Tourism is picking up pace, and with time running out this year, many travellers are considering neighbouring or easily accessible countries. One country which is becoming increasingly popular with Brits is Lithuania, particularly the capital Vilnius. In this feature, we look at some reasons why.
With some semblance of normality back in the UK following the pandemic restrictions, British travellers are once more looking to head off to places where they can relax, top up with culture and expand their minds. One country that is proving popular with the British is Lithuania, a country we’ve featured regularly in recent years.
Surprisingly, and there is no reason why I should be surprised, travellers from the United Kingdom are amongst the top ten countries for tourists visiting the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
During the first half of 2022, the number of British travellers to the city reached an impressive 67% of pre-pandemic levels, compared to the same period in 2019, which stands out as one of Lithuania’s best years on record for tourism.
One of the likely reasons why Brits love Lithuania is it has been ranked the third-best country for road trips, which frequently leads to discovering its most scenic spots and new experiences. Another obvious reason is the social side of Vilnius, which even includes intriguing daily and eerie nightly tours at the city’s former prison-turned cultural hub, Lukiškės Prison 2.0.
UK tourists (not surprisingly) also seem to be huge fans of the wide variety of locally brewed beers, along with the lushness of the city’s green spaces and the captivating modern art in the MO Museum.
Top activities in Vilnius: Hot-air balloon rides and gastro explorations
Rather than wandering the many cultural spots of the city, travellers can find more niche experiences in Vilnius. For instance, it is the only capital city in Europe to officially allow hot-air balloon rides over it. Looking down upon the city’s extraordinary architecture, which merges with the rolling hills and emerald forests beneath, makes it one of the most popular adventures in the city.
Vilnius also has an incredible gastro scene which we’ve covered in detail here. Gourmet travellers who yearn for traditional foods rendered with a modern twist will not be disappointed. The number of culinary offerings, including fine dining and incredible street foods, is staggering.
The UNESCO-listed Old Town is peppered with a multitude of restaurants—all within a walkable distance from each other. At the same time, visitors who would rather exchange the cobbled-street charms of the Old Town for new and hip spots should head over to the Vilnius Station District, which was named one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world. Now it is known for flourishing cultural, artistic, and nightlife, alternative event venues, and meeting points for artists and youth.
During the pandemic, Vilnius established itself as an open-air café, hosting various incredible outdoor events open to visitors and residents throughout the summer. The events included cult cinema screenings under one of the city’s main bridges, open-air libraries scattered around the town in squares and parks, and outdoor music festivals that draw huge crowds.
2023 will mark the capital’s 700th anniversary, and the city is planning to wow residents and guests with artistic and cultural events, music festivals, and other bursts of entertainment. Given how well this year’s outdoor events were received, there’s no doubt that next year’s planned events will be equally, if not more, popular. Increased British tourist numbers are expected for the historical celebrations alongside other events such as the Vilnius Light Festival and the music festival “As Young As Vilnius”.
Getting to Vilnius
It is quite straightforward for Brits wanting to experience what Vilnius has to offer. There are multiple direct flights from London (Luton, City, Stansted, Gatwick airports), as well as Liverpool, Birmingham, Doncaster, and Belfast. The flights are daily and are a great way to combine business and pleasure as explorations of the most scenic routes are all concentrated within easy walking distance of each other. If you want more information on things to do in Vilnius, visit the city’s official tourism website, Go Vilnius.
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