Vilnius: A modern twist

As well as its historic centre, the Lithuanian capital is full of modern art and innovative local creatives

By Go Vilnius
Published 8 Apr 2019, 23:59 BST
Crowds at Culture Night
Crowds at Culture Night
Photograph by Go Vilnius

Travellers love the stories of Vilnius’ past: tales of the medieval Old Town, fantastical, hotchpotch architecture and its beguiling, complex history. But away from the cobbles and spires of one of Northern Europe’s largest historic centres is a new side to the Lithuanian capital — modern art, innovative ideas and emerging local talent are making Vilnius one of Europe’s most exciting centres of creativity.

Vilnius is a must-visit destination for art lovers. The city is art mad all year long, but the best time to visit is during ArtVilnius, an annual international contemporary art fair from 30 May to 2 June. The city will be awash with artists and exhibitions, as both renowned talent and new names descend on the city to showcase their works to over 20,000 visitors.

If music’s on the agenda, then the annual Street Music Day is not to be missed. Held on 19 May, it’s a rousing display of the city’s musicians, street artists and performers celebrating the freedom of imagination.
Nights in Vilnius are created for adventure, and the best one of the year is Culture Night on 14 June. More than 150 free cultural events and performances are held everywhere from the city’s public squares to small, intimate venues.

But no visit to Vilnius is complete without a trip to Užupis, the self-declared republic close to the Old Town. Hip and eccentric, the colourful district even has its own laws in more than 30 languages; its bizarre and bohemian streets are a true source of inspiration.

Top 3: Secret Vilnius

1. Uncover Vilnius’ fascinating history by visiting talking statues of 15 of the city’s historical and legendary figures, dotted around the city.

2. Supporting equal rights, look out for the female symbol pedestrian light on Konstitucijos Avenue — one of just a few in the whole of Europe.

3. Join the locals in the modern business district on Swedbank Terrace, with the gleaming River Neris and Vilnius’ Old Town as a backdrop.

Discover the city at


Published in the April 2019 issue of National Geographic raveller (UK)

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