It can be expensive taking a holiday, but it’s so important for your brain to take a break from work work work that the price you pay for going away is almost always worth it.
However, if you visit Vilnius, there’s really no need to worry about how much you’re spending whilst you do your tourist thing. Here’s how to have a full day doing all those things that holidays are made of, whilst keeping money in your pocket for more travels to come.
Tip One – Shopping
Shopping’s great, as long as you’re the one who’s doing the trying-on. I like buying new clothes but often I just don’t have the time at home. On holiday though there’s all the time in the world. Well, not literally. But there is more time!
Whilst Vilnius certainly has a huge range of big brand fashion names, and a really good number of small boutique clothing outlets making some delightful designs, it also has lots and lots of thrift shops. These shops, selling like-new or nearly-new clothes, can be found all around the new town (Naujamiestas), and in particular on Kauno Gatve.
I recommend starting from the train station end of the street and walking towards the Kablys building (that’s the one with the giant hook on the front). Straightaway on the right you’ll walk past the largest second-hand clothes chain in Lithuania – Humana. Their prices vary depending on the day – when the stock is new then prepare to pay a little bit more, but later in the week you’ll be buying clothes for as little as 50 cents per item. Some quality stuff as well!
As you keep walking there’s similar shops every few metres until you reach Kablys. Look out for any signs that say ‘pigus rubai’ (cheap clothes) or ‘nebrangus’ (not expensive) and you’re sure to find some bargains inside.
Tip Two – Eating
Seeing as you’ve walked all the way down Kauno Gatve from the train station to Kablys - which is probably at least half a kilometre! - you’re probably getting hungry. Not to mention all that energy spent trying on new outfits!
Look no further than Ararat Armenian restaurant, on Kauno g. 3a, just before Kablys. This place has an extensive menu of traditional Armenian and Georgian dishes and is very reasonably priced. You can get a plate of traditional ‘kachapuri’, which is like a mix between a pizza, a pasty and a pie for just over €4.
Order one portion and they’ll bring you a plate with two kachapuris on it, which is enough to fill two stomachs easy. Vegetarian and meat options are available and there’s some decent drinks as well.
Tip Three – Sightseeing
Right, you’ve shopped and you’ve eaten and now you might feel like doing a bit of sightseeing. Vilnius is a beautiful city to enjoy walking around, something which won’t cost a penny. Even better than that though could be taking a free guided walking tour.
Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘You would say that wouldn’t you!’ It’s true I do work for a free tour company, but I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think it was a good idea, and I wouldn’t be working for them if they weren’t a lot of fun! And the folks on Trip Advisor seem to agree, we’ve recently celebrated our first 1000 reviews!
There are two main free tours, the Old Town tour which includes Uzupis and begins from the Town Hall at 10am or 12pm every day; and the Alternative tour, which currently runs on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 3pm, also from the Town Hall. Both are well worth a look, but the Alternative tour is my favourite as it shows you a side of the city most tourists never get to see. But then again, I would say that wouldn’t I!
Tip Four – Liquid Refreshments
Vilnius has lots of bars, and Lithuania has a really good variety of beers. Dark, light, wheat, stout, we have them all and with some delicious flavours. Some pubs can be more pricey than others, particularly in the Old Town, but compared to other capital cities in Europe the majority of drinks in Vilnius are usually a few euros cheaper.
But this blog post is about saving money! So now I’m going to tell you about the cheapest place I’ve found to have a drink, just outside the Old Town. It’s not the prettiest or cosiest bar in the world, but if you’re looking for an old-school Lithuanian drinking experience then read on to my final paragraph.
The name of the bar is simply ‘Kavine Baras’, which means ‘Café Bar’. It’s located at 55 Pylimo gatve, parallel to the entrance to Hales food market, just down the road from the Gate of Dawn. You will recognise the bar from the outside because it has a huge sticker of a glass of beer stuck right over the door. Step inside for a no-frills glass of some strong beer or various local spirits. The price for a pint (500ml) is around €1.40, and at 6% proof you won’t want to drink too much! And the taste’s not bad either!