Lonely Planet Experiences: Soviet Vilnius Small-Group Tour
- Hear what life was like in Vilnius during the Soviet occupation
- Visit a Soviet-inspired restaurant and taste dishes from Soviet times
- See important Soviet-era sites including the wedding palace and the former KGB headquarters
Exploring the Soviet past in Vilnius means diving into its quirks and absurdities, the funny and sad stories and the harsh realities about life in the best country in the world. On this 3-hour Vilnius tour you’ll learn about Stalin’s horrors, as well as the struggles, resistance and drive for freedom that destroyed the Soviet empire.
For 50 years, Lithuania was a Soviet republic and this period left many visible marks. This is a country where partisan war lasted for 9 years, where most every family had someone who perished in a gulag, where unarmed people protected their country from Soviet tanks and where the collapse of the Soviet Union began.
You'll meet at the Town Hall, then walk to the Jewish quarter, stopping to visit the local market, where not many things have changed, except the prices. Try the salted and smoked bacon and black bread, a Lithuanian specialty that helped people survive through both good and bad times.
Next you’ll head to the former railway workers’ union house, a unique place that’s been converted into a nightclub and skating park, and is decorated with modern art. Learn why workers needed a palace and why some factories had no address – only a mailbox.
Head to the Soviet block apartment district. Hear what life was like in those apartments and how it felt like to be a citizen during that era. Learn about daily life, including what locals ate for breakfast, and find out why good friends were more important than money.
Time to explore cuisine à la Soviet! Find out why kitchens in Soviet blocks were limited to 9 square meters in size, and why canned green peas and mayonnaise were top products at that time. Pop into a Soviet-inspired restaurant to taste special delicacies from Soviet times.
Don’t be afraid – these dishes are surprisingly tasty! Think deep-fried pastry with minced meat and onion filling, which would only be prepared for special occasions. You'll also try some Lithuanian soup, because Lithuanians can’t imagine lunch without it! There’ll be a glass of beer to go along with it, of course.
Hop on board public transit and head to the wedding palace, where you'll hear about wedding traditions from Soviet times. Find out why only civil registration could guarantee the happiness of your marriage, how taxi drivers created new wedding traditions and why there was no sex in the Soviet Union!
Visit a trade union palace, built on a cemetery, where there are other Soviet secrets to share. Hear about the importance of connections and the meaning of the Soviet saying: It is better to have 100 friends than 100 rubles.
From here, you'll take in sweeping views that include the legendary TV tower and the most popular pub in Soviet Lithuania. It is said that beer flowed through the pipes directly from the brewery, and people could talk freely, as it was too noisy for the KGB to spy on them.
The final stop will be the former KGB headquarters, where the Soviet era both started and ended. It was said that one could see Siberia from there. Across the street, there used to be the biggest monument to Lenin in Lithuania, and you’ll find out what happened when the Soviet era ended.
- Local English-speaking guide
- Food tasting and snack
- Glass of beer
- Additional food and drinks (beer, mead, wine, and kvass are available)
- Entrance to the KGB museum (€4 per person)
- Public transport ticket (€1 per person)
- Tips/gratuities for your guide
Prepare for the activity
Vilnius City Hall, next to the tourist information office (look for the guide wearing a black t-shirt with the BEST. DAY. EVER. logo, and a red ribbon that reads Urban AdventuresOpen in Google Maps ⟶
• Children under 12 years of age are not permitted on this tour