russian Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran and Baptist believers are also represented. Vilnius population is 600,000. of this 52,8% are Lithuanians, 19,2% – Russians, 19,2% – Poles, 4,8% – Byelorussians, 0,7 – Jews, 3,3% – others.

Hotels
You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but in Lithuania it certainly seems that you can judge a ho

otel by its doorman or receptionist. If, as you step into your prospective hotel, you are met by a jowly, grey-faced doorman in a grey suit and brown shoes, you can bet you’re headed for trouble. But this is a rarer and rarer occurrence in the Lithuanian capital. The hotel scene in Vilnius has markedly improved in recent years, and it’s getting better all the time.

Business Guest House: Saltoniškių 44. This hotel is really more of a mini-resort. The backyard, indoor pool, sauna complex and comfy breakfast area in a winter garden give you the feeling you’re staying over with suburban friends. Furnishings are plush. Prices range from 80 dollars to 190 for the deluxe.
Centrum: Vytenio 9/25. A new-age hotel inside an enormous, glass-filled business center. After opening in 1995, it quickly gained a reputation for quality and service. There’s a luxurious sauna and pool room downstairs. For the level of quality, this hotel is well-priced. A double goes for about 125 dollars. Centrum is creating something of an empire with two other like hotels in the city center, including Ratonda (see below). Their newest edition is Artis, Liejyklos 11/23. All three hotels are ideal for business travelers.
City Park Hotel: L. Stuokos-Gucevičiaus 3. In the old ci

ity, a skip and a jump away from Cathedral Square. The owners are German, the same ones who own the fine Mabre Residence Hotel. Very good location and friendly staff. Not quite as richly decorated as its sister hotel, but you can’t go wrong coming here. Doubles: 125 dollars.
Domina Plaza Luxury Apartments: Didžioji 39. A block of high-class apartments in the old city, a good alternative to staying in a more traditional hotel. The over 20-some rooms contain all the amenities of a genuine home: from fully equipped kitchens to satellite TVs to dining rooms. A two-room apartment with a king-sized bed is about 150 dollars a night; the three- and four-room apartments range from 200-250 dollars. Despite being an apartment complex, where you have the freedom to basically do what you want (including to have other guests over for the night), Domina Plaza includes a reception desk, security and parking.
Europa Imperial: Aušros Vartų 6. A luxurious, 32-room hotel with standard singles and doubles, plus the so called Round Suite, a circular room on the roof and filled with windows. It overlooks a Russian church and has a stunning panoramic view of the old city. It’s got to be one of the most romantic spots in Vilnius, suited for newly weds or lovers of any stripe. Fireplaces and a spiral staircase add to the ambience of the Europa. A double is about 120 dollars.
Europa Residence: Pilies 10. There’s no doubting the style and elegance of this hotel in the old town. The rooms are some of the best-looking in Vilnius, luxurious and palatial, with fine furniture. Downstairs, a cavern has been transformed into a disco, the noise from which can penetrate first-floor rooms. Doubles 125 dollars, to 220 for apartments.
Grotthuss: Ligoninės 7. An elegant boutique hotel in the middle of the old city. The owner, Baroness Edita von Grothuss, has instilled home-like atmosphere with tasteful and brightly colored rooms. All 21 rooms have good ISDN internet connection. Suited for business travelers. Doubles: 140 dollars.
Grybas House: Aušros Vartų 3a. Very good location in the old city, near the Gates of Dawn. Tucked down a garden-like courtyard. A quaint, small-sized guest house/hotel in a medieval building. A double is around 110 dollars.
Ida Basar: Subačiaus 1. Near Ausros Vartu. Four comfortable apartments. From 100 to 150 dollars.
Le Meridien Villon Vilnius: 20 km from Vilnius along the A2 (the Vilnius-Riga highway. This roadside hotel is so quiet and peaceful it almost has the feel of a religious retreat. Set some 20 minutes out of the city, the Villon has no space constraints and stretches out amid rolling hills, pine and birch trees. It looks oddly out of place in a no-man’s land next to one of the main trans-Baltic highways. But if you have a car or don’t mind taking shuttles, the Villon is highly recommended. This foreign-owned hotel has all the creature comforts, including an outstanding restaurant, a nightclub, and a terrific health club. Reasonable prices: around 120 dollars for a standard double room.
Mabre Residence Hotel: Maironio 13. On the east edge of the old city, not far from St. Anne’s Church. A German-run hotel that was once an Orthodox monastery. Great location, brilliant atmosphere, very good service. Considering the quality, this hotel is very good value for your money: a double runs about 125 dollars.
Mano Liza (My Liza): Ligoninės 5. In the old city. A clean, quaint guest house/hotel run by a Lithuanian-American and named after his Finnish wife, Liza. Very cozy, very friendly. Doubles run from 80 to 140 dollars.
Narutis: Pilies 24, in the old city. A green, glass-sided hydraulic lift whisks you up five floors from the cellar restaurant through the glass-topped courtyard to the comfortable, modern rooms with cheerful use of color, bright green banisters, blue tables and reddish wood furnishings. The thin, motelesque aqua-blue carpets are a bit off, but with big beds and restored frescoes in some rooms, you can’t quibble. Lithuania’s declaration of independence was made here in 1918. Given the quality and location, prices are reasonable: doubles are around 100 dollars a night.
Radisson SAS Astorija Hotel Vilnius: Didžioji 35/2. Anything with the Radisson brand name starts off with a reputation for class, and this one is in a beautifully restored turn-of-the-century building right in the center of the old city. With this hotel, you just can’t miss. They are also improving all the time, now with 120 rooms on offer. This hotel also has a good bar and widely celebrated restaurant, Brasserie Astorija. A double costs from 150-400 dollars.
Ratonda: Gedimino 52/1. This hotel, tucked into a side street, has miraculously risen from a ten-year-old ruin to become a centrally-located gem. Some of the rooms can be smallish and the corridors narrow, but the cheap singles in the roof area are good value at 75 dollars. The owners, who also run the Centrum, have ensured polite staff, artsy paintings on every floor, and a lovely restaurant below. The location is close to the parliament. Doubles are 120 to 150 dollars.
Rinno: Vingrių 25, on the edge of the old city. A small-scale business hotel with 15 rooms. Spacious rooms and large bathrooms; warm colors. Lithuanian art on sale on the hotel walls. A double is between 70 and 90 dollars.
Scandic Hotel Neringa: Gedimino 23. It’s always had an excellent location in the center of Vilnius’ main street, but it’s now been taken over by the fine Scandic group and has been whipped into tip-top shape. It’s now a top class hotel boasting a wide range of facilities. Rooms are minimalist and modern. Doubles cost 175 dollars.
Shakespeare: Bernardinu 8/8. This addition to the hotel scene in the heart of the old city exudes old English charm. The hotel bar with its deep comfortable sofas and old-boys-club atmosphere feels like it’s been there forever. Rooms are richly decorated and named after the Bard’s characters. Perfect for the weary business traveler who has had it with Scandinavian minimalism. All rooms are doubles and range from 80 to 180 dollars.
Sarunas Hotel: Raitininku 4. A spacious, modern hotel, a five-minute drive from the city center. The Sarunas Hotel is owned by former NBA basketball star and Lithuanian native Sarunas Marciulionis. It has that big American feel, reminiscent of an upscale Holiday Inn. Long, breezy hallways and a lobby so huge you could play basketball in it, and here, nobody’s likely to look askance if you do. State-of-the-art fitness room and conference halls. Solid quality and service. A double is 110 dollars.
Senatoriai: Tilto 2. On the edge of the old city, the Senatoriai packs lots of class and comfort into a small, cozy building. The modern rooms have happy-toe throw rugs and big leather chairs that can swallow you whole. Some of the rooms are on the claustrophobic side; the slanted ceilings in the attic rooms are pleasantly rustic. Doubles run from 70 to 120 dollars.
Stikliai: Gaono 7. The hotel of choice for many rich or famous; if you’re neither, they’ll still let you in. A luxurious hotel in the old city, along a narrow cobblestone street that was once the heart of the Jewish quarter. Antique cabinets, elaborate carpets and turn-of-the-century artifacts throughout. One of the most stylish and sophisticated hotels in Vilnius, with prices to show for it. Double rooms from around 150 to 300 dollars a night.
