Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, boasting an almost infinite variety of historical, cultural, and architectural gems. A multicultural city, where east meets west and was once the last bastion of Catholicism and Italian Baroque in the north and now is a thriving European city.
As for any city, the best time to explore Vilnius is early in the morning, when streets are empty and you have the whole city for yourself. At that time, sun colors everything in its golden light, giving a new look to the city’s buildings, parks, and squares. So at the very best time of the city, here is what I recommend:
● See the city from above
● Walk and explore the city center
● Swing under the bridge - discover Užupis
● Have breakfast in the Old Town
See the city from above
Start your day early and head to the Hill of Three Crosses viewpoint, to observe the sunrise. The hill features a panoramic spot and gigantic monument of three white crosses.
Church of Sts. Johns
From this point of view, the whole Old Town and part of other areas can be seen, including the Church of Sts Johns, Gediminas Castle, and the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Take some great photos or just sit on one of few benches and enjoy the view.
Walk and explore the city center
Vilnius Old is extremely architecturally diverse and easily explored by walking. So walk down the Hill of Three Crosses and you will find yourself at the very heart of Vilnius Old Town. Here you can explore the classicism style Cathedral, narrow streets with historical style buildings, and baroque churches.
Church of St. Anne
Try the church of St Anne, a unique gothic masterpiece, looking like a burning fire, the church of Saint Catherine or Church of Sts. Johns located at the University Quarter (the tower of this church also offers an amazing panorama). The quarter itself is interesting too, with Italian style courtyards and galleries.
University of Vilnius
Right next to the University, tiny street of Literatų will surprise you with walls full of plates or small objects made of metal, wood, glass, etc. made in the honor of literateurs.
Swing under the bridge - discover Užupis
The district of Užupis is the hipster-bohemian district of the city, having its own constitution (you can read it in many languages on the wall of Paupio street) and independence day (April 1).
Narrow streets, street art pieces, and the Tibet Square are the things Užupis are proud of.
The ‘republic’ can be accessed through one of many bridges, but the one I recommend is the main Užupis bridge, as it has a swing installed under it. As the river of Vilnelė is small and shallow, during summer months anyone can swing, enjoying the views of a sculpture of Užupis’ Mermaid.
Have breakfast in the Old Town
After a good walk, a good breakfast is needed! The great news is, Vilnius can offer almost endless possibilities to eat. For traditional classical breakfast try ‘Atostogos’, at M. K. Čiurlionio street, for a surprising English breakfast, go to the ‘Little Mavis café’ near the famous Gate of Dawn, and for the best bagels in the city, visit ‘Beigelistai’, at the corner of Literatų Street.
Interested in getting more information about Vilnius, Lithuania? Check out Justas' itinerary travel guide: