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Named a hidden gem by travel guides, Vilnius' Baroque Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring grand churches, a hilltop castle tower and a presidential palace. Add to that the independent Republic of Užupis, filled with art installations and bohemian cafés alongside a competitive street art scene, and you'll have all the boxes ticked for a busy stay in Lithuania's capital city.
Continuing the artistic theme, you can stay in a hostel in Vilnius that doubles as an art gallery, or in a former hotel for opera singers and artists. If reggae is more your style, there is a Jamaican-themed Vilnius hostel with an on-site pub and private yard, and another with its own sauna. Some Vilnius hostels share a free waffle breakfast each morning, and after a spot of sightseeing you’ll be able to come back to chill out in a communal lounge or outdoor terrace with photo-worthy views.
The city’s Old Town, with one of the highest volumes of Baroque architecture in Europe, is a maze of cobblestone streets and historic buildings. It's also the place to go for reasonably priced restaurants and quirky underground beer halls. Across the river, Užupis has a more laid-back vibe, but is still close to all the action. Gediminas Avenue stretches from the cathedral to Seimas Palace, and is the cultural hub of the city, lined with museums, galleries and theatres.
For the best views of Vilnius, climb up to the Three Crosses monument in Kalnai Park, or the bell tower at the Church of St John’s. Wander through the winding streets of the Old Town until you reach the self-declared Republic of Užupis. Check out its Constitution: which features words on cats, dogs and the right to be happy. Or, you can visit the city’s former KGB prison, now the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, to better understand life in the area under Soviet and Nazi rule. Street art maps are available to signpost bold works.
Trolley buses are the cheapest and easiest way to get around the city, but it’s also compact enough to travel by foot. Vilnius International Airport is only a few kilometres outside the city centre and it's accessible by train or bus. The train station connects with surrounding countries like Belarus, Poland and Latvia, and is only a short walk from the Old Town. Next door, at the city bus station, you can book tickets to surrounding Lithuanian cities, or as far as Morocco and Greece.