Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania. It is two hours and a half flight from London with two hours time difference. I was very impressed with the few days I spent in Vilnius and I feel like I could have stayed longer relaxing in one of the trendy cafes eating good food and exploring further.
I wrote down all the things I did and compiled all my thoughts in this post to help you plan your three days in Vilnius and answer some of your questions.
Transportation in Vilnius (How to get from the airport to Vilnius?)
Public transportation were great in the city. I loved how easy it was to get around and each journey was 1 euro including the journey from the airport. I found out my bus connections, times and stops by using Google Maps. If you are staying in the old town, it's easy to walk everywhere as well. The longest I walked was 20 minutes, but it was an easy walk with lots to see in between.
Things to do in Vilnius
I thought four days in the city would give me so much time to see most things, but it was only enough to scratch the surface and make me want to go for more! Three of the days were dedicated to Vilnius and I am so happy I decided to go for a visit.
#1 Thing to do in Vilnius: Explore the old city on foot
Required Time: 3-4 hours
Tip: 10 euros
You can either go to the Vilnius Free Walking Tour that is done everyday at 10:30 from the Cathedral Square or their alternative free tour that is done on Thursdays and Saturdays at 1:30pm. I learnt so much on this tour and it was nice walking with a local asking all kinds of questions about what the city was and what it has become. My guide was in his 20s and told us all kinds of stories. I love city walking tours as a starting point to get to know the city a little bit.
#2 Thing to do in Vilnius: See the city from above
Required Time: 1 hour
City wall, Cathedral square tower and the hills where the crosses are located.
The only place I managed to see the city from above was the city wall and it was really interesting and I loved the view. If I had more time, I would have gone to the other locations to take in the view.
#3 Thing to do in Vilnius: Learn the history of this 100 years old country
There are two ways to learn the history of the city. You can either get on one of the walking tours I mentioned above, but the covered history is very brief or go to the Genocide Museum.
Required Time: 3 hours
Price: 1 euro for a student or 4 euros for an adult.
It's actually a very sad museum to see, but it's informative. The location itself is a story! It used to be the KGP office/prison. It's made of three floors. The two you start with are the exhibition areas and are divided to 11 rooms. Each of them is full of information and stories. You have three options to get the full history: read the signs, rent an audio guide from the museum or hire a guide to tell you even more painful personal stories. The prisons in the lower floors were heartbreaking, but give you a real insight of the pain people went through. It reminded me of how much I cried when I visited an exhibition about war in Bosnia.
#4 Thing to do in Vilnius: Visit at least one church
Vilnius is known for the big number of churches. Many of them are still functional. When I was there on Sunday, the churches were getting a lot of visitors and the none religious ones were closed. So, unless you are going for Sunday service, Sunday won't be a good day to go. I went to three of the over twenty churches in Vilnius: St. Anne the gothic brick church, All Saints Church and St. Nicholas Church. You are really spoiled for choice.
#5 Thing to do in Vilnius: Feel Quirky in Užupis
Užupis is the little republic within the capital and it's a quirky little part of town and your visa is your smile! They have their constitution written in so many different languages. I was really pleased to see the Arabic one there and obviously had to take a few photos. It is funny to note that when Užupis was founded that even taxis wouldn't go inside because it had a reputation, but now it's one of the coolest and most expensive areas to live. There are cool restaurants and art shops there.
#6 Thing to do in Vilnius: Have some fun with science
Museum of Illusion
Required Time: 1.5- 2 hours
Price: 9 euros for a student or 10 euros for adults
I really enjoyed this museum. I wasn't even planning on going there, but the weather was cold and wanted an indoors cultural activity at night. Thankfully, I made it to their last show, then wandered around taking all sorts of silly photos while I was there. Let's just say it's a fun instagram-able spot!
Is Vilnius City Pass Worth It?
I was very tempted to get this before actually visiting the city, but I felt that the 30 euros might be a bit much for 72 hours especially that I wasn't sure if I will visit more than two of the mentioned museum. I also only used the public transports 5 times, which was only 5 euros and as you saw above only went to two museum. I am glad I didn't buy it, but check their list of activities and discounts and see if it will benefit you.
Where to stay in Vilnius?
Hotels in Vilnius seemed affordable. I went in the off season and I picked the highest rated bed and breakfast and absolutely loved the location, which was close to all the delicious and hip restaurants I tried. The area was also quiet and pretty.
If the above hotel is booked on your dates, you can look for other options below. I choose based on the location and the review score:
Food in Vilnius
I really enjoyed the food in Vilnius and I had so many options to choose from and indulge in. Checkout the great restaurants I tried in Vilnius!
Day Trip from Vilnius
The main day trip from Vilnius is to the little Island Castle in Trakai. It was a fantastic short day trip. Full post with all the details coming up. If I had more time, I would have loved to go to Kunas or some of the other cities around.
I like to include my spending and sharing them with you to show you how affordable travel can be.
Flight on Ryan Air from London Stansted Airport £40
Hotel for four nights for two £160
Transportation: 1 euro for each bus journey. It's also walkable. Most places are 30mins walk maximum.
Food: This can be as cheap as 5 euro or as expensive as 12.50 euros depending on what you plan to eat.
Muslims in Vilnius
Muslims from the Turkish Tatar origin have been in Lithuania since the 14th century. There is an Islamic centre in the centre of Vilnius. There is also long heritage of Muslims there. A full post about this is coming up.