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Vilnius

Stag & Hen Destination

Riga and Tallinn are probably a bit better known than Vilnius on the stag and hen circuit, which could well be in its favour by the way, but Lithuania’s capital has loads going for it. First and foremost, this city of about half a million inhabitants has that indefinable quality – charm. In some of the olde-worlde streets you will have no problem imagining dashing Ruritanian princes returning from their duelling grounds, warmed by the same vodka that you may just wish to try. Along with the medieval and baroque there’s a more modern aspect to Vilnius that could weigh on your choice too – the many universities here whose students bring plentiful zest to the nightlife, and don’t spoil the scenery either. And on a more basic level, the price of a pint compares favourably with the UK!

Though as so often around the globe you will meet English-speakers, unless you have a good grasp of Lithuanian (and let’s face it not many of us have) we’d recommend working with a local organiser to provide a guide, help arrange your activities and transport (limo anyone?), and make life generally easier. Into the bargain they should also be able to direct you to the best clubs and bars in the evening (and through to the early morning!), and maybe sort VIP passes and queue-jumping. And it is vital that you find accommodation that welcomes groups out to have a... convivial time.

There’s no shortage of daytime activities to be enjoyed in Vilnius. It must be something about all those times Lithuania has been invaded, partitioned, and got its own back, but this seems to be the place to go ballistic with all sorts of gun-toting experiences on offer. Be John Wayne or Arnie for a day; handle a Kalashnikov with some professional tuition to help things stay safe; take things out on poor innocent clay pigeons, or paint the groom red, or maybe black and blue (we always advocate packing a cricket box for the star of the show) in the traditional paintball massacre.

If you go at the right time of year the more adventurous among you could be attracted by a typically Lithuanian activity – ice fishing (in warmer times there’s less frosty angling to be had too). Catch your dinner and eat it! Not that you need rely on hunting up your own food in what is these days a cosmopolitan city, where along with the local vodka and beer (well worth a taste) you’ll have little difficulty in finding rather more subtle cocktails. But then again, you could even make your own in a class.
For those who prefer keeping things on the surface of the ice there is the sport of curling, something everyone should have a go at sometime – it’s a real ice breaker, if you see what we mean.

Rather warmer than ice fishing or curling is another very Baltic activity – the sauna that for those who opt for it will get you as relaxed as it’s possible to be – and clean into the bargain. Just one of the various pampering activities for stags and hens alike – how about a massage for starters?

Motorised activities are always big for both stags and hens: quad bikes are almost as traditional as paintballing; likewise karting, and 4x4 driving, with various track and trek options to choose from. And again at the right time of year there is the wonderful snowmobile to get the blood pumping (and numb the bum).

As the evening falls the bar and nightclub scene calls. There’s no problem in your organiser arranging pub crawls, if you really must stick to the old established stag (and hen) customs. And there are some modern twists on such things, like a steak and strip dinner, or lap dancing. If your absent bride (or groom), however, has given strict instructions against such things, a nice quiet dinner adds a touch of class to proceedings and at the very least will give you the opportunity to slow things down if the daytime activities have been overly hectic.

Should time permit we’d heartily recommend a sight-seeing tour of the city, which as we said above has real charm: the many ancient church steeples, the characterful old town, and landmarks like the Gediminas Tower are all worth the effort. It’s not as if you are all that likely to return to the city, so make the most of it while you are there – which is a good rule of thumb for stag and hen does all round. Enjoy.