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Vilnius Travel Guide

Aug 17, 2007
Vilnius, the vibrant capital of Lithuania, is situated just under 200 miles east of the Baltic shore and was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Cities in 1994. It is also only 12 miles from the geographical centre of Europe - the village of Purnuskes - as designated by the French National Institute of Geography in 1989.

Founded in the early 1300's Vilnius is dominated by the Gediminas Castle, named after the city's founder, which features a recently restored red-bricked tower from which you get the best views of the city.

If you are in need of a miracle, stay in the old town and head off to the square just outside the 14th century Archcathedral Basilica. Once there look for a floor tile which carries the word "Stebuklas" - that's the Lithuanian for miracle - and if you turn 360 degrees on that tile while making your wish it will come true, so local legend says!

As well as busting at the seams with churches and historic buildings ranging from 13th century, Vilnius old town contains a plethora of pubs and nightclubs providing a fantastic fusion of the old and new. As the average salary of a Vilnius worker is 500 euros per week you'll find that prices of most things are a lot cheaper than in the UK.

For example, the average price of a pint of decent quality beer in Lithuania is around 80p and with clubs staying open until 5.00 am Vilnius is proving a popular location for weekend breaks. Although do be careful how much you have to drink as there are some 'unusual' tourist attractions in the city and you wouldn't want to wake up in the 'KGB museum of Genocide', for example!

Outside of the old town, and in line with many of the cities who have emerged from years of communist rule, there is extensive development as Vilnius attempts to establish itself as a major Western capital city. The city offers reasonable shopping with Hugo Boss, Benetton and Zara all opening there recently.

Although with distinctly historic origins you'll still find Vilnius offers ultra-modern WiFi hotspots and internet cafes in abundance, allowing you to stay in touch with the folks back home, if you want to! Or, you can totally escape to some remote spots; try Pavilniai park on the River Vilnia, situated in a glacial valley, which features steep, rocky cliffs, or if you're there in summer try the River Neris beaches where the locals hang out.

Amongst one of the lesser well-known facts about the city is the fact that Vilnius is big on Frank Zappa. Or, rather it was in 1995 when an extremely keen local fan of the American rock musician managed to persuade the city council to allow him to erect the world's only Zappa statue in one of the city's parks!

Lithuania, as champions of Europe and winners of three successive Olympic bronze medals, are huge on basketball. If you visit during the season catch a game at the 11,000 seat Siemens Arena, home of Lietuvos Ryto in the Euroleague, or the smaller 1,700 seater Lietuvos Ryto stadium for the Lithuanian League games.

Flying time to Vilnius from the UK is just under three hours; British Airways and Lithuanian Airlines both fly there direct.
About the Author
Matt Davies writes articles for HotelHippo.com, who offer cheap hotels in Vilnius.
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