Vilnius is Lithuania’s capital and largest city. If you’re visiting the country, it’s a place you shouldn’t miss. It is home to one of Europe’s largest remaining medieval quarters, beautiful architecture from various eras, many museums and a thriving art scene, numerous shops and restaurants, and more.
When visiting, there’s no doubt that you’ll get a glimpse into Lithuania’s culture and the unique history that made the country the lovely place it is today. Here’s a city guide to help you plan your visit to Vilnius.
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When to Visit Vilnius
As we say with many of the places we visit, there isn’t really a bad time to visit Vilnius. But, your experience will vary depending on the time of year.
Being so far north, summers in Lithuania are fairly mild with high temperatures generally averaging 18-24˚C (65-75˚F) in the warmer months of June through August. It does rain more during these months, but days are overall sunnier. During the summer, daylight hours are longer and weather is more ideal for visiting the coast and doing outdoor activities like swimming and hiking.
Winters can get very cold in Lithuania, the average high temperatures commonly dropping below freezing. The landscape is frequently snow-covered and the days are more overcast. However, if you come properly prepared, the winter is a great time to enjoy the Christmas markets and winter activities like ice skating. Outside of the holidays, you’ll find Vilnius to be quieter in the winter and prices for accommodation and many attractions are a lower.
We visited in October and really enjoyed being in Vilnius during the fall. Many attractions were quiet and prices were lower than peak months. Additionally, the fall colors were beautiful! While we were expecting a bit of rain, we were lucky to have primarily very sunny (though chilly) days and just one downpour on our last day.
Vilnius is a common stop for those road tripping through the Baltics. But if not arriving by car, visitors often fly into Vilnius International Airport. There are many direct flights from within the EU. If arriving from outside Europe, you’ll likely connect through a larger European hub first. The Vilnius airport is small and easy to navigate. Alternatively, there are quite a few flights flying into the neighboring city of Kaunas.
As the capital and a large hub in Lithuania, there are frequent trains to Vilnius from Kaunas, Klaipeda, Riga, Warsaw and more. We found Lithuania’s transport system to be quite convenient and easy to navigate. We booked all of our train tickets on the Lithuanian rail site before the day of departure. You may find bus tickets online as well. If not booking online, you can also book at the station at a ticket window or machine in advance or on the day of departure. If you’re on a tight schedule, we recommend booking in advance, especially during peak summer months.
Many of the popular activities in Vilnius sit in the old town, which is a lovely place to walk about. However, if needing a ride to a further attraction, the airport, accommodation, etc., there are various options. Buses run routes around the city frequently – find routes and more information on the Trafi app or on the Judu site. If you plan to travel by bus quite a bit, you can also purchase a bus card, allowing you to load cash for rides from 30 minutes up to a 10-day pass. Learn more here.
Additionally, there’s Uber, Bolt, and eTaksi, which we used for rides to and from the airport since we had a fair amount of luggage. There are multiple taxi services in Vilnius, though we didn’t ever use them because we found that they are generally more expensive than Uber and public transport.
Lastly, if you need to go further or just want the convenience of having your own transport, there are a few car rental agencies in Vilnius and car sharing services like CityBee and Spark. Be aware that finding parking around the city center can be difficult.
Where to Stay in Vilnius
There is ample accommodation to suit a range of budgets in Vilnius. Furthermore, in comparison to many larger cities in Western Europe, options around the city center are much more affordable. There are also Airbnbs and apartment rentals available in the city. Here are some hotel options in Vilnius.
- Mikalo House: twin and double rooms with shared bathrooms
- Old Town Trio Hostel: twin/double rooms with shared bathrooms
- Silvija House: double rooms with private bathrooms
- Courtyard by Mariott: single to king rooms
- Apartments Satva: studios to multi-room apartments
- Hotel Vilnia: single rooms to suites and included breakfast for certain bookings
- Neringa Hotel: double rooms to suites and included breakfast for certain bookings
- Narutis Hotel: twin rooms to suites and included breakfast
- Relais & Châteaux Stikliai Hotel: double rooms to suites and included breakfast
- Hotel PACAI: double rooms to suites and included breakfast
Where to Eat in Vilnius
There are so many restaurants in Vilnius, and we definitely only brushed the surface of the food scene during our visit. As you walk around the city, you’ll come across various restaurants, especially around old town. Many streets, such as Vilniuas Street, are lined with eateries, many of which have lovely outdoor seating and display their menus outside for you to take a look. Following are some options to consider for tasty eats.
You can find traditional meals in a variety of spots in Vilnius. For cheap mead, a variety of dishes, and a relaxed bar-type atmosphere, head to Snekutis. Džiaugsmas, Senoji Trobelė, Ertlio Namas and Grey also have some traditional items if you’re looking for something a little outside the bar scene.
For pizza, pasta, and other Italian dishes, head to Fiorentino, Užupio Picerija, or Jurgis ir Drakonas, which has multiple locations. If you’re feeling seafood, try the Farmer and the Ocean or Selfish Bistro. While some places have vegan and vegetarian options, visit the RoseHip Bistro, Vegafé or Vieta for a wider variety of options to meet your dietary needs.
For cheap bites or something quick for on the go, there are various kebab stands. Kibinais (stuffed pastries) are another great option that can be found for very cheap at grocery stores, street stalls, and train and bus stations.
As mentioned above, this is by no means a comprehensive list. There are many other options including other cuisines like Japanese, French, and Indian. We definitely recommend trying some local Lithuanian dishes, but there are other options beyond that if you’re looking for variety!
There are plenty of grocery stores around Vilnius. Supermarkets like Rimi and Iki sell typical groceries, bakery and deli goods, liquor, and beer. If you need them, these spots also offer toiletries and other basic home goods.
There are plenty of things to do in Vilnius that you can do without a tour. However, if you want to hit the city highlights in limited time, see some of the areas surrounding the city (like Trakai), or want to take a deeper dive into various topics, a tour can be a great option. There are some tour offices around Vilnius, but many tour itineraries can be found and booked online in advance on sites like Viator and Get Your Guide.
Lithuania uses the Euro. There are many ATMs in Vilnius to withdraw cash. If you need to exchange currencies, we recommend doing so at a bank as opposed to the airport because banks offer a better exchange rate. Some train stations also offer exchange services.
Most museums, restaurants, and accommodation take card, but we recommend carrying some Euros just in case cash payment is required. Some markets and street stalls may not accept electronic payment methods.