Ready for Vilnius Sightseeing?
There are so many awesome things to do in Vilnius!
“Whoa, sounds cool,” you might be thinking at this very moment. “I’m totally ready for some good Vilnius sightseeing. Let’s do it. … Where is Vilnius at anyway? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it…”
Haha, don’t feel bad. Honestly, I didn’t know much about Vilnius prior to my own visit either. As someone who’s obsessed with travel, especially travel to Europe, I had already heard wonderful stories about Riga and Tallinn from other bloggers. In the summer of 2016, 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 function as a logical stop on my Baltic adventure, especially since the flight from Stockholm to the Lithuanian capital was the cheapest fare I found online. Gotta save that airfare money, right, kids?
But, as I’ve already told you, I had no idea what to expect from Vilnius. No idea at all. I was a little nervous. Would the city be easy to navigate? Would I have problems finding an English speaker? Would I make friends? Would I get hopeless lost and never find my hostel?
My fears turned out to be completely unfounded. The Baltics, in general, are super safe for solo travelers. Actually, choosing this particular capital city for my itinerary was great decision! It turns out that Vilnius was my FAVORITE stop on my entire Baltic trip! Vilnius has many things to do for a first time visitor. No expectations create better results. Funny how that works, huh?
So, if you need some solid advice on Vilnius sightseeing, then I wanna help you and say that you’re making an awesome decision. Vilnius truly is a gem in the region. Settle in and enjoy my guide to Vilnius!
What to Do in Vilnius (Or Why Even Visit?)
Besides the fact that Lithuania’s capital is “oh-so” beautiful, you mean? Seriously, why did I bother writing a guide to Vilnius? It’s a gorgeous city! Let’s just end it there!
Okay, seriously, there are plenty of good reasons to add Vilnius to your itinerary right this second.
First of all, Vilnius is an especially amazing city to explore if you’ve already visited the “big and famous European” capitals, such as Paris and Rome and London. I’m not knocking those places. I want to re-visit all three of them, because I still haven’t seen quite enough yet. However, once you have the “big names” under your belt, you’re now free to break away from the glossy tourist trail that you’ve already seen a million times in magazines and blogs. Now you create your own unique memories in fresh places such as Vilnius.
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 especially if you’re young or young at heart. Still, having the same conversations again and again gets a bit … well … lame. Here in Vilnius, I met a lot of experienced and friendly travelers, people who were more interested in sharing their passions rather than finding the time for the next hostel next pub crawl. We exchanged stories over food and beer, and our conversations made me add a million new places to my never-ending bucket list. Trust me. If you’re traveling alone, then this city is totally for you.
Finally Vilnius is an affordable destination especially if you’re hailing 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 your feet. Budget travelers, Vilnius sightseeing will be worth your while.
Flying To Vilnius
If you’re flying (like I did!) to Vilnius, 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. Since I didn’t know much about Vilnius, I splurged and 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 before you step foot in the taxi. Meaning you won’t get scammed. You unfortunately need to watch the taxis in Vilnius (and the Baltics in general).
Vilnius Bus Routes
If you’re planning on taking a bus into Vilnius from Latvia, Estonia, Poland, or somewhere else nearby, then I recommend using Lux Express for all your transportation needs. I used these buses to link all the Baltic capitals. The buses were clean, comfortable, reasonably priced, and on time. Worth it! Plus all the vehicles have a bathroom on board. Journey times can be a bit lengthy.
Where to Stay in Vilnius
As you already know, 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! This hostel had reasonable prices, a great atmosphere (I met ALL THE FRIENDS), and free waffles for breakfast. It’s relatively clean too.
In addition to having a good social environment established, Jimmy Jumps Hostel was also located 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 Jimmy’s is booked, never fear! There are many great hostels in Vilnius that will fit your needs.
If hostels don’t interest you, Vilnius also has a variety of hotels and apartments to choose from. Read reviews carefully.
Great Things to Do in Vilnius
For me, Vilnius was super easy to navigate, considering most of the big tourist attractions are within walking distance of one another. I shouldn’t have worried about getting lost and neither should you! As far as specific sites are concerned, 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 “fake” lost is a big part of the fun here! Wander and see what you stumble upon.
Not specific enough for you? Okay okay, here are some of my favorite places that I had to include in my guide to Vilnius:
The 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. You can find the Museum of Genocide Victims on Aukų g. 2A, Vilnius 01400, Lithuania.
2. Gediminas’ Tower
This tower is all of 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 – which you can hike to if you’re feeling up to the challenge.
3. Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
Another awesome place for some Vilnius sightseeing is the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Even the name sounds fancy, huh? Now full disclosure time. I only saw the outside of this palace, but, regardless of that, I still heard the museum’s great and worth a visit inside! 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. The Palace is located at Katedros a 4, Vilnius 01143, Lithuania.
4. Literatu Street
This part of Vilnius sightseeing makes me smile a lot. It’s a place for all book lovers to mark on their itineraries. 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. If you need new book recommendations, hey, this might not be a bad place to start your research!
Still not convinced about sightseeing in Vilnius? How about these 20 pictures of Vilnius?
One of the Best Things to See in Vilnius: Užupis
Ahhh, I’ve saved the best of your Vilnius sightseeing for last! Dun, dun, dun! Are you ready for … The Republic of Užupis?
You’re probably thinking, “Rachel, what the heck is the Republic of Užupis, and why should I even care about it?”
Shortly said, the Republic of Užupis is super unique 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!
I’ve always had a fascination with small districts declaring their independence. For example, this place reminds me of Christiania in Copenhagen. Come and learn all about the history.
You can even check out the constitution, which is written in 23 different languages. Not to mention, you can even have your passport stamped to prove you visited the republic!
Finally, if you’re looking for your “artist fix,” then go no further. The creative community here hosts poetry evenings and cool exhibitions. Ask your hostel for more information.
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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