Have no idea what to do in Vilnius, Lithuania? Yeah, welcome to my world.
I could barely pronounce this city correctly, let alone find it on a map (in fairness, Lithuania literally just joined the EU in 2004), or tell you anything about the wealth of top attractions that are nestled deep within this dreamy metropolis.
Being an intrepid traveler, such as yourself (albeit ridiculously accident prone and a total magnet for any and all travel mishaps), I never shirk away from a city that I know next to nothing about.
Yup, challenge accepted.
That’s why, I was intrigued to learn that Lithuania has a long, shared history, with its neighbor Poland!
Who knew? Not this chick right here!
Anyway, for over two centuries, these two countries were actually ruled as a single commonwealth (one of those cool, facts about Poland I never knew).
Poland and Lithuania remain today, very much culturally intertwined, sharing a variety of architectural styles, culinary traditions, and a singular love for retail therapy.
I made that last one up, but seriously, we all need to shop away our feelings every once and awhile.
However, that’ s a story for another post.
And while Vilnius does share a lot with neighboring Poland, this dynamic city still retains a unique sense of self and independence of spirit that makes it totally unlike any place I have ever visited.
Walk along the city’s many cobblestone streets and you’ll find it brimming over with quaint cafes, charming boutiques, cool bars, historic Baroque architecture, Orthodox churches, and vivacious modern street art.
I DARE you not to be impressed by all that this baller Lithuanian capital has to offer since this snazzy urban metropolis is infinitely cooler than I can ever hope to be.
Enough with the flowery adjectives and idle chitchat about all of the super cool things to do in Vilnius.
Let’s get down to business and figure out exactly what to do in Vilnius as we go full tourist mode up in here!
Strap on your hottest fanny pack, grab the largest, ultra-zoom camera lens that you can find, and velcro up some distinctly non-badass, uber white, orthopedic sneakers as you start tourin’ Vilnius like a total big shot.
Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high chance that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
***Even though I visited Vilnius during the dead of winter and absolutely loved it (The city was quiet and prices were MUCH cheaper), I recognize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the frigid cold. Therefore, all my warm weather lovin’ homies might want to visit Vilnius during June, when this northern city experiences twenty-four hours of sunlight a day and lacks the intense crowds of the summer travel season.***
***Not sure where to stay in Vilnius? Then check out some of the best hotels in Vilnius, like Hotel Vilnia (This chic hotel sits inside an exquisite, 19th-century building, is located just 3 minutes from Gediminas Castle, and has rooms that start at $85 per night), The Joseph Signature Hotel (Conveniently located in Old Town, chic modern rooms here start at $95 a night and offer guests luxurious amenities like marble bathrooms, spacious beds, and delicious breakfast service), and Mikalo House (This cozy, modern, Old Town hostel has private rooms, with balconies, that start at #35 per night and that include a communal kitchen, free wifi, free tea/coffee, private keys, towels, bed linens, and more).***
1. Visit Gediminas Castle and Museum
Sitting atop one of the most prominent hills in all of Vilnius, is Gediminas Castle and Museum, a beautiful collection of historic buildings that stand as remnants from the city’s very first, Neolithic era settlements.
(insert delighted “ohs” and “ahhs” here)
After trudging up this slightly cumbersome hill, you’ll encounter a 10th-century tower that majestically looks out over the Neris and Vilnia rivers
Walk inside and you’ll discover a quaint, local museum which chronicles the city’s history, with exhibits on past warfare, medieval weaponry, and more (tickets to the museum cost €2).
For most visitors however:
The true highlight of any visit is the sweeping, panoramic view at the top of the tower.
You can see a clear divide between the ancient old town, dotted with historic cathedrals and colorful, Baroque style buildings, and the new town, which is a mix of current and communist era structures that reflect the country’s recent, turbulent past.
Will you be out of breath after the steep climb?
Probably. I know I could have used a nice iron lung. Then again, I exercise about as much as I rob banks, so NEVER.
The stunning views are totally worth the increased levels of perspiration since they offer a one of a kind glimpse into the city’s chaotic past and it’s beautiful future.
