Travel Guide Europe Lithuania Vilnius



St. Anne's Church, St. Francis' and Bernadine Church, Vilnius

St. Anne's Church, St. Francis' and Bernadine Church, Vilnius

© gunnhild

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and is also the largest city in the country with about 600,000 inhabitants. The site where Vilnius is located today has been inhabited for about 700 years and together with its turbulent history during more recent times, it always has been an interesting place. For travellers, this has all been mixed in an appealing setting of old building styles, cultural sites and dozens of churches. Add to this the fact that Vilnius is not too big to only use your own feet as a way to get around, and it is not hard to see why this city has been booming with travellers during the last decade or so. The historical centre on the other hand is not small at all and is one of the biggest in Europe with a mix of building styles. The medieval part of the city probably is the most attractive. The city has good facilities as well for all types of travellers and in general is relatively cheap to visit.




Užupis is a famous neighbourhood of Vilnius. It's name translated to English means "on the other side of the river" and the neighborhood is situated aptly on the other side of the river Vilnia to Vilnius Old Town. The area is well known for its artists and its declaration of Independence on April Fools day 1997. You will find lots of little galleries, cafes and a sense of a Bohemian lifestyle.



Sights and Activities

Old Town

Vilnius' Old Town was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994 and originally much of the Old Town was the Jewish ghetto. It's one of the largest Old Towns in Eastern Europe and the biggest Baroque area in the world, with also Gothic and Rococo styles mixed into it all. The hart of the Old Town is the University with its 13 courtyards and the adjacent St. John's Church where you can up in an elevator (5LT) for an outstanding view across the Old Town and further beyond. There are also numerous other churches including the beautiful Gotchic style St. Anne's Church. Pilies Gatve is where all the action takes place, with restaurants and bars. It's a pedestrian area with some nicely restored houses and cobblestoned pavement. From there, the main throroughfare goes south towards the Gates of Dawn, the only remaining original entrance to the Old Town. Other highlights include the Basilian Gate and the Presidential Palace opposite the University.

Basilian Gate, Vilnius

Basilian Gate, Vilnius

© Utrecht

Vilnius Cathedral and Belfry

The Vilnius Cathedral and Belfry are just north of the Old Town, below the Gediminas Tower. Inside the Cathedral is the baroque chapel of St. Casimir. Outside the Cathedral, at the square, there is particular tile on which there is written the word "Stebuklas" (meaning "miracle" in Lithuanian). Stand on it, make a wish and turn around three times. This tile also marks the end of the Vilnius-Tallinn human chain in the 1989 protest of the Soviet Union. It's not signposted, because that would mean bad luck! The Belfry is one of the characteristic photo shots in the city and 57 metres high.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Gediminas Tower is a symbol of Vilnius. It is on the hill in the heart of the city near the Cathedral. Gediminas Tower is the remains of a castle. The castle here first time was build in 14th century by Duke Gediminas.
  • Museum of Genocide Victims - located about 1 kilometre east of the centre along Gedimino Prospektas, this museum (also called KGB) museum decribes the horrors that took place here during the Sovjet period (with a brief interval during WWII when the Nazis housed here as well).
  • Uzupis District - just east of the Old town, this area primarily is occupied by artists, dreamers and drunks. In 1998, the residents unofficially declared the area to be an independent republic, with its own president, anthem, flag, and constitution. Great to visit on April Fools day, when mock border guards stamp passports and the entire area erupts into a party.
  • St. Peter's and Paul's Church - extremely beautiful inside, with all the interior overcrowded with baroque sculptural works.
  • Artilery Bastion of Vilnius Defensive Wall
  • National Museum of Lithuania
  • Frank Zappa Statue
  • Romanov Russian Orthodox Church - west of the Old Town, with its typical green onion domes
  • Cemeteries
  • Dozens of other churches, including St. Michael's, Church of the Holy Spirit and St. Teresa's.



Events and Festivals

Vilnius International Film Festival

The Vilnius International Film Festival is among Europe’s most popular film events. Held each March, this majestic celebration brings together avid film buffs, critics, producers, and actors from across the continent and globe. It began in 1995, but quickly rose to prominence, attracting more than 50,000 people every year. The festival is also held in other cities around Lithuania.




Vilinius, like the rest of Lithuania has a rather mild climate, although it can get pretty cold in winter. Usually, it is fairly warm from May until September with temperatures usually around 18 to 22 °C. This is also the time when there is more rain, although this comes in downpours rather than days of rain on end. Winter temperatures are below zero on average, but have been milder during recent years. Still, temperatures way below -10 °C are still possible so dress accordingly.

