Lithuania’s lively capital displays its cultural and architectural heritage in majestic towers, grand public squares and striking memorials.
At its heart lies a charming old town with welcoming taverns and shops, generous green spaces and plenty of historic sites to explore.
Vilnius Airport is just over three miles (5km) south of the city. Trains get you to the centre in 7 minutes, bus or taxi takes a little longer. You’ll find tourist buses and trams running around the landmark-laden centre and out to the suburbs, though as the centre is pretty flat it’s easy to wander on foot or by bike.
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Neighbourhoods To See
Vilnius Old Town
With its elegant palaces, churches and squares, it’s no wonder the maze-like Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Large sections of the medieval city survive and the winding cobbled streets offer an eye-popping blend of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical architecture. Don't miss the Gate of Dawn, Presidential Palace or elaborate university complex.
The remaining part of Vilnius's Upper Castle looks down on the Old Town from its elevated defensive mound. There’s a fascinating museum inside and you can climb to the rooftop observation deck for a fabulous city panorama.
Cathedral Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus
Just off Cathedral Square in the shadow of Gediminas Tower, this dramatic 18th-century basilica is grand inside and out, with interior artwork and sculptures created following the 1990 declaration of independence.
Take a talking tour
Five decades of Soviet occupation after WWII affected Lithuania socially, politically and culturally. For a look at Communist-era architecture accompanied by fascinating tales about the time, try a themed walking tour.
Explore Vilnius' parks and gardens
Vilnius is an impressively green city, with extensive parks, gardens and urban woods. The vast Kalnai Park is ideal for hiking and jogging – or visit the flora-rich Botanical Garden of Vilnius University for a peaceful walk.
Food and Drink
Head to the Old Town to find traditional Lithuanian cuisine, including the Baltic classic borscht (cold beetroot soup) and ‘hunters’ dishes’ such as boar, beaver or venison stews and roasts. Lithuania’s known for the earthy beers from its farmhouse brewing traditions, as well as traditional mead (honey wine).
MARCH | Kaziukas (St Casimir) Fair
To mark the start of spring, Baltic craftspeople sell handmade crafts, particularly traditional palm bouquets, from packed pavilion stalls while music, dance and theatrical processions bring a festival atmosphere.
JUN-JULY | Lithuanian Song and Dance Celebration
This impressive celebration of traditional folk arts is only staged every four years but is so special it’s earned a place on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
SEPT | Vilnius City Fiesta
This grand-scale multi-arts festival offers open-air concerts, gigs, dance performances and exhibitions across the city for hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.