2. Explore the Hill of Three Crosses
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From Gediminas Castle and Museum:
Look out, into the distance, and you’ll see a beautiful knoll that is commonly known as The Hill of Three Crosses (AKA Kreivasis Hill (the Crooked Hill), Plikasis Hill (the Bare Hill) or Tauro Hill (Aurochs Hill))
Originally home to an iconic trio of wooden crosses that were built in 1916 (not like you couldn’t have guessed that from the name):
This monument was, unfortunately, MONUMENTALLY destroyed (Get it? Sorry, I needed to get my lame pun in there) by Soviet officials in the 1950s.
Something that is not surprising since we all know how the USSR felt about organized religion (religion = no Bueno).
Following the declaration of Latvian independence in 1989, the crosses were rebuilt by sculptor, Henrikas Silgalis and stand today, on the very spot where seven Franciscan friars/monks were beheaded during the 17th century (seven more were apparently tied to wooden crosses and floated down the Neris River).
Created to pay homage to those who lost their lives:
This is a great place to step back into nature and escape the chaos of the city.
The amazing views don’t really hurt either.
***This is the perfect place to visit after Gediminas Castle and Museum since you’ll find a set of stairs, as you walk back towards Vilnius, that lead directly to the Hill of The Three Crosses.***
3. Visit Vilnius Cathedral (AKA The Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Vladislav)
Just off of Cathedral Square, at the very heart of Vilnius’ Old Town, sits the mesmerizing, Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Vladislav (Now referred to as Vilnius Cathedral since I can’t spell worth beans).
Known as the most important Catholic building in all of Lithuania:
Vilnius Cathedral was first built in 1251, by the brand-spankin’ new, Catholic convert, King Mindaugas,
Constructed atop a former pagan temple:
This church’s current, slightly austere, neoclassical architecture, dates all the way back to ye olde 1419.
And while the church has undergone more renovations than Joan Rivers (insert cheesy drum roll here):
The building’s understated, white walls, and enormous stone pillars, still stand as a testament to the influence of the former Soviet Union on the culture and architecture of this amazing city.
Sure, the nave itself is a bit plain:
But continue through the basilica and you’ll find a whopping ELEVEN chapels, among which is the must-see, High Baroque Chapel of St. Casimir.
Built in 1636:
This chapel was originally designed to hold the remains of the patron saint of Lithuania.
Because of the chapel’s amazing depth and breadth of art, it has since become a national treasure that represents the tmeless beauty of Lithuanian architecture and culture.
Wait! Before you leave:
Definitely take a tour of the cathedral’s catacombs and explore the incredible tombs of the former dukes and kings of Lithuania.
This tour doesn’t make you feel like you’re descending into the hellish depths of an ancient tomb.
Even if you’re someone who is prone to feeling claustrophobic, you should be totally fine.
***Just outside the church, there’s also a free-standing bell tower that you can climb to the top of if you want more epic views of Vilnius.***
4. Stroll through Vilnius University
Founded in 1579:
Vilnius University is actually the oldest university in Northern Europe and home to the oldest library in all of Lithuania.
This library is no joke since it contains over 5 million books, including a copy of The Catechism by Martynas Mažvydas (the first book ever published in Lithuanian), and is basically every bibliophile’s dream come true.
Feel free to use that little nugget of knowledge to help you seal the deal on Jeopardy.
Enter through the front gates and you’ll find a beautiful, secluded courtyard that is surrounded by a 64-meter tall bell tower (don’t ask me how tall it is in feet. I got nothing.), an exquisite, baroque style church, and a charming, fresco-laden hall.
But it gets better!
All these super cool places? Yeah, they’re all open to the public!! HOORAY!
There’s no need to feel like a socially awkward weirdo, even if you are a thirty-something-year-old woman who finds herself skulking around a university like a damn cougar.
But whatever, all the cool kids are doing it.
Plus, this is just a fantastic place to sit, relax and enjoy a quiet afternoon, as long as you can avoid the 20,000 students who study here on the reg.
