Vilnius, the delightful capital city of Lithuania is probably the least touristy of all the Baltic capitals. Its charming Old Town retains much of its original features and is one of the best preserved in Europe. With an eclectic mix of architectural styles that vary hugely form the Gediminas Castle Tower to the Vilnius Cathedral, you can easily while away a few days just admiring all that this part of the city has to offer. Interestingly, Vilnius is also famous for its amber, which you can purchase all over the city. Washed up on the shores of the Baltic it is polished and fashioned into all manner of jewellery.
In terms of food and drink, Lithuania is best known for its beer, but its gastronomic delights should not be overlooked. The city has some great restaurants and traditional dishes are still revered and lovingly prepared.
Here’s our guide to the traditional dishes to look out for in Vilnius.
All About Potatoes
Potatoes are certainly the mainstay in Lithuania and over the years the potato based dishes have been influenced by many a culture and nationality. It really is incredible how many ways you can enjoy this humble food. You really can’t leave Lithuania without trying the Cepalinai, the big boiled potato dumplings that are filled with delicious cheese or meat. Potatoes are also used to make the potato loaf known as kugelis and potato salads too. You’ll also see potato pancakes filled with meat and even the rather interesting potato sausage (vedarai), which is pork intestines stuffed with grated, you guessed it, potato.
Try The Dumplings
Dumplings are also an important food in Lithuanian cuisine, and made from dough they are filled with meat, mushrooms, berries or cheese. We really love the half-moon shaped ones that are filled with blueberries and known as tinginiai (“lazy bones”). Pancakes made with a similar dough instead of potatoes are also popular and some have fillings of fruit while others are made from a yeasted dough and dipped in sour cream or jam.
Vegetable, meat and even beer soup are all popular on Lithuanian menus, with one of the most unusual soups being beetroot soup. It is served cold and made from beets, fermented milk, greens and boiled eggs. This is one to be enjoyed in summer.
A great street food snack is the marinated herring that you can enjoy with boiled potatoes, or for another delicious morsel try one of the many types of cold-smoked hams or sausages. Lithuanians also love their mushrooms and use these in lots of sauces, as fillings and in side dishes.
So, on your visit to Vilnius, make sure you tap into the cuisine, as you could be pleasantly surprised.
How to Get There: Vilnius
For low cost Vilnius airport transfers, book with us. Here at Shuttle Direct we offer an excellent service that is reliable and efficient and gets you door to door with minimum fuss. Vilnius airport transfers can be booked on a shared or private basis, depending on what suits you. The airport in Vilnius is small but well served receiving flights from many European cities including London, Milan, Barcelona and Riga.
Where to Stay
The Corner Hotel – For a budget accommodation option in the city that offers modern rooms and is located in the centre of Vilnius, The Corner Hotel is a great option. Rooms are comfortable, sound-proofed and have TVs and Wi-Fi on hand. Every room has a little seating area as well as a desk and en suite facilities. Public transport links are easily accessible form the hotel and there is a handy supermarket only a 50m walk away.
Hotel Apia – If you want to be based in the Old Town and have a little more cash to splash then Hotel Apia is a lovely option. Classic rooms are well decorated and have wooden floors and private bathrooms complete with under floor heating. Free Wi-Fi is offered throughout the hotel and satellite TVs are provided in every room. Stay at this hotel and you can enjoy breakfast served at the 5-star Hotel Narutis, a short walk away, where you can also indulge in the spa facilities. Staff at this hotel are very friendly and are on hand to help with tourist information, organise tours and book museums.
Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square – Our top end of the budget choice in Vilnius is Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square, a renovated 100 year old building located in the heart of the Old Town. Stunning rooms are modern and elegant and offer air conditioning and Wi-Fi as well as access to the spa centre. With city views and satellite TV, the rooms are beautifully decorated with classic furniture and pastel colours. There is an outdoor swimming pool, body treatment facilities, hot tub, sauna and Turkish bath. The restaurant is excellent and there are lovely views of the gorgeous Cathedral Square.