Vilnius is a very popular weekend or summer destination. At first glance, Vilnius is an odd city. It looks like a country town, Soviet city and grand European capital mashed together. It’s one of those cities that reveals its treasures slowly, and definitely rewards those who like alternative sights. The capital comparing with other countries’ capitals is small, so you won’t spend too much time exploring it. As real locals, we’ll reveal some places and things in Vilnius that are unusual, hidden and not very highlighted.
1) Romantic sunsets on Swedbank terrace
Vilnius’ sunsets are one of the most beautiful views in this city. There are some good “classic” spots to watch the sunset: the hill of Tauras, the hill of Three Crosses, the viewpoint of Subačius. However, there is one more, in the new part of Vilnius, – Swedbank terrace. Modern and cozy with the best views of Neris, white bridge, Old Town, and TV tower in front. Buy some beverages, wait for the golden hour and visit this small spot. You can find it in Konstitucija prospectus 20a.
2) Memorials on the hidden cemetery
One of the most unusual and least-visited spots near Vilnius centre is the Bernadine Cemetery. Its paths rise and fall, twisting and turning between the tall trees, rusty crosses and chipped and broken tombs. Nestling on a high bank above a fast-flowing little river, it immediately propels you into quiet contemplation – and makes you long for such a place when it’s finally your turn to dearly depart (off Polocko St, Uzupis).
3) Unusual quirky sculptures
Monument of Frank Zappa isn’t the only quirky one in Vilnius. There are so many more weird and hidden sculptures! The lucky belly (rubbing it will bring you luck, of course!), the apple (as a gratitude to the people helping with charity), the angel of Uzupis (which symbolizes the freedom of Eastern European art) or the egg (which used to stand in Uzupis) – these are just few examples of crazy Lithuanian creativity! Try to find all of them!
4) Slow walk around Verkiai Palace
What’s left of a once-superb classical mansion stands on a hill just to the north of Vilnius. The land here belonged to the Lithuanian grand dukes until 1387 when Grand Duke Jogaila, on his conversion to Christianity, gave it to the bishops for a summer residence. In 1780 a huge palace was built here, but Napoleon’s soldiers ravaged it in 1812. It’s not just a palace. The surrounding area also makes Verkiai well worth a visit. It’s a fantastic place for a calm, relaxing stroll. Verkiai Palace has a lovely view across the River Neris valley and its endless forests. A legend tells how a sacred fire was once tended here at the edge of the ridge by a pagan priest and beautiful virgins.
5) Making wishes on Stebuklas Miracle Tile
Speaking of tiles – there’s a special one in front of the cathedral. It’s easy to find – it’s different than others, has “Stebuklas” written on it and usually there are people gathering around who want to experience some magic too. It is said that once you turn around clockwise three times your wish will come true. The Stebuklas is most famous for its magical, wish-granting properties, but it also represents a momentous day in Lithuanian history. At the end of Soviet regime, in 1989 around 2 millions people made a human chain, from Vilnius to Tallinn via Riga, some 650 kms all the way across what now is Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. It was a way to protest against the current political situation in USSR. Apparently the “Stebuklas” tile was a starting (or ending) point of the chain.
6) Book treasures of Mint Vinetu
A small and cozy second-hand bookshop & cafe is a blissful hidden place! The aroma of fresh coffee and old books mixed there giving somehow an intellectual vibe. Buy one at a bargain price or trade one you’ve just finished. The shop has a great variety of books in languages from Russian to Danish and so on. Besides books they carry interesting little souvenirs, like postcards with Vilnius graffiti and fridge magnets with funky quotes. By the way the bookstore also sells old and slightly newer vinyl records. Located in the old town on Šv. Ignoto g. 16!
7) Literary museum of A. Pushkin
Another unusual spot to visit in Vilnius. This museum is worth a visit not because of the poet himself (who never visited Vilnius), but because of the old furniture and layout giving a vivid image on how the upper middle class of the Russian Empire lived.
The museum is open at odd times, set inside a wooden house that once belonged to Pushkin’s son Grigorij. It’s now home to dusty old volumes of Pushkin’s works and other curios, and is furnished in the style of the late 19th century. Wander behind the house past a Pushkin statue into quiet grounds set around a lake. The paths reach out into the countryside and are a delight to explore. Check Subachiaus g. 124 on map to find it.
As you can see, despite the most popular and tourists loved places, Vilnius has some unusual hidden places you need to look for. So, don’t forget to stop by and explore more in Vilnius. And Jerulita’s guides will help you to find out even more charming secret places!