Avg Max-3.5 °C-1.7 °C3.3 °C10.7 °C18.2 °C21.1 °C22.1 °C21.6 °C16.4 °C10.2 °C3.5 °C-0.5 °C
Avg Min-8.7 °C-7.6 °C-3.8 °C1.6 °C7.5 °C10.8 °C12.3 °C11.5 °C7.7 °C3.4 °C-0.9 °C-5.2 °C
Rainfall41 mm38 mm39 mm46 mm62 mm77 mm78 mm72 mm65 mm53 mm57 mm55 mm
Rain Days191413131214161316151822



Getting There

By Plane

Vilnius International Airport (VNO) is where most travellers arrive by air in Lithuania. It is located about 6 kilometres from Vilnius. Air Baltic operates a number of flights to European destinations including Copenhagen, Paris, Riga, Rome and Tallinn, and seasonal to Antalya, Dublin, London and Munich. Low-cost airline Wizzair flies to/from Barcelona, Cork, Eindhoven, Sheffield London Milan, Rome and Stockholm from April 2011 onwards. Some of the other airlines serving Vilnius are Lufthansa to Frankfurt and LOT to Warsaw. Some other destinations serve cities like Kiev, Amsterdam, Vienna, Brussels, Prague, Berlin, Helsinki, Oslo, Rhodes, Heraklion, Varna, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Tenerife, Tel Aviv and Moscow.

To/from the airport

  • Train: Direct train services between Vilnius Airport Railway Station and the central station of Vilnius started in October 2008, taking about 7 minutes from the airport to the centre. It is the fastest way and train run daily from about 6:30am to 7:30pm. Trains go about 1-2 times per hour and the one-way price is 2.50 Lt (€0.73).
  • Bus: buses 1, 1A and 2 all connect the airport with the city centre.
  • Car: taxis and car rental facilities are both widely available at the airport.

By Train

Lithuanian Railways has services from Vilnius to Kaunas, Klaipeda and Siauliai. There are up to 15 trains daily between Vilnius and Kaunas and several overnight sleeper services to the Baltic coast. Ignalina (for the lakes and forests in the northeast and Trakai (a popular daytrip from the capital) have frequent departures as well from Vilinius.

By Car

Modern motorways connect Vilnius with Klaipeda, Kaunas and Panevezys. The modern four-lane motorways and main roads are of a very high standard, however, in the winter smaller roads are not cleared. The speed-limit is 130 km/h on the motorways (110 km/h in winter), but 100 km/h on the Vilnius-Kaunas sector, 90 km/h outside towns and 50 km/h in built up areas.

By Bus

Kautra is one of the main bus companies but there are lots more. Buses go to all main cities from Vilnius, like Kaunas and Klaipeda.
Eurolines has many international connections, among which are services to Riga and Tallinn.



Getting Around

By Car

Traveling by car is not advised during rush hours (7-:00-9:00am and 4:00-6:30pm) to and from the city center due to traffic jams. Parking fees can differ from 0.30€/h to 1.80€/h in the old town. There are several well known foreign car rental companies as well as several domestic companies in Vilnius.

A regular cab may cost about €5-15 if you need to get from the periphery of the city to the centre, while the shortest trips will cost you ~€4. You should always call a taxi by phone, even if you see a taxi on the street nearby. Street taxis charge as much as twice the price of taxis called by phone. Good practice is to dial the number written on the vehicle you see, tell the dispatcher the address you're at, and you will most likely get the same vehicle for a lower price.

By Public Transport

Vilnius Transport operates buses and trolleybuses in Vilnius. A single ticket for either bus or trolleybus use costs €1, purchased from the driver (cash only). A ticket bought from the driver needs to be stamped by putting it into the tiny red machine near the driver's cabin and pulling the rear part towards you to punch the ticket.

If you are planning to use public transportation more than a few times, buying a Vilniečio kortelė smart card may be a significantly cheaper option. A 24-hour ticket costs €3.48, 72-hour €6.08, 240-hour €11.87, and 30-day €28.96. The ticket must be validated on your first journey by swiping the smart card at the yellow electronic reader on the bus. Seniors older than 70 years are eligible for a 50% discount, while European Union students studying in EU universities are eligible for an 80% discount. An ISIC and/or ID card (or passport) must be provided when prepaying the smart card and in case of ticket control during the trip.

For less frequent trips you can top-up your Vilniečio kortelė card with 30min and 60min (€0.64 and €0.93) tickets (students and seniors are eligible for a 50% discount). Validated tickets allow passengers to change buses during the trip.

The Vilniečio kortelė smart card can be purchased from Lietuvos spauda or Narvesen kiosks, Maxima grocery stores, Lithuanian post offices, or at the Customer Service Center (Gedimino pr. 9A) for €1.5. You can prepay this card in these locations and in PayPost offices.

By Foot

The Old Town of Vilnius is very easy to navigate on foot. Just pick up a city map and you are off on your way. There a few hills around Vilnius but none are too much for the average walker. The Old Town area is not over run with traffic so you can feel free when taking a stroll.

