Trip To Vilnius | Lithuania Travel Guide

Trip To Vilnius | Lithuania Travel Guide

If you are thinking of traveling to Vilnius, Lithuania, you are in the right place. Vilnius is the capital and most developed city of Lithuania, as well as the second largest city of the Baltic states. Before the Second World War, Vilnius was one of the cities with the highest Jewish population in Europe. So much so that the Emperor of France, Napoleon, nicknamed Vilnius the “Jerusalem of the North”. Vilnius, whose historical city was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994, was chosen as the European capital in 2009.

The most important ruler in the history of Lithuania is King Mindaugas. Mindaugas is the king who came to the throne in 1253 and united the lands of Lithuania. This is why the anniversary of Mindaugas’ accession to the throne is still celebrated every year.

The name Vilnius is derived from the Vilnia River, which flows from Lithuania to Belarus. Vilnius was founded in the 14th century by the mighty Gediminas, Duke of Lithuania. It is rumored that he wanted to build a city as strong as the iron wolf he saw in his dream. At the time of its establishment, Vilnius became the new capital of Lithuania. After Gediminas married the daughter of the Polish king in 1325, the history of Lithuania and Poland was almost connected.

When Gediminas’ grandson Jogaila sat on the throne of both countries in 1385, he decided to Christianize the upper strata of pagan Lithuania. Vilnius prospered both from German merchants who invested in the city and from the initiatives of Jews who have lived here since the 11th century. Polish, the language of the Poles, becomes the language of the upper class of Lithuania. They describe themselves as « Poles of Lithuanian descent ».

Where Is Vilnius?

Let us share with you some of the things you need to know when traveling to Vilnius. Vilnius is the capital of the Baltic country of Lithuania. Lithuania is bordered by Latvia in the north, Belarus in the east, Kaliningrad and Poland in the south. Vilnius is located in the southeast of Lithuania.

When To Go To Vilnius?

Since it is a Baltic country, it is the winter season when you should not go to Lithuania, therefore Vilnius, because the winter in Vilnius is very cold. Winter comes to the city as of November and does not leave until the end of March. Of course, we cannot deny that the snowfall adds to the beauty of the city of Vilnius and is worth seeing, but you should not forget to take your thick sweater and snow boots.

The air temperature will not rise much in the spring months, and towards the end of May, it rises to the band of 15 to 20 degrees. Although it is warm during the day in spring, it gets very cold at night. It will be appropriate to go to Vilnius from May. The months when Vilnius attracts the most tourists are June, July and August. Tourists, who are patient all winter to see this beautiful north-eastern European city, come to Vilnius in the months when the air temperature rises.

You can also prefer the summer months to travel as you wish and enjoy the city without thick coats, but you should not forget that the air in Vilnius is uncomfortably dry in summer. September and October can be the ideal months for Vilnius. The air is neither dry nor cold; moreover, you can easily wander the streets where the crowd is dispersed.

Trip To Vilnius

Lithuanian National Museum, Genocide Victims Museum and Mickiewicz Museum are among the must-visit museums to understand the culture and history of the city. All Saints’ Church and Vilnius Cathedral are among the must-visit points to understand the architectural and religious structure of the city. The Republic of Uzupis, on the other hand, is remarkable with its unique structure. Trakai Town, Gediminas Castle and Three Cross Hills are other must-see locations. Information about the places mentioned in the list is available below.

Lithuanian National Museum


The Lithuanian National Museum, which opened its doors in 1855 thanks to the initiatives of Count Eustachy Tyszkiewicz, is the oldest museum in the country. Most of the works of art witnessing the history of Lithuania are exhibited in this museum. Anyone who sees these artifacts gains much more knowledge and insight into Lithuanian culture, traditions, archaeological heritage and history. The Lithuanian National Museum attracts 250 thousand visitors annually.

The statue of King Mindaugas, who ascended the throne in 1253 and united the lands of Lithuania, has been right in front of the museum since 2003. It is possible to reach the museum by the funicular departing from the city center.

Mickiewicz Museum


Two museums were opened in Istanbul and Vilnius in the name of the Polish literary figure Adam Mickiewicz. You can personally see the artist’s original manuscripts, poems, library and some of his personal belongings in the museum in Vilnius. Mickiewicz lived here for a while and died in this house. Mickiewicz was a very close friend of Adam Czartoryski, who founded Polonezköy in Istanbul. Mickiewicz took refuge in the Ottoman Empire for political reasons in the 19th century.

All Saints Church


This beautiful mauve-coloured cathedral is one of the most eye-catching structures in Vilnius. The church, which was completed between 1620 and 1630 and belongs to the Carmelite order of the Catholic sect, was built with late baroque architecture. The bell tower was built in 1743.

