The Gariunia market in Vilnius is one of the biggest if not the biggest market in Europe it covers 120 hectares and it is estimated that 50,000 people visit the market daily. The correct, and full name of this market is the Verslo Parkas Gariunai. The market has both indoor sections, outdoor stands and make shift stalls where the sellers have rigged the back of their cars or a few up turned boxes to put their wares on.
How to reach Vilnius Gariunia market
To reach the Vilnius Gariunai market which is about 4km outside of Vilnius on the Kaunas highway the best way is to take a Vilnius taxi. A taxi from Vilnius center or yourhotel to the Gariunia market should cost about 25Lt. Ask your taxi driver to wait for you or return after about 2 hours, you will need at least that amount of time to see the market, it really is huge! There are also mini buses which leave from the Vilnius bus and train station, look for the mini buses with the sign Gariunai.
Vilnius Gariunia market not just for shoppingAt the Vilnius Gariunia market not only will you find plenty of bargains and interesting things to buy but you will also get to see a different side to Vilnius. The locals do their shopping at this Vilnius market and the stall owners will give you an insight into the Lithuanian way of life. The stall owners illustrate the real way of life in Vilnius, how hard hit the people are by the economy and the various ethnic and national backgrounds of the Lithuanian population. At one stall you may be served by a Russian, in another a Pole and in the next a Lithuanian. As yet the foreign refugees and immigrants have not taken over the market as in Prague and other European markets, all the stall owners are locals and mostly the older generation who lived through the Russian era.
During the Russian rule the Gariunia market was originally a semi-illegal market next to the Dzerinskio market which sprouted up as people began enjoying the freedom to trade and profit independently. The authorities moved the market to it's present location on the outskirts of Vilnius in an empty lot without running water or electricity in the hope that the market would not survive these conditions. But the Gariunia market went from strength to strength and grew into the monster it is today. Today there are all the amenities necessary as well as several buildings and coverings.
What to buy at the Vilnius Gariunia market
In a word – everything! One large area of this Vilnius market is like walking into an Ace store, another area has rows and rows of baby prams (strollers). You can buy shoes, clothes, jewelry, accessories, food, spices, leather products, toys, bags, furniture and even cars! Feel free to bargain but the prices are already low by western standards and it seems unfair to deny the local Lithuanians their means of making a living.
To rub shoulders with the locals take a break and have a cup of coffee (only black Turkish coffee) with a cake in the worker's tea room. The toilets (which were spotless when I was there) are next to the tearoom. Just ask a stall owner to direct you to the café which is on the far side of the market.
Open hours of the Vilnius Gariuna market are:
Sunday 06:00-14:00; Tuesday and Thursday 04:00-14:00; Saturday 05:00-14:00 and Fridays and Mondays closed. Check at your hotel if the market is on as sometimes it is closed because of bad weather. I recommend arriving early as they really do close up exactly at 14:00.
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