Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania is not the most breathtaking city in Eastern Europe, but just because it did not sweep us off our feet, it does not means it is not a beautiful city. Spend a weekend in Lithuania to explore the best things to do in Vilnius in 48 hours.
How to get to Vilnius?
To get to Vilnius by bus, we took a four hour bus from Riga to Vilnius with the low cost Ecolines. The bus is comfortable and has free wifi throughout the journey. A taxi from the Vilnius bus station to the city center costs from 5-10 euros.
By airplane: AirBaltic offers direct flights to Vilnius from many europeans cities. It is normally the cheapest airline to Lithuania along Norwegian Air. A taxi from the Vilnius International Airport to the city center costs around 10 euros.
Where to stay in Vilnius?
We stayed at the amazing Radisson Blu Astorija Hotel. It is close to many of the main attractions of Vilnius, with a beautiful view of the St Casimir Church. The staff is super friendly, the beds are comfortable and the location is key in choosing this hotel!
Where to eat in Vilnius?
When is the best time to Visit Vilnius?
The best time to visit Vilnius is late April until late August. Unless you like cold winters we recommend avoiding Vilnius during the winter months from November to March.
How do I get around Vilnius?
You can easily walk to the majority of places within the old city Vilnius and its main attractions. However, we recommend taking Uber or a taxi as it is relatively cheap to utilize the extra time to enjoy your trip and wander around the old city. You can also take Vilnius public transportation as it connects the city well and runs from 5:30 AM to midnight.
What to do in Vilnius Walking Map
The best things to see in Vilnius in 48 Hours
Follow the Church Trail
The Vilnius Old Town has 28 churches. They are are not all worth visiting as some of the churches are abandoned, some are empty and others are abs stunning in the inside and out. During the Soviet occupation places of worship were closed down and the churches were converted into sport halls, museums and warehouses.
We have selected our favorite churches in Vilnius:
1. The Cathedral of St Stanislav and St Vladislav (Vilnius Cathedral): At first we thought it was a museum as it due to its traditional architecture different than many other European churches. Our favorite thing is the miracle tile located right outside the cathedral.
The Stebuklas Miracle Tile is known for being a wish granting tile. You need to spin around 3 times on the title and make a wish. This tile also served as it was the ending point for the world’s largest human chain at the time. In a peaceful display against the Soviet Union about 3 million people across the Baltics held hands in unity. The chain Started in Tallinn, Estonia and ended in Vilnius.
2. Saint Casimir Church:
The Saint Casimir Church has a stunning facade and is our favorite church in Vilnius due to its pastel pink color.
3. Saint Ann’s Church:
It is a beautiful church with an impactful and imposing Gothic architecture on a rather plane street.
Where to get the best panoramic views of Vilnius
Our favorite thing to do in Vilnius besides eating the delicious Lithuanian food is to see the city from above. We visited the best viewpoints in Vilnius.
1. The Subačiaus Street Lookout, (Subačiaus Gatvės Apžvalgos Aikštelė): From here you get a panoramic view of the old town and Užupis. You can walk here on your way to visiting the Užupis neighborhood or take a cab straight to the top.
2. The Hill of Three Crosses: It is the best place to enjoy sunset over Vilnius, although you can only drive to a certain point and then you need to walk up the rest of the steep hill. From here you can see the city and the three white crosses that represent the resistance to the Soviet Occupation.
3. Cathedral Bell Tower (Vilniaus Katedros Varpinė): It is the best viewpoint in town from what the locals told us. Unfortunately, it was closed when we visited Vilnius.
4. Skybar at Radisson Blu Lietuva Hotel
The Skybar on the top floor of the Radisson Blu Lietuva Hotel offers expansive views across the city. You can also sit back and sip a cocktail while watching the sun set over Vilnius.
5. Room view from the Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel
Even from our bedroom window at the Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel we were greeted with amazing views of the neighborhood.
Visit the Museum of Genocide Victims
The Museum of Genocide Victims is a must see in Vilnius to learn about the dark past of Lithuania during the Soviet Occupation during the middle of the 20th century.
The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10AM to 6PM and Sunday from 10AM to 5PM. It is closed Monday and Tuesday. Tickets cost €3 per person.
Take fun Murals of Vilnius photos
Vilnius has so many cool and unique murals. My favorite mural is the infamous Putin and Trump mural in which the two of them are sharing an intimate moment.
The tourism board even has a murals of Vilnius walking map to see the best examples of street art across the city.
Walk down Writer’s street (Literatu Street)
Along Literatu Street is a cool wall with art pieces mounted into the walls in dedication of writers connected to Lithuania in one way or another.
Get lost at the Unique Užupis Republic
The independent republic of Užupis was founded on April 1, 1997 by artists and bohemians as its own independent republic. It has its own anthem, flag, currency and even a constitution.
The rights in this republic are based upon these three mottos: 1. Don’t fight, 2. Don’t win 3. Don’t surrender. Even though you do not need a passport or a visa to visit, you can get a passport stamp at the Keistoteka Book Store.
While in Uzupis you should check the Bernardine Cemetery as it is the oldest graveyards in Vilnius and see the street art along the Vilnia River.
Go and say hi to the Republic’s cat at the same bookstore where you can get your passport stamp and take a photo of the constitutions and its translation into 23 languages.
Walk through the Gate of Dawn
Over 600 years ago there was a high wall surrounding the town of Vilnius but today there is only one of the main entrances remaining, the Gate of Dawn. Pilgrims from all over the world comes to town through this gate to seek miracles.
Wander around the Old Town
Walk around the Vilnius Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Old Town of Vilnius is one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Northern Europe. The well preserved architecture will keep you in awe.
Jewish Neighborhood of Vilnius
The Jewish Neighborhood of Vilnius once had a population of over 100,000 Jews, nearly half the cities population. After the extensive massacres of WWII murdering over 90% of the country’s Jews and long Soviet occupation, the numbers now range in the several thousands across all of Lithuania.