Lithuania’s lively capital wears its heart on its sleeve.
Vilnius takes great pride its cultural and architectural heritage, interspersing its majestic towers, spires and domes with attractive green spaces and grand public squares. Yet its battle scars aren't hidden –prominent museums, memorials and Soviet-era concrete relics serve as thought-provoking reminders of past struggles.
Take a Soviet-themed talking tour
Five decades of Soviet occupation following the Second World War had a profound effect on Lithuania socially, politically and culturally. A stark legacy of this period is the bruising Communist-era architecture dotted around the streets of Vilnius. You can discover the key sites, tour weary concrete buildings and hear fascinating tales on a themed walking tour.
Explore one of Vilnius' parks or gardens
Vilnius is an impressively green city, with extensive parks, gardens and urban woods. The vast Kalnai Park, just over the River Vilnia from Bernardine Garden, is ideal territory for hiking, jogging and cycling. It's certainly worth climbing up to the viewing platform at the Three Crosses monument. To the northeast, the flora-rich Botanical Garden of Vilnius University offers peaceful walks among nature.
See the city from a hot air balloon
When weather conditions allow, you can take a hot air balloon ride into the Baltic sky from the very centre of the capital. Various operators offer flights, providing a bird’s-eye view of Vilnius and the surrounding countryside.
Kernave Archaeological Site
A complex network of ancient forts, burial sites and fortification mounds documenting 10,000 years of human civilisation can be examined in the Neris Valley. Kernave, the former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, may have burnt to the ground during the Crusades, but in its excavated form it has become a major outdoor tourist attraction.
An hour's train ride from Vilnius, Lithuania's artsy and atmospheric second city is characterised by tree-lined avenues, independent shops and an attractive riverside. Like the capital, it has well-preserved medieval architecture – most notably the 14th-century Kaunas Castle and the Church of Vytautas the Great. You'll also find some of Lithuania's top galleries here.
Trakai Historical National Park
With its crystal blue waters, dense forests, colourful wooden houses and mighty island castle, Trakai Historical National Park presents rural Lithuania at its beautiful best. The state-protected territory, just half an hour's drive from Vilnius, incorporates a network of 32 lakes interspersed with traditional villages, farms and manor houses.