Lithuania has been described as one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, and once you arrive in Vilnius, you'll soon understand why. With its Baroque old town and quaint cobbled streets, it's best discovered on foot, making a tour guided by an enthusiastic local the ideal introduction to this fascinating city.
There's no better way to get to know somewhere than to ask a local to show you around, so it's no surprise that Vilnius with Locals' tours have been so successful.
Jurate, one of the company tour guides, explains, "The main idea of our tours is providing a friendly and positive atmosphere. We offer a variety of different tours, from traditional old town tours to alternative ones like Soviet Vilnius. Even though we provide a decent amount of history, we believe that the most interesting part is the stories from locals' daily life, which is why we try to combine both history and story telling."
For families visiting with young children, Jurate told us all about the five places that should be included in any tour of the city:
1. Toys’ Museum
Jurate's list starts out with this interactive museum, which lets you try out unique retro toys and games. It's a trip down memory lane for many visitors, as Jurate explains that "Children can see and try the toys their parents used to play with and parents can refresh their memory about their childhood. Even though it sounds like a museum for kids, you will be surprised how much grown-ups enjoy it!"
2. Kuku Muku
This restaurant-theater is a "paradise for families", with its "playground, little library, LEGO 3D room, areas for role playing games, and a foosball tables for adults". Just don't get so distracted you forget to eat – the menu includes baby food, reliable kiddie favorites like pizza and French fries, and even gluten-free and dairy-free options.
3. Vichy Aqua Park
Located a ten-minute drive from our Radisson Blu Hotel Lietuva, Vilnius, you'll find a land where "summer never ends!" Jurate suggests that you spend the day "sliding down one of the nine modern water slides, swimming in a lazy river, or even relaxing in saunas and Jacuzzis." Smaller children can play on Game Island, while older kids will love hurtling down the Maori Yell ride.
4. Energy and Technology Museum
Jurate acknowledges that this might sound a bit serious – "but wait ‘til you get inside!" The museum is based inside the country's first power station, and lots of the original equipment remains inside, including steam turbines, generators, boilers and the control panel. Other exhibitions show off vintage cars and motorbikes, while the top floor has been taken over by interactive kids' exhibits. Jurate's verdict? "Science has never been more interesting!"
5. Bernardine Garden
This enchanting park was heavily renovated between 2009 and 2013, although the original park dates back to 1469. Today, Jurate tells us that "a peaceful stroll along the Vilnia River is the perfect activity for a sunny day – there is a playground for kids, and a carousel." Visitors can also watch a performance by the musical fountain, with both classical and modern soundtracks, and view the oldest oak tree in Vilnius.