Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius surprises with its green spaces, charming squares, hipster cafes, churches, history and artistic vibe.
Phrasing the recent tourist ad that went viral: Vilnius is ‘the G-spot of Europe: Nobody knows where it is, but when you find it, it’s amazing’
Vilnius’ Old Town is truly beautiful with pebbly streets, period buildings, pastel-coloured walls and quaint little streets.
Vilnius Historic Centre is protected by Unesco, is one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Northern Europe and a delight to explore.
Pilies Gatvè is the hub of touristic action and the main entrance to Oldtown.
The Gediminas Tower is the lasting part of a castle, located on top of a hill. From here you have panoramic views of the Old Town. (€5)
If you are not up for the walk get the funicular to Gediminas Hill (cable car) can take you for €1.50.
Hill of Three Crosses
The Three Crosses is a monument erected in 1989. Not a super interesting place in my opinion, but the views during sunset are quite nice.
Palace of The Grand Dukes of Lithuania
Is a well-presented museum with a mix of old palace ruins, history of the leaders of Lithuania, archaeological finds and Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art collections. (€7)
The best part is the 3D virtual reality tour that you can take to see and feel the past.
Cathedral Square is a place that buzzes with life. Here you find the Vilnius Cathedral the main Roman Catholic Cathedral in Lithuania.
The Cathedral sits right in front of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.
Smaller charming neoclassical and baroque churches are there to be found around town like the St John’s Church, St Anne’s Church and the Church of St Peter & Paul.
The campanile of St John’s Church is the highest viewpoint in town – €2.50, a great place to contemplate the beauty of the city.
The Užupis district is a cool and edgy neighbourhood that sits across the river from Old Town Vilnius. Užupis declared itself an independent republic on April 1, 1997. Created by bohemians and artists is a home for the dreamers.
This place has its own flag, its own national day (April 1st) and its own constitution. It is packed with trendy bars, galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
On Thursdays, nearby Tymo Turgus food market is the destination for organic produce, there’s also plenty of street food.
Vilnius’ Jewish Quarter is a particularly pretty section of the city’s old town. This area of Vilnius is all cobblestone streets, paper lanterns, and carved wooden doors.
There are a few museums to visit in the area dedicated to the history and the people that used to live there and about the genocide.
Checking out the street art is an absolute must. The cobbled streets of Vilnius are dotted all over with amazing pieces of street art. There is a map here with the most famous street art.
You can’t miss the Open Gallery in Vilnius a long-term interdisciplinary project and cultural initiative, located in the post-industrial district Naujamiestis.
Here you will find tons of creative projects such as paintings on the factory walls, installations, sculptures, performances, etc.
It’s free to visit.
Museums and Galleries
The Nacionalinė Dailės Galerija (called NDG), located across the River Neris from the centre has a collection of contemporary art.
The National Museum of Lithuania displays artefacts from Lithuanian life from Neolithic times.
For 15th to 19th-century Lithuanian sacred art, the Museum of applied art is the place to go.
Gate of Dawn
The chapel in the Gate of Dawn in the former city wall hosts the famous Madonna.
This place attracts pilgrims from all over the world who visit seeking miracles even if you’re not religious the gate is quite impressive.
The Hales Market dates back to 1906 and it’s one of the oldest markets in the city.
A great place to browse and check out the Lithuanian fresh produce and cuisine.
There are also a couple of coffee shops and fast food stalls in the market.
Writer’s Lane, or Literatu Gatvė is a stretch of a street dedicated to Lithuanian writers.
Parks and gardens
There are many lush, green spaces in Vilnius and if the weather is fine, many locals and tourists alike like spending time in them.
Just outside of the city on the banks of the River Neris is Verkiai Regional Park, a great place with lakes, cycle paths and stunning green spaces. The park is always open and the entrance is free.
Bernardine Garden is a nice and peaceful place close to the Cathedral Square and the Gediminas Castle Tower
Vilnius’ botanical garden located on the outskirts of Vilnius was founded in 1781. The place is stunning and a must-see. Entry €1.5o
Getting to and around Vilnius
Getting to Vilnius is quite straight forward, with a city airport receiving flights from all over Europe. From the airport, you can take a taxi to the city centre (around 10 Euro), or you can also take the bus or train, both cheaper options.
Vilnius is a compact city, and most sights are easily reached on foot.
Free Walking Tour
It’s great to do a free walking tour from Vilnius With Locals. It lasts about 2.5 hours and gives a great introduction to Vilnius and its history and interesting sites.
It gives you a good “first look” in the city, the opportunity to speak with a local and get some recommendations.
Is Vilnius worth visiting? The answer is definitively yes!
Are you planning to visit Vilnius? Have you been?
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha