I visited Vilnius, Lithuania from August 8th to August 17th several years ago and I can only imagine that the city grew a lot since my initial visit. And if you’re planning a visit also, this Vilnius City guide should come in handy.
Brief opinion about Vilnius: The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius has tons of charm packed into a small town feel. Those looking for hustle and bustle will be disappointed, but those who like friendly locals and a proud culture will be thrilled.
Prices in Vilnius, Lithuania
The cost of Vilnius is very much in line with other Eastern European or Baltic countries. This means that everything is a bit more affordable than in Western European countries.
Still, Lithuania is not one of the cheapest countries to live even in Europe, so definitely not one of those ultra-affordable countries where you can live on $500 per month. But it’s still doing great in this regard.
Local beers can be had for around 3 Euros at pubs, a decent meal out can be had for 6 euros, if you’re getting a single dish (enough to fill you up) or a daily menu and you can still get a room in a so-so hotel for around 30-35 euros a night.
Here are some other insights into prices in Vilnius:
- Hostels: Prices start at around €10-15 per night for a bed in a dormitory room.
- Mid-range hotels: Prices start at around €50-70 per night for a double room.
- Luxury hotels: Prices start at around €150 per night for a double room.
Food and Drink:
- Local restaurants: Prices for a meal can range from €6 – 10 per person for a basic meal, up to €20 – 30 for something a bit fancier.
- Street food: You can find various tasty snacks (usually pastries) for €1 – 4.
- Coffee: A cup of coffee at a cafe will cost around €2 – 3.
- Public transportation: A single ticket on public transport costs €1, while a 24-hour ticket is €3.50. There are longer term options available, which end up cheaper on a per-ride basis. There is no metro here though.
- Taxis: Taxis are relatively cheap in Vilnius, with prices starting at around €0.50 per km. Similar to Uber and other ride sharing options.
- Car rental: Rental prices start at around €25 per day.
You can take a taxi across the city for just a few Euros. Search your app store for a Lithuanian taxi app. Uber is available but not that common (yet).
To and from the Vilnius AIRPORT: You can take a taxi from the airport to the city center for 10 to 15 euros. There’s also a bus or train that will drop you off at the main station for 1 euro/ride. The main bus and train stations are at the south end of the city.
- Museums: Admission fees to most museums in Vilnius are around €5, which is really cheap
- Nightlife: A beer in a pub costs around €3, while a cocktail at a trendy bar will cost around €8.
Overall, Vilnius is an affordable destination, even though inflation has increased costs a bit lately, as it did everywhere in the world. You’re still getting a nice bang for your buck (or Euro) here, though.
Where to Stay in Vilnius
There aren’t a lot of choices – Vilnius is that small. Most Western travelers should have no issues with the budget to stay in the city center (old town), which is where I recommend to find a place, since you’re close to most of the things that matter in the city.
Everything is walkable from there – you can quite literally walk from one end of the city to the other in twenty minutes.
If you don’t want to do the research yourself, I recommend staying at the Grand Crown, an aparthotel of really high quality (pictured above) and decent prices, right in the heart of the city.
Food to Try in Vilnius
While the most enjoyable food here might not be the best to order if you meet a nice Lithuanian women and take her out, but it’s definitely worth trying. What I liked: Meat, potatoes, dumplings. Especially the dumplings.
The local beer is better than Budweiser, but it’s no craft beer (though there are some craft breweries around).
Overall, Vilnius offers a wide range of delicious dishes, from traditional to world cuisine, with something to suit every taste.
From hearty meat dishes to refreshing soups and sweet desserts, visitors will find plenty of tasty options here, like their traditional Cepelinai (an amazing mix of potatoes and minced meat) or Saltibarsciai, a strangely delicious soup made with buttermilk and eggs.
Is tap water safe to drink in Vilnius?
Most of the locals drink tap water in Vilnius but when I did, I suffered greatly because of it. I’d recommend sticking with bottled water, therefore. It’s cheap enough and not worth risking to get an upset stomach during your stay there.
Things to do in Vilnius
I know this deserves a separate article, but I will quickly go through the main attractions in the city, especially since I think you can easily cover them all – or at least most of them – in a single day.
1. Trakai – Top Attraction
But I will start with Trakai Castle, just 15 or so kilometers outside of the city, which is worth a visit. I consider it the main attraction in the area and an amazing place for a day trip (or at least several hours) – just look at the photo I took below to see what I mean:
If you want to check it out, I recommend booking the Half-Day Private Tour to Trakai which includes an air-conditioned minibus from Vilnius and an amazing English-speaking guide.
Now, back to the city and it’s main attractions:
2. Visit The Old Town
Vilnius’ Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and I can see why they did it. Winding cobblestone streets, beautiful and colorful buildings, and historic landmarks – this is what you get if you explore it by foot (which I recommend).
There are plenty of places to eat or have a drink here and do some people watching, although most of the restaurants in the area are a bit pricier than the rest.
3. Gediminas Castle
It sits atop the hill at the outskirts of Vilnius, and visitors can climb to the top for stunning views of the city. This is where you can get some really good photos for Instagram to impress your friends.
If you are interested in learning more about the country’s history, there’s also a museum you can visit here. I stuck with the views.
4. Cathedral Square
At the base of the hill where you have the Gediminas Tower, you have another important landmark in Vilnius: the Cathedral square.
Surrounded by historic buildings, including the Vilnius Cathedral and the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, this square is a must see for anybody visiting Lithuania’s capital
This up and coming, artistic neighborhood is a real gem in the city, usually compared to the Montmartre neighborhood in Paris or Valencia’s Ruzafa. It’s a bohemian area with colorful street art, galleries, and cafes.
Of course, the official neighborhood is really huge, but you should only stick to the area close to the city center and the Vilnia river, since there’s where the magic happens.
And there is some magic, for sure, because this area is actually called the “Independent Republic of Uzupis,” a self-proclaimed republic with its own president, constitution and national anthem.
All in all, while the city is clean and has its own beauty, Vilnius lacks the big-city feel that is typically accompanied by impressive architectural monuments like those in Budapest, for example. It has plenty for a smaller city, but that’s all.
The Rotunda is quite nice, and it’s green. However, it feels like a small town – the buildings are rarely higher than a couple of stories, which is either a bonus or a con, depending on what you like to see and do.
Nightlife Scene in Vilnius
The primary nightlife scene in Vilnius is pub and bar based. Some nightclubs go off during the week (and definitely do on the weekends), but you can always find people out and about on the weeknights at the pubs.
Just walk down Vilnius Gatve (Vilnius Street) and you’ll find something fun to do.
Is Vilnius Safe for Travelers?
Yes, Vilnius is completely and utterly safe. Perhaps you wouldn’t have the same feel if you wandered outside of the main area, but I didn’t go that far and I doubt that would be the case.
But if you stick to the more central areas, you will never have any reason to feel unsafe.
Lithuanian people are very friendly and especially curious why you’ve chosen to visit – as Vilnius doesn’t scream tourist destination as opposed to some other, larger Eastern European capitols such as Prague or Budapest.
I was asked a lot why I chose to visit, so make sure to have your answers ready.
I really enjoyed my ten days in Vilnius, but feel as if I got the most out of the city. I ran out of tourist things to do, and the local nightlife scene wasn’t interesting enough that I’d feel a huge urge to stick around. It’s worth a visit – but once is enough.
If you have comments and thoughts to share about Lithuania’s capital, don’t hesitate to let us all know by commenting below.