Vilnius Lithuania – What To Do, See & Eat

Discover the best things to do, see and eat in Vilnius, Lithuania with our comprehensive guide.
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If you’re planning a trip to Lithuania, make sure to include a visit to its capital city, Vilnius. This charming city may be small, but it’s full of history, culture, art, and delicious cuisine. Here’s a guide to what to do, see, and eat in Vilnius to make the most of your visit.

Exploring the Historic Old Town

Vilnius’ Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for a good reason. It’s a labyrinth of cobbled streets, charming pastel-colored buildings, and Gothic and Baroque churches. Exploring its winding streets is like stepping back in time. Vilnius’ Old Town is not only a visual feast, but it’s also a place where you can learn about Lithuania’s rich history and culture.

As you wander through the Old Town, you’ll notice that each building has a story to tell. For example, the St. Anne’s Church, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, was built in the 15th century and has survived numerous wars and invasions. The church’s intricate facade is made up of over 30,000 bricks, each one uniquely shaped to fit the design.

Must-Visit Landmarks

The Cathedral Square is the heart of Vilnius’ Old Town. It’s dominated by the grand neoclassical Cathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Ladislaus, which dates back to the 13th century. The cathedral’s interior is just as impressive as its exterior, with stunning frescoes and intricate stucco work. Next to the Cathedral, you’ll find the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, a fascinating museum that chronicles the country’s history. The palace was reconstructed in 2009, and its grand halls and chambers are filled with exhibits that showcase Lithuania’s art, culture, and history.

Another must-visit landmark is the Gates of Dawn, a 16th-century gatehouse that’s also a shrine to the Virgin Mary. It’s the only remaining gate of the original city walls and is decorated with an ornate baroque facade. The Gates of Dawn is an important pilgrimage site for Catholics, and many come to pray before the painting of the Virgin Mary that’s displayed above the gate.

Hidden Gems in the Old Town

While the Old Town is full of well-known landmarks, make sure to also explore its hidden gems. You can find cozy squares like Pilies Courtyard and Stikliu Square, where you can sit and enjoy a coffee or a beer. If you’re interested in architecture, make sure to visit the unique Uzupis District, which is a bohemian neighborhood that declared itself an independent republic in 1997. The district is filled with street art, sculptures, and quirky shops and cafes.

For a taste of Vilnius’ culinary scene, head to the Hales Market, located just outside the Old Town. The market has been operating since the 15th century and is now home to over 200 vendors selling everything from fresh produce to traditional Lithuanian dishes.

Guided Tours and Experiences

If you want to learn more about Vilnius’ history and culture, take a guided walking tour. You can find tours that focus on the city’s Jewish heritage, the Soviet occupation, or even Vilnius’ ghosts and legends. For a unique perspective, you can also join a hot air balloon or bike tour. These tours offer breathtaking views of the city and its surroundings, and are a great way to see Vilnius from a different angle.

Exploring Vilnius’ Old Town is a journey through time and a feast for the senses. From its stunning architecture to its vibrant cultural scene, there’s something for everyone in this charming city. So put on your walking shoes and get ready to discover all that Vilnius has to offer.

Discovering Vilnius’ Art Scene

Vilnius is a vibrant cultural hub, and its art scene is no exception. From colorful murals to contemporary art galleries, there’s something for everyone.

As you stroll through the city, you’ll notice that art is everywhere. Even the manhole covers are decorated with intricate designs! Vilnius is truly a city that values creativity and self-expression.

Street Art and Murals

Vilnius’ streets are filled with colorful murals that brighten up the city’s buildings. One of the most famous is the mural of Frank Zappa on the side of a building in the Uzupis district. This bohemian neighborhood is known for its artistic flair, and you can spend hours wandering through its narrow streets, admiring the murals and street art that decorate the walls.

But the Uzupis district isn’t the only place to find street art in Vilnius. The city has a thriving street art scene, with artists from all over the world coming to leave their mark on the city’s walls. From political statements to whimsical designs, the street art in Vilnius is always thought-provoking and engaging.

Art Galleries and Museums

Vilnius has several excellent art galleries and museums that showcase both contemporary and traditional Lithuanian art. One of the most prominent is the MO Museum, which has a collection of more than 5,000 works of contemporary art. The museum is housed in a stunning modern building that’s worth a visit in itself.

If you’re interested in Lithuanian folk art, make sure to visit the Applied Arts Museum. Here, you can see traditional textiles, ceramics, and other crafts that have been passed down through generations of Lithuanian artisans.

For a more contemporary take on Lithuanian art, check out the Contemporary Art Centre. This gallery features cutting-edge works from both Lithuanian and international artists, and is a great place to see what’s happening in the world of contemporary art.