It is told that some Lithuanian Jews (Litvaks) were saved from starvation and eventually death, thanks to the tunnels connected to the church under the Jewish quarters during World War II. Those who help them are some Catholics who act under the leadership of the priest and the priest. During the Soviet rule, the place of worship was converted into a museum, but with the independence of Lithuania in 1990, it again assumed the role of a Catholic church. The church today mainly deals with the needs of homeless children.

Republic of Uzupis


Uzupis Republic is an autonomous neighborhood founded by a group of artists in the middle of Vilnius. On April 1, 1997, this neighborhood declared its independence with its 12-man army. They have a constitution with articles such as “To be happy is a natural right” and “To be unhappy is a natural right”.

Saulius Paukstys, one of the founding artists, said in an interview, “We left Vilnius, seeing that this was not enough in a country that was trying to find its national identity again under the yoke of Russia.” Uzupis has its own celebration days, fireworks, open-air exhibitions. The 4 names who received the honorary citizenship of Uzupis are Jonas Mekas, Dalai Lama, Ugnė Karvelis and Zenonas Šteinys. Beyond being tolerant of Uzupis, the current mayor of Vilnius, he also participates in some activities of the neighborhood.

Palace Of The Grand Dukes Of Lithuania


Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in Vilnius 15th-17th. It was the palace used by Lithuanian rulers for centuries. The palace, which was destroyed at the beginning of the 19th century, was rebuilt in the 2000s and was dedicated to King Mindaugas, who founded the country of Lithuania in 1253.

As a matter of fact, during the period of communism, Lithuania’s national identity came to the point of extinction, and no restoration was allowed. In addition to being visited as a museum today, seminars, balls and concerts are also held in the Palace of the Grand Dukes. Inside the palace are ballrooms built in both gothic, renaissance and early baroque architecture.

Trakai Town


Also known as Karaim, this town is located 45 minutes from Vilnius by car. This town should be visited especially in the spring season. Trakai Castle, which you will see here, was built in the 15th century and was used by the Lithuanian grand dukes until the late 16th century. You will not want to leave Trakai, the wonder of nature, and you will find the beauty and peace of nature in this tiny town.

Vilnius Cathedral


The full name of Vilnius Cathedral is “Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Ladislaus”. The most important and largest place of worship for Catholics in Lithuania, Vilnius Cathedral is one of the most beautiful structures in the city. In the cathedral, which is estimated to have been built in the 13th century, and whose façade resembles a Greek temple, national days as well as Christian special days are celebrated and prayers are made.

For centuries, the coronation ceremony of the Lithuanian grand dukes by the priest has been held in this cathedral. Pope XI in 1922. This place of worship was given the status of “basilica” by Pius. The Mausoleum of Sovereigns inside the cathedral contains the tombs of the most important figures in Lithuanian history, such as the Mighty Vytautas and King Alexander of Poland. The tombs of some queens, such as Queen Elisabeth of Austria, are here.

Gediminas Castle


Centuries ago, the Lithuanian grand duke Gediminas went hunting. The hunt went very well all day and Gediminas fell asleep from exhaustion. Seeing an iron wolf in his dream, Gediminas decides to establish a city as strong and invincible as this wolf and make it the capital, thus establishing the city of Vilnius, which takes its name from the Vilna River. Gediminas Castle is a castle that can be seen from all over Vilnius. It was revealed that the castle was mentioned for the first time in documents dated 1323.

Gediminas Castle is both the house where Gediminas lived and ruled the country and the first defensive castle of the country. The national flag was hoisted on the post of the castle for the first time in 1919. During the independence movements that broke out in 1988, as the end of communism was approaching, the Lithuanian flag was planted on the castle again years later. The castle has 3 floors and is 48 meters high. You can reach the castle from the city center with the funicular.

Genocide Victims Museum

Genocide Victims Museum

The Holocaust Victims Museum is probably one of the darkest and saddest places in Vilnius. However, tourists who are especially interested in history show great interest. The building, which was previously used as a gymnastics center, was transformed into a gestapo where Jews gathered in 1941 when the Nazis came to Vilnius.

The ordeal of the Lithuanians does not end when the Nazis leave Vilnius in 1944, because this time the Soviets will use this building to imprison Lithuanian intellectuals. The building is still in the same condition as it was abandoned by Soviet soldiers and KGB (Soviet intelligence service) officers in 1991.