5. The Gates of Dawn
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Gate of Dawn and Virgin Mary in the gate Pen-chan🐧 was so happy to see her♥️ 「あ、ほんとだ、窓からマリアさまが見えるね、ペンちゃん🐧❗ 教会が閉まる前に来られてよかったね🎵 ペンちゃん、ありがとう♥️」 リトアニア🇱🇹のヴィリニュスにある夜明けの門は、1503年から1522年にかけてリトアニア大公国の首都ヴィリニュスに作られた城壁の一部で、門の中のチャペルには聖母マリアの肖像があり、奇跡を起こすと言われていたそうです。 #夜明けの門 #チャペル #教会 #聖母マリア #ヴィリニュス #世界遺産 #リトアニア #旅 #旅行 #観光 #海外旅行 #gateofdawn #gate #church #Vilnius #Lithuania #worldheritage #travel #trip #world #travelgram #instatravel #instapic #sacredplace #sightseeing #travelling #miracle #tourism #holiday
Constructed between 1503 and 1522:
The Gates of Dawn was once an important point of entry into the Old Town of Vilnius (Okay, it’s Old Town now but it obviously wasn’t old way back when).
As part of a larger network of protective walls:
This gate was one of five unique entrances that surrounded the city and that fortified Vilnius against attack.
Of all the gates that once stood here, only the Gate of Dawn remains and stands as a firm reminder of this city’s ancient past.
Even more important than the gate itself is the Chapel of Our Lady of Dawn
Blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1993:
This religious site now sits behind a wall of protective glass that helps preserve the famed, Virgin Mary painting within; an icon of faith that attracts devout pilgrims from all across the globe.
Stop by, anytime between 6 am and 7 pm daily (Slipped that right in there. Smooth, like butter) and see what all the fuss is about.
You never know. It could be a SPIRITUAL experience for ya (No worries guys, I’m here all day).
6. Visit Uzupis
Vilnius too has its very own, autonomous republic, smack dab in the middle of Old Town.
Established in 1997:
Užupis (which translates to “just beyond the river” in English) actually has its very own government and focuses on preserving the hippie ideologies of love, freedom, and tolerance.
And pot. I feel like all of these alternative communities are always obsessed with pot.
But I pinkie promise that this eclectic, republic of awesome is totally worth a visit.
Because while you’re here:
You’ll find a ton of quirky, Bohemian street art, as well as a variety of unique sculptures, like an EPIC bronze angel and an insanely awesome mermaid sculpture that literally sits, right along the river (Sorry Ariel, eat your heart out).
And as if mermaids weren’t cool enough:
This tiny, autonomous region also has copies of its tongue-in-cheek, sassy pants, constitution plastered all over the place.
As you aimlessly meander through the area’s many artist studios, local designer shops, hip cafes, narrow streets, and international eateries, BOOM, you’ll see a copy of the constitution, which states profound things like, “…everyone is free to make mistakes, be unique, be happy or unhappy, and have a right to love. “
Aww! Just typing that makes my heart so happy.
Plus, not only is this entire republic a UNESCO World Heritage Site, (how many places can say that?), but this crazy cool place also celebrates its independence on April Fools Day/.
Seriously, could Uzupis get any cooler?
I think not! But, you’re gonna have to go and see all this crazy cool for yourself since seeing is believing.
7. Antakalnis Cemetery
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Not sure what to do in Vilnius, but looking for an activity that is a bit off the radar?
Then why not take a scenic stroll through Antakalnis Cemetery?
Okay, I know that sounds Hannibal Lector level weird but I pinkie promise, it’s not.
Not only is this place insanely GORGEOUS, but it’s a bit removed from Vilnius’ well-trodden, tourist trail.
Besides a few locals, you’ll probably have this place all to yourself, which is perfect for a hermit like me!
The modernist, art-nouveau style headstones that are found throughout this serene place really do make it feel more like a sculpture garden than a cemetery.
Think of this as a leisurely stroll through the park (not some macabre fascination with the dead), where you can see the final resting place of locals who were killed during military conflicts.
This place feels worlds away from Vilnius but is actually only about 30-minutes from the city center.
