Welcome to Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, where the past and present collide to create a vibrant, dynamic cityscape. To help you make the most of your time in this charming city, we've put together a three-day itinerary that covers the top sights, hidden gems, and must-try experiences.
This itinerary is designed to give you a well-rounded view of Vilnius and what it's like to live in the city. The itinerary is flexible and should be adjusted based on weather, days of the week, and personal preferences. To help prioritize your time, in the last paragraph, we have listed five things that we consider a must during your visit to Vilnius.
Day 1: Exploring the Old Town and City's History
Morning: Once you've had a solid breakfast, start the day wandering the winding cobblestone streets and admiring the beautiful architecture. This is a great day to see and visit some of the landmarks, starting with Vilnius Cathedral, St. Ann Church, Literatu Street, Pilies Street, Stikliu Street, and the City Hall, all within easy walking distance of each other.
If you would like to admire the city's architecture and learn about its history at the same time, we've got you covered. The “Lithuanian Drive for Freedom” self-guided tour visits the majority of the landmarks and shares stories about Lithuanian history and why freedom is so important to Lithuanians, highlighting how Lithuanians maintained their national identity throughout several occupations.
Lunch: After a few hours of exploring, you'll likely be looking to take a break and grab a bite for lunch. Knowing that it's your first day in the city, you must be keen to try the local dishes. We recommend visiting Etno Dvaras or Amatininkai, where you can enjoy traditional Lithuanian cuisine. Wondering what to order? Here are a few recommendations.
Afternoon: Let's continue exploring. If you're a history buff, a visit to the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights should be considered a must during your trip. From the second half of 1940 until August 1991, the KGB and other Soviet authorities operated from this building. As part of your visit to the museum, you will visit an internal prison and hear the stories of Lithuanians who were imprisoned here for threatening the regime.
If art is more your cup of tea, consider a visit to the contemporary Mo Museum, where you will find works from local and international artists or the House of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis where you will learn about the life of one of the pioneers of abstract art in Europe. The museum also offers an award-winning immersive virtual reality experience that allows you to ‘step inside’ the artist's paintings. Be sure to book your tickets (EUR 8) for the VR experience in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly.
Evening: As the sun sets, you can head to one of Vilnius' many rooftop bars or lively restaurants, or combine both options. Pink and Yellow is a great choice to enjoy stunning views of the city. If the weather doesn't cooperate, Stebuklai offers delicious food and a stunning view of Vilnius Cathedral. For a happening vibe, head to Pachamama.
If you're keen to explore the nightlife scene, head to Vilnius Street - that's where the party is happening. Bardakas and Sanatoria are quite popular among locals.
Day 2: Living in Vilnius = nature, culture & great food
Morning: To start your day, we recommend grabbing breakfast and coffee to go and walking up to Gediminas Castle for a breathtaking view of the city. For the best coffee in Vilnius, stop by StrangeLove Coffee which is conveniently located close to the path leading up to the hill.
Afternoon: Head to the Independent Republic of Užupis. As you walk over the bridge (location), you should easily notice a sign clearly identifying the borders of the republic. This area covers about 148 acres (60 ha) and is home to around 7,000 inhabitants, almost 1,000 of whom are artists.
For your first stop, head to Galera / Užupis Arts Incubator (location). Take your time to walk around and explore the outdoor art installations. Galera is a great place to get a feel for the spirit of Užupis but to really understand what it stands for, you must read its constitution (location). I won't spoil it for you, but I guarantee it'll bring a smile to your face.
On your way back, be sure to visit the newly opened Mekas Square. Here you'll also find Garage 9:11, which showcases a unique private collection of Porsche cars and is open to visitors on Thursdays (advance booking is required). If you're an automobile fan, this is an experience you won't want to miss.
Evening: If you are looking for a trip filled with unique experiences and have an interest in crime stories, then you should definitely book a tour of the Lukiskes Prison 2.0. This prison was operating until just a few years ago, so you will still feel the daunting aura as you hear the stories about what happened there. During the summer months, the prison hosts many concerts, so be sure to check out their schedule of events.
For dinner plans, if you are a foodie and want to start the evening with a sophisticated meal, then Dziaugmas and Ertilio Namas are excellent choices. It's worth highlighting that fine dining experiences in Vilnius are reasonably priced.
Day 3: Day trip to Trakai
No trip to Vilnius is complete without a visit to Trakai, a place beloved by both locals and visitors for its stunning scenery.
Wondering how to get there? You're in luck because there are several options available to you. You can take the train, hail a BOLT ride, or rent a CityBee, either of these options will take you about 30-40min to get you there.
Once you arrive in Trakai, start by taking a peaceful walk around the lake to soak in the stunning scenery, and be sure to visit the castle itself. If you fancy a swim, take a dip in the lake as the water is clean and safe for swimming.
Lunchtime: When in Trakai, you must try the local delicacy - Kibinai. It’s a pastry with veal filling (traditionally), however many variations of fillings are offered. Senoji Kibinine is the most famous, however, all places offer delicious kibinai.
If you have rented a car and are keen to explore the nearby area, Tiskeviciaus Mansion is a popular destination to visit as well.
Afternoon: Hopefully you still have a full evening in Vilnius, as there is more to see and do.
Holidays are for collecting magical moments. For the grand finale of your trip, you could opt for an unforgettable hot-air balloon ride. Vilnius is the only European city that allows balloons to fly over the city. The experience is subject to the right wind conditions and must be booked in advance, but both morning and afternoon options in Vilnius or Trakai are just as enchanting.
If you are looking for something more local and low-key, a beer tasting at Alaus Biublioteka is a great option to sample a range of Lithuanian beers that we're proud of, along with some amazing kepta duona.
Hope the suggestions shared in this itinerary piqued your interest and will make your trip to Vilnius unforgettable. If your schedule does not allow you to pack in all the great things that were suggested, here are 5 things that you should not leave Vilnius without seeing & doing:
Walk the cobbled streets of Vilnius's old town and visit the main landmarks
Try the traditional cuisine: Kepta duona, Šaltibarčiai and Cepelinai are the must-try dishes
Learn about the country's history by either going on a self-guided tour or visiting the KGB museum (taking a guide is recommended)
Visit Trakai and try Kibinai
Visit Užupis and read the constitution