Ad Astrum: Šeimyniškių 21b. This modern, singularly friendly hotel is within walking distance of a number of good restaurants and downtown nightlife. The bright rooms range from 50 to 75 dollars.
Ambassador: Gedimino 12. Location is the main draw: it’s located at a stone’s throw from the Cathedral Square. A double is around 70 dollars per night.
Ars Viva: Liubarto 17. A short walk from beautiful Vingis Park, this small guest house has a light and airy atmosphere with comfortable rooms. Some 50 dollars for a single.
Balatonas: Latvių 38. In a quiet residential area called Žverynas. A mansion-like hotel, the Balatonas looks promising from the outside, but it’s less impressive on the inside with its purple-violet curtains and generally cool demeanor. Everything is a little overdone, like some Soviet workers’ paradise. It’s easy to imagine fat party bosses lounging around the premises. But it is quiet and clean, and you could do a lot worse. A luxurious sauna and pool in the basement. A double is 110 dollars.
Baltpark: Ukmerges 363, ten minutes out from the city center on the main road to Riga, the A2. This is a fairly novel concept for Vilnius: a modern, really good hotel not in the city center. Since it’s not, this tall, 90-room hotel is presumably able to keep prices lower while not letting service standards slip. A good double is well-priced at some 50 dollars.
Best Western Naujasis Vilnius: Ukmerges 14. This reasonably priced hotel on the north side of the river is a ten-minute walk from the city center. The Naujasis Vilnius has succeeded in doing what the big Lietuva Hotel next door couldn’t do: completely transform from the 1970s monster it was to a solid mid-range hotel. A double’s 100 dollars.
Centro Kubas: Stikliu 3. Fourteen spacious, cozy rooms in this reasonably priced five-story hotel; rooms are imaginatively decorated with authentic tools for Lithuanian country living. A double is about 80 dollars.
Elektra: Žvejų 14a. A fairly unremarkable hotel and the rooms are somewhat small. Staff are attentive and it’s not uncomfortable. A single is 75 dollars.
EMH-Elgama: Visorių 2. German run; very friendly staff. Transport to center and airport available. Doubles are around 60 dollars.
Flamingo: Liubarto 19. Reminiscent of its namesake bird, the Flamingo hotel is tall and wafer thin, with three rows of rooms reaching into the roof, the wooden walkways delicately balancing above the lounge. Small but friendly and beautifully designed, this is at the southern end of the tree-lined Žvėrynas district. Each of the 10 rooms is immaculate. Prices between 75 and 90 dollars.
Grozio Sala: Sugiharos 3. Beauty Island Hotel is a must if you feel like pampering yourself. Attached to the Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology Center, has a Turkish bath and sauna, jacuzzi. Aerobics, full gym too. Beauty treatments of all kinds also on offer. Rooms start at 60 dollars.
Karolina: Sausio 13-osios 2. A quiet hotel in the Karoliniškės suburb, to the northwest of the city center; in the shadow of the capital’s famous TV tower. Recent renovations have greatly improved this formerly slightly Soviet-feeling hotel. Good conference facilities. A double is 70 dollars.
Lithuanian Telecom Guest House: Vivulskio 13a. A hotel with links, as the name implies with the country’s telecommunications company. Quite comfortable, close to the old city and, as you might expect, good phone and Internet connections. A double’s reasonable: Around 75 dollars.
Mikotel: Pylimo 63, the old city. This hotel is tucked into a fairly unruly looking street near the train station. But it belies its surroundings: it’s recently been renovated, and is modern, clean and service friendly. The best thing is that it’s both cheapish (just 50 dollars for a single) and located in the old city. A good budget option.
Pilaite: Kalvarijų 1. Housed in an eccentric looking castle built as a private house in the 1920s, this small hotel has little to recommend it except its location. Rooms lack adequate facilities and with prices starting at 60 dollars per night, it’s expensive for what you get.
Rudninku Vartai: Rudninkų 15/46. On the southern edge of old town. Once part of an ancient city wall. Cleanliness and quality come first here, though the nearby Pylimo street can get noisy. The smaller rooms tend toward the very small. Furnishings aren’t lavish but functional. A double is some 100 dollars.
Sanvita: Seimyniškių 21. Good service, friendly atmosphere. Rooms start at 55 dollars.
Vidos: Fabijoniškių 6/5. More of a guest house than a hotel, there is something very engaging about this small family-run establishment. The rooms are serviceable and start at 45 dollars per night. Out of the way but recommended for its personal touch.
Victoria: Saltoniškių 56. Across the river, but within walking distance of the city center. The somewhat drab facade masks a largely renovated, Swedish-owned enterprise. Fairly bare bones. While you’re not going to be pampered here, it’s reasonably good value. A double is around 80 dollars. If you are a light sleeper, avoid getting a room facing the main road.
Žaliasis Tiltas: Gedimino 12, and Vilniaus 2/15. A hotel with two branches in different parts of the city center. Location is the main draw. A double is around 70 dollars per night.
Litinterp: Bernardinų 7-2. Bed & Breakfast accommodation in the old city for 20 dollars and up. The main office has friendly staff and provides a range of very helpful tourist services, such as booking rooms abroad.
Vilnius Bed & Breakfast & Apartments: Arranges rooms and apartments in Vilnius. There are also apartments to rent for longer term as well. Their excellent website allows you to see your potential accommodations in advance.
Adelita: Rodunes kelias 8. Presented with no other choices, stranded travelers might well prefer to sleep at the airport than at this airport hotel. Though it’s a Lithuanian-American venture, Adelita seriously lags. Doubles are around 50.
Gintaras: Sodų 14. If you’re a budget traveler arriving by train at night, Amber might do. It’s straight across from the station. Apparently frequented by black-market traders, who tend to favor unrenovated rooms for around 20 dollars. New rooms are around 45 dollars.
JNN hostel: Ukmergės 25. Super clean rooms start at 20 dollars for a single and all are equipped with shower and toilet. Possibly the best value in town and students take note, Eurocard holders get a 20 percent discount.
Pušis: Blindžių 17. A 10-minute drive northwest of the city center, in the Žvėrynas suburb. A little hard to find; tucked in a Soviet-style neighborhood. Outwardly uninspiring, but it’s not as bad as it looks. The renovated doubles are clean and fairly roomy, but still characteristically post-Soviet. A bed in an unrenovated, common room goes for around 10 dollars. Private rooms are better: bare but clean. A renovated double goes for 50 dollars.
Sauni Vietele: Pranciškonų 3/6. There is something a little odd about this tiny, four-room hotel, located in a prime spot next to the ultra-Western American Center. It’s a bit dark, sparsely furnished. Still, these are some of the cheapest digs in the old city at around 50 dollars for a double.
Elektros Tinklu Sveciu Namai: Šv. Stepono 11. Just south of the old city. Bottom-of-the-barrel accommodations for the adventurous; great location close to sights and the train station. Granted, the front door opens onto a bombed-out building that’s become the neighborhood dump, but what did you expect? This is about as good as it gets for a measly 10 bucks.
Filaretai: Filaretų 17. In Užupis, east of the old town. Vilnius’ own long-lasting IHY youth hostel, stocked with friendly staff and dorm-like rooms packed with two to eight beds. Some call this neighborhood artsy; others call it dangerous. Beds cost about eight dollars.
Jaunujų Turistų Centras (Youth Tourist Center): Polocko 7. At 5 dollars per person this is without doubt the cheapest in town and it’s clean and friendly. Found in the crumbling but very cool and arty Užupis, this place is a must for students and others watching their cash. You can even use the kitchen.
Old Town Hostel: Aušros Vartų 20-15a. Warm and welcoming, almost like a bed-and-breakfast, a IHY-affiliated hostel; eight beds in a room. But less than ten dollars a bunk is good value.
Skrydis: Rodūnės kelias 8. This state-owned airport hotel shares space with the less-than-impressive Adelita, but is actually a bit better. Though you can get showerless cell-like spaces for some 25 dollars, they have fully-renovated rooms for about 75 dollars.
Teachers University Hostel: A. Vivulskio 36. Twenty minutes by foot from the old city. This sky-rise dormitory hasn’t changed an iota in 15 years. A space in one of the two- to three-bed rooms costs about seven bucks. A so-called lux goes for about 25.

