What does a modern city look like? It looks like Vilnius

14 March, 2024

Vilnius is quietly setting the bar for what a modern city should be – without the hustle and bustle of those other big-name capitals.

What is a modern city? That’s a bit of a general question, but if we want a definitive answer, what better place to go than ChatGPT. And the answer we get is unsurprisingly concise, and even a bit incisive:

“In essence, a modern city is not just defined by its physical infrastructure but also by its ability to adapt to technological advancements, embrace cultural diversity, drive economic growth, and strive for sustainability.”

And guess what? Lithuania’s capital Vilnius ticks all these boxes. So much so, in fact, that no lesser institution than the Financial Times, in its annual FDI Intelligence European Cities and Regions of the Future ranked Vilnius as 3rd best Mid-sized city. In particular, the report drew attention to the city’s formidable reputation as an innovation hub, with 90% of the country’s startups located there. In fact, the country now boasts 740 startups and has three billion dollar valued unicorns. This makes it a great location for aspiring professionals looking to make their mark in innovative, dynamic and young businesses.

Vilnius. A hub for all.

So, as we see, Vilnius has distinguished itself as a hub for startups, with the Fintech sector leading the pack (it’s the largest Fintech hub in the EU in terms of licensed companies). This makes it a great destination for young entrepreneurs, as well as talents with a thirst for a challenge.

©S. Bernotas

And as the startup ecosystem grows, a number of unique communities have sprung up around startup-centric business parks and Hubs. There’s Vilnius Tech Park, located in the lush green surroundings of Sapiegos Park in the city’s increasingly gentrified Antakalnis. And sporting a slightly edgier, more cool, and contemporary vibe is CyberCity, a huge complex built on the grounds of a famous old garment factory. Here you’ll find not only cutting-edge international names like Nord Security, but also bars, gyms, and loads of smart, young talents. Meanwhile, opening later in 2024 will be Tech Zity. Located near a similar hub called Cyber City, when opened it will be the largest technology hub in Europe, with ambitious targets when it comes to the amenities it will provide, as well as sustainability. By reconstructing based on the existing foundations and walls, the building will be saving the 5,000 tons of CO2 that would have been generated had it been built from scratch.

All the benefits of a modern city, with extra green space.

When FDI Intelligence was putting together its ranking for 2024, Lithuania scored high not only for its tech and startup scene, it also stood out in terms of Lifestyle. Great cities like London and Berlin have long sold themselves on their culture and their infrastructure. Well, Vilnius has both, but with walkable distances and added green space.

©A. Aleksandravičius

Vilnius has a UNESCO-listed old town, tons of gourmet restaurants, museums, and more cultural festivals than you would imagine possible (jazz, street music, dance, cinema, poetry…the list goes on). Then there’s the lively cafe culture, the thriving bar scene (cocktails, anyone?) There’s marathons, half marathons, fun runs, cycling competitions, and huge organized hikes around the hundreds of specially laid out walking paths that snake the city. And then there’s the river Neris that runs through the center of the city that is now home to a thriving riverbank scene of small bars, sports fields, basketball courts, skate parks. You can even kayak down the river itself.

And we haven’t even talked about the air balloons that are synonymous with spring and summer, which dot the sky over the centre. Yes, Vilnius is one of the few European capitals that allows hot air balloons over its centre. And coming back to this idea of walkability, it really is possible to traverse the entire city on foot, especially the old town.

Lithuanians, meanwhile, love and cherish nature like no other. So, wherever you go in the city, you’re bound to find a green space to escape into for a breather.

Work-life balance that’s a perfect fit for you (and your family).

Time and again, one of the things that talent coming to Lithuania comments on is the healthy work-life balance. It’s a huge part of the working culture. This makes Vilnius a great city for young families. Parents can come and challenge themselves and build an international career in dynamic startups like Vinted or NordVPN, or work in world-renowned companies like Nasdaq, without sacrificing that important time they need to be with their young families, And with a private education ecosystem of world-class kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, parents can rest assured that their children are getting top quality education in a language of instruction they prefer.

©K. Štreimikis & Lithuania Travel

Indeed, as the city’s business ecosystem has grown and the profile of companies become increasingly more international, the city has become more diverse. You’ll find any number of languages spoken in the city bars, and nearly everywhere you go, English is spoken.

Paupys: the contemporary face of Vilnius.

As good a place as any to finish a discussion of modern Vilnius is its newest district: Paupys. Here, the latest in Scandinavian-style architecture has been merged with the latest in city planning to create an oasis of modern living. Restaurants, galleries, street art, bars, a cinema, and modern businesses – all in one bright new district lying on the bank of the Vilnele, the city’s smaller tributary.

©S. Bernotas

And that’s Vilnius. A thoroughly modern city nestled in nature. Great for your career, and your lifestyle.