Vytaras Radzevičius, one of the most famous Lithuanian travellers, producers and television show presenters, says that he cannot count the countries he has visited, but has certainly explored all the continents except Antarctica. However, he was once only 900 km away from it – this is the distance that separated Vytaras from the South Pole when he visited Ushuaia in southern Argentina. We asked Vytaras what he would recommend foreigners visit in Vilnius, because who could have better knowledge of our unique features than a person who has almost visited the entire world?
According to Vytaras, the easiest way to describe Lithuania to foreigners is to say that it is a flat, green country with woodlands and bodies of water, situated by the sea and with four distinct seasons.
“It is rare to find such a particular combination of landscapes and features. Moreover, it is a very safe place to live. Sometimes there is a small breeze, but nothing more. Floods are another rarity. And I have only experienced earthquakes twice in the past 53 years. Both times, they were very weak. There was also the ‘smerčius’ in 1981 – a whirlwind that touched down in Širvintos, when tractor trailors were thrown around, but it was probably the strongest known wind in the history of Lithuania,” said the traveller, joking that the only natural disaster in the country is mosquitoes.
When asked about Vilnius, Vytaras makes no secret of the fact that he starts to introduce his guests to the Lithuanian capital from the Gates of Dawn. A walk along Didžioji and Pilies streets is the best way to tap into the heart and spirit of Vilnius.
“Visiting the Cathedral and Vilnius University are a must, and if possible, taking in the panoramic views of the city from the belfry of the Church of St. Johns and the tower of Gediminas Hill. Then you should head to Užupis, visiting St. Anne’s Church and Literatų Street on the way. Later, you should walk down Gediminas Avenue. I like to show my visitors the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights as well as the barricades next to the Seimas. Finally, we usually end our trip with a visit to the MO Modern Art Museum. In this way, it is possible to get to know Vilnius from several different angles in just one day,” said V. Radzevičius.
Moreover, the capital is full of unique attractions that the traveller would recommend to guests from abroad, including everything from hot air ballooning to kayaking.
“A hot-air balloon ride over Vilnius certainly leaves a unique impression. Whether you go ballooning early in the morning or in the evening, it’s always truly wonderful to take off from the foot of the Bastion of the Vilnius Defensive Wall. All the panoramas and beauty of Vilnius open up before your eyes. If you have the opportunity, I also suggest kayaking on the Vilnelė River, taking the route from Naujoji Vilnia to the Neris River. Although it’s hard to believe, in some places, the Vilnelė is just like a mountain river and it can be pretty difficult to overcome,” said Vytaras.
The Vilnius 100 km walking and cycling route around the capital is also noteworthy. Furthermore, skiing on the slopes of Liepkalnis is recommended in the winter. The top of the hill offers impressive views of the city, while the planes flying overhead and landing at the nearby airport give skiers an added shot of adrenaline.
Radzevičius always emphasises that people in Lithuania are happy and we enjoy eating good food. Those who wish to learn about the country’s culinary heritage are advised to visit the restaurants in Vilnius Old Town that recreate or interpret traditional cuisine, such as Ertlio Namas, Stikliai and Valdovai.