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Galkantai: Exploring Europe's Best Kept Secret in Vilnius Introducing Galkantai: Vilnius's Hidden Gem Have you heard of Vilnius? No, not Vilnius, Lithuania.
Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, tucked away in the Baltics.
Chances are this magical city hasn't popped up on your travel radar.
But it should.
Picture cobblestone streets, Baroque architecture, and a fairytale old town that seems plucked straight from the pages of a storybook.
This is Vilnius, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Europe's best kept secret.
One area you absolutely must explore is Užupis, Vilnius’s bohemian district.
Užupis means “the other side of the river” in Lithuanian, and it’s like stepping into an alternate universe.
Murals splash color onto crumbling buildings, art galleries and cafes line the streets, and the people are as quirky and creative as the neighborhood itself.
At the heart of it all is Galkantai, a hidden gem of an alleyway.
Follow the sounds of laughter and clinking glasses to discover an open-air bar surrounded by trees that’s open only in the summer.
Grab a drink, find a seat, and soak in the laid-back vibe.
This is the Vilnius the locals know and love.
And now, you're in on the secret too.
The Fascinating History of Galkantai Tucked away in the heart of Vilnius’s Old Town is a hidden gem called Galkantai.
This underground art space located in a renovated 16th-century cellar is a surreal treat for art lovers and culture vultures alike.
Once you descend the steep stairs into the dimly lit stone chambers, you’ll be transported to another world.
The cavernous rooms feature ever-changing art installations, from avant-garde video projections and interactive soundscapes to peculiar sculptures and thought-provoking paintings.
Every few months, Galkantai reinvents itself with exhibits from local and international artists, so there’s always something new to discover in this subterranean playground.
A tip for first-timers: Galkantai’s opening hours can be sporadic, so check their social media or website for the latest schedule before planning your visit.
They are typically only open Thursday through Sunday, and evening viewings often coincide with live music or theatrical performances, allowing you to make a full night of it.
Whether you pop in for a quick 30-minute visit or stay for an extended evening program, Galkantai is sure to be a highlight of your Vilnius adventure.
Descend into the depths of this hidden art cave to unearth the city’s vibrant creative scene - you never know what strange and wonderful works of art might emerge from the darkness.
A true gem in every sense of the word, Galkantai is waiting to be discovered.
Top Things to See and Do in Galkantai Galkantai has a long and rich history spanning over 600 years.
This picturesque neighborhood at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers was once home to wealthy merchants, artisans and nobles.
The Rise and Fall of a Trading Hub In the 15th century, Galkantai grew into an important center of trade and commerce.
Merchants set up shops along the rivers, trading goods from near and far.
Business was booming! However, Galkantai's fortune didn't last.
By the 19th century, wars and economic decline caused trade to shift elsewhere.
Many merchants abandoned their shops, leaving the area in disrepair.
Preserving the Past Luckily, Galkantai's architectural heritage remains largely intact.
Elegant Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings line the cobblestone streets, transporting you back in time.
Some historic landmarks include: 1.
The Church of St.
Nicholas, built in the 15th century.
The Old Arsenal, which dates to the 16th century.
Several historic merchant houses, like the House of the Sign of the Golden Sun.
Thanks to restoration efforts in recent decades, the beauty of old Galkantai has been preserved.
Its architectural treasures serve as a window into the glory days of Vilnius as a center of trade and culture.
A Neighborhood Reborn Today, Galkantai is experiencing a rebirth.
Quaint cafes, restaurants and shops have opened in the historic buildings.
On summer weekends, craft markets and festivals fill the picturesque courtyards and streets.
This blend of old and new gives Galkantai a charm all its own, making it a must-see when exploring the secrets of Vilnius's past and present.
Where to Stay, Eat, and Drink in Galkantai Galkantai is full of fascinating sights and activities to keep you entertained.
Here are some of the top things to see and do in this charming city: Explore Vilnius Castle No trip to Galkantai is complete without visiting Vilnius Castle, a historic fortress complex set high on Castle Hill.
Climb the hill for panoramic views of the city, then tour the castle grounds and museums to learn about the city’s history.
The castle architecture is gorgeous, with sections dating from the 10th to 18th centuries.
Stroll Through the Old Town Galkantai’s UNESCO-listed Old Town is one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Europe.
Walk the cobblestone streets, shop at the Central Market Hall, and admire landmarks like Vilnius Cathedral, Gediminas Tower, and St.
Anne's Church.
Stop for a coffee or beer at one of the charming cafes on the main square.
The Old Town is bursting with culture, art, food, and nightlife.
Visit the KGB Museum For a sobering look at Galkantai’s history, visit the KGB Museum, located in the former KGB headquarters.
The museum documents the Soviet occupation of Lithuania and the crimes and human rights violations committed by the KGB.
Although grim, it provides important context about life under Soviet rule.
Take a Free Walking Tour One of the best ways to explore Galkantai on foot is by taking a free walking tour.
Knowledgeable local guides provide an overview of the city's history and culture.
Tours typically last 2 to 3 hours and cover major landmarks in the Old Town and beyond.
It's a great way to get oriented and learn the stories behind the sights.
Try Traditional Lithuanian Food Galkantai has a thriving food scene featuring traditional Lithuanian cuisine.
Dishes to try include cepelinai (potato dumplings), vedarai (potato sausages), šaltibarščiai (cold beetroot soup), and poppy seed pastries.
Wash it all down with a pint of locally-brewed beer.
With so much delicious food and drink, you'll be stuffed after a trip to Galkantai! How to Get to Galkantai From Other Parts of Europe Galkantai has no shortage of charming places to rest your head, fill your belly, and wet your whistle.
Here are some of the spots you won’t want to miss.
Vilnius Hostel Galkantai For budget-friendly accommodations, Vilnius Hostel Galkantai is a top-rated choice.
They offer private rooms and dorms with custom wood furnishings, natural light, and a communal kitchen.
It’s located in a quiet courtyard just steps from attractions.
You’ll feel right at home here.
Bistro 18 This upscale yet unpretentious bistro serves high-quality, homemade cuisine with local ingredients.
They offer delectable fare like duck confit, wild mushroom risotto, and foraged berry panna cotta.
An expertly-curated wine list and craft cocktails complete the experience.
It’s a bit pricey but worth the splurge.
Alaus Biblioteka If you’re in the mood for a pint, Alaus Biblioteka is not to be missed.
This underground craft beer bar has over 50 taps featuring Lithuanian microbrews and imports.
The cool, cavernous space is lined with bookshelves and board games are available to play.
They don’t serve food, but you’re welcome to order delivery or bring your own snacks.
It’s open late on weekends for a perfect nightcap.
Kebabiukas After a few drinks at Alaus Biblioteka, satisfy your late-night munchies at Kebabiukas.
This hole-in-the-wall counter-serve spot is open 24 hours and serves delicious doner kebabs, falafel, and other Middle Eastern fare.
The servings are huge, the prices are low, and the atmosphere is no-frills.
It may not win any awards for ambiance, but the food is hot, fresh, and hits the spot.
Galkantai has an array of wonderful places to stay, dine, and drink.
No matter your budget or tastes, you’ll find something that suits you well in this charming city.


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