The railway station in Vilnius, Lithuania, has received international recognition as the fifth “coolest” neighbourhood in the world. However, Lithuania has other quirky hidden spots and is ready to announce them. The country reveals three more alternative cultural yards in its biggest cities—Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipėda—giving visitors more places to experience the free and untrammelled urban spirit.
The culture and lifestyle magazine Time Out has deemed the railway station area in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world—topping districts in New York, Hong Kong, and other famous cities in the world. The country-wide trend of reinventing old industrial areas has been prevalent in Lithuania since it gained its independence in 1991, bringing old factories, warehouses, and production plants to a new life as alternative pubs, modern museums, and popular cultural spaces.
“It’s a really prominent trend among our cities, which are keen on taking initiative to turn unused industrial sites and abandoned buildings into modern cultural centers that are full of life, artistic charm, and youthful energy. We are delighted to see that this authenticity attracts worldwide attention,” said Irena Jaškauskaitė, International Communication Project Manager from Lithuania Travel, the country’s national tourism development agency. “We hope that the news will inspire even more people to visit Lithuania for an extended stay and to discover these neighborhoods in person.”
Although only one Lithuanian district has received global spotlight, national tourism experts singled out three more lesser-known—but not less unique—places worth visiting for anyone who wants to experience the free-spirited Lithuanian urban atmosphere.
Vilnius Open Gallery. Initiated by LOFTAS—one of the most active cultural venues in Lithuania—the Open Gallery is an international outdoor street art project situated in the country’s capital. As an interdisciplinary and cultural initiative, it has a two-fold purpose: presenting urban culture in an original way and creatively repurposing the city’s former abandoned industrial territories for new life. With the style of artworks varying greatly from psychedelic to hyper-realistic, from straight-up spooky to down-right beautiful, even just a brief visit at the Open Gallery makes for a particularly stimulating and immersive experience.
Kaunas Yard Gallery. Established in Kaunas—a city that has been awarded the title of European Capital of Culture 2022—the Yard Gallery is an open-air exhibition of street art. As its founder, the local artist Vytenis Jakas, has asserted, one of its key purposes is to reflect on the local cultural heritage that has been made tangible through contemporary murals. Meanwhile, some paintings on the walls delve into even deeper moral values—such as the icon-like piece titled “My Father’s house has many rooms”, satirically depicting three saints gambling.
Klaipėda Hofas. The brand new cultural space is located in an inactive industrial complex in Klaipėda and houses several bars along with a concert venue right at the seaport. Decorated with large shipping containers, the cultural space is home to the famous Klaipėda’s bar Herkus Kantas—an essential part of Hofas. Facing the city’s main Danė river, there is an art gallery house Tema with an exhibition area and a residence for artists visiting the seaside. Parts of the free space are also used for workations, weekend yoga classes, and all sorts of other cultural initiatives.