According to the culture and lifestyle magazine Time Out, the area around the train station in Vilnius is the fifth coolest neighbourhood in the world. Website timeout.com claims to be “Your ultimate guide to the best art and entertainment, food and drink, attractions, hotels and things to do in the world’s greatest cities.“
About the definition of “cool”, the magazine notes that these days, a cool neighbourhood is much more than simply fashionable. Over the past 18 months, neighbourhoods have been vital sources of community support. They’ve pulled together, not only to get through a pandemic but also, increasingly, to fight the climate emergency. These days, nothing’s cooler than inclusivity, social justice, sustainability and environmentalism. So our definition of ‘cool’ has changed a bit, too. As well as the usual focus on food, drink and culture, this year’s Time Out Index survey was tweaked to recognise the places thinking and planning for the future, and making life that little bit nicer right now. Food, drink, nightlife, culture – important. Community spirit, resilience, sustainability – just as important, especially if we are to come out of this pandemic with things we can be proud of and tell the rest of the world about.”
Time Out polled 27,000 city-dwellers worldwide and asked local experts to assess the best neighbourhoods for food, fun, culture, and community. It then ranked 49 city districts based on the results of the annual Time Out Index.
Vilnius’s station area came in fifth, just below neighbourhoods in Copenhagen (Nørrebro), Chicago (Andersonville), Seoul (Jongno 3-ga) and Edinburgh (Leith), but topping districts in New York, Hong Kong, and other major cities.
Huw Oliver, Time Out editor, personally visited Vilnius in September. “I had a wonderful time in Vilnius. The sheer number of things to do in this city is almost bewildering,” Oliver said. “The city has much more to offer than could be expected, knowing its modest size.”
Here is exactly what Time Out had to say:
“With self-proclaimed ‘Artists’ Republic’ Užupis now very much gentrified, Vilnius’s creative soul resides in the Station District. Here you’ll find the city’s best street art: murals, giant Tony Sopranos and sculptures jammed onto neoclassical buildings (you’ll find the latter at Kablys, a riotous nightclub with Berghain-style door policy). There’s also Loftas Art Factory, a Soviet factory that’s been turned into a sprawling community-oriented venue hosting gigs, fashion shows and screenings. The area is packed with cafés (try Love Bar for cocktails with seasonal ingredients) and low-key restaurants offering mostly international cuisine: Georgian (Chačapuri), Uzbek (Halės Plovas) and the best sushi in town (Narushi). The neighbourhood’s unique blend of bijou brutalism won’t last forever: Zaha Hadid Architects have just won the competition to renovate the station itself – with an admittedly spectacular redesign.
The perfect day: Start with a lazy brunch at Druska Miltai Vanduo, the Lithuanian capital’s finest bakery. Then stroll past murals and ceramics workshops to Halės Market to sample local delicacies at Roots. Kick the evening off with drinks at Peronas (literally on the station platform), before heading to Loftas for a gig.
Plan your trip: For Loftas Fest, Lithuania’s largest city music festival. The free event is hosted by Loftas Art Factory over three days every September, and its nine stages feature the cream of the region’s bands and DJs.”
We say, “Į sveikatą!”
News from LRT.lt and Time Out
Photo: Tony Soprano