Return flights: £39.98 (Ryanair)
Accommodation: £28.89 Slippers B&B House (Ryanair Rooms)
Summary and Highlights:
- Consider staying somewhere different that you wouldn’t usually choose.
- Make use of local apps and first time sign up promotions
- Old Town
- Republic of Užupis
- Museum of Occupations and Freedom
After visiting Riga and Tallinn at the end of last year, I thought it would be worth completing the Baltics and it happened to come up with some cheap flights from Liverpool. I’ve noticed that although Liverpool is a small airport, it serves several especially Eastern European destinations including Romania and Bulgaria with airlines such as WizzAir and Blue Air that do not operate out of larger airports such as Manchester.
When searching for accommodation through my normal channels, I came across this guest house with cheap rooms it described as ‘cabins’ and from the pictures I knew that it was literally a cupboard with a bed in. At £29 for 3 nights it was worth it for the price. When I arrived, a nice old Lithuanian woman greeted me and we had a full conversation in broken English and Russian. I even got a pair of slippers that fit me (owing to the name of the guest house I guess). Despite being 6′ 2, the cabin was surprisingly roomy and had everything I needed (plus made for some great pics).
I’d recommend if arriving at night make use of ride-sharing apps such as Uber or Bolt, which I first knew about on my last trip to the Baltics since Bolt is headquartered in Tallinn. There are many codes online for €6 off first rides for new customers so I got a free journey from the airport to my accommodation.
My first morning was a walking tour of the Old Town which is one of the largest surviving medieval Old Towns as well as the Užupis district which is popular with artists. Officially the Republic of Užupis, it has its own flag, unofficial currency, president and a constitution. Since their national day is 1st April, it’s unclear whether their statehood is meant to be serious, tongue in cheek or a mix of both. Either way, you won’t find it on your average map. I even got to stamp my passport at their information centre.
In addition to the Old Town tour, I did an alternative Vilnius tour which showcased the ‘new town’ side of the city outside of the historical centre, especially the prominent art scene and contrast of tower blocks next to wooden houses. This as well as a Soviet tour which highlighted the still prominent recent history of the Baltic region.
I think a must see in Vilnius is the Museum of Occupations and Freedom, which is located in the former KGB headquarters. I got student discount with my ISIC card so was only €1 entry (usually €4) and it timelines the first Soviet Occupation, followed by the Nazi Occupation and then the post-WWII Soviet re-occupation. This building includes a former KGB prison which even for me was a bit creepy and I didn’t think it right to take any pictures.
I’d say out of all three Baltics, this was my second favourite, after Tallinn. Thankfully it wasn’t minus 7 and it’s a very cheap and quiet city, despite being a capital.