If you do decide to visit, you may want to ask your taxi driver to wait for you since hailing a taxi ride back from the cemetery is virtually impossible. (a taxi ride to the cemetery is about €6).
***If you’re interested in visiting a beautiful cemetery that is also a bit closer to the city center, then head to Bernadine Cemetary. A bit east of Uzupis, you can stroll through this peaceful place and enjoy sweeping views of the entire city.***
***PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Please be respectful when you visit. So, no screaming, yelling, running around, laughing like a hyena, or exuberant selfie-taking since this is a somber place where people pay homage to loved ones that they have lost. Therefore, don’t be a self-absorbed moron and act appropriately. Okay, lecture over.***
8. Museum of Genocide Victims (AKA The KGB Museum or Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights
Located in the former KGB headquarters:
This poignant, heartbreakingly beautiful museum honors all those Lithuanians who defied the Soviet Union and accordingly, lost their lives.
As you navigate through this unsettling, three-story museum:
You’ll learn about the realities of daily life for people who were imprisoned by the KGB (or the Gestapo).
Explore a series of back-lit photos and wooden annexes, and you’ll hear the stories of the victims and understand some o the horrific struggles that they endured at the hand of their oppressors.
The most poignant part of this haunting building is a descent into the basement, where you’ll find the prison cells and execution yard of former victims.
You’ll witness heartbreaking messages of despair and beautiful words of defiance that were left behind by all those who awaited execution.
This place is difficult to see and endure.
It’s an important museum to visit since you leave with a vivid understanding of the true agonies that captives faced.
If you can enter with the proper mindset, and handle the truth behind this tragic period in Lithuanian history, then consider a visit to one of the top museums in Vilnius.
***If you want to learn more about this horrific time period, I highly recommend the movie, and book, Ashes in the Snow.***
9. National Museum of Lithuania
If you’re still trying to figure out what to do in Vilnius, then why not immerse yourself in some local history, and culture, with a trip to the National Museum of Lithuania?
Just a short walk from Vilnius Cathedral:
You’ll find this museum, with a large statue of Mindaugas, Lithuania’s sole king, standing outside, unofficially guarding the entrance (Aww gee, I feel safer already).
For just €3 (a total steal in my humble opinion):
Snag an admission ticket and explore a wealth of exhibits that cover the entirety of Lithuanian history, from Neolithic times all the way until today.
As you adeptly avoid tantrum throwing children of all ages:
Marvel at rooms filled with priceless artifacts like ancient coins, arrowheads, painted furniture, velvet-lined sleds (not that velvet-lined sleds are a huge selling point but still cool none the less), etc.
The real highlight of any trip here is the insanely colorful, folk traditions room, which is brimming over with vibrant, floral furnishings, linens, and exquisite, hand-carved, wooden crosses.
Just a fun, expensive activity that is the perfect addition to any Vilnius itinerary.
***PSST: There’s a nearby funicular that will take you to the top of Gediminas Hill if you’re lazy, like this chick right here, and don’t want to walk.***
10. St. Anne’s Church
Let’s get this out in the open first.
Vilnius does indeed have about as many churches as we do Starbucks coffee shops, here in the good ol’ U S of A.
Prepare to see PLENTY of churches while you’re in Vilnius.
Unless of course, you don’t want to. Then, obviously, steer clear of Christianity’s slightly awkward obsession with crucifixion.
If you are indeed down for some churchy goodness then continue on faithful follower as we delve into the beauty of the Church of St Anne’s.
Situated in historic Old Town:
St. Anne’s has a rich and beautiful history that is reflected in the interior’s ornate mixture of Gothic architectural styles.
Now a designated UNESCO World Heritage site:
This Gothic masterpiece was originally built, in 1500, for the Grand Duchess of Lithuania, Anna.
And although Anna is now long gone (Sorry Anna but please, LET IT GO! Get it? Frozen? Maybe? Buehler?):
This church still remains and continually mesmerizes visitors with its undulating lines, red-brick arches, and glorious, turreted facades.
Definitely come with your camera ready since a photo op in the grassy plaza outside is a total must, as is a visit to the nearby, Gothic style bell tower.
