From Vienna to Moscow, April 25 - May 15, 2019 | 19 Days

Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, is a city best known for its historical charm, particularly its UNESCO listed Old Town. Yet there are few European capitals modernizing quite so rapidly. Today, for every preserved baroque church there’s a trendy hip café; for every old cobbled street, a modernist work of art.

A sea of red-tiled roofs and lush green parkland, punctuated by dozens of church spires: Vilnius looks spectacular from on high. The loveliest panorama in the city – particularly at sunset – is from the Three Crosses, a monument set atop the cheerily-named Bleak Hill. Gediminas’ Tower offers an almost-equally striking view, to gaze out over the city.

Vilnius has many fine contemporary art galleries, but to really see how artists here express themselves, simply step outside. There are quirky al fresco works of art across Vilnius, from a bronze bust of Frank Zappa to a street lined with hundreds of tiny paintings, prints and ceramics, but it’s the colourful, often political street corner graffiti that really stands out.

In August 1989, an extraordinary thing happened: two million people formed a human chain stretching 420 miles from Tallinn to Vilnius, in protest of Soviet occupation. Within seven months, Lithuania was independent. To commemorate this event, a stone tile marked stebuklas (miracle) was laid in Vilnius’ main Cathedral Square. Today, it’s a lucky charm, so stand on the tile, spin clockwise and make a wish.

Lithuania has a long and tumultuous history, from the wealth and prosperity of the Middle Ages to the devastating occupations of the 20th century. Experience this fascinating contrast that makes Lithuania’s capital a refreshing and rewarding place to explore.