Visitor’s Guide to Vilnius
Lithuania never ceases to impress. The land of fields and forests has much more to offer than just agriculture and natural beauties. Its capital, Vilnius, is boasting a long and exciting history that makes this a perfect city to visit!
This second largest Baltic city was the home to Grand Dukes of Lithuania already in the 14th century and in the following decades it really established its multicultural character by accommodating Lithuanian, Jewish, Polish, Russian and many other ethnic groups. The city never lost its initial importance and despite having many troubles to overcome this is now a flourishing capital of Lithuania. The country joined European Union in 2004 and held EU presidency in the second half of 2013 with most important events being held in Vilnius.
Best way to see the city is by truly submerging yourself in the best experiences each location has to offer. Everybody can take a map and go around, but what really stays with you is the unusual, different and exciting adventures.
Start your day hopping on a hot air balloon and see the city from the bird’s perspective! Try to spot Gedminias’ tower, St Anne’s Church, Užupis Republic and the Jewish quarter from your balloon. Be sure to wear warm clothes as it might get pretty chilly up there.
Tick off the must-see sights of Vilnius with a 3-hour guided tour that will take you all around the city on foot and by bus. Sometimes it’s nice to hear the story behind the building or a sight, especially if you’re visiting Užupis Republic or Literatu Gatve. We heard the mayor himself comes for a beer to Užupio kavine on his segway! Finish your night in style – dine on the top of Vilnius’ TV Tower with views on the city night panorama. If you want to be more down-to-Earth (pun intended) then try a popular Busi trečias (“Be third” in Lithuanian) with their selection of flavoured beer. Caramel beer? Might sound weird but it’s delicious!
Climb the Three Crosses Hill for more panorama. Sit in for lunch at popular gastropub Kitchen. Visit Adam Mickiewicz’s house. Go to the flea market across the river. Admire amber, the gold of the Baltics! Excitement is around every corner!
Despite its romantic character and colourful streets Vilnius still has some reminders of the Soviet times and a definite tourist favourite is KGB museum. This will give you a chilling insight into the lives of Soviet prisoners as the cells remain unaltered from Soviet times. For a lighter museum tour try Lithuania’s Open Air Museum. It is located near Kaunas and it offers an abundance of artifacts – buildings, beehives, furniture, wells, household items, etc. Artifacts come from different regions of Lithuania and if the weather permits this should be a wonderful beginner’s guide to Lithuanian culture. Combine this with a detour to Pažaislis monastery or maybe a full-on visit to Kaunas.
In this second Lithuanian capital walk down Laisves aleja until you reach the old town. Don’t miss the Kaunas castle, confluence of Nemunas and Neris river and a tiny little church just behind Laisves aleja that houses a room of candles. In the winter you can ice skate in the old town and visit the unusual Devils Museum and more traditional Historical Presidential palace. Also highly recommened is a stop in Berneliu Užiega restaurant that serves traditional Lithuanian dishes at an affordable price.
Don’t leave Lithuania without a day trip tour to Trakai castle, which was home to many Lithuanian dukes and what is now certainly a breathtaking sight in itself. You can spend a whole day there as Trakai offers a wide range of activities – biking, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding and the list goes on.
These are only a few ideas on how to spend your time in Vilnius. In addition to the above we suggest you to consider also a beer bike tour, canoe polo, clay pigeon shooting, laser tag game, paintball, golfing, spa and many more. Get inspired and create a trip to remember!
If you have any great ideas on what to do in Vilnius and surroundings or need help with designing your perfect stay in Lithuania, write us a comment or use Twitter and we’ll be glad to help!