Churches upon churches offer a spiritual outlook to the bustling city, while the Museum of Genocide Victims reflects on the capital’s darker days. Visit for history, amazing views and the largest medieval old town in central and eastern EU
Day 1 – Friday
Catherine and I love the Baltic states and have really enjoyed travelling through them. Latvia and Estonia were little gems and Lithuania, we thought would be no different, so we booked a weekend away.
Catherine and I meet at Liverpool Street station after a long day’s work and took the train to Stanstead Airport. After a 2.45-hour flight we landed in Vilnius. Jumping into a taxi outside the airport, we were whisked of to our lodgings for the weekend, Reformatai Park Hotel. It was around €10 for a single fare to get to our hotel, which was near the centre and took around 15 minutes.
This mid-range hotel had everything you need. The hotel staff were great, the room spacious and the bed was comfy – most important!
Day 2 – Saturday
After having a continental breakfast, we ventured out into Vilnius. The hotel was within walking distance of the city centre and so we headed passed Vilnius Holy Church of the Assumption of the Virgin to the town hall (Vilniaus rotušė).
Walking up to the Gates of Dawn was special. With few tourists around, we could really enjoy the 16th century city gate. The chapel next to the gate houses a painting of the Virgin Mary. This world-renowned painting is a symbol of the city’s religious past.
Once through the gate, we walked around the old city wall and stumbled upon The Bastion, part of Vilnius city defences. The baston of the Vilnius Defensive wall is now a museum allowing visitors to walk around and experience what it was like to be a soldier in those days.
The wall was built by the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Alexzander in 1503. Part of the defensive wall was later constructed in the 17th century. With views over the city, it’s a great place to catch your breath.
Lunch was in One for All in the old neighbourhood of Užupis. After a bite to eat, we walked towards the centre. On the way we visited St Anne’s Church and St Francis of Assisi monastery. These beautiful builds are why Vilnius is a hidden gem in Europe.
The final stop-off before the centre was in the Church Heritage Museum. The clock mechanism, bells and reconstructed photos are all included and show how important these buildings are.
Walking into the main square you cannot help but notice the bright white Cathedral building. Sat next to this place of religion is the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Both these buildings set up the square into a magnificent space. In the corner is the Cathedral Belfry, one of the tallest and oldest towers in the city. If you’re looking for a piece of Lithuania’s cultural heritage, then look no further.
As a rain shower started, we walked up Gedimino street hoping to find a spot to eat. Opposite Vincas Kudirka Square there was a great Italian restaurant, Pomodoro, and after devouring a large pizza (each), we headed back to Reformatai Park Hotel.
Day 3 – Sunday
Our the final day of our weekend away, we headed out of the city to visit the Museum of Genocide Victims. The walk took us to the Church of St Constantine and St Michael and Tauras Hill. This Russian Orthodox church was built in 1913 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The hill, with a huge, disused soviet building on top is another place to grab some great views over the city.
Finally, the Museum of Genocide Victims was a look into a grim past of the last century. With the original cells for interrogation and photos of how it once was, you could really get a sense of the horrors this building would have housed.
The museum stands next to Lukiškės Square with St Apostles Philip and Jacob Church the other side.
A beautiful walk down the banks of the Neris River, taking in Raduškevičius Palace, Karaliaus Mindaugo tiltas bridge and Gediminas Castle Tower was very impressive.
Vilnius is a vibrant city with lots to do, and the picturesque historical city has a wonderful Old Town centre with lots of places to eat. It is the capital of Lithuania and one of our favourite European capitals. After a refreshment on the main street, at café Pilies Katpedele, it was time to head back to the hotel.
The walk back to the hotel was through the university and past the Church of St Johns, St John the Baptist and St John the Apostle and Evangelist, God’s Mercy Sanctuary and Vilnius Church of the Holy Spirit.
A little churched out, we pick our bags up and headed to Vilnius International Airport and home to London with Wizz air.
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Checking out C & J
2 thoughts on “Things to do in Vilnius”
I have been to a lot of the (when it was still) Soviet Union, but never got to Vilnius. It always looks like a great place to visit. Maybe one day…
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Best wishes, Pete.
Thanks for your msg. We really enjoyed it and pretty much like visiting many soviet-era places. Hope u get to visit! Take care.
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