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I grew up in Lithuania, the happiest place in the world for people under 30. It really is Europe's biggest hidden gem.

Loreta Parapijankaite   

I grew up in Lithuania, the happiest place in the world for people under 30. It really is Europe's biggest hidden gem.
  • Lithuania was named the happiest place in the world for children and people under 30.
  • I grew up in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, a walkable city with a vibrant culture and nightlife.

Although often overlooked in favor of its larger European neighbors, Lithuania has emerged as a top destination for young people seeking a higher quality of life.

The Baltic gem is truly Europe's biggest hidden treasure, and the secret might be out: The World Happiness Report 2024 just dubbed it the happiest place in the world for children and people under 30.

As someone who was born and raised in Lithuania's capital city, Vilnius, I can attest to the country's unique appeal and why it stands out as an ideal place for the younger generation.

For starters, Lithuania offers free university education to a large portion of its population — by comparison, a university education can leave graduates in six figures of debt in places like the US.

Plus, Lithuania has some of the cheapest rent in Europe.

Although I moved out of Vilnius 10 years ago to pursue career opportunities in London, I visit home often. My most recent visit to Lithuania lasted nearly a month and only reaffirmed my love for the country and its capital.

The walkable capital city is filled with beauty and culture

Vilnius is not only beautiful but also incredibly walkable and easy to navigate. It's so compact that you can easily get around on foot or by bike, which can be rented for just a few euros.

As you wander through the streets, you'll discover a diverse array of art, culture, and nature, with numerous historic monuments in the heart of the city.

One standout is Gediminas' Castle Tower, a historic fortress on top of the hill in the middle of the old town. From its vantage point, you can take in a breathtaking, panoramic skyline view of red roofs stretching as far as the eye can see. We're really proud of our red roofs in the old town — and even have a song about it!

Streets are lined with local shops selling unique souvenirs, adding to the city's charming and inviting atmosphere.

People here are proud of their culture, and I often see local grandmas selling handmade amber jewelry. Many locals believe amber has healing powers, and it's popular to wear it around here.

The culture is rich, too. During my last visit, I stumbled upon a street festival where local bands and musicians performed live music around the city.

It also has great food and nightlife

Vilnius's culinary scene is vibrant, with a wide variety of dining options, from traditional Lithuanian dishes to international cuisine.

Local favorites like cepelinai (potato dumplings) and šaltibarščiai (cold beetroot soup) are not to be missed.

Lithuania's nightlife scene is also diverse, catering to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Whether you're into techno clubs or laid-back jazz bars, there's always something happening in the city after dark.

The bars, clubs, and social venues in Vilnius are always buzzing with energy.

In the summer, numerous outdoor spaces are created to host all sorts of events, further adding to the area's lively atmosphere. I miss these spaces a lot and have yet to find something like this in London, even though it's a major city.

Lithuania offers a unique and enriching experience that's hard to find elsewhere

As someone who has seen both the fast-paced life of London and the charming tranquility of Vilnius, I can confidently say that Lithuania is a place where the young can truly thrive.

I love its wonderful sense of community and frequently find myself longing for the charm and tranquility of my homeland — especially when flights from London to Vilnius sometimes get as cheap as a few pounds.



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