Local Artists and Craftsmen

If you’re looking for a unique souvenir to bring back home, visit the local artists and craftsmen who sell their goods in the Old Town’s markets. You can find everything from handmade ceramics to traditional Lithuanian textiles. Many of these artists have been honing their craft for years, and are happy to share their stories and techniques with visitors.

Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the artists and craftsmen you meet. They’re often passionate about their work, and can provide a unique perspective on Vilnius’ art scene and creative culture.

Outdoor Activities and Adventures

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Vilnius has plenty of activities and adventures to offer. From parks and gardens to hiking and biking trails, there’s something for everyone. Here are some more details about the outdoor activities you can enjoy in Vilnius:

Parks and Gardens

Vilnius has several beautiful parks and gardens that are perfect for a picnic or a leisurely stroll. In addition to the Bernardine Garden and Tower Hill Park, you can also visit Vingis Park, which is the largest park in the city. It has several walking and cycling paths, as well as a lake where you can rent paddle boats. Another popular park is the Belmontas Park, which is located on the outskirts of the city and has a beautiful waterfall.

Hiking and Biking Trails

If you want to explore Vilnius’ countryside, there are several hiking and biking trails that are easily accessible from the city. One of the most popular is the Verkiai Regional Park, which has several trails of different difficulty levels. The park is home to several historic sites, including the Verkiai Palace and the 18th-century Verkiai manor. If you’re up for a challenge, you can also hike up the nearby Taurakalnis Hill, which offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

Water Activities on the Neris River

The Neris River runs through Vilnius, and you can enjoy several water activities, including kayaking and paddleboarding. You can rent equipment from several vendors along the river’s banks. If you want to take a break from the water, you can also explore the nearby beach area, which has several volleyball courts and a playground for children.

Whether you’re a nature lover or just looking for some outdoor fun, Vilnius has plenty of options to keep you entertained. So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure!

Vilnius’ Culinary Delights

No trip to Vilnius is complete without trying its delicious cuisine. From traditional Lithuanian dishes to international cuisine, Vilnius has something for every taste bud!

Traditional Lithuanian Cuisine

Lithuanian cuisine is known for its hearty and comforting dishes. The cuisine has a focus on meat, potatoes, dairy products, and rye bread, all of which are staples in Lithuanian households. One of the most popular dishes to try is cepelinai, a traditional potato dumpling dish filled with meat or curd cheese. The dish is named after Zeppelin airships due to their similar shape. Another must-try dish is kugelis, a potato pudding made with grated potatoes, bacon, and onions. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to try šakotis, a spiral cake made by drizzling batter onto a rotating spit over an open fire. The cake is a popular dessert during Lithuanian celebrations and is often served at weddings and birthdays.

Best Restaurants and Cafes

Vilnius has several excellent restaurants and cafes that serve both traditional Lithuanian cuisine and international dishes. For a fine-dining experience, check out the restaurant Džiaugsmas. The restaurant is known for its innovative dishes that are made using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. If you want to try traditional cuisine in a cozy atmosphere, visit the medieval-themed restaurant Ertlio Namas. The restaurant has a rustic feel with wooden furniture and candlelight, making it the perfect place for a romantic dinner. And for a great cup of coffee, head to the trendy Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories cafe. The cafe is known for its specialty coffee drinks and homemade pastries.

Food Tours and Cooking Classes

If you’re a foodie, make sure to take a food tour or a cooking class to learn more about Lithuanian cuisine. The tours and classes will take you to some of the best restaurants and cafes in Vilnius, where you can try traditional dishes like kibinai, a savory pastry filled with meat or vegetables. You can also learn how to make your own cheese or beer, which are both popular in Lithuanian cuisine. The tours and classes are a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and learn more about the history and traditions of Lithuanian cuisine.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Vilnius has a lively nightlife scene, with something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a quiet night out with friends or a wild party, you’ll find it in Vilnius.

Bars and Pubs

Vilnius has several excellent bars and pubs that serve local and international beers and cocktails. The city is known for its craft beer scene, and you can try some of the best Lithuanian craft beers at Alaus Namai. The bar has a cozy atmosphere and is a great place to relax with friends. If you’re looking for something more lively, head to Bix Baras, which has regular live music performances and a great selection of drinks.

If you’re a fan of whiskey, be sure to check out The Box Whiskey Bar. This bar has an extensive selection of whiskeys from around the world, as well as a knowledgeable staff who can help you choose the perfect whiskey for your taste.

Live Music and Performances

Vilnius has several music and performance venues that showcase both local and international talent. If you’re a fan of rock and pop music, check out Tamsta Club. This venue has a great atmosphere and hosts regular live music performances.

If you’re interested in classical music, be sure to visit the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. This beautiful venue hosts opera and ballet performances throughout the year, featuring some of the best talent from Lithuania and around the world.

