I was not sure about what to expect from Vilnius and I must admit it was never on my bucket list. However, after visiting Riga and loving Latvia I felt like I needed to explore more places in the Baltic countries and when I found some cheap flights thanks to Wizz Air I had to go to Lithuania!
It may not be the most popular tourist destination but that is the best part of visiting Vilnius. No queues, no crowds and cheap prices in a city that has a beautiful and charming old town. In the Lithuanian capital you will discover a city full of decadent buildings mixed up with colourful little houses, unique churches and a lot of history that can still be felt in the atmosphere and in the people who live there.
To start a trip to Vilnius just get lost in its old town. It is not too big so you will eventually come across all the historical monuments. There you will find interesting buildings such as its neoclassical cathedral and a leaning bell tower next to it.
Saint Anne’s church is probably the most impressive building in the city because of its red bricks in a gothic style.
My favourite part of the city is a neighbourhood known as Uzupis. This district has been declared as an independent republic. Walking around in this area is quite fun as the constitution of Uzupis can be found in many different languages with articles such as: “a dog has the right to be a dog”, “people have the right to be unhappy” or “people have the right to have no rights”
To get a good view of Vilnius go to Gediminas’ Tower by funicular and admire the remains of a castle that has become a national symbol.
After walking for a while you will also need to try some of the local food! Pilies street is the place to go. Be ready to have a huge lunch for less than 8 euros.
Another shocking place to visit in Vilnius is the Museum of Genocide Victims, located in the former KGB headquarters. Visiting this museum is a great place to learn about the history of Lithuania and its 50 year occupation by the Soviet Union.
Nearby you will also find the three graces on the roof of the dramatic theatre. I would love to know more about these sculptures but I could not find a lot of information about them!
Not far from Vilnius you will also find Trakai and its castle. It only takes 30 minutes to get there from the bus station and there are about 40 buses daily to get there. You will need at least a couple of hours to explore this area. This fascinating building is located on an island in Lake Galve.
And to finish a trip to Vilnius I would recommend walking around the Presidential Palace. In my case this was completely improvised but at 12 on a Sunday I got to see the change of flags. Representatives of the army, the navy and the air force were there to replace the flags in a ceremony while a squad of soldiers looked at them. Definitely worth experiencing this!