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Vibrant urban areas, beautiful castles and churches, impressive baroque buildings and rich cultural life – these are just a few of the great things to do in Vilnius.
The capital of Lithuania is built in a gorgeous area – between mighty hills and valleys, which hide unexpected charming viewpoints and natural wonders.
Whether you are travelling with a group of friends, your family or on your own, you are guaranteed to have a marvellous time. Be prepared to fall in love with the small yet wondrous travel destination.
Top Things to do in Vilnius
Stroll through the Republic of Uzupis
The Republic of Uzupis is probably the most bohemian place in the city. The locals call it the heart of Vilnius. Initially, it was a poor and even dangerous area, but poets, painters and musicians filled it with art and creativity, making it a respected and even prestigious neighbourhood.
Uzupis really is an unusual place. Why? The artists have declared their republic in the city centre. The area has its own anthem, laws, president and also an army of 12 people.
That is what makes it so special and one of the best sights to see in Vilnius. Uzupis will be the right place to start your evening when visiting the capital of Lithuania.
Discover the Gediminas Tower
The foundations of one of the most popular Vilnius attractions – Gediminas Tower – were laid as early as the 14th century. Nowadays, it has become a loved tourist destination.
On the upper floors of the tower, you will find a small museum where it is possible to visit various exhibits related to the history of the country.
However, what makes the attraction so popular is the fact it offers a beautiful view of Vilnius. Although the steep climb to the tower might seem like a hassle, it is well worth it – the surrounding park and the winding road up the hill are stunning.
Explore the Hill of the Three Crosses
When looking for the most interesting Vilnius tourist attractions, you can’t miss the Three Crosses, which were first erected already in the 17th century. Legend has it that the first three crosses on the hill were built in memory of the Franciscans.
In 1916, three massive concrete crosses were constructed, which were destroyed by the Soviets in the 1950s. But – even then – people considered the place to be sacred.
The three crosses, which can be seen on the top of the hill today, were restored in 1989, symbolising people’s efforts to regain freedom.
These unique crosses can be seen from almost anywhere in the centre of Vilnius. However, to take a closer look, prepare to take a walk on steep stairs. After having a bit of a workout, you will be rewarded with incredible panoramic views of the city.
Stop by the Vilnius Cathedral
The church of the Roman Catholic Church was built in the 13th century. The impressive cathedral is dedicated to St. Stanislaus and St. Vladislav. The beautiful building has a special aura – untouched by time, the oldest fresco in Lithuania has been preserved in it.
Also – the most significant bishops, nobles and dukes of their time are buried under the cathedral. As far as getting to know the culture and history of Lithuania, this is one of the best places to visit in Vilnius.
Get your hands on new books at the Baltic Book Fair
If you have the opportunity to visit Vilnius at the end of February, make sure to stop by the largest book fair in the Baltics.
It is an annual event that brings together all book enthusiasts – both those who read them and those who write them. In the market, you can get your hands on new and exciting literature and also meet writers from near and far countries.
Without a doubt – it is one of the best things to do in Vilnius.
Have fun at the former Prison and Cultural Centre
The impressive prison complex, built in 1905, was closed as recently as 2019 and has now reopened as the sightseeing and cultural centre Lukiškių kalėjimas 2.0. Here you will find concerts, exhibitions and artists that have a chance to rent creative spaces.
Guided tours are offered both day and night for all curious travellers out there. It is also the place where the most technically powerful stage in Vilnius has been built. If you are lucky – you might even catch a live concert.
A fun fact – in 2020, the Netflix series Stranger Things was filmed in this prison. If you are looking for the most exciting things to see in Vilnius, Lukiškių kalėjimas should be on your itinerary.
Explore the Paupys Area
Next to Uzupis, in the former factory and warehouse district, Paupys has become a modern urban space for offices and creative minds alike. The buildings and logistics of the area are designed so that people can interact – both with each other and the urban environment.
In the area, you will find a bicycle path that goes through it, which is convenient for exploring the unique part of Vilnius.
Don’t miss the Paupio Bazaar – a modern food market where you can buy both traditional and trendy local products, as well as taste yummy goods in a variety of different cafes. Wandering around the Paupys area is definitely one of the most interesting things to do in Vilnius.
