Beginners Guide to Vilnius in Lithuania!
Whoa, sounds cool. Where is that?
Honestly, I didn’t know much about Vilnius prior to my own visit either. As someone who’s obsessed with travel, especially to Europe, I had already heard wonderful stories about Riga and Tallinn from other people. The Baltics called my name for weeks, enticing me, until I finally caved and added a nine day adventure after my TBEX trip. Yesss.
While researching and fretting over my journey, I figured Vilnius (in addition to Riga and Tallinn) would make a logical stop on my Baltic adventure, especially since the flight from Stockholm to the Lithuanian capital was the cheapest I found online. Gotta save that airfare money, right, kids?
I had no idea what to expect from Vilnius. No idea at all. But, wow, what a great decision! Turns out that Vilnius was my FAVORITE stop on my entire Baltic trip! No expectations create better results. Funny how that works, huh?
So, if you need some Vilnius travel advice, then I wanna say that you’re making an awesome decision. Vilnius truly is a gem in the region. Settle in and enjoy my guide to Vilnius!
Why You Should Visit Vilnius
Besides the fact that it’s beautiful, you mean? Seriously, why did I bother writing a guide to Vilnius?
Well Vilnius is an especially amazing city to explore if you’ve already seen the “big European” capitals, such as Paris and Rome and London. You’re now free to break away from the glossy tourist trail that you’ve seen a million times in magazines and blogs, and create your own unique memories.
As a solo traveler, I also found Vilnius refreshing in the sense that it wasn’t on the “typical” backpacking trail. Don’t get me wrong. Backpacking is fun, but having the same conversations again and again gets a bit … well … lame. Here, I met a lot of experienced and friendly travelers who were more interested in sharing their passions rather than finding the next pub crawl. We exchanged stories over food and beer. Trust me. If you’re traveling alone, then this city is totally for you.
Finally Vilnius is affordable if you’re from the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, etc. You won’t spend a fortune on accommodation or restaurants, and you can enjoy the sites without feeling as if you’re bleeding Euros onto the cobblestones below you.
Transportation to Vilnius
If you’re flying (like me!), then you’ll land at Vilnius International Airport. The airport is located quite a few kilometers outside of the Old Town, so if that’s where you’re staying, then you’ll have use to another form of transportation to reach the city itself. I reserved a cab ahead of time, because it was the simplest option for me, although I’m sure other methods are available. FYI, if you plan on a cab, do what I did and book in advance. The price is already decided. Meaning you won’t get scammed.
If you’re planning on taking a bus into Vilnius from Latvia, Estonia, Poland, or somewhere else nearby, then I recommend using Lux Express. I used these buses to link all the Baltic capitals. The buses were clean, comfortable, reasonably priced, and on time. Worth it! Plus there was a bathroom on board.
Where You Should Stay?
I went to Vilnius alone. I wanted to meet other travelers, so I stayed in Jimmy Jumps Hostel, which turned out to be a great choice for me! It had reasonable prices, a great atmosphere (I met ALL THE FRIENDS), and free waffles for breakfast.
Plus Jimmy Jumps Hostel was within a reasonable distance of all the places I wanted to see. I booked a private room – which was separate from the dorms – so I had peace and quiet when I needed it. The best of both worlds.
If hostels don’t interest you, Vilnius also has a variety of hotels and apartments to choose from. Read reviews carefully.
For me, Vilnius was super easy to navigate, considering most of the big tourist attractions are within walking distance of one another. Probably the best parts of Vilnius (for me) were the city’s atmosphere and architecture. For example, Vilnius has several gorgeous churches, small streets, trendy coffeehouses, and more. Getting lost is a big part of the fun here!
As for specifics, here are some of my favorite places that I had to include in my guide to Vilnius:
Museum of Genocide Victims is located in the former KGB headquarters. Spooky… The museum teaches visitors about the horrific abuses Lithuania suffered under the former Soviet Union. If you love history, particularly WWII and Cold War history, you’ll find this museum fascinating. The subject matter is quite heavy, though, and not for the faint of heart.
Gediminas’ Tower: This tower is what remains of the Upper Castle. If you want a great view of Vilnius, climbs this tower on a clear day. You’ll also have a brilliant shot of the Three Crosses.
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania: I only saw the outside of this palace, but I hear the museum’s great! I love castles (yeah, I still pretend I’m a Disney princess, what of it?), so I had a fun time taking a million photos.
Literatu Street: As a literature lover, this little street holds a special place in my heart. All the plaques are dedicated to Lithuanian authors and poets, as well as artists who made an impact on Lithuanian literature.
Still not convinced? How about these 20 pictures of Vilnius?
The Republic of Užupis
Ahhh, the best for last!
This neighborhood and UNESCO World Heritage site should definitely be a “must see” on your trip to Vilnius. The artists and other free spirits in Užupis declared this area an independent Republic in 1997. April 1st is their independence day!
You can even check out the constitution, which is written in 23 different languages, and have your passport stamped to prove you visited! If you’re looking for your “artist fix,” then go no further.
I hope you enjoyed my beginners guide to Vilnius!. Have you ever visited Vilnius or Lithuania? Do you want to? What advice would you add to this guide? As always, thanks for supporting Blond Wayfarer!
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