Vilnius has quite a few parks that provide a little escape from the bustle of the city. The Hill of Three Crosses is an iconic monument near the old town sitting atop a hill in the beautiful Kalnai Park. If you want to get out and enjoy some nature, see a historical monument, and witness some of the most beautiful views of Vilnius, we definitely recommend a visit to the Hill of Three Crosses.
A Quick History of the Hill of Three Crosses
The exact origin of the Three Crosses monument is unknown. Some legends say that a group of Franciscan monks came to Vilnius in the 14th century, and their beliefs and teachings were not received well by the predominantly pagan population. They were crucified and thrown down the hill. The monument was made as a memorial.
Much of the city, including the monument, was destroyed during Soviet occupation. The crosses that stand upon the hill today are a reconstructed version built in the 1980s.
Getting to the Hill of Three Crosses
The Hill of Three Crosses sits just outside Old Town Vilnius. In fact, you may be able to see the white crosses sitting atop the hill as you walk around the city and from Gediminas Tower. The monument can be accessed multiple ways because there are various paths leading to it through Kalnai Park.
If you are coming from a ways outside of Vilnius Old Town, there are taxis and parking nearby. Vilnius also has a convenient public transport system with stops just by the Palace of the Grand Dukes and the Vilnius Cathedral. Find routes and timetables here.
It’s pretty easy to navigate the area, but we recommend downloading maps with the places you want to visit saved. We approached the Hill of Three Crosses from the south because we were first in the Bernadine Gardens. From the gardens, we crossed the Vilnia River and walked south along it until we reached a clearing with steep steps leading up the hill to the left. We followed the path until we came to the monument. While it’s pretty steep, it isn’t a long hike.
After we were done taking in the views, we headed down the north side of the hill towards the amphitheater in the park. You can also get up to the Three Crosses this way. It’s a little easier as a road leads half-way up, more of the path was well-maintained, and we thought the incline wasn’t quite as steep.
Fees & Hours
Visitors can access the park and walk up to the monument free of charge. We love a budget-friendly activity! Additionally, you can visit the monument any time of day as there are no gates or closing times at the park. At night, the crosses are lit. During certain times of year the lighting color may change based on the event or holiday.
Exploring the Hill of Three Crosses and Kalnų Parkas
Once you make it up to the monument, you’ll be able to see the towering white crosses up close. There are also remnants of crosses that stood here in the past nearby. In front of the crosses, you’ll have the most stunning view of Vilnius. Down below, there are the red roofs of the old town buildings in addition to some of Vilnius’ most notable landmarks, like Gediminas Tower, the Vilnius Cathedral, and St. Anne’s Church. We were lucky to be there during the fall when many of the trees in the city were turning a deep orange, making the view even more beautiful.
There are other things to see in Kalnai Park besides the Hill of Three Crosses. If you have the time, the area is beautiful to explore! Table Hill (Stalo Kalnas) is a wide open green space surrounded by trees just up the hill from the crosses. Just down the hill is the park stage. We were the only ones there early on a chilly fall morning, but we imagine this would be a really incredible venue to attend an event at!
At the base of the opposite side of the hill is the Bernadine Gardens. This is where we began the trek up to the monument. This area has many benches, some chess tables, fountains, beautiful gardens, and more. The river also runs through it with trails on either side. We enjoyed walking along the river and up to the monument among the fall colors.
On the far south end of the park is Altanos Kalnas, another viewpoint with a swing. The paths are pretty, but the view of the city is a little more obscured than it is from the Hill of Three Crosses.