- duration 3 hours
- tour type Group
- tour_type Group tour
- age requirement 6+ yrs
- age_requirement 6+ yrs
- guiding method Live Guide/Instructor
- Find out what life was like for Vilnius locals during the Soviet occupation
- Learn the meaning of the Sovietera saying, “It is better to have 100 friends than 100 rubles”
- Find out why it’s said there was no sex during Soviet times
- Enjoy a Sovietstyle lunch in a typical Soviettime cafe
Get a look at life behind the Iron Curtain on this Vilnius time travelling tour that digs deep into the city’s Soviet past. Learn about ‘homo sovieticus’ and all the incredible and funny stories that shouldn’t be forgotten. Visit a local market, taste Soviet-era dishes, see the Soviet blocks that still stand, find out what life was like for the “happiest people in the world,” and learn why the entire Soviet empire collapsed.
Experience the best travel stories for yourself. Join a local expert and uncover hidden gems on this city adventure hand-picked by the world's leading travel publisher. Lonely Planet Experiences powered by Urban Adventures bring stories to life in the best-loved cities around the globe.
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 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 nine years, where almost every family has someone who perished in Gulags, where unarmed people protected their country from Soviet tanks, and where the collapse of the Soviet Union began.
We’ll meet for our Vilnius walking tour at the Town Hall, then walk toward the Jewish quarter and visit the local market, where not many things have changed, except the prices. Here we will try a Lithuanian specialty: salted and smoked bacon and “black bread,” which helped people to survive through both good and bad times. Then we’ll walk toward the former railway workers’ union house — a unique place that’s now converted into a nightclub and skating park, and decorated with modern art. You’ll learn why workers needed a palace and why some factories had no address, only a mailbox.
Next, we’ll head to the Soviet block apartment district. We’ll talk about what life was like in those apartments and what it felt like to be a citizen during that era. What was it like to live in the "best country in the world"? We’ll discuss all the details and rituals of daily life, like what locals ate for breakfast, and find out why good friends were more important than money. Your guide will even throw in a few jokes from Soviet times — the same jokes that used to once risk sending you to prison.
Next up on this Vilnius tour, it’s time to explore cuisine à la Soviet! Find out why kitchens in Soviet blocks were limited to nine square metres in size, and why canned green peas and mayonnaise were top products at that time. We’ll then pop into a Soviet-inspired restaurant to taste very special ‘delicacies’ from Soviet times. Don’t be afraid — they’re actually surprisingly tasty! We’re talking about deep-fried pastry with minced meat and onion filling, which would only be prepared for special occasions. We’ll also try some Lithuanian soup, because Lithuanians can’t imagine lunch without it! And a glass of beer too, of course.
We’ll then do as the locals do and hop aboard public transit to the wedding palace, where we’ll tell you all 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! We’ll also walk to a trade unions’ palace, built on a cemetery, where there are other Soviet secrets to share. We’ll hear about the importance of connections and the meaning of a Soviet saying, “It is better to have 100 friends than 100 rubles.”
From here, we’ll take in the sweeping view — including spying the legendary TV tower and the most popular pub in Soviet Lithuania. It is said that beer flew through the pipes here directly from the brewery, and people could talk freely here, as it was too noisy for the KGB to spy on them.
Our final stop will be where the Soviet era both started and ended: the former KGB headquarters, now a famous museum. It used to be said that one could see Siberia from there. Across the street, there used to be the biggest monument to Lenin in Lithuania — and here you will find out what happened to him when the Soviet era ended.
- Local English-speaking guide
- Food tasting and snack
- Glass of beer.
- Additional food and drinks (beer
- and kvass are available)
- entrance to the KGB museum (EUR 4 per person)
- public transport ticket (EUR 1 per person)
- tips/gratuities for your guide.
- Real-time prices and availability.
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Cancellation for this Lonely Planet Experiences: Soviet Stories of Vilnius tour is free up to 48 hours before the chosen start date - full refund will be given. If cancellation is made less than 48 hours before the chosen start date, no refund applies.Payment
For any tour departures within 15 January 2021, full payment is required. For tours that depart later than 15 January 2021, a deposit of 100% is required to confirm this tour, and the remaining balance will be charged 0 days before trip departure.Travel Insurance
Lonely Planet Experiences: Soviet Stories of Vilnius tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.Visa
For this Lonely Planet Experiences: Soviet Stories of Vilnius tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.Meeting start point :
Vilnius City Hall, next to the Tourism Information Office. Look for a guide wearing a black t-shirt with our BEST. DAY. EVER. logo, and a red ribbon showing Urban Adventures.Meeting end point :
Gedimino Avenue, Lukiškių Square, next to the KGB MuseumLonely Planet extras
- Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
- 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop
This trip incorporates the following COVID-19 measures:
- This tour follows established guidelines that are in line with the World Travel and Tourism Council’s ‘Safe Travels’ framework against COVID-19.
- This tour follows the local government(s) recommendations for gatherings and group sizes.
- Wearing a mask, hand washing and sanitizing is highly encouraged on this tour. Frequently touched surfaces are regularly disinfected.