Cafes
In the Baltic states there seems to be a dearth of fine cafes. This, for some reason, is especially true in Vilnius. The best coffee and pastries are often found in restaurants and even bars. There’s hope that the cafe scene will improve. It can’t get much worse.
Afrika: Pilies 28. Palm trees painted on the walls lend credence to the name, but this narrow café really makes its mark with big portions, fresh and original deli salads, and Lithuanian food served with some original twists. Good tunes and a great place for lounging on a lazy day.
Cabare: Mėsinių 5/2. What appears to be another drab café/restaurant is actually a class-A joint with friendly service from an experienced proprietor. Good Lithuanian dishes. You also have to admire the Khrushchev-era TVs converted into speakers, which play classic tunes at humane volumes.
Cabare Užeiga: Didžioji 21. Another success for the Cabare guys, simple and fun cellar café/bar with a good menu featuring local specialties. Great for a relaxing beer or a stopover on a pub crawl.
Café de Paris: Didžioji 1, in the old city. A stylish French-owned café that comes complete with the quick-footed, harried waitresses trying desperately to keep a lid on things as Café de Paris becomes more popular and crowded and fresh roses on each table. On a recent afternoon, a Miriam Makeba CD was playing for background music. They serve lovely salads, crepes and sandwiches; the food isn’t absolutely earth-shattering—but it’s probably not meant to be. This is an easy-going venue ideal for long, heartfelt talks with a friend or lover.
Choco Lux: Gedimino 12. Decorated with different chocolates. Suited for quick lunches.
Drama Theater Café: Gedimino 4. A forgotten hideaway for cultural visionaries and/or fashion victims. It’s in the city center, though still tough to find: enter beside the three flying muses, follow the kaviné signs and past the theater proper.
Gabi: Šv. Mykolo 6. If you think the wrought-iron chairs in this non-smoking café/restaurant are heavy, wait till you see their stuffed cepelinai! Country atmosphere.
Gryčia: Tilto 2. In the old city, across from Cathedral Square. Heavy-duty farm cuisine in a laid-back café done up surprisingly well for a virtual hole in the wall. Old lanterns, saddles, menus fashioned from wood and the smell of home cooking. The Cottage is perfect for a cup of coffee or a quick lunch. Lithuanian fare, including pea soup, smoked ribs and Lithuanian dumplings. Good prices.
Kavinė F: Aušros Vartų 5. In the old city. Kaviné F is attached to the National Philharmonic building, hence the F, for Filharmonija. The perfect place for a before-concert coffee and cake. Clean and spacious, if not cozy. There’s a grand piano here that sometimes sees action.
Konditerija: Odminių 3. Excellent cookies and cakes at an otherwise quite ordinary café in a side street near the Cathedral. Clean and uncomplicated, with rather oblique service.
Kukarieku: Vilniaus 21. If you can stand the sweet, doll-house decor, you’ll like the cheap salads and candies. Perfect for a coffee and danish. Another outlet is across from the fine Stikliai Hotel—which owns this good café.
Literatų Svetaine: Gedimino 1. Next to the Cathedral Square. See Dining Out for detail about this fine café/restaurant.
Magdė: J. Basanavičiaus 3. Just outside the old city, this rustic, wooden-bench café serves great garlic bread. Quirky ensembles play country to Frank Sinatra on the weekend.
Mano Kavinė: Bokūto 7. A lovely new café and one of the only places where you can get big pots of tea instead of the standard anaemic tea-bag on a string. Serves a full menu with daily specials and is usually frequented by arty student types. Perfect atmosphere for whiling away a Sunday afternoon.
Mažoji Guboja: Šiaulių 8. Cheap café in a narrow lane in the old town off Rudininkū Square. Handicrafts made by disabled children are on sale here.
Pas Erlicką: Maironio 1. A local favorite. More upscale than the standard kaviné, but it’s wine selection is limited. Candles. Cold beer.
Pilies Menė: Pilies 8. Once a kitchy Soviet-style House of Pancakes; has been transformed into an over-designed, run-of-the-mill café.
Presto Kavos ir Arbatos Namai (Presto coffee and tea house): Gedimino 32a. A real coffee joint at last and you don’t have to walk through a myriad of tiny streets to find it. Right in the center of Gedimino, this is the place for coffee lovers with a dazzling assortment of roasts ground on the spot. They a serve a fine selection of teas and light snacks. Great hot chocolate, too. It’s the first specialized coffee house in Vilnius and it sets a very high standard.
Skanaus: Aušros Vartų 9. Fresh, flaky pastries and warm buns abound in a bright and busy boulangerie beside the Basilian Gates. Perfectly located, this friendly new café run by the Vilnius Bread Company is a winner for visitors and locals alike.
Skonis ir Kvapas: Trakų 8. What could be the dubiously named Taste and Smell café is actually a gorgeous place in the old city. Head under the arch and enter the threshold marked with Roman numerals. Inside, there are lovely tapestries, faded wall paintings and dainty Elizabethan furniture. The extravagantly framed classical paintings, while hardly Caravaggio, do add to the scene. The music here is easy listening. The choice of tasty coffee is extensive, and there are also 30 types of tea.
Stikliai deli: Stikliai 13. Another addition to the Stikliai empire, this small café in the heart of the old city serves delicious French pastries from the celebrated Stikliai kitchen.
Taškas: A. Smetonos 6. In the basement of Lithuania’s number two daily newspaper Respublika. Taųkas is Lithuanian for full-stop, but it’s not only tired hacks who drape themselves over the horseshoe bar. Suits from smart offices nearby make short work of the excellent coffee and cakes. There is a daily lunch menu, and delicious Italian cuisine is served with jazz in the evenings. The decor turns heads: there’s the wallpaper made of unsold copies of Respublika, a dragon-shaped fireplace and a clock that runs backwards.
Tilto 6: Tilto 6. A little café with a French twist behind the Vilnius Cinema. The crepes are authentic. It has one of the best outdoor patios in Vilnius, sometimes packed with sun-glassed and mobile-phoned goons. Very good coffee.
University Café: Šv. Jono 10. Caffeine-fuelled, alcohol-free environment at budget prices. Frequented by students and academics. Used to be the morgue and still retains a dark, menacing atmosphere particularly in the secluded booths overshadowed by Bacon-esque paintings by Lithuanian artist Sigitas Mickevicius.
Użupio Kavinė: Užupio 2. A cozy neighborhood place on the edge of the crumbling arty area of Użupis. It is the place in the warmer months, when its twin outdoor decks overlooking the winding, wooded Vilnia river are full the whole day. Sitting outside in the sun, you won’t really give a hoot whether the food’s any good.
Cyber Cafés
Banga: Vokiečių 26. Six litas an hour.
Base: Gedimino 50/2. Fast connections; open 24 hours.
Collegium: Pilies 22.
Penki Kontinentai: Gedimino 4; Pamenkalnio 2.
Ralinga: Pylimo 20, for 15 litas an hour.
Martynas Mażvydas National Library: Gedimino 51, has some cyber facilities. There are a few computers at the Soros Foundation, Šv. Jono 5 but you need to make a reservation, perhaps a week in advance.

Bars
Soviet-era bars were a disaster. These days there are plenty of above-average to excellent drinking holes in the Lithuanian capital.
Amatininkū Użeiga: Didžioji 19, in the old city. This bar goes back a good century, to a fin de siecle Lithuanian country kitchen. The interior is a two-floor maze of wood and wicker. Overall, the interior is well thought-out, though the framed, 1940s Coke posters are a little baffling. The techno music downstairs is bound to pull some people in and drive others away cursing. The upstairs seems to have a policy of playing more ambient tunes that, thankfully, block out the thud-thud of the disco. Considering the dearth of late-night bars in the old city, the place has promise.
Amerika: Šv. Kazimiero 3. Featuring live music, pool and one of the best courtyards in Vilnius, this bar is especially exciting in the summer. The bar menu is relatively cheap by local standards and the place is usually packed with students. You can let your hair down here, to the extent of dancing on the tables. But beware of the Neanderthal bouncers.
Astorija: Didžioji 35/2. A nice bar in the high-class Radisson SAS Astorija Hotel. A very good variety of cocktails.
Arka: Aušros Vartų 7. Reopened in April, Arka looks set to regain its reputation as the meeting place for arty youngsters. This used to be where intellectuals congregated at the turn of independence. Drop into the little gallery next door. Jazz/blues at weekends.
