Why You Should Be Thinking About Vilnius For Your Stag Weekend
It's crazy. It's cheap. And you can visit a theme park that faithfully recreates a Soviet-era gulag. What's not to like about Vilnius?
This Baltic beauty ticks every box, dots every'i' and crosses every't' in the ultimate stag weekend checklist. Home to staggeringly attractive buildings, stunningly affordable beer and some of the wildest activities you can do anywhere in Europe, Vilnius is the sort of place Lonely Planet writers get really overexcited about. I love it because impossibly hot bar-girls in the town square don't think twice about serving me a million tequilas despite the fact I'm already drunk - and the next day I can get rid of my hangover by driving a tank.
So, what's the skinny on this jewel in Lithuania's crown? Read on to uncover the best of the best.
OLD TOWN, NEW TRICKS
Vilnius boasts a quintessentially Baltic Old Town, which hundreds of years of oppressive history have done little to destroy. Come for the epic beauty of Cathedral Square, stay for beer that costs less than two quid for a pint and is imbibed in the presence of carousing students.
The population of Vilnius Old Town on a Friday and Saturday night is exclusively young, hot and wasted, so you'll fit right in on at least one count. Just remember, there's a difference between good-natured drinking fun and being a dick. Let's keep the reputation of good old Blighty up to scratch now, chaps.
THE BIG BANG THEORY
Vilnius' recent past is dotted with awful occurrences: the UNESCO World Heritage city was occupied by the Nazis once and the Soviets twice. The latter occupation lasted until 1990 and has left Vilnius, and Lithuania as a whole, peppered with evidence of KGB intrusion. In the ultimate act of historical disrespect, you can literally blow the Soviet secret police's legacy of fear to bits at ex-KGB firing ranges. Screw you, Stalin.
I AM GRUTAS
Got an afternoon to spare? Head 125km south of Vilnius to Grutas Park. Otherwise known as Stalin World, this insane theme park is the brainchild of a local entrepreneur, who got permission from the newly-formed Lithuanian government to build a museum showcasing discarded Soviet-era sculptures. When they approved his request, they probably didn't expect him to recreate the Communist concentration camps in the woods outside Druskininkai, but that's exactly what he did.
Think Banksy with a severe political hangover, and be glad they got banned from using an actual gulag train to transport you around the site.
THE NAME'S BOND
Ever since watching A View to a Kill when I was knee high to a grasshopper, I've harboured a not-so-secret desire to leap from a snowmobile, rip off one of its skis and use it as a snowboard. Vilnius is the closest I've come. You can do an actual snowmobile trek here. And because the trek is done on two-man vehicles, you get to experience both the thrill of driving a real-life skidoo and the hangover-clearing effects of Lithuania's stunning scenery.
EATING'S NOT CHEATING
Vilnius knows a thing or two about the filling of the belly. Stick to the Old Town for guaranteed traditional eats. Forto Dvaras, located in an ancient prison, is top notch. The waitresses bustling around in folk costume don't hurt either.
Plan your Vilnius stag do with the experts at Stag Weekends.