Not thoroughly convinced that this place is worth a visit?
Well, don’t take my word for it. Apparently:
Napoleon himself was so captivated by this church that he actually wanted to carry it back with him, to Paris, in the palm of his hand.
This scenario never happened since Napoleon wasn’t carrying around some giant shrink ray that the rest world was magically unaware of.
This does give you some idea of just how gorgeous this place really is.
Feeling extra churchy? Then definitely stop by:
- Sts. Peter and Paul Church – Commonly referred to as one of the most beautiful churches in Europe, this Baroque-style church is filled with 2,000, stucco figures that adorn the main nave, side altars, and accompanying chapels.
- Church of St. Johns – Now part of Vilnius University, this lovely church has a Borque exterior and a charming Gothic interior that is also the site of many communal events. If you can, pay €2.50 to visit the campanile (aka the second floor) and enjoy the view from the highest point in Vilnius.
- Church of St. Theresa – This sandstone/granite church has a stunning, Baroque-style interior that is filled with vivid frescoes, high ceilings, intricate carvings, and awe-inspiring sculptures. One of the most beautiful churches in Lithuania, stop by before you visit the Gates of Dawn since the two structures are incredibly close to one another.
- St. Casimir’s Church – A pink(ish) church that was built by the Jesuits in 1604. Containing an eclectic mix of Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic-style architecture, this richly decorated church is beautiful to behold.
11. Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
Would a trip to any European country really be complete without at least one visit to a royal palace of some sort?
Yup, I didn’t think so. Europe just loves itself a monarchy.
And that’s why any Vilnius itinerary you plan MUST include a visit to the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.
Okay, that’s not the only reason. I mean, this palace is stunning. Plus, it actually sits on a site that has been settled since the 4th century AD.
Crazy right? Now sure:
This place has been remodeled, destroyed, and rebuilt more times than anyone can count, but the current 17th-century, Baroque style palace standing here today is one snazzy beast if I do say so myself, and I do.
Home to a modern day museum of art and history:
Visitors can choose between full admission, which gives you access to all four ‘routes’ through the museum, or partial admission, which permits visitors the use of either one or two routes through the complex.
Kind of like a choose your own adventure novel! Except better since I always died in those.
Descend beneath the central courtyard and prepare for a journey through two-thousand years of Lithuanian history.
As you’re guided through this exquisite complex:
Marvel at the literal layers of history, bones and all, that can be found within this palace’s stratified foundation.
Choose another route through the museum and enjoy the palace’s reconstructed ceremonial halls, with supplemental tours through the building’s 17th-century art and European weaponry exhibits.
No matter what path you choose, be sure to stop and enjoy the gleaming white, ethereal beauty of this historic royal complex (Yup, I clearly used my thesaurus today).
12. Holocaust Museum
The Holocaust Museum, also known as “The Greenhouse”, is another haunting center of history that details the painful truth behind the virtual extermination of Lithuania’s once vibrant, Jewish community.
Tucked inside this quaint museum:
You’ll find an assortment of exhibits that include photographs, documents, and eyewitness accounts that chronicle the 600-year long history of Jews in Lithuania.
Donated by survivors and victim’s families:
These artifacts show how a once a prolific Lithuanian ethnic minority, known as the “Litvak civilization”, was practically wiped out by the horrific actions of the Nazis and their associates.
Out of 240,000 members of the community, only 10,000 souls survived the atrocities of WWII.
A staggering statistic that reflects the horrifying truth behind this dark chapter in Lithuania’s history.
This truth needs to be shared, as difficult as it is to see, to better understand this city and to avoid the reoccurrence of such horrific tragedies in the future.
***Be sure to prepare yourself mentally for your visit. Also act appropriately since this is an incredibly somber place.***
***If you’re interested in Jewish history, then take a walk through Vilnius’ Jewish Quarter and Big/Tiny Ghetto. This part of the city was home to a sizable Jewish community prior to, and throughout, WWII. Today, you can still visit the single gate that served as the entrance to the Ghetto, a place that is now marked by a commemorative plaque (there’s also a detailed map to help you explore the area). And while there is still no Synagogue in Vilnius, since the Great Synagogue was destroyed during the 20th-century, plans are currently underway to rebuild this amazing structure!***
13. Take A Day Trip To Trakai Island Castle
Sitting on a quaint little island in the middle of Lake Galvé is the ever-exquisite, Trakai Castle.