Get your dose of culture at the Vilnius Museum of Modern Art
The Vilnius Museum of Modern Art opened its doors in 2019. Its repository houses about 5,000 works of art, covering the period from the restoration of Lithuania’s independence to the present day. The private museum, founded by Viktors and Dangole Butkus, has two exhibition halls – large and small.
In the large hall, the exposition is changed twice a year, while in the small hall – five times. Also worth a visit is the museum building itself and its gorgeous surroundings.
The man behind the project is Daniel Libeskind, one of the world’s most prominent architects, known for being behind the World Trade Center and the Berlin Holocaust Museum.
Discover the Vilnius TV Tower
The 326.5-meter-high Vilnius TV Tower is the tallest building in Lithuania, the 8th tallest in Europe and the 26th tallest TV tower in the world.
At the height of 165 meters – on the 19th floor – there is a rotating platform with a restaurant that offers a breathtaking view of the whole of Vilnius while also providing a tickling sensation, as the base of the circular restaurant rotates 360 degrees every 55 minutes.
The television tower is also home to the Freedom Fight Museum, which commemorates the events of January 13, 1991, when Lithuanians regained their independence. A small granite obelisk at the TV towers top honours the 12 defenders who lost their lives that night.
If you plan on spending a few days in Vilnius, we recommend buying a Vilniečio Card and top it up with e-tickets or money. The Vilniečio Card, which costs €15, is available at the Narvesen store located in the airport (Arrival A or Departure), in the city – in all the venues marked by the Vilniečio Card sign.
You may top up your Vilniečio Card with the desired amount right away. When onboard touch the ticket reader with the card and the activated ticket will become valid.
Getting to Vilnius
For cheap flights to Lithuania visit Trip.com. Vilnius International Airport is only 6km from the centre of the city. Buses number 1, 2 and 3G run between the airport (in front of Terminal 1) to the city centre from around 05:00 to 00:00 every day. A ticket for the bus costs €1 and the journey time is around 15 minutes.
Vilnius is connected to the rest of the Baltic states by road and rail. By far the easiest and cheapest way is to go by bus. Lux Express is the top carrier in the region and their modern, comfortable coaches will get you to your destination with little fuss. The train services are fewer and more expensive, and you will need to transfer, whereas the buses are direct (unless going farther afield).
Latvia: Riga to Vilnius – 04h00m Tickets from €16
Estonia: Tallinn to Vilnius – 11h40m Tickets from €39 (one transfer at Riga Coach Station)
Poland: Warsaw to Vilnius – 7h50m Tickets from €19
Latvia: Riga to Vilnius
Estonia: Tallinn to Vilnius
Russia: Moscow to Vilnius
Russia: St Petersburg to Vilnius
Getting Around Vilnius
Central Vilnius and the old town are easily navigable on foot. Vilnius does not have a metro system, but there is a large network of buses, trams and trolleybuses that will take you anywhere in the city.
I stayed at Jimmy Jumps Hostel (voted Number 1 in Lithuania). Great location and lots of activities can be arranged.
The Baltic States are located in northern Europe on the Baltic Sea. The area is famous for its long, cold and harsh winters. Summers are pleasantly warm and sunny, with sporadic downpours.
When is the best time to explore Vilnius?
If you would like to travel to Lithuania, it is best to plan your visit between April and September when the weather is pleasant, and it is still possible to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. Winters, however, can get a bit rough (Baltics have a reputation for freezing temperatures), so if you are afraid of the cold, head to your adventure in summer.
Although Vilnius is a very safe place, it always pays to have a good travel insurance policy in place should the unexpected happen. Our partners at World Nomads specialize in insurance for adventurous travellers. You can get a free, no-obligation quote here.
Thanks to its artistic neighbourhoods, charming old town, yummy cepelinai, impressive architecture and beautiful nature, Vilnius is definitely a hidden gem of Eastern Europe. With its attractive prices and friendly people, it is a place you shouldn’t miss. So perhaps it is time to book your vacation now?
About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang and now resides in the tropical paradise of Sanya on Hainan Island.
He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.