Bix: Etmonų 6. In the old city. A very hip bar/club run by one of Lithuania’s hottest bands. The interior at Bix feels like a set for MTV, and good tunes are blasted at high decibels. Bix also serves excellent food at moderate prices. Waiters are quite good.
Brodvejus pub’as: Mesinių 4. A narrow, cobblestoned side street hides the capital’s hippest new hangout for shabby-chic youngsters. Modeled for atmosphere on Vilnius’ famous Pub’as nearby, Broadway has a dark, wooden interior and unpretentious furniture. It has the feel of a bygone tavern; it could pass for a bawdy Jack the Ripper-era East End public house. It’s warm, friendly, and has typical but cheap bar snacks. There is a wide variety of music on the weekends, including rock, blues and classical. Ventilation could be a lot better.
Blues Club: Pilies 11. Excellent blues and jazz in the Żaltvyksle café from Thursday to Sunday. Complete with smoke-filled rooms and low lighting this joint has great ambience and a distinctly black-and-white movie character.
Fortas: Algirdo 17. Brightly-colored walls, pub-like furnishings and peppy staff make The Fort a good place for an evening beer. Their pizzas are respectable, though small, and the music–from Louis Armstrong to AerosmithØshould win awards in what is otherwise a techno-happy Vilnius.
Gero Viskio Baras: Pilies 34. In the old city. The main feature is a wide selection of whiskey.
Indigo Pubas: Trakų 3. This place used to be called Tavola and do Italian, but recently underwent major cosmetic surgery. Much more welcoming and comfortable than it’s ancestor it also has a café which is self service until 20:00. The staff could be a little more confident and upbeat though.
Luza: Naugarduko 12/1. Pool and beer. Everybody else seems to know each other here.
The Pub: Dominikonų 9. In the old city. A laid-back, English-style pub that’s a popular hangout among university students. A dark, lived-in feel, with candlelight, bookshelves and speakers that don’t have that annoying, tin-can sound. The Pub is also a good place for a quick, tasty lunch, though once you’re here you feel like lingering for hours on end. The menu includes avocado salad, chili, chicken curry and brownies.
Ritos Sleptuve: A. Goštauto 8. By the river, near Parliament. World famous as a pizza joint, this is also an excellent place for rip-roaring fun into the wee morning hours. Dancing, friendly, informal crowd and some of the city’s best bartenders. CITY PAPER appreciated the wall-sized NO TECHNO sign that looms over the dance floor.
Stikliū Bočiai: Šv. Ignoto 4/1. Once a cheap beer hall popular for its bar brawls, now a high-class tavern, transformed by the classy Stikliai company. If you hanker for the traditional Lithuanian scene with folk songs, waiters in national costume, and flame-grilled roasts, this place is for you.
The Twins O’Brien: Vokiečių 8. As a restaurant this place is good; as an Irish bar, it has never worked. To add to their woes, and to distract from they’re already suspect Irish-bar credentials, some genius has decided to open a disco/bar of some kind in the cellar. The Twins suffers from a lack of direction, but it is the only Irish pub in Vilnius. The area’s begging for competition. All that said, it does have the best Guinness in the city; it goes well with their Irish mutton stew.
Trečias Brolis: Sirvido 6. The Third Brother is located in the Writer’s Union building just behind the Central Post Office. Enter through the heavy door and head to the left of the elegant staircase to discover where Lithuania’s hard-drinking, chain-smoking, hard-up writers come to argue and brawl. Drunken dancing daily. With uncertain working hours, this place is a much-ignored survivor. It has all the faded glory of Soviet days gone by that you might (for your own reasons) be looking for. An experience.
Vyrų Džiaugsmas (Men’s Joy): Gedimino 39. Men’s Joy is just a block away from Ladies’ Happiness–which suggests some quirky, Baltic-styled battle of the sexes. Little table lamps at this stylish bar give the feeling you’re sipping beer in the university library. The sometimes meat-head clientele occasionally spoil the academic ambience.
Žemaičiai: Vokiečių 24. A monument to the culture of Samogitia, a tribe from the western Lithuanian lowlands. Cartoons and proverbs in the Samogitian dialect are daubed across the white walls. Clay jugs of strong country beer–sold virtually by the meter. A unique twist on the standard Lithuanian cuisine.
Restaurants
Restaurants in Vilnius have come a long way in recent years. For a capital full of people who love bland spice-less food, Vilnius has an incredible range of ethnic restaurants: Chinese, Greek, Indian, Japanese, Thai, Lebanese. Be warned that many Lithuanian restaurants tend to serve extra-large portions fit for a small army. In addition to standard restaurants, Vilnius also abounds with cheap cafeterias, or valgyklas. These sometimes suspect meat and potato places are frequented by students, pensioners and others in financial straits.

Ritos Sleptuve (Rita’s Hideout): A. Goštauto 8, along the river, near the parliament building. If you’re sick and tired of stuffy, ostensibly fine restaurants, Rita’s Hideout is perfect. This is a place where you can kick up your feet and get on with the business of relaxing. Run by enterprising Lithuanian-American Rita Dapkus, who has clearly put her heart and soul into everything from the funky, off-beat interior to the godly pizza crust. Friendly, fast service and reasonable prices. Good background music: from Frank Sinatra to nostalgic pop that will make children of the ’70s and ’80s go soft and mushy. In addition to serving very good pizza, Rita’s has Tex-Mex and Italian dishes. Desserts include coconut cream pie and scrumptious homemade ice cream. American-style breakfasts.
Auksinis Feniksas: Gedimino 64. It’s a good idea to reserve one of the four upper tables for some privacy; the lower tables running along the wall are tiny. Hot favorites here are the spicy white mushroom soup, the Chinese salad and the pork, bamboo and Xianggu mushrooms.
Geltonoji Upė: Stikliu 18. In the old city. This spiffy, decked-out Chinese restaurant serves very good food. You pay for it though. Wine prices at The Yellow River are especially stiff. CITY PAPER found the staff obliging and the Tan-dynasty-styled interior enchanting.
Kinų Rožė: Algirdo 51a. The Rose of China is small, boasting just six tables. But it’s all the more cozy for it. Overall, this is a bright, colorful and friendly place, a plausible addition to the Chinese restaurant scene. The design is attractive enough, down to the toilet door and slightly gaudy Eastern knick-knacks cramming the walls; a giant stuffed turtle with a red scarf lurks in one corner. There’s Chinese (or is it Japanese?) music playing in the background and, occasionally, a TV also blares on. The food, it has to be said, is tasty, accompanied with copious supplies of sticky rice.
Nanjing: Sodų 8. Despite the location in a sketchy area near the train station, Nanjing has stolen the limelight from Vilnius’ other Chinese restaurants. With smiling service and fabulous food, you’ll even forgive them for the television showing subtitled Hollywood hits.
Pekinas: Algirdo 26. A wide array of Chinese dishes. Also, a good range of vegetarian foods.
Pekino Antis: Algirdo 2.
Rytū Perlas: Labdarių 8. Delicious, genuine Chinese food at reasonable prices. The tables are large enough to accommodate a crowd, and if there is a crowd it can get smoky. But the soft music, the red velvet walls and the warm atmosphere make up for that.
Rytai: Naugarduko 22. Some of the best Chinese in town if you can choose from the staggeringly long menu. However, you will have to listen to real Chinese pop music as you dine which can be something of an acquired taste.
Šanhajus: (B-4) Jakšto 5. Behind Gedimino, by the Opera and Ballet Theater. At the top of the red-carpeted stairs is a hall filled with lanterns, decorative fans, plastic greenery and a shrine in the corner. If Lithuanians want to eat Chinese food, they come here: delicious (though sometimes oily) dishes at fairly low prices. to the sound of bland, mid-’80s Europop. Drown out the noise with a bottle of Jin Pu Tao wine.
Sidabrinis Drakonas: Didžioji 40. In the old city. The Silver Dragon is dark and cramped, but the food is excellent. Superb silk bananas!
Bistro 1: L. Stuokos-Gucevičiaus 3. This is not the sort of place you would expect to find great pizza, but here it is: the mouth-watering, deep-dish variety for which you can choose your own toppings. Bistro 1, which is linked to the fine City Park Hotel, is situated in a perfect location, right next to the Cathedral. This isn’t really your standard fast-food venue; it’s even a good place to hang out on drawn out, lazy-day lunches.
