Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, the largest city and one of the most beautiful Lithuanian places to visit. Baroque churches and modern skyscrapers, romantic walks in the old town and vibrant nightlife, red rooftops and green parks, culture, Lithuanian food and Lithuanian people – Vilnius offers all this and so much more.
The best part? You can get everywhere on foot! Now, let’s get to some of the best places to visit in Vilnius.
The red tower, which is pretty hard to miss, is the symbol of Vilnius. It’s a remaining part of the castle that was built by the Grand Duke Gediminas. According to the legend, it was on this hill that the duke dreamt about an iron wolf howling which was explained to him as a prophecy that a great city would stand here. There is a museum inside the tower where you can learn a lot about Lithuanian history; this museum is considered to be a part of Lithuanian National Museum. But the hill also offers one of the best views of Vilnius: green parks, red roofs, beautiful oldtown and modern buildings in the horizon.
This magnificent church of the Classicism style is located right to the Gediminas Tower hill and you absolutely should not miss it. The Cathedral is very large and beautiful and considered to be the symbol of Lithuanian baptism.
You can also climb the Belltower of the Cathedral. Not only will you be able to observe the beautiful view from the top floor at 45m but you will also see some interesting old architecture, the bells and the oldest bell tower clock in the city, dating from 1672. In the Cathedral square, you will see a statue of Gediminas, guarding a city. Or perhaps you have a secret wish? Try finding a tile with the word miracle (stebuklas in Lithuanian) because it is believed it can fulfil wishes!
Did you know that Vilnius university is one of the oldest in the world? And certainly the best in Lithuania! Founded in 1579, it now has more than 20,000 students, with three of its faculties (Philosophy, History and Philology) still functioning in the very same halls of the Old Campus. There is also the beautiful baroque Church of St. Johns in the Old Campus, one of the tallest buildings in the Vilnius old town and certainly worth a visit.
Just next to the Old Campus of Vilnius University is the Presidential Palace, the President’s Office. In order to get inside, you have to register for an excursion, which are held every Friday and Saturday and also Sunday in summer. Also, if you find yourself strolling nearby on Sunday at noon, check out the flag ceremony held in front of the Presidential Palace. The soldiers are garbed not only in their ceremonial uniforms but also reconstructed medieval armaments of the 14th century to pay homage to the history of the country.
Not too far from the Gediminas Tower, the Cathedral and the University, you will find… another republic. Užupis, or the Republic of Užupis, is the smallest district of Vilnius and the district of artists and intellectuals, similarly to Soho and Montmartre. They have their own constitution, written in one street in many languages, which might be one of the most interesting constitutions you’ll have ever read. They even have their own money which has a stable value of one pint of beer.
Užupis is surrounded by the river Vilnelė and it’s nice to walk alongside it. There are also many cosy little bars and art galleries in this district. You can also see many interesting graffiti, Tibet’s Square, the Angel of Užupis.
But there is more in Vilnius than its oldtown, no matter how beautiful. One of the most interesting places to visit a bit further from the centre is the MO Museum. The expositions in MO are always colourful, relevant and super immersive. No matter whether you consider yourself a fan of modern art or claim you don’t understand it, you should find something interesting there. The museum is also a walking distance from the centre and the above-mentioned places.
If you want to explore more places in the capital, you can easily rent a car in Vilnius. Also, do not forget to check out some Lithuanian cuisine, like šaltibarščiai and šakotis (Baumkuchen). Restaurant prices in Lithuania can be pretty cheap!