The capital of Lithuania is built in a gorgeous area – between mighty hills and valleys, which hide unexpected charming viewpoints and natural wonders.
Vibrant urban areas, beautiful castles and churches, impressive baroque buildings and rich cultural life – these are just a few of the top things to do in Vilnius Lithuania. From the Gediminas Tower to the TV Tower, parks, cafes and gardens, there are lots of great places to visit in Vilnius.
Be prepared to fall in love with this small yet wondrous travel destination and enjoy the Vilnius sightseeing.
Top Things to do in Vilnius
From its many onion-domed churches to the beautiful riverside parks, charming old town and interesting museums, there are lots of wonderful places to visit in Vilnius. Here are the top ones worth putting on your list.
1. Discover the Old Town
The old town is one of the first places to visit in Vilnius and the cultural centre of the city. It’s one of the largest medieval old towns in Europe and covers an area of over two square miles.
There are lots of places to see in Vilnius’s old town — from the presidential palaces to the castle complex, orthodox churches, a cathedral and the National Museum of Lithuania.
Vilnius’s old quarter is also packed with little bars, cafes and restaurants with outside seating on the cobbled streets.
While you can explore it on your own, a better way to experience this gorgeous quarter is to take a guided tour of the Old Town. The ‘Then and Now’ tour will cover the history of Vilnius, going back to its settling 10,000 years ago. There is also an fascinating guided tour on the Soviet era that I highly recommend for a focus on more recent history.
2. Stroll Through the Republic of Uzupis
The Republic of Uzupis (see map location) is probably the most bohemian place in the city. The locals call it the heart of Vilnius. Initially, it was a poor and even dangerous area, but poets, painters and musicians filled it with art and creativity, making it a respected and even prestigious neighbourhood.
Uzupis really is an unusual place. Why? The artists have declared their republic in the city centre. The area has its own anthem, laws, president and also an army of 12 people.
That is what makes it so special and one of the best sights to see in Vilnius. To understand it from a local’s perspective, be sure to explore Vilnius with a local guide.
3. Climb Gediminas Tower
The foundations of one of the most popular Vilnius attractions – Gediminas Tower – were laid as early as the 14th century. Nowadays, it has become a loved tourist destination and one of the best Vilnius places to visit.
On the upper floors of the tower, you will find a small museum where it is possible to visit various exhibits related to the history of the country.
However, what makes the attraction so popular is the fact it offers a beautiful view of Vilnius. Although the steep climb to the tower might seem like a hassle, it is well worth it – the surrounding park and the winding road up the hill are stunning.
4. Explore the Hill of the Three Crosses
When looking for the most interesting Vilnius tourist attractions, you can’t miss the Three Crosses, which were first erected already in the 17th century. Legend has it that the first three crosses on the hill were built in memory of the Franciscans.
In 1916, three massive concrete crosses were constructed, which were destroyed by the Soviets in the 1950s. The crosses, which can be seen on the top of the hill today, were restored in 1989, symbolising people’s efforts to regain freedom.
These unique crosses can be seen from almost anywhere in the centre of Vilnius.
5. Stop by the Vilnius Cathedral
The Roman Catholic Vilnius Cathedral was built in the 13th century. The impressive cathedral is dedicated to St. Stanislaus and St. Vladislav. The beautiful building has a special aura – untouched by time, the oldest fresco in Lithuania has been preserved in it.
Also – the most significant bishops, nobles and dukes of their time are buried under the cathedral. As far as getting to know the culture and history of Lithuania, this is one of the best places to visit in Vilnius.
The Cathedral, and Cathedral Square is a Vilnius must see and one of the highlights of the old town.
6. Buy New Books at the Baltic Book Fair
If you have the opportunity to visit Vilnius at the end of February, make sure to stop by the largest book fair in the Baltics.
It is an annual event that brings together all book enthusiasts – both those who read them and those who write them. In the market, you can get your hands on new and exciting literature and also meet writers from near and far countries.
Without a doubt – it is one of the best Vilnius things to do in winter.
7. Explore Lukiskes Prison and Cultural Centre
The impressive prison complex, built in 1905, was closed as recently as 2019 and has now reopened as the sightseeing and cultural centre Lukiškių kalėjimas. Here you will find concerts, exhibitions and artists that have a chance to rent creative spaces.
Guided tours are offered both day and night for all curious travellers out there. It is also the place where the most technically powerful stage in Vilnius has been built. If you are lucky – you might even catch a live concert.
A fun fact – in 2020, the Netflix series Stranger Things was filmed in this prison. If you are looking for the most exciting things to see in Vilnius, Lukiškių kalėjimas should be on your itinerary.
8. Explore the Paupys Area
Next to Uzupis, in the former factory and warehouse district, Paupys has become a modern urban space for offices and creative minds alike. The buildings and logistics of the area are designed so that people can interact – both with each other and the urban environment.
In the area, you will find a bicycle path that goes through it, which is convenient for exploring the unique part of Vilnius. The Paupys district is one of the best places to visit in Vilnius if you want to escape the busy old town.
Don’t miss the Paupio Bazaar – a modern food market where you can buy both traditional and trendy local products, as well as taste yummy goods in a variety of different cafes. Wandering around the Paupys area is definitely one of the most interesting things to do in Vilnius.
