With its UNECO-listed Old Town, myriad museums and galleries, Baroque architecture, numerous leafy parks and historic sites, Lithuania’s capital should be on your travel radar. This is an easy city to spend time in with no fixed agenda, stopping for sustenance at the many bars, cafés and restaurants as you explore. But if you’re looking for a little inspiration, local Vilnius tour guides have shared some of the best things to see and do in the city.
Vilnius’ UNEDCO-listed Old Town is not to be missed and makes for a scenic way to spend a few hours in the city. This is also where you can see many of the city’s main sites on foot as you walk the winding cobblestone streets. This is the largest Baroque old town in Eastern and Central Europe and is filled with historic buildings, churches, shops, cafés and restaurants. Here you’ll find Vilnius Cathedral and Cathedral Square, the Presidential Palace, Vilnius University (considered the oldest university in the Baltic States), and Pilies Street with its many cafés, restaurants and shops.
Also located in the Old Town you’ll find one of oldest markets in Eastern Europe. Hales Market is worth a wander to get a sense of the food scene in Vilnius, hang out with locals and snack on local goodies as you explore. Browse fresh and smoked meat, fish, baked goods, diary products, organic fruit and vegetables, honey and more in the sprawling indoor market. There’s also a café on site if you want to stop for a coffee.
One of Vilnius’ more unique attractions is the Independent Republic of Užupis, located within Vilnius’ Old Town. On April Fools Day 1997, this district declared itself an independent republic, complete with four flags (one for each season) and an army of 12. What was once a dangerous area, Užupis was revitalised in the 1990s when artists moved in and gave the district a colourful facelift and bohemian vibe to match. As you walk through Užupis, you’ll be treated to vibrant street art, small art shops, cute cafés, artist workshops and a variety of restaurants.
If you want to experience historical Lithuanian cuisine, one of the best places to do it is Ertlio Namas. Just be sure to reserve ahead if you plan on stopping by for a meal. The cuisine here is characterised by seasonality, so expect dishes that highlight local, seasonal ingredients in a way that showcases historic recipes with a modern twist. Choose from a four or six-course tasting menu that can also include wine pairings.
See Vilnius from a whole new perspective with a hot air balloon flight over the city. Vilnius is one of very few European capitals that allow hot air ballooning on a regular basis so why not take advantage? This is a great opportunity to get an overview of everything that makes Vilnius so beautiful. You can book hot air balloon rides from May to October.
One of the more unique museums in Vilnius is one that may have you questioning what you’re seeing. Opened in 2016, Vilnil Museum of Illusions offers nearly 70 exhibits featuring optical illusions, 3-D art, virtual reality and other installations that challenge your senses. This is the ultimate place to snap selfies as you explore the mind-bending exhibits and pictures are not only allowed but also encouraged. It’s also good to note that the 3-D paintings and the perspective illusions were created by local artists.
The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is not just any church. Vilnius is home to dozens of beautiful churches, but what makes this one stand out is its gleaming all-white interior and the over 2,000 sculptures created in white stucco that you’ll see carved into the walls, columns and ceilings. Needless to say, this is a stunner and definitely makes for some good photos.