Things to do in Vilnius, Lithuania

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Looking for tips on what to see and do in Vilnius, Lithuania?

As part of our city guides series, we interviewed Ele Pranaityte who was born in Vilnius in 1981, so is a true city-born Vilniusite.

Ele shares with us her insider tips on what to do in Vilnius for those looking for the best places to see, eat, stay, drink, and explore.

Take it away Ele…

Why Visit Vilnius?

It is the capital city of a country with long and rich historical and cultural heritage.

It was founded in 1323, stretched to be the largest country in Europe, and housed a number of cultures, religions and traditions as well as received the best architects and artists from all over Europe. It‘s a mix of beautiful nature, historical landmarks, good food, and kind people.

Things to do in Vilnius

I really like the way Vilnius Tourist Information Centre has approached this question. You can see their Events Mozaic and filter what‘s on according to your preferences.

As I have already mentioned, Vilnius is a very European city, so my advice would be try to see traditional culture, so Lithuanian National Museum has some permanent collections, and National Art Gallery houses colelctions of Lithuanian artists.

Best Neighbourhoods to Explore in Vilnius

Tourists usually enjoy our bohemic Uzupis Republic, where a lot of artists live and work. They consider themselves as a seperate republic and even have their own Constitution, some items of which are very interesting, like: “a cat does not have to love its master but must help in time of need“.

For wooden architecture lovers I recommend Zverynas (Menagerie) for its wooden houses heritage. And, naturally, the Old Town, that goes without saying.

Vilnius
Zverynas the menagerie

Where to Eat in Vilnius

If you want to try some of our national dishes, your best choice are places called Cili Kaimas, simple Cili mainly cater for international food like pizzas or spaghetti.

Recently Vilnius saw a number of sushi places opening. Chinese restaurants are all over the city with cheap food in big portions, so if you decide
to explore Uzupis, do go to the one there, it‘s great!

Vegetarians will appreciate Radharane. I would not recomment eating street food from street vendors as they usually sell rather greasy and difficult to
digest food in terms of foreign visitors stomachs.

Where to Drink in Vilnius

If you are up to a relaxed evening, I recommend Sky Bar. It‘s got panoramic view and good cocktails mid-priced. Do wear a shawl or a jacket as the conditioning might be crazy.

There‘s a good pub called Portobello in the Old Town near the Gates of Dawn, they have good beer but can get crowded when there‘s a match on TV.

Practically all cafes and restaurants serve wine, beer and stronger drinks, so you will not be thirsty in Vilnius.

Vilnius
Old Town

Where to Stay in Vilnius

This is a question to be taken care of in advance as Vilnius has rather few budget accommodation places compared to the number of people in the high season.

If you’re searching for a local and unique experience book with Airbnb. Click here to view all properties in Vilnius. 

Many places are in the center and fill up quickly. Budget accommodation can be offered by Ecotel, AAA Hostel or Old Town Hostel.

If you are ready to splash out, Vilnius has 4-5 star hotels to offer. Among them are The Narutis HotelRadisson Blue Astorija, Amberton or Hotel Congress.

Markets and Shopping in Vilnius

We have several big shopping centers: Europa, Panorama, Ozas and Akropolis. They all have floors of shops for clothes, shoes, food, bags,etc. and different services.

Farmers markets are held as well, there you can buy sausage, cheese, herbs, fruit, vegetable, home-made bread, honey, etc.

Events and Festivals in Vilnius

Kristupas Summer Festival June-September offers a number of concerts to everyones taste, do check their free concerts times and venues.

“Skamba skamba kankliai” is an annual folk music and dance festival that features local groups and guests from abroad.

A number of fairs takes places, the best known is St. Casimir‘s Fair in early March. Also, don‘t miss out on Palm Sunday.

Vilnius
skamba skamba kankliai

Getting Around Vilnius

This area is the most frequently reformed, so check the newest info before you get on it. We are supposed to start e-ticket only system this year, so if you want to take public transport you will have to buy a special e-card to hold your ticket. The good news is that there are 24 and 72 hour tickets available.

If you are based in the Old town, you will not need any public transport as it is easily walkable.

Finding WiFi in Vilnius

This summer wi-fi is supposed to be free in many spots in the Old Town, but whether it will last longer I don‘t know.

Bigger hotels, restaurants, shopping centres will have free wi-fi. Check out this website that lists free wi-fi zones.

Best Time of Year to Visit Vilnius

Summer and early autumn.

Generally, we have a wet climate with rain and snow, our springs are wet and late. Summers can be hot and rainy, autum is very warm and has beautiful trees. It gets dark early in late autumn and winter, at 3-4 p.m. you need lights on.

Vilnius
Autumn

Getting There and Away

You can arrive in Lithuania at the international bus station, railway station or Vilnius International airport.

Bus and train stations are in the city, so you can walk or take public transportation to your hotel. From the airport you can take buses 1 or 2 and there‘s a train that links the airport and the railway station.

Mind that luggage on public transportation is payable if it exceed limits of 60x40x20 cm.

Airport train shedule can be checked here. Buses 1 and 2 can be checked here.

Best insiders Tip for Vilnius

I suggest you tuck away your map and discover Vilnius center on foot.

In high season you can see Vilnius panorama from St. John‘s Church Tower. Walk one trolleybus stop to Antakalnis and see our Baroque Pearl of Church of St. Peter and Paul. Pop in the many Old Town cozy cafes.

Pay a visit to Mint Vinetu – a second hand bookshop that offers mint tea and carrot cake (sells out quickly, so be early).

I Love Vilnius because …it‘s the most beautiful city in the world.

More Resources for Vilnius

Check out these helpful travel guides:

  • Lonely Planet Eastern Europe (Travel Guide)
  • Experiencing Lithuania: An Unconventional Travel Guide

Plan your trip to Vilnius, Lithuania

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Accommodation in Vilnius

Flights to Vilnius

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Car Rental in Vilnius

Tours in Vilnius

 

Ele Pranaityte is a little bit of many things – a teacher of English, a tourist guide, a freelance travel journalist, a travel blogger. Check out my blog and you can follow me on Twitter @Kootvela.

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