Čili: Ukmergės 3a. Also, at Gedimino 23, Jasinskio 16, Mindaugo 11, Žirmunų 68a, Fabijoniškių 2a. Čili most recently opened a popular Old Town branch, at Didžioji 5. Popular pizzas, and some of the city’s best tacos and nachos, from Lithuania’s own, home-grown fast food chain. They also deliver: tel. 333-555. Greitai: Gedimino 10. The first Lithuanian fast food joint. So rather than scoop up a burger for you, they’ll scoop up a couple of balandéliai, cepelinai or kibinai. It’s quick, it’s fresh, and it’s local. Forget the shakes and just order kisielius, a thick cranberry drink. Also on offer is a limited salad bar where you can fill a saucer-sized plate for 4 litas. Then sit on the mezzanine and watch the other people eat.
McDonald’s: Seiniu 3, by the train station; Gedimino 15, on the edge of the old city, and Kareivių 15, in a northeastern suburb, off the Vilnius-Riga road, and Ukmerges 177.
Užsuk: Vienuolio 4. This is a well designed and commodious café. Food is cooked in front of you in enormous cast iron pans and the salad bar has excellent variety, however, the hot food can be a tad too greasy. Excellent for families and they even have special attractions to keep little people amused.
Flamingo: Liubarto 19. The new Flamingo Hotel has a Caucasian restaurant that only occasionally inspires delight. The food is spicy and well presented, but the liuliakebab may come a bit overdone. The Flamingo is just a touch Caucasian, with only one Georgian wine and too much of the usual hefty Vilnius fare. Heavy red curtains and sad one-man-and-his-keyboard entertainment lay on a thick Soviet-era atmosphere despite the newness of the place.
Kaukazo Belaisve: Trakų 7, in the old city. With its wooden floor boards and tables, this new place has a true Georgian-inn atmosphere. Waiters and waitresses are dressed in folk costumes of the region. This isn’t quite what you’d call a high-class restaurant, but it’s not a greasy spoon diner, either. The food has the mark of authenticity: stuffed grape leaves, liver, veal neck, rabbit—even beef tongue in walnut sauce. If you aren’t sure this place is going to ring your bell, you can go to another new and quite good Georgian restaurant a stone’s throw away: Baku-Tbilisi. It’s at Trakų 15-1.
Sin-Sin: Konarskio 1-2. This place serves some of the most authentic Georgian fare in town. But be warned: helpings are enormous. The shabby interior could do with a little renovation. Never mind, the food’s very good.
Sue’s Indian Raja: Jogailos 11/2. An excellent Indian restaurant! The food is meticulously well prepared, the service fantastic. The basmati rice is wonderful, as are the madras, rogan josh and biriyani. The portions are large and the food can be very spicy, but that’s what Indian food is all about. Prices are reasonable in a classy environment. The friendly gracious proprietor, Raj, knows how to make his guest feel at home.
Brasserie Astorija: Didžioji 35/2. This restaurant, inside the lovely Radisson SAS Astorija Hotel, tends to get rave reviews by anyone who comes here; many longer term residents put it on their list of one of the top five restaurants in Vilnius. They serve some of the best haute cuisine in town, though it is pricey. They sometimes have innovative specials, like ostrich. The lunch menu is much more reasonable, and you can have a good meal for a little more than 5 dollars. Astorija’s Sunday brunch is a veritable food fest; you’re liable to hang out here all afternoon. Outstanding live music accompanies brunch.
Freskos: Didžioji 31, in the old town; entrance in the back of City Hall. A huge hit with the local diplomatic community. With this place, the restaurateurs who created the excellent Prie Parlamento and the Pub have brought upscale and affordable dining to Vilnius. At this fine, theater-theme restaurant, you savor painstakingly-prepared dishes in a delightful interior: something of a cross between a Hungarian beer hall and backstage at a small Parisian theater. A cobalt-blue fresco in the middle room has been carefully restored and ornate, bejeweled costumes and colorful sketches donated by the National Opera grace the walls; antique mirrors also afford diners views of the entire candle-lit restaurant. The chicken-breast salad is a wonder on leafy greenery softened with flavorful dressing. The veal is also very good. Main dishes ride out of the kitchen on a pair of Brobdingnagian plates–with meat and veggies separated.
Geležinis Vilkas (The Iron Wolf): Lukiškių 3, not far from the Parliament building. Spacious and modern-looking, but on the cool side. International cuisine with some Lithuanian dishes.
Hazienda: Maironio 13, at the lovely Mabre Residence Hotel on the edge of the old city. This German-run steakhouse is set in a simple but cozy vaulted room. Good atmosphere and tasty food, though a little pricey.
Ida Basar: Subačiaus 3. In the old city, not far from the Gates of Dawn. This pricey restaurant dishes up excellent, very filling meals. There’s a vaulted, red-bricked basement for more informal occasions. The fancier upstairs, replete with chandeliers and antique chairs, is good for formal nights out.
Juodasis Riteris: Pilies 16/2, in the old city. The Red Knight is a restaurant with spectacular, unique atmosphere: a labyrinth of vaulted rooms, each with a different medieval theme. Lithuanian knights in shining armor and portraits of now-dead dukes watch over you as you chow down. A very long list of excellent entrées with fairly stiff prices. A recommended experience, if you can afford it.
La Provence: Vokiečių 24. A new, high-class (and high-price) French restaurant.
Le Paysage: 20 km from Vilnius on the A2. Off the Vilnius-Riga highway in the Le Meridien Villon Vilnius hotel, a 20-minute drive from the city. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, this fine restaurant is worth a trip. French cuisine, a beautiful view of a lake and a birch forest, and waiters and waitresses who know how to take care of you. Classy but pricey.
Literatų Svetainė: Gedimino 1. Excellent location, next to Cathedral Square, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. This popular restaurant has a drawing-room atmosphere with dark wood-paneled walls. Scandinavian-style menu and Swedish chefs, featuring the likes of salmon with red onion marmalade, crayfish au gratin and cheesecake with blackcurrant. Excellent food, good service. Good for a quick lunch or classy dinner.
Maldis: Teatro 9b. This very chic restaurant has an inspired Art Noveau interior and an excellent selection of international fare. It’s the sort of place you should bring your significant other for a relaxed romantic evening. The service is a wee bit stuffy though.
Maldžio Kupolas: Basanavičiaus 4. A very good Spanish restaurant. A Spanish cook is at work behind the scenes to guarantee the authenticity of the paella, parilla, gazpacho (refreshing cold vegetable soup served only in summer) and other dishes previously unseen in Vilnius. The design, though not entirely Iberian, is breathtaking, particularly the Baroque HallØa gorgeously renovated dome that used to be the city planetarium. There’s some high-class art on exhibit, too. Lithuanian artist Antanas Kmielauskas painted the flowing frescos, and some of the bronze sculptures are 200 years old.
Markus ir Ko: Antokolskio 11, in the old city, just off Stikliu street. Has the feel of an upmarket college pub. The food here tends to get very good reviews; try the T-bone steak. Good wine selection. Live music at night, jazz on weekends.
Naujasis Vilnius: Ukmergės 14. In the hotel of the same name, just across the river, north of the city center. Pretty drab interior, but long regarded as one of the best hotel restaurants in town. Quality food and fast, friendly service. Light piano music some evenings. Moderately priced.
Prie Parlamento: Gedimino 46. As the name implies, it’s down the street from Parliament. This comfortable, seagoing restaurant/bar has become a fixture in Vilnius. They do nice hamburgers, chicken and salmon dishes, as well as kebabs and shepherd’s pies. Prie Parlamento is a big favorite of the ex-pat community, but it is also popular among locals. Also a perfect place for breakfast and lunch. For dessert, try the apple crumble topped with whipped cream. It has a disco bar downstairs.
Romantika: Jogailos 3, just on the edge of the old city. Romantika is something of a misnomer. It’s all together too happy, uppity and bright to be romantic. Despite the misnaming of the place, it is very nice, with an overwhelming yellow-orange ambiance, bamboo shoots laid out strategically around the bar and giant tree stumps jetting out of the floor. This is an all-purpose establishment—a café, restaurant and/or bar. The menu is all over the place, offering goulash to herring to pizza to roasted squid. Go categorize that! They serve a mean hot chocolate, made from chocolate bars, that turns back into hard lumps if you don’t down it fast enough. They do stoop to the fairly common practice here of placing TVs everywhere around the main room.
