Things To Do in Vilnius: 9 Sights and 1 Day Trip

Kissing in front of Vilnius Cathedral

While researching things to do in Vilnius I found little in the way of blog posts or newspaper articles about the city which is one of the reasons I believed it was going to be the least interesting of the Baltic States capitals.

Once again my preconceptions where proved wrong.

Vilnius is a pretty city with (seemingly) more going on than neighbouring Riga and it’s worth spending at least a few days or more if you want to include a day trip to Trakai.

UNESCO Old Town

The historic centre of Vilnius has cobblestone streets lined with buildings from almost all architectural styles and I was surprised to discover it’s one of the most beautiful Old Town’s in Eastern Europe. There are huge squares, cute narrow lane ways and too many churches to count. The diversity of architecture and its influence on the rest of region granted the city UNESCO status. Wander through the streets for hours or go cafe hopping.

Vilnius Old Town

St Anne's Church in the background.

Cathedral Square

The big open square at the end of Gedimino Prospektas is the heart of Vilnius where you’ll spot friends meeting up and tourists taking endless pics of Vilnius Cathedral.

Monuments in Cathedral Square

Gates of Dawn

Looking down on the people from the Gates of Dawn is the elaborate shrine and painting of the Virgin Mary. People around the world still believe in its miracle working powers and the local catholics cross themselves before passing through the gate.

The VERY religious Gates of Dawn in Vilnius

Bernardine Gardens

The recently restored Bernardine Gardens is packed with pretty flower displays in the warmer months and is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch on a park bench or for a bit of people watching.

Fountain in Bernardine Gardens Vilnius

The Riverbank

The riverbank is where the locals like to go after work. They’ll most likely be drinking (a lot) with friends or running along the waterfront footpath.

Vilnius Riverbank Waterfront

More things to do and see:

  • Užupis – the hipster quarter in Vilnius and a self-declared independent republic with its own flag, currency, president and constitution. Their independence day, Užupis Day, falls on 1st April.
  • Museum of Genocide Victims – particularly interesting if you’re curious about the Soviet occupation and the atrocities of that period.
  • Gedimino Tower – for views over the city.
  • St Anne’s Church – the unusual brick Gothic church.

St Anne's Church Vilnius

Even though I visited in August, when many Lithuanians are on holidays, the cafes were still busy and there were a few festivals going on. You can see all the current events and festivals here.

Day Trip to Trakai

Trakai Castle

Peaceful lakes and a pretty red brick castle are what draws the crowds to Trakai. While it was easily the most touristy destination I visited in Lithuania at the same time it was the most serene (just stay away from the tour groups). Try the kybyns a kind of meat or vegetable pie introduced to Trakai by the Karaites, a minority group who originated from Crimea.

Serene Lakeside Trakai

While in Vilnius we met up with fellow travel blogger Ele who introduced us to the city and more importantly put us onto the best Lithuanian cheeses. She works as a private tour guide in Vilnius and Kaunas and happily showed us some of the highlights of her home town plus I got to pry her for information on the Soviet occupation, something I’m fascinated by. I highly recommend her guide services if you want to discover more of Vilnius, especially if you’re interested in history or quirky, off the beaten path things to do.

Lady riding a bear.Quirky things to see in Vilnius

It's a cat's life.

Where to Stay

For a short stay I recommend the Novotel Hotel which is in a great spot in the old town on the main street Gedimino Prospektas. If you’re staying a bit longer I liked the Airbnb apartment where I stayed, located not far from the Novotel and just in front of the notorious Lukiškes Prison. Don’t worry, I assure you it’s a perfectly safe area. 🙂

About Andrea

Andrea Anastasakis is the founder and author of road trip blog Rear View Mirror. She is currently driving her Fiat 500 around Europe. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram.


Comments

  1. Thanks for the post Andrea. It is just what I needed before my trip next week.

  2. I wrote quiet a lot about Vilnius after my last year’s visit there! 🙂 but seriously, it must be one of the most underrated yet amazing capitals in Europe! I’ve been there couple of times and each time I find something new there! I’m returning to Vilnius again in October 🙂

    • Yep, agreed, it’s totally underrated. I hadn’t expected to like it but I’ll definitely be back for more. Not sure why I didn’t come across your posts during my research, I guess I wasn’t searching in the right places. 😉

  3. Sophie @ Sophie's World says:

    Have a bit on Vilnius, as well. And Trakai. Very interesting country, isn’t it. Next time, I’d like to see the Curonian Spit.

    • I had planned to visit the Curonian Spit but the weather was bad so left it for another time. There are definitely some interesting places in Lithuania.

  4. Vilnius and Trakai are definitely on my list of regional travel plans. Thanks for the great information! And love the pretty cat photo 🙂

    • I loved both and the drive through the countryside from Riga is beautiful too, assuming you’ll be driving. 🙂

  5. Adding more and more to my list of things to do! Thanks! Too bad we only have 2 days in Vilnius! 🙁 And I’m sure the weather in mid-November won’t be the best either. Oh well..that’s when hubby finally gets some vacation days.

    • Vilnius isn’t huge. You could easily see everything in 2 days including a half day in Trakai. 🙂