It was our final day in Vilnius but we had plenty of time to explore more of the Lithuanian capital as our flight home wasn’t until late in the evening. We’d managed to arrange a late check-out until 4.00 p.m. which was helpful and after a leisurely breakfast we wandered along the road to the Museum of Energy and Technology arriving soon after it opened at 10.00 a.m. This museum is also included in the Vilnius City Card and as we had not started using our 72 hour card until late morning on the first day, it was still valid (normal admission is €3 (£2.60).
The museum is housed in the former Vilnius power plant which dates back to 1903 and is the largest technical museum in Lithuania. Many of the original features are still in place and we were able to view steam turbines, generators, steam boilers, water pumps and the original control room. The only problem was that there was very little signage in English to help us understand what we were looking at.
There were various interactive scientific exhibits demonstrating how energy works in different situations. We had fun creating electricity by pedal power on a bicycle and viewed an old wooden framed car that had been stripped down to expose its internal workings. Upstairs we found a collection of old cars, vacuum cleaners and radios all connected with, and using power sources. It wasn’t the best science museum we have visited but would be of interest to heavy engineering enthusiasts.
After leaving the Energy Museum we realised that we had just enough time to make use of our Vilnius City Card one last time so we whizzed along to the Lithuanian Theatre, Music and Cinema Museum, usual admission €2 (£1.74).
This museum is located in the beautiful Radvilos Palace which was a former theatre from 1795. The galleries are quite large and showcase the history of Lithuanian performing arts and music. I enjoyed looking at the display of old theatre posters and the collection of old instruments but the majority of the exhibits would be more meaningful to Lithuanians as they focused on famous actors and musicians that I had not heard of. We were invited to sit and watch a ten minute video about 1930’s Vilnius but we found it difficult to follow as the programme was in German with Lithuanian sub-titles.
After leaving this mildly interesting museum we felt peckish so we walked the short distance to the GO9 shopping mall. This small mall is located in an elegant building which was once the site of the city’s first night club and for much of the Soviet period, newspaper offices.
Although the facade of the building is historic, the interior has been re-developed into a glitzy, ultra modern shopping centre where we soon found a cosy cafe to have a sit down and enjoy a lunchtime snack. After spending some time looking around the shops we consulted our map before heading to our final place of interest of the holiday, which was at the nearby Lithuanian Money Museum. This museum offers free admission and is operated by the Bank of Lithuania.We had already visited money museums in several countries so it was interesting to see how this one compared. The theme of the museum is to document the history of money both from Lithuania and around the world. The museum is spread over two floors with one gallery focusing on the Bank of Lithuania and its main functions.
There was a large collection of specimen banknotes on display in pull-out drawers and when a drawer was opened it linked to a large screen providing information on the monetary unit which was very informative.
Downstairs we saw a glass cabinet containing the world’s largest coin pyramid made up of 1,000,935 coins which has been included in the Guinness Book of World Records. The pyramid was built with Lithuanian one cent coins to celebrate the Lithuanian Litas. The country has been a member of the Eurozone since January 1995. We found this small museum very interesting but apart from a school party we were the only visitors, but its somewhere I’d highly recommend for a short visit.
Next, we decided to take a walk alongside the river towards the central business district, a part of the city we had yet to visit. This area lying on the north bank of the River Neris boasts several skyscrapers and the Europa Tower which is the tallest building in the Baltic states and has become a modern landmark of the city.
As we were waiting to cross a busy road to visit the Europa Mall we noticed that the pedestrian crossing symbol was of a woman. After a little research we discovered that this traffic light had only been changed a few days earlier to celebrate the centenary of women’s voting rights in Lithuania. It made me wonder why the use of female symbols on pedestrian traffic lights is so rare around the world.
Safely across the road we spent an hour exploring this large shopping centre, buying a few early festive gifts to take back home with us. The mall had several cafes and restaurants but rather than eat there we returned to the hotel just ahead of our late check out time. We enjoyed a leisurely meal in the bar before heading back to the airport by Uber taxi taking approximately 20 minutes, which cost only €5.50 (£4.75) for the two of us.
Our four nights stay at the IBIS Vilnius Centre had exceeded our expectations and we would highly recommend this new hotel for a short break in the city. We made good use of our 72 hour Vilnius City Cards as they provided us with free entry into most of the city’s attractions some of which we may not have visited without them. Our cards included the additional public transport option but I would first suggest checking where your accommodation is located and what you plan to see and do, as the city is quite easily walkable. Please also bear in mind that the majority of the museums covered by the card are closed on Mondays.
Vilnius airport seemed very quiet with just our flight and another to Riga scheduled to depart late that evening which was good as it meant that there were no queues to contend with. Our Ryanair flight back to Leeds-Bradford departed on time and in just under three hours we were back on home soil after a lovely first visit to the Lithuanian capital.
This brings to an end this series of posts on Vilnius which I hope you have enjoyed. I would like to thank Go Vilnius for helping to make our visit possible. As always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.
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As this will be my final post before Christmas I would like to take this opportunity of wishing all my readers who celebrate the festive season, a very happy Christmas. Although I love to travel as much as I can, I like nothing more than spending Christmas at home with my family around me. Wherever you may be, I hope you have a lovely, relaxing time!