Stikliai Hotel Restaurant: Gaono 7. In the old city. Regarded by many as the highest-class restaurant in the capital. The dining room is set in a vast, breezy room, scattered with real trees and flowers. It feels like you’re sitting in an open courtyard. Upscale! Extremely pricey.
Valakampių Svetainė: Lizdeikos 46, about a ten minute drive northeast of the city center. Valakampiu Svetaine, named after a sandy bend in the River Neris where it’s located, is a place people from a nearby high-rise suburb have come to for years for frolic and fun in the summer sun. This small establishment features a top-notch cook who recently won first prize in a national cooking contest, so the food is also a major draw. Mainly European dishes.
Vandens Malūnas: Verkių 100. At Verkiai, alongside the River Neris, by a country lane that winds away from the northern suburbs of Vilnius. At the foot of a hill, where the stream tumbles into the river, stands a lonely, old watermill, which has been transformed into this unique, out-of-town restaurant. Perfect for families and couples looking for a break from hustle and bustle of the city. Inside, photos on the wooden walls depict the history of the mill, which burned down 20 years ago and remained a ruin until it was rented from the state. The food deserves the high marks reviewers have tended to give it. Someone has tried hard to think up a menu you can’t really find anywhere else in Vilnius. Try the herring and apple salad, or the tuna-stuffed tomato. The veal in white-wine sauce or salmon in green butter is also great.
Žaltvyksle: Pilies 11. This Hungarian place in the old town serves up goulash and other central European treats in a flash. An ancient, informal interior and friendly service add to the appeal.
Da Antonio: Vilniaus 23. There are over thirty varieties of pizza to choose from here. Service here is quick and friendly, but it’s the overall ambience of the place that should keep Da Antonio in the money. Two artistically decapitated Corinthian columns mark the doorway, and the high, off-white walls are modestly decorated with Roman trimmings. The plush booths are also cozy without seeming conspiratorial.
Da Antonio III: Pilies 20. A proletariat- friendly bistro with an earthy atmosphere complete with the prerequisite checkered table cloths and Chianti bottles. It works well, even though the menu is limited.
Dolce Vita: Gedimino 31. The latest surprise from the Stikliai Co. is a small, unpretentious, yet quality Italian restaurant. Reserve one of the tables by flower-covered fountain. The music and the decor add a touch of Milan. The asparagus melts in the mouth, as do the vegetarian and meat lasagna. For some, the tasty portions may seem a little on the small side, but these greedy fellows can fill up on the tasty bread: genuine focaccia and deep-fried panzanella. The waitstaff are all smiles, but they’re also ever-present, which can make you feel edgy.
Itališka Smuklė: Ukmerges 12. Nestled between two of the capital’s most unsightly Soviet-style hotels, most comers will be tempted to write off this so-called Italian Pub before even venturing across the river. But on its culinary merits, it deserves to be put in standard rotation for pasta lovers who don’t mind putting up with a little bad disco music. Unlike so many other Lithuanian restaurants, this place has an open, bustling feel, very much like the middle-class, large-scale American restaurants. Although the waitresses don’t quite have that Western hustle, service is friendly. Pizzas are thin-crusted, but good.
Pulčinela: Kalvarijų 1. Across the river to the north. Simple, informal. A good place for lunch, though probably not for a formal night out. Lovely smells wafting around the room; pizza is made as you watch. Good variety. Jazz Friday nights.
Savas Kampas: Vokiečių 4. Once a restaurant suffering from an identity crisis, Savas Kampas has reinvented itself as an Italian bistro with one of the most reasonably priced Italian menus in town. With its old town location it’s the perfect spot for pasta lovers doing lunch.
Valantino’s: Trakų 18, on the corner of Vilniaus Street. Relaxed atmosphere, with a TV over the bar and further seating down a corridor. Pizza and some other Italian dishes. Banquets rooms.
Tobira: Šv. Mykolo 4. The decor is minimalist and serene, the menu’s much better too after renovations. While some bemoan the loss of the Karaoke machine, most agree the place has a new degree of refinement. The waiters and waitresses are some of the best in the city, so if you like Japanese, this is the place for you. Good sushi and soups. Book ahead as they are often full.
Aludé Stikliai Taverna: Gaono 7. In the old city, attached to the high-class Stikliai hotel. The food is expensive but very tasty, from jacket potatoes to a great goulash. There is frequently live Lithuanian folk music in the beer hall, and, be warned, the performers sometimes ask customers to join in. The wine cellar downstairs is quaint and quieter.
Marceliukės Klėtis: Tuskulenų 35. A bit of countryside in the big city. Filling local dishes served in a village-like cabin. Folk bands whip up a storm after 19:00. A bit out of the way, but worth a visit.
Ritos Smuklė (Rita’s Tavern): Žirmunų 68. The Lithuanian-American proprietor, Rita Dapkus, who also does the highly acclaimed Ritos Sléptuvé, has another winner! The only concession in this otherwise all-Lithuanian restaurant is Marlboro cigarettes. Lithuanian to the bone, down to the salt shakers and ceramic beer mugs. Rita has strictly banished Coca-Cola, Sprite and anything else that can’t make a good case for being genuinely Lithuanian. Instead of Coke, you’ll have to choose between carrot and apple juice. Hearty, king-sized meals at amazingly reasonable prices. The menu includes dumplings, ribs, plus items that might give you reason to pause, like cow tongue. The atmosphere can be electric, especially on weekends, when the restaurant features charged-up Lithuanian folk dancers. Rita’s Tavern is a little hard to find. Look for the wooden roof sticking out behind the Neste station.
Užeiga Molinis Ąsotis: Naugarduko 32. To call The Clay Jug Inn simply a Lithuanian restaurant would be a grave injustice–they do things with basic national dishes that would send most country cooks heading for the hills. Fortunately for cepelinai-bloated foreigners this means unique and tasty food in a no-techno environment. Not as expensive as other Lithuanian restaurants, and very filling.
Žemaičių Smuklė: Vokiečių 24. A superb selection of Samogitian and other Lithuanian specialties. People in the know say it is the place to try cepelinai for the first time. A half portion will probably do though. Diners can choose from one of the myriad of traditionally decorated cellar rooms or sit upstairs in the bar. Local beer is served in clay jugs and there is an extensive and well considered wine list. The game menu is excellent.
Lokys: Stiklių 8, in the old city. Set in a Gothic cellar, it was made for romantic encounters. They’ve got a stuffed bear on display. Specialties are wild boar, elk and even beaver!
Šašlykine: Trakų 7. A cavernous tavern-restaurant crowded with local Lithuanians who haven’t the stomach for foreign food, so come here. This is a good venue for meeting friends, drinking beer and eating šašlykai, huge lumps of pork roasted on a skewer. The fine pieces of metal- and woodwork give the impression you’re deep in the bowels of a medieval Lithuanian castle. It’s noisy and smoky, but for a traditional meaty meal you can do worse.
Aladinas: Gynejų 2. One big draw of Aladinas are the sofas in a back room, where you can smoke traditional Arabic pipes. Lebanese music and belly dancers some days. The Lebanese food is good enough, and Aladinas is one of the most reasonably priced ethnic joints in town.
Finjan: Vokiečių 18. Until just a few years ago, this was an odd corner café catering mostly to drunks and bottle collectors. But it’s now been magically transformed into a small but very enchanting den of exotic scents and tastes. Finjan serves remarkably aromatic Middle Eastern cuisine in a light, refreshing environment just off a quaint cobblestoned street in the old city. This unexpected restaurant, with what cooks say is a mix of Lebanese, Israeli and Egyptian cuisine is, ironically, located in the heart of the city’s pre-war Jewish quarter. The moderately priced food here is a heavy mix of pita bread stuffed with fragrant chunks of shoarma or falafel. Vilnius, at least, has never seen anything like it. For an appetizer or a side-dish, the garlic-driven aubergine salad and the delicious hummus are perfect. Try the vanilla mousse for dessert, or the honey and nut cake, homemade by an Azeri family in Vilnius. Finjan has an open, friendly atmosphere. As the spice begins to bite, the luscious Saharan wall paintings seem to stir. The tall, bearded Iranian chef swinging his sabre at the serving hatch says he got his start at the the Hilton in Antwerp. All that’s missing is the snake charmer.