Hill Of Three Crosses


The three crosses built in the Kalnai Park on the top of Vilnius in the 17th century have become symbols of the city over time. According to legend, 7 fugitives were crucified here in the 14th century. Lithuanians, who were still pagan at that time, dedicate these sacrifices to the Lithuanian gods. The bodies are then thrown into the Vilnia River. Over the centuries, the 3 pilgrimages were destroyed many times and other statues and monuments were erected in their place. However, with the independence of 1990, the 3 crosses are returned again.

Although the story is not very heartwarming, you can watch the magnificent view of Vilnius and especially the sunset on the 3 cross hills, which are open to visitors 24 hours a day, every day of the week. You can examine the details of the city by using the binoculars in the tiny observatory located in the same place.

Transportation In Vilnius


When you travel to Vilnius, you should also know how to get there. Only trolleybuses, minibuses and buses serve as public transportation vehicles in Vilnius. You can use these vehicles between 05.00-00.00 every day of the week. You can buy electronic and timed tickets called Vilniečio kortelė from the official website, or you can buy public transport tickets from the driver or conductor. The practice of buying tickets at the box office has been terminated recently. After receiving your card, you can top up as much as you need.

The convenience of minibuses is that they do not have to stop at stops. You can get on and off wherever you want. Electronic card is not valid in minibuses. The historical center of Vilnius is closed to motor vehicle traffic. If your accommodation is close to here, walking will be a healthy, ecological and economical choice. You can rent a bicycle if you wish. Exploring Vilnius by bike in spring and autumn will be an enjoyable option.

It takes only 7 minutes to reach the central station from Vilnius Airport by train. When you come to Vilnius, if you want to go to Minsk, which is the capital of the neighboring country Belarus and only 4 hours from Vilnius, you need to take the bus from the main bus station.

Vilnius Cuisine


Your trip to Vilnius continues, if you can’t decide what to eat, then it’s time to talk about what to eat in Vilnius. The sui generis Lithuanian cuisine is based on root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and beets due to its cold climate. Lithuanians, on the other hand, consume red meat. Let’s examine Lithuanian dishes that have been inherited from ancestors to descendants for centuries.

Cepelinai, or zeppelins, is the national dish of Lithuania and its appearance resembles a zeppelin. Didzkukuliai is the real name of this potato dish, but it was changed in the 20th century due to both its appearance and easy pronunciation. Kepta duona, or fried bread slices, are dipped in garlic and salt and fried in oil. It is perfect for suppressing hunger in the evening and can be consumed with cheese.

Burokėlių sriuba, a borscht soup, is cooked with garlic, carrots, broth, dill, black pepper and celery, and this red soup is perfect for winter evenings. Saltibarsciai, known as borscht soup, is prepared with beetroot and kefir. This cold soup, which is appetizing with its gypsy pink color, is served with boiled eggs and potatoes. It is consumed in spring and summer.

Mushroom desserts called grybukai get their name only from their mushroom-like shape. It is a dessert with cinnamon, cloves, coconut and cardamom. Cream cookies prepared with milk cream, flour, eggs, sugar and fried sunflower oil are Lithuania’s favorite dessert. It is generally consumed with jam varieties and can be eaten at any time of the day. Potato pancakes are typical Lithuanian food. Grated potatoes are dipped in scallions, scrambled eggs and sour cream and fried.

Finally, we will talk about the wedding dessert called raguolis or sakotis. This dessert is also eaten on other special occasions such as Christmas or Easter. This dessert is cooked on a wood fire and on a cylinder by continuous rotation. It is prepared with butter, eggs, flour, sugar, cream.

Shopping In Vilnius

Wouldn’t you like to beautify your Vilnius trip with shopping? There are many souvenir items unique to Vilnius that you should take before returning. Do not forget to buy these decorative products or accessories for yourself or your loved ones. You can buy all kinds of souvenirs and ornaments made from amber known as amber. Necklaces and bracelets made from this fossilized metal are the most popular products for tourists from Vilnius. The price of products made from this mineral, which has been mined from the soil of the Baltic countries for thousands of years, is variable.

Soft, colorful and wool scarves knitted by hand are very famous in Vilnius. Not only tourists show interest, Lithuanians also wear these scarves every day. Even if you go to Vilnius in the summer, you should buy these scarves so you can use them where you live. And it’s not just scarves anymore. Slippers, hats, bags, gloves and toys made of the same soft wool are also very popular in Lithuania.

In addition to these, dresses made of linen cloth became very popular in Lithuania. Moreover, it is possible to find towels and handkerchiefs for your home from the same type of cloth.

Making carved decorative items from wood is a centuries-old tradition in Lithuania. You can buy these handcrafted products and put them in the most beautiful corner of your living room. You can buy wooden kitchen products and use them for cooking or for kitchen decoration. Pottery made of clay is very famous in Lithuania. These products are also ideal for decoration. Thus, you can have a product that will remind you of your Vilnius trip in the most beautiful place of your home.