By Bike

In recent years bikes have become more common on the streets of Vilnius but you must still be aware of drivers. Locals are not the most relaxed of drivers and so you should take care on the roads. You will find some bike paths around Vilnius as well as some bike rental points. As with most cities riding around by bike is one of the best ways to get to know a new place.




  • Amatininkų užeiga, Didžioji 19/2 (Town Hall square (Rotušės aikštė)), ☎ +37052617968. until 5:00. Lithuanian and international food.
  • Balti Drambliai (White Elephants), Vilniaus str. 41. Cozy vegetarian-vegan cafe, world/reggae music, live concerts in the evenings.
  • Cozy, Dominikonų str. 10. Suave but laid-back restaurant upstairs, DJ-bar downstairs, serves hearty modern food with a few vegetarian options.
  • Fortas (Fort), Algirdo str. 17. Pub-style traditional Lithuanian food.
  • Mano Guru (My Guru). All of the staff are former drug addicts. Fresh food. No alcohol. Food is mostly vegetarian.
  • Marceliukės klėtis, Tuskulėnų str. 35 (Žirmūnai district), ☎ +370 5 2725087. Hearty portions of traditional Lithuanian food.
  • Vapiano, Konstitucijos pr. 7A (Europa Shopping Center), ☎ +37052383489. Italian style, fast casual restaurant. Tasty salads, à la carte pastas and pizzas are made in front of the guest.
  • Zoe's Bar & Grill, Odminių str. 3, ☎ +370 5 212 3331. Great Thai food, salads, soups, and cocktails.




The most popular local beer is Švyturys, meaning lighthouse. Available in lots of different styles but "Ekstra" is probably the best. The other brands of beer include Kalnapilis, Tauras, and Utenos. All of them are variations on the theme of bog-standard euro-lager. If you're a beer enthusiast forget Svyturys and other big brands - try Alaus namai (The House of Beer) and Bambalynė (see section Bars).

Lithuanian vodka (Lithuanian degtinė) is of excellent quality. The brand 'Lithuanian Vodka' is quite popular. The gold is the premium version. Cranberry is also nice.

Drink carefully as most bars will politely ask you to leave if they notice that you appear drunk (staggering, yelling, grabbing strangers). Falling asleep in bars is not tolerated. If you break a glass, many places will expect to be repaid for it on the spot but it's usually a very reasonable price.

Smoking is banned in all public places. However, a number of nightclubs have internal smoke rooms; the ventilation can be of variable quality. If you leave a club to smoke outside, make sure you get stamped and get eye contact from the bouncers so you won't have problems getting back in. It can be a good idea to show the bouncer your cigarette or cigarette packet, before exiting the premises.

There are plenty of cafés in Vilnius, including few coffee shop chains: Coffee-Inn, AJ Šokoladas, Šviežia Kava which are easy to find anywhere without any guidance. A proper café typically is not just a coffee shop but some sort of a restaurant which features certain café-like interior and has a rather democratic etiquette policy. During day time they often operate like simple eateries, in the evening they turn to the family style or youth restaurants.





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Keep Connected


For those who need to connect at an Internet cafes, major cities do have internet cafes. If you're bringing a laptop or smartphone, Wireless LAN Hot-Spots are available in distinct places (mostly "Zebra" from - TEO), sometimes free, otherwise not very cheap. Best chances of finding one are at airports, railway stations, in cafés, shopping malls, universities, various places. You can ask in your hotel, but don't count on wifi being free all the time, especially at more upscale places.


See also: International Telephone Calls

Lithuania's international phone code is 370. Emergency numbers include 101 (fire), 102 (police) and 103 (ambulance), but you can connect to all of them by calling 112, the general emergency number.

There is a monopoly operator for land line phones by TEO. Land line phones are easy to find throughout the country. Phones are used with cards, which you can find in kiosks, "TEO" or newspaper stands.

There are three major mobile phone operators in Lithuania: Omnitel, BITE and TELE 2. About 97% of the country's surface is covered by the standard European GSM 900/1800 MHz network. If you bring your own cell phone, make sure to switch off roaming to avoid high costs especially for internet. Instead, buy a local SIM card, which is much cheaper.


Lietuvos Paštas is the national postal service of Lithuania. Postal services are generally not very fast, but fairly reliable. That is, most of the postcards and letters will eventually arrive on the foreign adress, albeit after some days or even weeks. If you want it to be sent the fastest possible, go for courier instead of ordinary (domestic post) or for airmail instead of surface (international mail).
Post offices are usually open from 8:00am to 6:00pm on Monday to Friday and 9:00am to 2:00pm on Saturdays, although these opening hours may vary depending on the office, with big central offices keeping longer hours, while small villages might have shorter opening times. Stamped mail (both national and international) can be dropped in the yellow post boxes for collection. Stamps are available at post offices and kiosks.
To send parcels to other countries, you might better use international courier companies like DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 54.689855
  • Longitude: 25.269265

Accommodation in Vilnius

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