Take a private walking tour of Vilnius with a local guide.
9. Visit the MO Museum of Modern Art
The Vilnius Museum of Modern Art opened its doors in 2019. Its repository houses about 5,000 works of art, covering the period from the restoration of Lithuania’s independence to the present day. The private museum, founded by Viktors and Dangole Butkus, has two exhibition halls – large and small.
In the large hall, the exposition is changed twice a year, while in the small hall – five times. Also worth a visit is the museum building itself and its gorgeous surroundings. Definitely one of the best things to do in Vilnius for art lovers.
The man behind the project is Daniel Libeskind, one of the world’s most prominent architects, known for being behind the World Trade Center and the Berlin Holocaust Museum.
10. Ascend the TV Tower for Incredible Views
The 326.5-meter-high Vilnius TV Tower is the tallest building in Lithuania, the 8th tallest in Europe. Ascending the tower is one of the best Vilnius things to do for incredible views of the city.
At the height of 165 meters – on the 19th floor – there is a rotating platform with a restaurant that offers a breathtaking view of the whole of Vilnius. The base of the circular restaurant rotates 360 degrees every 55 minutes.
The television tower is also home to the Freedom Fight Museum, which commemorates the events of January 13, 1991, when Lithuanians regained their independence. A small granite obelisk at the TV towers top honours the 12 defenders who lost their lives that night.
Day Trips from Vilnius
If you want to escape the city and see some of Lithuania’s other interesting sites then there are plenty of easy day trips from the city. Below are a couple of great selections including the gorgeous Trakai Castle and the strange Hill of Crosses.
11. Explore the Beautiful Trakai Castle
The gorgeous lakeside town of Trakai 17 miles (27km) from the city is one of the best things to do near Vilnius. Trakai was once the former capital of Lithuania and it’s possible to explore the impressive lakeside and 14th Century castle.
This half-day tour to Trakai from Vilnius includes a visit to the old town and castle and is well worth doing. You’ll also get to see Lake Galve, the deepest of the 200 lakes dotting this picturesque region of Lithuania.
12. Take a Day Trip to the Hill Of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses is a hill close to the northern city of Siauliai with hundreds of different size crosses scattered around the hilltop. The practice of leaving crosses here is thought to date back to 1831 after an uprising.
The Hill of Crosses is located a two-and-a-half hour drive from Vilnius. This full-day Hill of Crosses tour with hotel pickup in Vilnius is a great way to experience this unique Lithuanian landmark.
Getting to Vilnius
Vilnius International Airport is only 6km from the centre of the city. Buses number 1, 2 and 3G run between the airport (in front of Terminal 1) to the city centre from around 05:00 to 00:00 every day. A ticket for the bus costs €1 and the journey time is around 15 minutes.
Vilnius is connected to the rest of the Baltic states by road and rail. By far the easiest and cheapest way is to go by bus. Flixbus is the top carrier in the region and their modern, comfortable coaches will get you to your destination with little fuss.
The train services are fewer and more expensive, and you will need to transfer, whereas the buses are direct (unless going farther afield).
- Latvia: Riga to Vilnius – 04h00m Tickets from €14.99
- Estonia: Tallinn to Vilnius – 9h00m Tickets from €29.99
- Poland: Warsaw to Vilnius – 8h00m Tickets from €24.99
- Latvia: Riga to Vilnius
- Estonia: Tallinn to Vilnius
- Russia: Moscow to Vilnius
- Russia: St Petersburg to Vilnius
Getting Around Vilnius
Central Vilnius and the old town are easily navigable on foot. Vilnius does not have a metro system, but there is a large network of buses, trams and trolleybuses that will take you anywhere in the city.
Booking a guided tour is a great way to explore the city and see all the major Vilnius attractions.
If you plan on spending a few days in Vilnius, we recommend buying a Vilniečio Card and top it up with e-tickets or money. The Vilniečio Card, which costs €15, is available at the Narvesen store located in the airport (Arrival A or Departure), in the city – in all the venues marked by the Vilniečio Card sign.
You may top up your Vilniečio Card with the desired amount right away. When onboard touch the ticket reader with the card and the activated ticket will become valid.
I stayed at Jimmy Jumps Hostel (voted Number 1 in Lithuania). Great location and lots of activities can be arranged.
For hotels and apartment rentals check Booking.com.
Best time to visit
If you would like to travel to Lithuania, it is best to plan your visit between April and September when the weather is pleasant, and it is still possible to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
Winters, however, can get a bit rough (Baltics have a reputation for freezing temperatures), so if you are afraid of the cold, head to your adventure in summer.
Now you know what to do in Vilnius, the only question should be where to start! Thanks to its artistic neighbourhoods, charming old town, yummy cepelinai, impressive architecture and beautiful nature, Vilnius is definitely a hidden gem of Eastern Europe.
With its attractive prices and friendly people, it is a place you shouldn’t miss. So perhaps it is time to book your vacation now and discover the best places to visit in Vilnius!
Photos 2 to 12 copyright Stephen Antony Rohan.
Some links may be affiliate links, meaning I may earn commission from products or services I recommend. For more, see site policies.