Named as the Culture Capital of Europe in 2009, Vilnius is a great place to visit. This walkable city is a the right balance of quirky and traditional. The mix of historic sites, great shopping opportunities and fun bars and pubs appeal to lots of visitors. You can spend a few days visiting just to enjoy the sights and shopping to your heart’s content.
Below is a list of the 10 best things to see and do in Vilnius, Lithuania
The Cathedral’s formal name is Cathedral of St. Stanislav and St. Vladislav and was built in 1251, and is the most important Catholic building in Lithuania. The Neo-Classical Cathedral is home to eleven chapels, among them the High Baroque Chapel of St. Casimir , Lithuania’s patron saint. Built in 1636 to house his remains, the chapel is one of the country’s national treasures.
Gates of Dawn
The Gates of Dawn is the only remaining gate from the city’s original defensive walls which was completed in 1522. Of the original nine city gates, only the Gate of Dawn remains, while the others were destroyed. The Chapel in the Gate of Dawn contains an icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, said to have miraculous powers. Many pilgrims come to pray in front of the icon for healing powers.
Gediminas Castle & Museum
You can climb up or take the funicular up Gediminas Hill for spectacular views of Vilnius. The castle dates from the 13th century and over the years it was also a prison. The tower houses a museum that has exhibits on the history of the castle and some archeology exhibits from the surrounding area.
St. Anne’s Church
St Anne’s Church is one of the most famous landmarks in Vilnius. This pretty Gothic church was built between 1495 and 1500 by Benedikt Rejt , who is most famous for designing parts of Prague Castle.There is a legend that when during his conquests Napoleon came to Vilnius and saw this church he said he would like to take it on his palm and bring to France
Vilnius’ Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Europe’s largest baroque capital. Many of the old buildings have been converted into restaurants, bars or shops, and you can spend a day wandering and exploring the area.
The Uzupis District is part of old town and in 1998 the residents unofficially declared the area to be an independent republic, with its own president, anthem, flag, and constitution. The district has been popular with artists for some time, and has been compared to Montmartre in Paris due to its bohemia atmosphere.
Museum of Genocide Victims
The Museum is set in a former KGB building that was used in the Nazi and Russian occupations from the 1930’s until 1991. The basement was used as a prison from the KGB and still has the original execution chamber and still has bullet holes in the walls.
The Presidential Palace is the official residence of the President of Lithuania. It dates back to the 14th century and is located in Old Town.
National Museum of Lithuania
The National Museum of Lithuania houses a large collection of Lithuania’s historical and archeological artifacts. It dates back to 1855 and is the oldest museum in Lithuania.
Vilnius is known for its amber, woolen & flaxware. Pilies street is full of little shops with Lithuanian souvenirs, ornaments, clothing, also cafes and restaurants. Head on over to Stikliu street for boutiques owned by local designers.
If you’ve been to Vilnius, what did you enjoy most in this lovely city?
Thanks for reading & Happy Travels, Tava