Finally, we would like to remind you that in Vilnius, honey is very delicious and you can gift boxed honey to yourself and your surroundings.

Vilnius Nightlife

When you travel to Vilnius, do not leave without tasting the nightlife! The training of very well-trained and creative chefs in Vilnius for the last 10 years has caused the restaurants to improve their quality. On the other hand, nice bars and nightclubs have started to open in Vilnius, which has made progress in the tourism sector. So much so that there are even those who come to Vilnius from Belarus or Latvia to have fun on the weekends. In our nightlife article, we will tell you about these restaurants and nightclubs and some bars.

Since you are in a northern European country, you will enjoy eating Scandinavian cuisine. For example, Dublis is an innovative Scandinavian restaurant that changes its menu every season. You can taste the most delicious and tender red meat in the place called The town. In Telegrafas, Lokys, Senamiesčio Krautuvė and Senoji Kibininė you will be able to taste typical Lithuanian dishes.

Ertlio namas, on the other hand, is a Lithuanian cuisine restaurant that prepares centuries-old recipes in different ways and presents them to your liking. We recommend Balzac if you like French cuisine, Fiorentino for Italian cuisine, and Saint Germain for Mediterranean cuisine. Apart from these, we recommend Dine Restaurant, Lauro Lapas, Shakespeare, Stebuklai and Sweet Root and Gaspar’s Restaurant.

Among the Baltic states, Vilnius is probably the capital with the youngest population that knows how to have fun. Tourists should also be aware of this, as they color the nightlife even more. Vilnius has started to appeal to everyone’s sense of entertainment with its nightclubs and bars, which have increased in number in the last 10 years. From clubs with DJ performances to bars that play electronic music, to pop music venues, you will be able to go to the most suitable place for you.

Loftas is the biggest nightclub in Vilnius. World-famous music is played as well as Lithuanian music. It is open until the first light of the morning every weekend. Live concerts also take place here. If you like electronic music, Opium is the best option. The sound system in Opium increases the pleasure of listening to electronic music many times over. Tamsta Club is the venue where the most popular solo singers or bands perform. Each evening, singers of a different musical tour perform at Tamsta Club.

Concerts sometimes start at 8 pm, sometimes towards 10. Thus, you can leave a concert here and continue the entertainment in another venue. You can play billiards, have a few drinks while walking and chat with your friends at the place called Bix. You can also eat if you wish. You can dance as you wish on the dance floor upstairs. Culture Bar Kablys is a nightly venue. There is a lot of interest, especially on Monday nights. Salento is a bar for Erasmus students in Vilnius.

Wherever you go in Vilnius, we are sure that you will have as much fun at night as you do during the day. However, we recommend that you return to your hotel before it’s too late. If you are staying in the historical city, you can return to your hotel on foot. No matter how much you are in a European city, be careful to go to crowded and central places, not to bars in secluded spots.

Festivals In Vilnius

Lithuania is a country that wants to preserve its national identity and traditions and carry them to the future. Therefore, they attach great importance to their national festivals. We have written for you the events specific to Vilnius that you can experience only in Vilnius, rather than the popular culture festivals that you can attend anywhere.

Saint Casimir Fair: This event is a spring welcome event for Lithuanians. Every year since 1636, on the weekend before March 4, the streets of Vilnius are colorful. Of course, this activity was also banned in Soviet times. Lithuanians hold on to their traditions and attach more importance to them than before.

Uzupis Celebrations: Uzupis, the autonomous republic in the heart of Vilnius, celebrates its founding anniversary on April 1 every year and everyone has a lot of fun. Even the mayor of Vilnius participates in these celebrations.

Vilnius Marathon: The Vilnius Marathon is run on one Sunday of every September. Not only Vilniusians but also participants from all over Lithuania come to Vilnius for the marathon. Everyone, young and old, runs the 42-kilometer track.

Folkloric Music Festival: When the traditional music festival known as “Skamba Skamba Kankliai” arrives, the streets of Vilnius burst with Lithuanian music. This festival takes place every year in the last week of May and you will get your fill of Lithuanian folk music for 1 week.

Vilnius Public Holidays

  • 1 January: New Year
  • March 11: Independence Day From Soviet Russia
  • April 1: Easter
  • June 24: St. John’s Day
  • July 6: Anniversary Of King Mindaugas’ Accession (Administrative Holiday)
  • November 1: All Saints’ Day
  • December 25: Christmas

Useful Information For Vilnius

  • Emergency Helpline: 112
  • Fire Brigade: 01
  • Police: 02
  • Ambulance: 03

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