Just a short, 40-minute journey from Vilnius:
This medieval, 14th-century, brick beauty is the perfect place to go and escape the hustle and bustle of the city!
Plus, fun little factoid for ya:
Trakai Castle is actually the only castle in all of Eastern Europe that actually sits on an island.
This ultra-scenic locale has got that going for it too (as if the pic alone wasn’t reason enough to visit).
But, DANGER, DANGER Will Robinson!
Okay, there’s really no actual danger. This is just a little FYI.
If you do decide to visit this castle via public transportation. just be prepared for a bit of a walk.
And by a bit of a walk, I mean like 2.5 km to be precise since that’s how far the castle is from the train station (you can also take the bus but I’ve heard the train is easier).
And if you’re directionally challenged like me?
Yeah, don’t worry about getting lost. There are like 10,000 signs everywhere so it’s virtually impossible to miss this thin slice of history goodness.
Be a total travel baller, strut your stuff along the scenic route, and enjoy the beauty of the extra special, quaint little town of Trakai.
The architecture of this town has an eclectic, almost exotic feel since much of the town’s design was created by Turkish Muslims who migrated to Lithuania during the 14th and 15th centuries.
As you stroll along the main street, and just prior to the turn for the castle:
You’ll encounter a Kenesa, one of the three remaining Turkish houses of worship (also known as Karaim) across the globe.
BRIEF SIDE BAR:
If you want to visit the Kenesa, you must schedule your visit in advance. Okay, that’s it. We will now resume our regularly scheduled program.
As you take the final turn towards the castle:
You’ll see an insane number of stands selling Lithuanian souvenirs like amber, wool, linens, clay souvenirs, and Lithuanian gold for days!
Try and restrain yourself and save the shopping for later so that you don’t have to schlep all these epic souvenirs around with you throughout the day.
Cross the wooden walkway into Trakai’s Gothic castle and explore the building’s wonderful interior!
Think fairytale level beautiful, only better, since everything you see is real.
Dating back to 1400 AD:
This castle was originally built for the Grand Duke Vytautas, who was in dire need of stronger defenses than his other fortifications could provide.
As a result:
This structure was erected, with two iconic brick towers that now house the fantastic, Trakai History Museum.
Filled with exhibits that showcase all matter of crazy ancient shizzle (that’s a technical term) like chainmail, medieval weapons, 19th-century embroidery, glassware, religious art, and talking projections of knights, a visit here truly is the perfect day trip from Vilnius.
Not only will you get to know more about Lithuanian history, or learn something for the first time if you’re totally clueless like me, but you can also enjoy a variety of concerts and plays that are held in the castle’s outdoor courtyard throughout the summer.
You can even take up the fine sport of archery as you channel your inner Katniss Everdeen at one of the castle’s on-site shooting ranges,
All I can say is…”May the odds be ever in your favor”.
***Not sure what to do in Vilnius and looking for another awesome day trip? Then visit the Lithuanian Museum of Ancient Beekeeping. Open between May and October, this museum makes the perfect day trip from Vilnius since it only takes an hour and a half to get here by train. Trust me, if you want to experience something truly unique, then this is the place for you.***
14. Take an Alternative Tour
I enjoy Old Town just as much as the next chick.
Between the Baroque architecture, the ridiculous number of churches, the royal palace, the quaint little cafes, and the charming, cobblestone streets, legit, what’s not to love?
And while you can easily spend an entire day, just wandering through the ethereal beauty of the Old Town, Vilnius still has so much more to offer.
Like a super awesome alternative tour!
Not only are these tours a great way to get off the beaten path, but they also take you to uniquely wonderful places that few tourists see, places that most guide books never ever mention.
