Lithuania's capital is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site, with winding streets lined by Baroque and gothic architecture. When the sun sets, the lively student population fuels a vibrant nightlife, but wander off the beaten track and you'll also find snug bars, local hang-outs and dark taverns harking back to the city's mediaeval roots.
Brewing has long been a core part of Lithuania's culture, so as you'd expect, there are plenty of crisp beers to sample in its historic capital, Vilnius. Other local favourites include a sweet honey liqueur known as krupnikas and, if you're feeling adventurous, starka, a 15th century Polish-Lithuanian concoction of dark rye vodka, apple leaves and lime blossom. Smooth, pure and delectably fruity, it's hard to find outside Eastern Europe, so make sure you enjoy it while you can.
7 Fridays: Soak Up the History of the Old Town
As an established favourite among locals, you're guaranteed a great atmosphere at 7 Fridays. Based in a former Franciscan monastery found up a little Old Town back street, this bar has an excellent beer selection and a young, sophisticated crowd. There are plenty of weekday social events like quizzes and gigs, to keep things interesting while you work your way through several glasses of their rich, dark house beer.
Būsi Trečias: The city's first microbrewery
This rustic bar is one of only a few of its kind left in Vilnius, so it's worth taking the time to come by and visit the basement microbrewery. The drinks menu gives you thirteen beers to choose from, covering the spectrum from blonde to dark. Once you've decided, ask the barman to mix in some fruit cordial to create a traditional cherry beer.
Špunka: Meet the locals
If you're in the market for local beers and local people, Špunka is the place for you. This small, cosy bar is located in the charming neighbourhood of Užupis and offers a selection of foreign beers alongside eight local varieties – which you can buy to take away for souvenirs – plus plenty of other beverages, if beer isn't your thing. The down-to-earth regulars are reliably willing to chat in English over a beer or two, although if you can manage any Lithuanian, that'll go down even better.
Alchemikas Cocktail Bar: Mix it up
Just a five-minute taxi journey from our Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva, Vilnius, or a 20-minute walk across the river, Alchemikas is an excellent Old Town cocktail bar, perfect for when you've had your fill of beer. Don't be fooled by its location – despite being packed into an area busy with pubs and clubs, this little bohemian gem retains a unique, offbeat charm. A green lantern hangs on the outside wall, while inside, satin drapes and ornate chandeliers create an old world vibe that contrasts nicely with the menu's thoroughly modern cocktails.
Avilys: Beer, hops and honey
With a name that means 'beehive' in Lithuanian, it won't surprise you to learn that honey makes frequent appearances on the drinks menu here. This microbrewery sells three varieties of beer created in-house: a light ale-like beer, sweet Medaus, made with honey, and a dark ginseng beer. You'll also find a range of thoughtful bar snacks made with, you guessed it, beer, hops and honey.