Snow, holidays, marshmallows, Christmas, hot chocolate – so many images fill my head as I think of winter. For many people, winter is a time to stay indoors and read books, but for adventure lovers like me, it is another exciting opportunity to venture into the world.
If there’s a one destination that’s full of winter magic then it is Vilnius, Lithuania.
Lithuania is a small Baltic country in northern Europe. Vilnius, it’s capita, is one of Europe’s oldest medieval cities! It’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site as it contains almost two thousand medieval and gothic buildings!
Here are a few things to do in alluring Vilnius this winter:
1. Old Town:
One of Europe’s longest surviving medieval towns has so many buildings and galleries waiting to be explored. In this melting pot of different architectural styles, you’ll see gothic, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical buildings standing side by side – a view that will take your breath away. With its twisting alleyways, cobblestone streets, countless cafes and brimming street market, you’ll find yourself easily spending a day or two exploring this historic center.
2. Soviet Bunker:
If you’re interested in more recent history then Vilnius is just the place for you to live under Soviet rule! Visitors are taken to a forest where they’re “ambushed” by members of the Red Army. Captured and blindfolded, the prisoners are then taken to a bunker, 19ft below ground, where they’re Soviet prisoners for three hours! This is “1984: Survival Drama In A Soviet Bunker” – a three hour long, interactive, quasi theatrical experience in a real Soviet bunker in the middle of the Lithuanian forest! Complete with KGB officers, real dogs and blindfolds, this is a hit with tourists!
3. Palace Of The Grand Duke Of Lithuania:
This huge gleaming white palace, sitting in the middle of Vilnius, was first constructed during the 15th century. It flourished during the 16th and 17th centuries but was demolished in 1801. Reconstruction work started in 2002 and the palace was opened in 2009. It was officially open to the public in 2013. Serving as the national museum, its exhibits are rich with Lithuanian history from the Middle Ages and onwards. As snow clings to the palace during the winter, it makes for a breathtaking backdrop.
4. Gediminas’ Tower:
It is the only remaining part of the Upper Castle in Vilnius. Legend has it that once upon a time, the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas was hunting in the woods when he got tired and retired for a nap. He had a dream of a large wolf standing on top of a hill and howling out loud. The dream was interpreted to mean that a city should be built in that place. Gediminas then went on to build Vilnius and he put a castle in the center of the city. Today, Gediminas Tower is the only part of the castle that remains standing. It has become an important historic symbol of the Vilnius and Lithuania.