Šavarma: Aušros Vartų 6. Šavarma is the latest tasty, Middle Eastern/Lebanese installment in an ever-expanding smorgasbord of ethnic restaurants. The interior here is comfortable and open, with a split-level design and booths filled with harem-like pillows. The vegetarian felafel, meaty Šavarma and perfectly oily hummus are very good, and served at exceedingly reasonable prices. All the dishes are spot-on Lebanese/Middle Eastern, and come with hot sauce that will make even the bravest turn shades of red. This restaurant provides sustenance amid a sea of sometimes unacceptably bland food. But this otherwise colorful establishment in the center of the old town does have its shortcomings. Service, while friendly, can be frustratingly slow.
Alina: Pylimo 49, the old city. More of the feel of a corner diner than a restaurant, Alina is a favorite hangout for local Poles. Interior is on the tacky side, with turquoise-colored walls, angled mirrors and hypnotic blinking lights. Poor music and even worse ventilation. But it is one of the only bona fide Polish joints in the city, and it does offer relatively cheap and filling cuisine.
Cagino Restoranas: Basanavičiaus 11. Authentic Russian cuisine amidst photos of historic Vilnius. The old-world cellar atmosphere clashes nicely with the posh decor. Named after a 19th century Russian architect who moved to Vilnius and built various city monuments.
St. Peterburgas: Antakalnio 39. Vilnius’ first decent Russian restaurant. Pictures of sail boats, model ships and a bust of Peter the Great add to the St. Petersburg theme. This could be Eugene Onegin’s favorite salon were it not for the mammoth TV perching on the bar. The music is exclusively Russian, ranging from pre-glasnost classics to irritating contemporary popsa. Dishes with mushrooms, pickles, pancakes, caviar, borsch and cow’s tongue were well represented on the menu. Iffy service.
Sue Ka Thai: Jogailos 11/2, just outside the old city, to the west. This restaurant, which was the first Thai restaurant in the Baltic states, is managed by the same people who do the Lithuanian capital’s No. 1 Indian restaurant, Sue’s Indian Raja, so you know it’s got to be good. The owner, Wing Commander Rajinder Chaudhary, has demonstrated again that he is on the cutting edge of restaurant development in Vilnius.
Balti Drambliai: Vilniaus 41, old city edge. White Elephants, as you’d expect, is decorated with elephant parts; a trunk and tusks hang above the bar. This place is endeavoring to be fashionable but not quite hitting the nail on the head; it has a bit of a musty, cellar feel to it. But the food is above average though, and it’s also relatively cheap, hence its popularity with area students. Fill up on potato pancakes with your choice of curd, cranberry and horseradish sauces; all for under a dollar.
Nightclubs
Ministerija: Gedimino 46. Downstairs in the excellent Prie Parlamento restaurant. Ministerija shuns techno in favor of classier music, soul to golden oldies. A big favorite with ex-pats.
Gravity: Jasinkio 16. A new, Dutch-owned dance club that’s setting new standards in Vilnius: Western, pricey, meticulously selected house music—and of course the beautiful people. Caters strictly to an over-21 crowd, endeavoring to keep teeny boppers and phony types at bay. A dubiously long line to get in and careful checks of the clientele may be a bit prissy, but committed clubbers clearly need to put this place on their list. Probably somewhere near the top of it.
Indigo: Traku 3. A good London-style dance club. There’s also one part of the club offering striptease and lap dancing.
Ritos Sleptuve: A. Goštauto 8. Smallish, fun. For over 30s into ‘70s and ’80s music.
Muzikinio Angaro Jazz Klubas: Vilniaus 22, on the edge of the old city. Live music every night. Good jazz. A refreshing change of pace.
Angaras: J. Jasinskio 14. It has a huge dance floor that sometimes doesn’t see action until midnight. You can kill time waiting for one of the live local bands by playing pool, or even by doing some pre-dance surfing on the Internet.
Stiklių-Tangomanija: Gedimino 31. Specializes in MTV music and avoids techno. Attracts sharp-suited chic and powerful perfume. Wall cushions, vast mirrors and a choice of 25 different cocktails add to the clubby atmosphere.
Ultra Imperiale: A. Goštauto 12.
Naktinis Vilkas: Lukiškių 3. Mediterranean pop, and the biznesmeni here just eat it up at The Night Wolf. Walls with Soviet memorabilia.
Batmenas (Batman): Gedimino 32. A slick design does not a good nightclub make. The chicken-wire motif is, to say the least, odd. Music mostly techno. Lots of goons who make neither good conversationalists nor dancers.
Karolinos Klubas: Justiniskiu 64. Some love it, some hate it.
Lietuvos Klubas: Vokiečių 8.

Sights
A good starting point for any tour of the old city is the Gates of Dawn , at the southernmost point of the old city. This last remaining part of the old city wall (much of the fortifications in Vilnius were destroyed by the Czar’s army last century) was converted into a chapel in 1671. A main draw of the chapel is the gold and silver icon of the Virgin Mary, which is revered by Catholics in the region, from Poland to Belarus. The chapel is a mecca to thousands of pilgrims every year. As an act of devotion, some climb the cement steps to the icon on their knees.Continue down Ausros Vartu and you will pass the Church of the Holy Spirit, an Orthodox church and site of the Holy Spirit Monastery, part of which has been rented to the Italian Ambassador in order to raise money for the church. Go further down the street and take a left on Stikliu: this area was once the heart of the city’s thriving, prewar Jewish community. A few steps away is the recently-erected monument to the celebrated Jewish scholar, Gaon of Vilnius.
Go straight on Stikliu and you come to Dominikonu and the Dominican Church, one of many supposedly haunted sites in Vilnius. During a plague that swept the land in 1657, a cellar in the monastery was used to accommodate an overflow of corpses. In the late 1800s, area residents began to complain about incessant moaning coming from the cellar area, where, upon investigation, police found hundreds of mummified, long-forgotten bodies. It is said that faint, eerie wailing can still be heard by those passing by the Church in the early morning hours.Go down the hill on Dominikonu to Universiteto street, site of Vilnius University. You’ll find some of the old city’s most splendid architecture within the grounds of Vilnius University, which was founded by Jesuits in 1579 to stem the influence of the Reformation in Lithuania. The university was closed by Moscow from 1832 to 1917. Today, some 14,000 students attend the school. Wind your way across the old city on Sv. Mykolo to the 16th century St. Anne’s Church, a fine example of Gothic architecture. When he came through Vilnius, Napoleon is said to have been so taken by St. Anne’s that he wanted to haul it back to Paris and set it down alongside Notre Dame.
From here, you can see the Hill of Three Crosses. Historical rumor has it that seven Franciscan monks who foolishly tried to convert Lithuanian pagans were murdered here. Four were tossed into the river while three were hung out on the hill to dry. The first crosses were erected in the 1600s to honor the martyrs. Stalin had them torn down; the prewar crosses rest at the foot of the mound where new ones were raised in1989. The hill offers a breathtaking view of the city, especially in the autumn or winter. A winding trail leads from Kalnu Park up steep steps on the south side of the hill to the top.
Heading down Maironio and through the park brings you to another hill. Castle Hill is the site of the oldest settlement in Vilnius, though there isn’t much left to show for it. In the 14th century, Grand Duke Gediminas dreamt he saw an iron wolf howling on this hill, which towers over the old city, between the Neris and Vilnia Rivers. The wolf’s cry signified to him that a great city would arise at this location, and he proceeded to construct it. From the original settlement, only a few structures remain, including the Gediminas Tower – the only major remnant of the 13th century Upper Castle still standing; there is a history museum inside the tower. At the base of the hill is a series of barrel-shaped structures covering the excavation site of the city’s ancient castle, the Lower Castle; the castle was the residence of the nation’s grand dukes for more than three centuries.
Next to the hangars is the Cathedral, originally built as a temple to the thunder god Perkunas. By the 19th century, after scores of transformations, it had been almost completely revamped in neoclassical style. After the Soviet takeover in the 1940s, the Communists turned the church into an art gallery. It was converted back to a church in the late ’80s. The church is still the resting place for many famous figures in the history of Lithuania-Poland, including royalty. Flanking the Cathedral is the distinct Bell Tower, one of the city’s leading landmarks and a favorite meeting place for local Lithuanians.