Festivals and Events

Vilnius hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, from music and art to food and beer. One of the most popular is the Vilnius Street Music Day, where musicians perform on the streets, squares, and parks throughout the city. This event is free to attend and is a great way to experience the local music scene.

If you’re a foodie, be sure to check out the Vilnius Street Food Festival. This event showcases some of the best street food from around the world, as well as local Lithuanian cuisine. You’ll have the opportunity to try everything from traditional Lithuanian dishes to international favorites like pizza and tacos.

For beer lovers, the Vilnius Craft Beer Festival is a must-visit. This event brings together some of the best craft breweries from Lithuania and around the world, and you’ll have the opportunity to try a wide variety of unique and delicious beers.

Day Trips from Vilnius

If you have a few extra days, make sure to explore the surrounding area. Vilnius is surrounded by beautiful countryside and fascinating historical sites that are well worth a visit.

Trakai Island Castle

Trakai Island Castle is a fairytale-like castle located on an island in Lake Galve, just a short drive from Vilnius. It dates back to the 14th century and is a great place to learn more about Lithuania’s history. The castle was once the residence of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and has been beautifully restored to its former glory. Visitors can explore the castle’s many rooms and learn about its rich history. You can also go boating or kayaking on the lake, which offers stunning views of the castle and the surrounding countryside.

Trakai town, which is located nearby, is also worth a visit. This charming town has a rich history and is home to many beautiful buildings, including the impressive Trakai Cathedral.

The Hill of Crosses

The Hill of Crosses is a unique and moving site located about an hour’s drive from Vilnius. It’s a hill covered in thousands of crosses of all sizes and shapes that have been placed there by pilgrims for centuries. The exact origins of the tradition are unknown, but it is believed to have started in the 19th century as a way for Lithuanians to express their national identity and resistance to foreign rule. Today, the hill is a powerful symbol of Lithuanian culture and identity.

Visitors to the Hill of Crosses can walk among the crosses and reflect on their significance. The site is particularly striking at sunrise or sunset, when the light casts long shadows across the hill.

Aukštaitija National Park

Aukštaitija National Park is located about two hours’ drive from Vilnius and is one of Lithuania’s most beautiful natural sites. It has several lakes, forests, and hills and is perfect for hiking, cycling, or kayaking. The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including wolves, lynx, and wild boar, as well as many species of birds.

Visitors to Aukštaitija National Park can explore its many hiking trails, which offer stunning views of the park’s lakes and forests. There are also several cycling routes, as well as opportunities for kayaking and canoeing on the park’s many lakes and rivers. The park is particularly beautiful in the autumn, when the leaves turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow.

Overall, there are many fascinating day trips to be taken from Vilnius. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or nature, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful part of Lithuania.

Practical Tips for Visiting Vilnius

Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is a beautiful city with a rich history and culture. If you’re planning a trip to Vilnius, here are some practical tips to help you make the most of your visit.

Getting Around the City

The best way to explore Vilnius’ Old Town is on foot. The city is compact and easy to navigate, and walking allows you to take in the charming architecture and atmosphere of the city. If you’re not up for walking, Vilnius is also well-connected by public transport, including trams, buses, and trolleybuses. You can purchase a Vilnius City Card, which gives you unlimited access to public transport and discounts on attractions.

If you’re venturing outside the city, renting a car is a good option. This will give you the freedom to explore the beautiful countryside surrounding Vilnius, including the stunning Trakai Castle.

Accommodation Options

Vilnius has several accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxurious hotels. If you want to stay in the Old Town, make sure to book in advance, as the best hotels fill up quickly. The Old Town is the heart of Vilnius, with its cobbled streets, historic buildings, and cozy cafes. Staying in the Old Town will give you easy access to all the main attractions, as well as the best restaurants and nightlife.

If you’re looking for a more peaceful and relaxing stay, consider staying in one of the many guesthouses or apartments located in the quieter neighborhoods outside the Old Town. This will give you a chance to experience the local way of life and enjoy a more authentic Vilnius experience.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Vilnius is from May to September when the weather is warm and sunny. This is also the busiest season, so be prepared for crowds. The summer months are filled with festivals and events, including the Vilnius City Fiesta, which celebrates the city’s birthday with live music, street performances, and fireworks.

If you’re looking for a quieter and more budget-friendly time to visit, consider coming in the shoulder seasons of April and October. The weather may be cooler, but the crowds are thinner, and the prices are lower. You can still enjoy all the main attractions, and the autumn colors make the city even more beautiful.

No matter when you visit Vilnius, this charming city is sure to leave a lasting impression on you. Its history, culture, art, cuisine, and natural beauty make it a destination worth exploring. Don’t miss the chance to see the iconic Gediminas Castle, the stunning St. Anne’s Church, and the vibrant Uzupis neighborhood. Vilnius is a city that will capture your heart and make you want to come back again and again.


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