Vilnius: the beautiful capital of Lithuania
When I chose Vilnius for my Erasmus I didn’t know anything about Lithuania, but I wanted go to somewhere in the north and this place inspired me. When I said to my friends and to my family that I was going there, I usually heard this questions: “What? And where is it?” or “Why? Why among all the European cities you have chosen just this one?”
Well, I couldn’t answer precisely at that time because I didn’t know it myself, but now, after I spent five months there, which were without doubt the best period of my life till now, I certainly can answer.
Why going there?
- Prices: It’s quite cheap compared to the others European Countries. I used to make this kind of confrontation comparing cigarettes (3 euros), alcohol (you can have a half-liter of beer even at 2.00 euros) and transportation (I spent monthly 7 euros for the bus pass). So if you want to have a nice trip but without spending too much money, this is the right place to go!
- Position : Its strategic position in the center of Europe allows to visit a lot of other countries and there are really often offers for buses or flights. For that it is useful to check www.travelfree.com.
- Vilnius: Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania is really a nice city to visit. The centre is not very big so you can easily move around and you don’t need many days to see the most important stuff. You can also do several interesting activity and discover the Lithuanian culture.
- Food: I was personally in love with the Lithuanian food even if it’s really fat. I went several times in the traditional restaurants where you can have
a good meal for a good price. I recommend to try cepelinas, the fried bread you can dip in melted cheese to accompany with a big cold lithuanian beer
(I miss Švyturis so much!) and the kibinai (traditional food of Trakai). If you go to the supermarket like Iki or Maxima remember to try the amazing sureliai (small snacks whose taste is similar to cheesecake), I would have bring a bag full of them back to Italy if I could!
- Nature: Lithuania is a country full of nature, there are several national parks and many wild places nice to see. Also in th
e cities there are a lot of nature. In Vilnius there were a lot of nice parks for walking around and a lot of forest. In fact for e
xample my university, the Mykolo Romerio was surrounded by a forest and I used to cross it several times to go to a bus station.
What to see and what to do
- Vilnius Old Town: First of all I suggest to have a walk in the city centre which is really particular and very nice. Even if it’s small it’s the pearl of Vilnius, in fact it was included in 1994 in the UNESCO World Heritage List. You can find there whatever you need: shops, souvenirs, restaurants, bars, theathers and so on.
- Cathedral Square: This is the main square in the old town and there is (as the name suggest) the beautiful neoclassic cathedral and the bell tower. In the square if you are observant, you can find the “magical stone” where there is written the word stebuklas and it’s tradition to round here three times in place and make a wish.
- Gediminas’ Tower: Now take some rest and then go to the Gediminas’ Tower, one of the most important symbols of Vilnius. When you reach this beautiful castle on the top of a hill you can have an amazing view of the city: on one side the Old Town, on the other the new part crossed by the Vilnia river.
- Hill of the Three Crosses: Another really nice panoramic point of Vilnius that you can reach with a nice long walk. From here you can admire all the city.
- Užupis: A really lovely thing to see in Vilnius is the Republic of the artists, Užupis. This district of Vilnius declared itself a Republic in 1997 and has its flag, currency and a really amazing constitution translated in several languages. It has very particular articles like “everyone has the right to idle” or “a cat is not obliged to love its owner but must help in time of need”.
- A trip on the hot air ballon: From spring you can see in the Vilnius’ sky a lot of colorful hot air ballons flying around. It was the first time I saw them! You can fly on one of this for about 80euros.
- Kayak trip: One of the most funny tiring thing I’ve ever done is the kayak trip on the Vilnia river. It has been really exciting, but the people who have tried it they know how much heavy is a kayak! We fell several times in the water and the weather wasn’t so hot! We were all dead when we arrived at the end but nevertheless it was worth it.
- Trakai: If you saw everything you wanted to see in Vilnius and you still have time I advice to visit Trakai, half an hour far away from there. This is a very nice city where the most important attraction is this castle in the middle of a lake and it is wonderful to see both in winter and in summer. After the visit you should try the kibinai, the typical food of the city which I personally love!
Well, this was a panoramic of the things I enjoyed more in my time in Vilnius. Of course for me it was a different experience because I was on Erasmus so I lived the Erasmus life and so on, but if you want to go somewhere and you don’t know where,or if you’re choosing the city for your Erasmus, Vilnius will be a good choice, trust me!