British tourists are one of the top groups rapidly returning to Vilnius after the pandemic restraints—72% of tourists from the UK came back for a visit last year in comparison to traveler flows in 2019. In 2023 the city is celebrating its 700th anniversary and is charming all visitors, including the ones from the UK, with an international music event, 8 Festival, which features renowned international artists, fresh seasonal food culture, high-quality craft beer, mild temperatures, and low crowds.
April 18, 2023. City breaks have been a top vacation destination for some time, and European towns get the heaviest tourist flows during the warm season, which is rapidly underway. British travelers have been steadily favoring Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, for the last few years, falling into the top six nations that have been visiting the city the most.
In fact, in 2022, British tourists inbound to Vilnius reached 73% of the numbers seen in 2019—the most prolific year tourism-wise in the country. One of the driving forces for UK travelers to explore Vilnius is direct flights from London City Airport, as well as Luton and Stansted airports, making it easy to spend a weekend discovering the city’s cultural, artistic, and gastro secrets.
International music legends in a century-old former prison
The warm season in Vilnius will draw music enthusiasts from all over the globe for two major festivals. On June 16th-18th, 8 Festival, an indie music festival, will be held in the most notorious space in the city, the century-old Lukiškės Prison 2.0, which has swiftly become one of the most frequented cultural spots in the city during the warm season. Although the festival was organized for the first time last year, it garnered large interest from music enthusiasts and was nominated for several categories in awards shows—Best Overseas Festival in UK Festival Awards and Best New Festival in European Festival Awards. The impressive lineup of 23 household names will feature artists like Psychedelic Porn Crumpets from Australia, Surf Curse from the US, as well as musicians from the United Kingdom—a Mercury Prize nominee Anna Calvi, Bombay Bicycle Club, and many others.
8 Festival 2022. Photo by Mantas Repecka
A free urban festival, As Young As Vilnius, will be one of the highlights of the 700th-anniversary program and will take place on July 21st-25th, with the main event scheduled for July 25th. It will transform Vingis Park, a beloved locals’ meeting spot and a greenery-filled urban area, into an international music arena. Artists of pop, electronic, classical music, and other genres will join the crowd in celebrating St. Christopher’s Day—a festivity to honor the patron saint of Vilnius. The festival will be preceded by a jam-packed program of anniversary-related events, starting on Friday, July 21st.
Locally-sourced food explorations
As pointed out by the Hello Fresh report, sustainable ingredient sourcing and increased focus on food miles—the journey a food item travels till it reaches the consumer—is one of the prevalent food trends in the UK this year, and Vilnius is more than capable on satisfying the trend-seeking foodies. The city’s thriving gastro scene features passionate chefs who respect seasonal ingredients and follow a farm-to-table approach to their ingredient sourcing, while multiple restaurants scattered within walkable distances all over the city offer an authentic food experience.
Pubs also tempt travelers with plenty of kinds of high-quality craft beer. For instance, Alaus biblioteka pub lures the enthusiasts of the drink to try 60 beer styles, and 15 beers on tap. Būsi trečias, a miniature beer factory and a restaurant, beckons to come and have a fresh beer brewed just beneath the facility, with the menu featuring 13 beer cocktails, multiple variations of light and dark beer, as well as other drinks and snacks.
Also, travelers captivated by the tales of the past eras will have a unique opportunity to try historical Vilnius’ cuisine recreated specifically for the anniversary year. Several restaurants invite visitors and residents to try dishes like bread soup, Litvak forshmak, Lithuanian salceson, Jerusalem kugel, and many others, and hear their origin stories stemming from the city and its people.
Scenic walk along the edge of TV Tower
British travelers who prefer more adventurous endeavors can try out taking in the city’s panorama at 170 meters above the earth in Vilnius TV Tower. Aside from dining in a restaurant slowly rotating 360°, which works all year round, visitors will be offered a unique opportunity to walk its perimeter themselves from May. Scenic views of the city rolling under one’s feet, no guardrails, and the protection of the safety cord only will leave a lasting impression and a desire to come back for more.
Vilnius TV Tower Edge Walk. Photo by Joana Suslaviciute
Another must for every traveler coming to Vilnius is a ride with a hot-air balloon. Vilnius is the only European capital to officially allow these rides over the city, and the ballooning season begins now. Depending on where the wind will take the balloon, travelers can enjoy the breathtaking sweep over the capital or a slow glide over the lush fields and emerald forests toward Trakai, the medieval town.