I’m going to go as far to say that some of my best nights out have been in Vilnius.
Seriously. I suppose I’d forgive you for thinking that Vilnius is just a city for tacky British stag do’s to visit equally tacky bars (the kind of people who’d go to Vilnius without being able to identify where Lithuania is on a map).
And I guess that – like most places in the world – there probably are some tacky stag do venues in Vilnius, but I can’t say I noticed.
I do a fair bit of prep before going on holiday to make sure that I make the most of my time away – usually because I’m there on limited time. A lot of this prep means researching the best bars, because I’m always in search of some great cocktails!
I’ve been to Vilnius twice now, and have tried out a fair amount of the bars. In fact, Vilnius is a city I’d really like to go back to at some point, even if it’s just for a Saturday night! These are my favourite bars in Vilnius…
Islandijos gatve 1, Vilnius 01402
I was sold as soon as I read the name (The Alchemist is one of my favourite cocktail bars back in the UK).
Alchemikas’ location means it’s surrounded by several bars, pubs and clubs; and with it being such a small venue, it’s very easy to walk past and miss it.
Go inside however, and you’re in for a treat! There are only a handful of tables, and stools at the bar; so get there early if you want to get a seat. We visited on a Thursday evening and got the last two seats at the bar, so I can only imagine how busy it gets at the weekend.
If you love cocktails as much as me (and like to try something new as opposed to just your standard classic cocktails), then this is somewhere you seriously need to try when you’re in Vilnius.
The cocktail menu is huge, and as they’re only priced at a few Euros, you can afford to try several (but only if you can handle your drink – they’re pretty strong!)
I opted for a White Lightening, which had moonshine in it… and I can’t remember what else!
The cocktail went down very well (probably helped by the absinthe shot I’d drunk not long before); and admittedly I don’t remember that much, but what I do remember is really liking Alchemikas, and the staff being very friendly. Plus I got to sing Attention, which was a huge plus (sorry if anyone heard me).
It’s won awards in Vilnius, and it’s easy to see why. As one of my favourite bars in Vilnius, Alchemikas is somewhere I’ll be going back to next time I’m in the city.
Gedimino Prospekt 9, Vilnius 01105
If you prefer to sip your cocktails in laidback surroundings, then you’ll love Studio 9.
You’ll find it in the New Town, located just off the main shopping street. It’s only a ten minute walk from Alchemikas, so you can always combine the two in a night!
Studio 9 is open all day for food and drink, but when my friend and I visited, it was late on a Friday night, and it was filling up pretty quickly.
The cocktail menu had a lot of choice, but it was mainly just the classics, so I stuck to Cosmos.
There was a dancefloor in the corner and at the weekends, a range of local and international DJs play there. There’s also a quieter area with tables so you can sit and talk if you’d prefer. I was still recovering from last night’s absinthe when I visited, so was trying to take it easy!
Studio 9 was where I first discovered Lithuanian hipsters, and with its chilled out atmosphere, it’s made it into my top three bars in Vilnius!
Vokiečių gatve 2, Vilnius 01130
When I’m in the UK, I avoid clubs at all costs (mainly because of the tacky clientele), but in Vilnius, I made an exception with Mojo Lounge as it was on a classier scale.
There’s a Mojo Lounge in both Vilnius, and the seaside city of Palanga. The entrance fee was just a couple of quid, and as we got there around 11pm on the Friday night, it seemed like we were getting there right on time. By 1am, it was packed.
Drinks are really cheap in Vilnius, and we got cocktails for under a fiver. If you’re not a fan of clubs, then I think you might change your mind if you visit Mojo Lounge (and there’s nothing wrong with doing something a little different when you’re on holiday, right?)
Special mention goes to…
Aušros vartų gatve 11, Vilnius 01304
When I was researching cocktail bars in Vilnius for my first visit in October 2014, Absento Fejos (translates to ‘Absinthe Fairies’) was the first place I came across, and was somewhere I so wanted to go to!
The bar was situated on (the fairly busy) Aušros vartų; but there were no signs out front. To get in, you had to push open the fairly non-descript wooden door into what looked like a derelict building. Only once inside did you find out what that door was hiding.
That, coupled with the fact that the bar had practically no social media presence, made it seem rather exclusive. The kind of place that you just had to know about – there was no stumbling across it and deciding to grab a drink (you had to do your research).
Reviews on Google from other visitors (mainly those who didn’t get in, I imagine) criticised its strict ‘face control’ – in other words, if you weren’t deemed pretty enough, you weren’t allowed in.
So what were my friend and I to do, other than set ourselves the challenge of getting into Absento Fejos?
On the Friday night, we were actually pretty nervous about it – I mean, how embarrassing would it be, to be turned away because people thought you were ugly?
We got dressed up really nice (I wore a black Ted Baker dress and my pastel t-bar stilettos I’d bought from St Petersburg a few months earlier). We pre-drank at our apartment, then got a few drinks at Mojo Lounge before getting a taxi to Absento Fejos (OK, so it was only a five minute walk but you try walking on slippy cobblestones in five inch heels!).
Walking up to the door, it suddenly opened on us, and we quickly stepped back as two people were pushed out. There was a fair bit of shouting going on between them and the bouncers, although we had no idea what was going on as it was all in Lithuanian.
This went on for a few minutes, and once the two people before us had cleared off, we opened the front door where we came across two bouncers (and spotted a camera that was filming the outside so they could see who was approaching).
I genuinely thought we were going to be told to get lost, but they simply pointed towards the doors to get to the bar, and we were in! Yay, we were deemed pretty by Lithuanian standards! Smiling (we’d read reviews that apparently they only let Lithuanians in, so didn’t want our nationality to get in the way by speaking English!), we left our jackets at the cloakroom and went down to the bar.
Despite Absento Fejos probably being the most exclusive bar in all of Vilnius (and probably Lithuania), the cocktails worked out at a mere £4 each. Lucky for us however, we got free drinks all night.
The bar was small, but it had quite a mystical feel to it; and although there were lots of people, it wasn’t too busy (thanks, face control!).
To the left hand side of the bar was a little cove with a few tables, which was cordoned off as ‘VIP’. Walking with purpose, we grabbed our cocktails and settled down at one of the reserved tables, where we spent the rest of the night.
The drinks were SO strong but tasted amazing – however, a small bar with winding staircases does NOT mix well when you’ve had a bit to drink and are in heels (I speak from experience). But I’d have to say, it was a pretty amazing night… and good for the ego!
Despite all of our selfies at Mojo (just practicing our best face control poses, obviously!), I only have one picture at Absinthe Fairies, which is me looking pretty smug – but it’s proof I’ve been there!
So why am I telling you this story? Well unfortunately, Absento Fejos has closed down now. I found out the hard way when I took a friend there the second time I went to Vilnius in July 2015. Raving on about how amazing the place was, we got to the entrance and realised that it was shut (and the fact it didn’t update its social media meant that we didn’t exactly have a way of finding out!).
I’d have to say though, that it was my favourite bar in Vilnius, so it certainly deserves a special mention on here – and I think everyone else who was let in would agree too! They need to bring back Absento Fejos.
Where are your favourite bars in Vilnius? Let me know so I can check them out next time I’m there!
Disclaimer: I get this is an article about the best bars in Vilnius, but unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of cocktails, so you’ll just have to put up with a photo of my face at each bar I mention. Next time I’m back in Lithuania, I’ll make sure to take pictures for you all! 🙂