Valentine's Day in Vilnius
For a romantic break with a difference, we decided to fly to the Baltic state of Lithuania, whose capital city, Vilnius, offers fairytale romance, quirkiness and historic architecture galore.
We had no trouble finding our historic hotel in the centre of the well-preserved, mediaeval old town. In spite of the fact that Vilnius is the second biggest city in the Baltic states, walking around the historic centre one could almost imagine that it was a fairly small town. It's narrow streets had a cosy feel, the historic buildings crowded together, as though they were huddled against the cold. There was snow on the ground when we arrived, and a few flakes still fell, caught in the street lights. It was cold and our breath clouded the air before us as we walked through the pretty streets, slipping every now and then on the uneven cobbles, grabbing each other and laughing.
We entered the hotel which was slightly faded, but charming. We acquainted ourselves with our room, which was lovely and warm, thawed out a little and then headed out for dinner. Working on the recommendation of a local we had chatted to on our way from the airport, we headed for the Užupis district. He had kindly made a reservation for us at Užupio Klasika, a small family run restaurant that he said was the best in Vilnius, and would take us back in time.
The restaurant was extremely quaint, a lovely, dark, cosy little place where we were greeted warmly. It was busy and there was the hubbub of cheerful diners, but we had a delicious meal by candlelight and enjoyed the relaxed and old-fashioned setting. We were very grateful to have been told about this lovely place.
The following morning we explored the old town with its fascinating mix of buildings from different time periods – Baroque town houses and Gothic Churches, Renaissance buildings nestling against others with neoclassical features. Somehow, the whole hodgepodge came together to create an extremely pretty and appealing whole. We took our time, walking hand in hand through snow in the brittle winter sunlight.
Over the next couple of days we saw all of Vilnius' main landmarks, from the Castle Complex and the Palaces, the main churches and Cathedrals to the National Museum. Someone told us that beneath the old town lies a complex of dungeons filled with skeletons and mummified bodies – not the most romantic of images, although somehow fitting in this fairytale location, but in any case, they are mostly closed off to the public. Instead, we stayed above ground, mooching about the streets, having hot chocolate or coffee in little cafés and dining out on solid, hearty meals which are traditional here. The potato cakes are a local favourite and are extremely filling.
Vilnius was a lovely place to spend a romantic break. Perhaps we had not made the most of our visit but it had been pleasant to just relax, take it all in, eat, drink and be merry, and we had a wonderful time together this this magical northern city.
Granted city rights
Area • City municipality
401 km2 (155 sq mi)
112 m (367 ft)
1,391.9/km2 (3,605/sq mi)
806 308 (Vilnius County)
Great Night Life!
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