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. These significant landmarks will leave a lasting impression from what is sure to be a culturally rich holiday.
Spend your first morning exploring the Old Town, seeking photo opportunities at the presidential palace, sections of city wall, Gate of Dawn and university complex. Head to Hales Turgus market to buy a traditional local pasty or soup, then spend the afternoon viewing the exhibits in the highly regarded National Museum of Lithuania. From here, make your way to the main Old Town street of Vilniaus Street to choose a restaurant and hop between the various bars and brewpubs. Settle in to watch some live music, head on to a nightclub, or take a leisurely stroll around the centre to see the city under lights.
Rise early for a morning stroll along the river to Kalnai Park and climb up to the commanding Three Crosses monument to enjoy spectacular views of the city to the west. Continue your walk to artsy Uzupis for a lunch stop and shopping trip, then head to Gediminas Tower to view the remnants of Vilnius's Upper Castle. After visiting the museum, make your way to Cathedral Square to see the basilica and bell tower – some of the city's most spectacular architecture. After a leisurely dinner, choose between a trip to the National Opera and Ballet Theatre, or drinks in the action-packed Vokieciu-Islandijos street district.
Make your first visit to the labyrinthine Old Town, wandering the cobbled streets in search of the presidential palace and fragments of the city wall. After lunch, head south to the Gate of Dawn, returning via the elaborate university complex. In the evening, visit the bustling Vilniaus Street for dinner and drinks.
Choose some picnic ingredients from historic Halės Turgus market, then make the ascent to the Three Crosses observation deck in Kalnai Park. Enjoy lunch in the gardens, then spend the afternoon at the nearby National Museum of Lithuania. Later, soak up the night-time atmosphere on a Vokieciu Street terrace.
Visit the fairy-tale castle and lakes at Trakai Historical National Park, the return to Vilnius to learn about local Jewish history and the impacts of Nazi policy at the Choral Synagogue, Flame of Hope and Museum of Genocide Victims. In the evening, take in a performance at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre or National Drama Theatre.
Stroll along the banks of the Neris River, arriving at the impressive Cathedral Square. View the basilica, bell tower and 'miracle stone' commemorating the inspiring Baltic Chain protest of 1989. After a street food snack, ride the funicular railway up to Gediminas Tower. Once you've visited the museum and enjoyed the view, spend the evening mixing with the locals on Islandijos Street.
Take the train to Kaunas to view the city's historic centre, castle and monastery, before visiting an art gallery. Upon your return to Vilnius, see the Old Town illuminated on a twilight walking tour.
Take a bicycle ride through along the river to the eastern parks, calling in at the historic Bernadine cemetery before lunching in Uzupis and searching for street art. At night, enjoy bar snacks, try Lithuanian mead, and listen to live traditional music.
Rise early to visit the impressive Kernave Archaeological Site and learn about the long history of human settlement in the region. Complete your trip by taking some final photos and shopping for souvenirs in the Old Town's independent boutiques.