Vilnius: the Lithuanian capital

If you remain unfazed by the idea of temperatures that can drop below zero then head to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius this winter. Despite harrowing Nazi and Soviet occupation, the city’s charm has survived, reports The Daily Mail.

Dating back to 1323, it has one of the largest Old Towns in Eastern Europe which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List: nevertheless its narrow cobbled alleys and beautifully restored buildings can be explored on foot.

Investment in building restoration was given a boost when Vilnius became last year’s European Capital of Culture. And indeed there are plenty of gentrified buildings to see. One of the largest Baroque cities in Europe, the architecture of the old town is actually a fascinating blend of Baroque and Gothic. There are a phenomenal number of churches, of which the Gothic Church of St Anne and Vilnius Catholic Cathedral are just a few.

Lithuanians kissed communism good bye with a smile and have kept smiling ever since. Vilnius has still not been invaded by tourists so travellers receive an enthusiastic welcome. There are a number of designer stores and international restaurants to keep visitors happy although local gifts and the Baltic treasure, amber, can be found on the Pilies Gatve (Pilies Street) which stretches from Town Hall Square in the south to Cathedral Square in the north.

Lithuanian Airlines and Air Baltic fly to Vilnius from Gatwick and Ryan Air fly to nearby Kaunas.

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