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WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK

Many consider Sweet Root to be the best restaurant in the city, earning praise for its “seven courses plus seven one-bite stories” vegetable-focused tasting menu, creatively created from local seasonal ingredients, many grown on the restaurant's farm just outside the city. Newcomer 14 Horses Brasserie’s menu also focuses on local and seasonal ingredients for its dishes inspired by Lithuanian and Baltic traditions.

Saint Germain is a local favorite for European bistro food (predominantly French and Italian) in a casual, rustic setting, with a great wine list but no cocktails. For barrel-aged negronis, Manhattans, oddly good spicy (pepper) margaritas and the like, head to Apoteka bar, but be sure to reserve a table in this intimate space in advance. If booked, the Hotel Pacai’s Sofija bar, named for the countess who once hosted parties in this very spot three centuries ago, is more spacious and comfortable, with generous, upholstered bar stools, tufted sofas, and cocktails served in beautiful barware.

WHAT TO DO

The brand new MO Modern Art Museum is a must-visit. It’s a feast for the eyes indoor and out, with a sculpture garden connected to a rooftop terrace as well as a bookstore and cafe. A couple blocks away is the Contemporary Art Center, the home of the Baltic Triennial of International Art as well as the world’s largest collection of Fluxus works by the movement’s most famous artists, including George Maciunas and Yoko Ono. Both of these, and most of the best shops, are located in the city’s Old Town. While it’s the largest in Europe, its narrow, cobblestoned streets are still very manageable by foot. Avid travelers often shun organized tours, but fans of street art who want to see the most in the least amount of time should book the Alternative Vilnius tour to be expertly guided to pieces by the likes of Milos, Os Gemeos, and the famous Putin-Trump kiss by Dominykas Ceckauskas in the most efficient manner. Bonus: Milo’s piece spans an entire building across the street from Hales Market, with dozens of stalls where one can sample everything from halva to homemade pickles to local sausages, and even nosh on what many say are the city’s best bagels. Finally, Vilnius is one of the only European cities to allow hot air balloon tours, providing incomparable panoramic views of the truly stunning surrounding landscape of forests, lakes, and castles, even when covered in snow.

WHERE TO STAY

The Hotel Pacai, Lithuania’s first proper Design Hotel, opened over the summer in a renovated 17th century Baroque palace that, over the years, hosted the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte and Russian czars Peter I and Alexander I. The meticulously restored and renovated structure successfully blends the old (exposed original walls, some with frescoes) with the new, 104 rooms and suites with contemporary furnishings, marble bathrooms, and views of either the hotel’s own intimate courtyard or the city’s Old Town.

For traditionalists, the Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square is perched on an enviable spot in the center of the city, directly opposite the soaring, neoclassical cathedral and within walking distance from pretty much everything from the best shopping to museums. Interiors here, done by Stockholm’s Living Design, are the more expected version of upscale contemporary.

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