I booked an amazing, two and a half hour tour through the city and was introduced to some truly unique, Vilnius attractions like:
- The Green Bridge – It’s a bridge…that’s green! TADA! Okay yeah duh, you got that. In addition to being green, this Soviet-era bridge is also flanked by a series of statues dedicated to the working class and is probably the unluckiest bridge in all of Vilnius since it’s been destroyed more times than anyone can count. However, my favorite part of this structure were the two signs, on opposite sides of the bridge. One sign said, “I <3 You” and the other sign said “I <3 You Too”. AWW! Talk about heart melting.
- Street Art – Yeah, Vilnius has a lot of it, aka graffiti. Just walk through the city’s diverse street art scene and you’ll find neoclassical paintings sitting right next door to brand-spankin’ new street art murals. Talk about cool! But, if you only see one iconic street art mural while in Vilnius, then definitely visit the mural where Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin sharing a spliff (or kissing, depending on who you ask). Regardless of your political views, this piece is super cool and totally worth seeing. You can also check out the open space next to the Noris River if you haven’t gotten your street art fix yet since many of these walls are rapidly changing with pieces done by both Lithuanian and foreign artists.
- Street Musicians– Yeah. throughout this one tour, I witnessed a man dancing while playing the fife, a violin quartet, and a group of folk singers who belted out pop songs. So yeah, clearly music and street performers are HUGE in Vilnius.
- Authentic Amber Shops – While you’re in Vilnius (Because obviously, this post on what to do in Vilnius has made you book a trip. Clearly I am THAT persuasive. LoL) definitely purchase some Amber as a souvenir since this is an iconic stone in the Baltic Sea Region. I recommend buying something from one of the shops I saw along the tour since they were inexpensive and had unique products for sale.
I know tours can sometimes be kind of a drag, especially when they tell you where to go, what to do, when to eat, and where to pee.
But I promis:
This one was AMAZEBALLS…I mean, err, a culturally enlightening experience.
Yeah, cuz I’m all intellectual and analytic AF. Lol. BIGGEST LIE EVER!
15. Try Some Authentic Lithuanian Food
Let’s step away from the impromptu history lesson for a moment shall we? Because we’re about to talk about something infinitely more important.
Yup, you guessed it! Food, glorious food!
I literally never get tired of talking about food, and Eastern European cuisine is no exception.
A fantastic blend of originality, with a dash of East meets West flair:
Latvia has no shortage of gastronomic goodness, with a unique variety of flavorful dishes like Varškės apkepas (cold beetroot soup that is way more delicious than it sounds), the slightly more familiar pumpkin soup, Cepelinai (aka the best potato dumplings ever), and Bulviniai blynai (divine potato pancakes that are even better than the ones that my sweet old great granny used to make. Sorry gran!).
If you’re looking for some sugary goodness to help put a little pep in your step, then try a Latvian poppy seed cake with a hint of lemon (Not salty but not sweet. Kind of in the middle but UBER delicious), Sakotis (AKA Spit Cake which is basically a sweet cake that looks like a tree since it’s been roasted over an open fire, on a spit. Hence the name.), and Spurgos (basically a Lithuanian doughnut).
But where can you find all this foodie goodness while in Vilnius?
Well, I’ll try and be brief since I could literally write an entire post about all my fave foodie spots in Vilnius.
Some highlights include Snekutis (Cheap, authentic, Lithuanian food with a variety of craft beers and delicious potato pancakes), Gaspar’s Restaurant (Modern, vegetarian friendly restaurant with delicious halloumi salad, creamy polenta, and fantastic, turmeric ice cream with pistachio cream for dessert. YUM!), Sweet Root (for a fancy, 7-course tasting menu that is the ultimate,fine dining experience), and Stebuklai (open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and known for their fantastic desserts, like the chocolate, caramel cake).
***Looking to get your DRANK on? Well, Latvia has no shortage of delicious, adult beverages, like every bar wenches fave…MEAD! For a mead that you will adore, you really can’t go wrong with either Svyturys, the oldest beer company in Lithuania, or Raudonu Plytu, the perfect mead for that ultra-hipster, beer snob friend of yours who only drinks super chic, craft beer.***