Vilnius is one of the most underrated capitals cities in Europe in my opinion. It doesn’t have the universal appeal of Rome, Paris or London but if Lithuanian’s capital has caught your eye, like it did mine, here’s a list of 15 things to do while you’re there.
1. Hike to the Hill of Three CrossesOne of the best (and free) things to do in Vilnius is to hike to the Hill of Three Crosses. From there you can learn about the dark history of catholicism in Lithuania and catch one of the best views of the city.2. Visit an art gallery in UzupisYou can’t go to Vilnius without visiting the wacky neighbourhood (and own independant republic) of Uzupis, an artist’s community with a lot of character. Here you can read Uzupis’s constitution and wander around to discover the little quirks.3. Eat vegan food at an old Soviet CinemaPlaneta is an old Soviet Movie Theatre turned hipster hangout. Catch an independent film or just soak up the atmosphere with a plant based hot chocolate and crepe. 4. Visit St Anne’s ChurchSt Anne’s Church is one of the most unusual buildings in Vilnius purely because it resembles so many places outside of Lithuania. You might recognise it as the backdrop of the BBC’s drama, ‘War and Peace’ (set in Russia) or think it may look similar to Prague’s Castle – architect Benedikt Rejt designed them both after all.5. Climb Gediminas’ TowerOne of the buildings that make Vilnius Vilnius is the Gediminas’ Tower. Not only is it a subdivision of Vilnius’ national museum, it has an observation deck and it’s one of the best places to see views of Cathedral Square and the Hill of Three Crosses.6. Pay respects at the Museum of Genocide VictimsDiscover Lithuania’s dark history and learn about the KGB, the soviet secret police and what happened to Lithuanian citizens after the war up until 1991. (Picture taken from wikicommons)
7. Daytrip to see the Castle of TrakaiIf you’re in Lithuania for a short amount of time but fancy a day trip, look no further than the Castle of Trakai located just outside of Vilnius by train. The city of Trakai has plenty of gorgeous lakes to see too.8. Daytrip further to see the Hill of CrossesIf you’re in Lithuania longer, you can’t miss out on seeing the highly unusual Hill of Crosses, a mysterious phenomenon located in Siauliai – a three hour train journey from Vilnius.9. Get Wacky at Vilnius’s Museum of IllusionsA fun and interactive museum is the Museum of Illusions, a great place to have fun with a group of friends and discover strange optical illusions and learn about science and light.10. Explore Old TownLike most European cities, Vilnius has an old town full of colourful buildings with an interesting history. Learn more about it on a free walking tour.11. Visit (and climb the bell tower at) Cathedral SquareCathedral Square is one of the most recognisable squares in Lithuania and is famous in Vilnius for the magnificent cathedral, bell tower and Stebuklas Miracle Tile – a tile in which marks the end of the Baltic Way, the largest human chain that spread across three countries capitals (Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn).12. See the Frank Zappa Memorial
One of the weirder memorials in Vilnius is the Frank Zappa statue. It was erected by his fan club to mark the start of a post-Soviet era. Although Frank Zappa had never visited Lithuania nor did he have any connection to the country, his fans worked hard to raise money for the statue and convinced the government he had ‘vaguely Jewish features’ and as the government were keen to promote Jewish history this was reason enough for them to agree to the statue. (Picture taken from wikicommons)
13. Check out the street artVilnius has plenty of unique street art to look out for. Look by the train station for the famous artwork of Trump and Putin.14. Walk through the Gate of DawnThe Gate of Dawn is the only surviving gate of the five original gates around the city’s walls built between 1503 and 1522. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture and worth seeing if you’re around Old Town.15. Discover Lithuanian Authors down Literature StreetLocated in Old Town, Literature Street is like a shrine dedicated to Lithuanian authors with their novels mounted onto the walls. Though a small street, it’s a nice tribute to the artist’s favourite writers and their works.