The capital of Lithuania and Europe’s oldest baroque old town, Vilnius, is European Capital of Culture 2009.
This city already had a vibrant arts scene, and throughout this year it’s even more alive with exciting events from art exhibitions and music festivals to theatre and literature festivals. This stunning town will charm you with its cobbled alleyways, cosy bars and intriguing combination of beautifully-preserved churches and the world’s only statue of psychedelic musician Frank Zappa. While you’re there, here are a few sights and experiences you shouldn’t miss:
Gediminas Castle: A perfect beginning for your visit to Vilnius is braving the walk up to Gediminas Castle to get a view of the city. You will see the old town, the river Neris and the 328-metre-tall TV tower.
Cathedral Square: On weekends the square is filled with newlyweds who are photographed before heading off to their receptions the city’s many limousines. Vilnius has more limos than any other European capital.
Pigs’ ears: Stroll down Pilies gatvè and have a rest at one of the many cafés and pubs, where a plate of smoked pig ears is a mandatory snack.
Old Town: The heart of the Old Town offers approximately one square kilometre of UNESCO World Heritage beauty, with lovely baroque buildings and surprises on every street corner.
Uzupis: Take a trip to the artsy, self-proclaimed “independent republic,” Uzupis, on the other side of the little Vilnia River. Home to artists and musicians, it is Vilnius’ answer to Montmartre in Paris and Christiania in Copenhagen.
TV tower: This is one of the few must-sees in new Vilnius — it is where the final stand took place during Lithuania’s fight for independence in 1991. For the reckless visitor, there’s an opportunity to take on Europe’s highest bungee jump from a height of 169 metres.
Vilnius beach: Enjoy Vilnius beach, an artificial sandy beach on river Neri’s north shore. A visit to the beautiful art park Europas Parkas nearby is also a must; www.europosparkas.lt.
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