Other Old City Sights
St. Casimir’s Church: Didzioji 34, off of Rotuses Square. Named after the patron saint of Lithuania, St. Casimir. Because Casimir was in the Lithuanian-Polish royal family, the church is topped by a golden crown. But in Czarist days, it was removed and replaced by an onion dome. During the first period of independence, from 1920 to 1940, the crown was restored.
Church of Saints Peter and Paul: Antakalnio 1, just to the northeast of the old city. Although plain from the outside, from the inside this church is truly breathtaking. The walls from top to bottom are alive with frescos in animal and human forms-no two of them exactly the same. This church was originally built in the 14th century, but was then rebuilt in Baroque splendor in the late 1600s. The some 200 artists who worked on the interior were directed by the Italian masters Pietro Peretti and Giovanni Maria Galli.
Presidential Palace: S. Daukanto sq. The huge presidential palace, or prezidentura, was built in the 14th century; it has undergone dozens of renovations throughout the centuries, most notably by architect Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevicius. Napoleon stayed here on his way to Moscow in 1812. It’s now the office of Valdas Adamkus, an ex-U.S. environmental regulator elected Lithuanian president in early 1998.
Museum of Genocide Victims: at Auku 4, off of central Gedimino. This is one of the only museums of its kind in the former Soviet empire. For a haunting sense of the terror that swept the land under Soviet rule, you’ll want to drop in to this museum in what was the much-feared KGB headquarters until 1991. You can tour actual cells where prisoners were held and tortured. On a recent trip, President Adamkus found the entry for him in the KGB log book, when he was a prisoner in the same building.
Elsewhere in Vilnius
Pilsudski’s Heart: At the Rasu Cemetery on Sukileliu, southeast of the old city. Pre-war Polish leader Jozef Piļsudski, who forcibly incorporated Vilnius into Poland in 1920, always said his heart lay in this city. To prove the point for posterity, he directed that his heart be cut out and buried in Vilnius after his death. His heart’s in this cemetery; the rest of him is in Waweļ in Krakow.
Vilnius TV tower: In the Karoliniskes district, northwest of the city center, Sausio 13-osios 10, tel. 458-877. It’s open until 21:00. The city’s TV tower was the site of the bloodiest episode in Lithuania’s drive for freedom in the early ’90s. In the morning hours of January 13, 1991, Soviet troops stormed the tower, which was surrounded by hundreds of unarmed demonstrators, including many women and teenagers. Thirteen civilians were shot dead or crushed by advancing Soviet tanks. Many historians regard the massacre at the Vilnius TV tower as a landmark event which helped hasten the collapse of the Soviet empire. Crosses and flowers are placed at the base of the tower in memory of those who died; there is also a small exhibition devoted to the massacre inside the tower itself. The street itself was renamed to commemorate the date of the attack.The top of the TV tower also offers spectacular views of the entire Vilnius region; open every day from 10.00 to 20.00.
Vingio Parkas: A 20-minute walk uphill and west from the city center. A vast, beautiful park, once the estate of a prominent Lithuanian aristocrat. Russian Czar Alexander I first heard of Napoleon’s invasion in 1812 while at a ball on the estate. The pre-invasion bash was described in Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Trails wind through 395 acres of pine forest; an ideal place for a walk or jog. Pleasant in the daytime, but dimly lit at night. In winter, this is a perfect place for cross-country skiing. Most large public events in Vilnius are held somewhere in this park.
Yiddish Vilnius: You wouldn’t necessarily know it by walking the streets today, but Vilnius was once one of the cultural centers of the Jewish world. Known before World War II as the Jerusalem of the North, Vilnius was home to more than 60,000 Jews, most of whom spoke Yiddish, a 1000-year-old German dialect. Vilnius was considered the capital of Yiddish culture and learning and was home to the famed Yiddish Institute of Higher Learning (YIVO) and the Strashum Library. The first Jews came to Lithuania in the 14th century, lured to the area by tolerant Lithuanian regimes. On the eve of the war, some 240,000 Jews lived in Lithuania-virtually all of whom were killed during the Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1944. Today, there are few reminders of Vilnius’ Jewish past, save for Hebrew letters on a gutted, hidden-away building near the train/bus station on Raugyklos street. There are some 6000 Jews left in Lithuania; around 200 of them are Holocaust survivors. Few speak Yiddish anymore, and there are fears that the culture will soon die out completely. For more details and guidance visit the Jewish Museum on Pamenkalnio 12. There’s also the Genocide Museum Agrastu 17. Eight kilometers from Vilnius, just outside the town of Paneriai. This eerie pine forest became a killing field during the Nazi occupation when up to 100,000 people, mostly Jews, were shot by German soldiers and local collaborators. The pits and trenches where the mass executions and burnings took place are still visible. A small museum recounts the horror. Also, see the Synagogue on Pylimo 39 and the small museum on Pylimo 4. Before the war, there were almost 100 synagogues in Vilnius.
Zappa: What do Frank Zappa and Lithuania have in common? Nothing. But that hasn’t stopped Vilnius from erecting a monument to the late great rock legend. The four-meter-high Zappa bust, at Kalinausko 1 in the city center, was unveiled in 1995 after intense lobbying by Zappamaniacs. The zany iconoclast, who died several years ago of cancer at the age of 52, achieved cult status in much of the former Communist bloc for his anti-establishment themes. He allegedly intended to visit Lithuania before he died, or so his fans here say. Some older Lithuanians thought the idea of a monument to a quirky American rock star with a penchant for four-letter word lyrics was, at best, nuts. The monument is said to be the first and only one dedicated to Zappa anywhere in the world.
Back in the USSR: The only Soviet nostalgia sight left in Vilnius are the Bridge Statues on Zaliasis Tiltas, glorifying The Soviet Worker, are gaudy and pompous. They make good landmarks and are memorable backgrounds for tourist photos.
The Opera and Ballet Theater, on A. Vienuolio street, along the river, offers performances from the pseudo-professional to the outstanding. During intermission, rub shoulders with Vilnius VIPs. Buy tickets several days in advance or show up with your fingers crossed five minutes before the performance starts.
The National Philharmonic at Aušros Vartu 5, offers a range of classical music, from Mahler and Beethoven to post-modern or medieval music performed on original instruments.
The National Drama Theater at Gedimino 4, puts on some of the best productions in Vilnius. They also provide live English translation.
The Music Academy Gedimino 42, holds regular concerts by aspiring, often brilliant music students. Freeentry.
Vilnius Congressional Palace: Vilniaus 6/14. A concert hall.
Adomas Mickevičius (Adam Mickiewicz) Memorial Apartment: Bernardinu 11. The flat where the great 19th century poet lived in 1822. Lithuanians insist on calling him Mickevičius and claim him as their own. He only wrote in Polish, and Poland claims he is Polish to the bone. He was the author of the Polish epic poem Pan Tadeusz, which opens with, “Lithuania My Fatherland, you are health, only he who has lost you can know how much you are cherished.” Lithuanians say Mickevičius was referring to Lithuania per se; Poles say he was referring to Lithuania as a mere province of Poland. This museum takes the Lithuanian view.
Artillery Bastion: Bokšto 20/18. In a 17th century Polish-Lithuanian fortress. If you’re a military buff, you’ll enjoy this place.
Jewish Museum: Pamenkalnio 12. In Lithuania, the recent past still evokes vivid, often bitter memories. This is certainly true regarding the Nazi occupation, when the nation’s Jewish community was virtually wiped out. This museum chronicles the tragic era.
National Gallery: Studentu 8, Lithuanian folk art.
National Museum of Lithuania (Lietuvos Nacionalinis Muziejus): Arsenalo 1.Exhibits trace the history of Lithuania from pre-historic times to 1940. A good collection of crosses studded with pagan symbols. Curiously, the museum also has an Egyptian mummy, donated by a German duke in 1899.
Pushkin Memorial Museum: Subačiaus 124. Devoted to Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, in a house where his son once lived.
Radvilai Palace: Vilniaus 22. A permanent exhibition of Western European paintings and graphics from the 16th to 18th centuries.
Vilnius Art Gallery: Didżioji 4. Lithuanian art from the 16th to 19th centuries. The collection of the Lithuanian Art Museum which recently closed will be merged with this gallery.
Vilnius Castle Museum: Arsenalo 5. In the 13th century Gedimino Tower. Displays artifacts from the Vilnius Castle. Great views of Vilnius.

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