Have a look at our Vilnius 3-day travel guide and discover the best the city has to offer, including hotels, restaurants, tips to avoid tourist scams and even a detailed list with everything you must see and do in Vilnius in 3 days.
Far from a tourist hotspot among the travel community, Vilnius is a hidden gem in far-away Lithuania, standing as one of the most underrated capitals in Europe. Surprisingly, it boasts one of the largest and most remarkably well-preserved Old Towns on the continent, reminiscent of the architecture and charm may you may find in the historic centers of neighboring Poland (unsurprisingly, since both nations shared a common history for centuries).
Besides, the Lithuanian capital has a pretty sizable student community, much due to the presence of the prestigious University of Vilnius, one of the top educational institutions in Eastern Europe (and a fantastic choice for Erasmus students). Vilnius may be a small city, but it has a lot to offer!
That being said, we invite you to have a look at our Vilnius 3-day travel guide and discover the best the city has to offer, including hotels, restaurants, tips to avoid tourist scams and even a detailed list with everything you must see and do in Vilnius in 3 days.
Considering this is the largest and most important city in Lithuania, it comes as no surprise that the nation’s capital is served by the country’s biggest air hub: the Vilnius International Airport.
As such, if you’re traveling from Ireland, it is possible to fly directly to Vilnius from Dublin with Ryanair.
Considering the city is located in the Baltic region, Spring, Summer and Fall are definitely the most sought-after months when it comes to booking a trip to Vilnius, with the period between May and September standing out as the most researched.
However, and for those strong-willed enough to face the harsh Lithuanian cold, visiting Vilnius in the winter can also feel refreshingly rewarding, as several Christmas markets spring up all around the city.
Since Lithuania is part of the EU, Irish citizens only need to show a valid ID Card in order to be granted access to the country.
Since Lithuania is part of the Eurozone, just like Ireland, there is no currency exchange, with both nations using the Euro. As such, travelers are able to use the same credit/debit card that they utilize back at home without incurring in any fees. However, keep in mind some local banks or networks (such as the infamous Euronet ATM’s) may charge you a flat fee per withdrawal upon detecting that you’re using a foreign card.
Nevertheless, and so that you can get a tighter grip on your travel budget and things don’t slide out of control, we always recommend using Revolut. Although in Italy you won’t be able to take advantage of the card’s most redeeming quality – to allow you to withdraw foreign currency without any exchange fees – this is still a pretty useful tool.
By using the bank’s online app, you will have immediate access to your balance, as well as all your expenses, allowing you to check in real time whether you’ve been charged any fees for your withdrawals or not. Besides, you may just load your card with the exact daily amount you want to spend on your trip, helping you to avoid overspending and going over your budget. Plus, if you find yourself in a situation where your card got lost or stolen, the only money you stand to lose is amount you had loaded your card with. Sign up for Revolut for free >> to get 3 months of Premium.
Thankfully, Vilnius can be considered a pretty safe destination. Despite the recent turmoil caused by neighboring Russia and Belarus, Lithuania is a rather peaceful country, with its security and territorial integrity assured through its membership in both the EU and NATO.
However, and much like you would do in any other big city, using your common-sense is key. That means no taxis whose drivers refuse to start the meter, no accepting help from strangers when you’re using an ATM or trying to buy metro tickets and always keeping an eye out for your stuff when you’re walking through busy areas. To sum up: don’t do anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing anywhere else!
If you’re looking out for a place to stay on our Vilnius 3-day travel guide then we got your covered!
Although the Baltics are no longer as cheap as they were some 10 years ago, Vilnius is still a rather affordable destination for the average tourist, especially when compared to the prices one would find in western and southern European capitals. This goes for restaurants, transportations and supermarkets, but also for accommodation.
That being said, here are a few hotel options which have passed our value-for-money test:
Upon landing in Vilnius, the best way to reach the city is by using the lines 1, 2 and 88 of the local bus network. The first two routes end at the Main Bus Terminal (10-minute walk away from the city center) while the latter will lead you straight into the Old Town. The bus stop is located right outside the arrivals’ terminal, and buses run between 05h30 and 22h30, leaving every 20/30 minutes. If you happen to arrive in the city later in the evening, you may also rely on line 88N, which is basically the night version of the 88 route, operating between 22h30 and 05h30 and leaving every half-hour. The bus trip to the city takes about 20 minutes. As for tickets, you can get yours from the bus driver (cash only) for €1,00 or through the Traffi app.
As an alternative, you may also use the train, since the airport is served by its own station. The trains run daily between 05h45 and 21h50, and tickets can be bought from the automatic machines located at the platforms for just €0,70. However, wait times are considerably higher when compared to the bus (40 to 60 minutes, depending on the time of day). The journey to Vilnius Central Station takes around 8 minutes.
Fortunately, Vilnius is a very compact and walkable city, so, if your accommodation is located near the historic center, chances are you won’t even need to use public transportation (aside from the airport transfers).
In fact, Vilnius doesn’t even have a metro or tram system, relying on local buses (and trains for intercity connections). Nevertheless, here’s an overview of Vilnius’ public transportation system.
As mentioned above, buses are pretty much the only mode of public transportation within Vilnius. Luckily, the system is integrated into Google Maps, meaning the platform will provide you with real-time information on which bus line to take and where to catch it to reach your destination. Alternatively, you can use this tool on JUDU’s website, the entity responsible for managing public transportation in the Lithuanian capital. There are four different bus types running through Vilnius: regular buses (blue symbol), Express buses (green symbol, marked with the letter G), trolleybuses (red symbol) and night buses (grey symbol, marked with the letter G). Operating hours and waiting times can vary depending on the specific route.
As for tickets, there are several ways to pay for your transportation in Vilnius. The simplest, albeit slightly more expensive, is to just buy a paper ticket directly from the bus driver. These tickets cost €1,00 each and should be punched using the machines onboard. Keep in mind that these tickets are only valid for the specific bus you board and don’t allow transfers to other routes. As an alternative, you can buy a plastic card known as the “Vilniečio kortelė”, which costs €1,50, and then top it up with money or with the number of trips you plan to take (both options are available). By using this card, your rides will be cheaper, with each 30-minute trip priced at €0,65, and longer trips at €0,90. You just need to hop on the bus and validate your card at the machines. A screen will pop-up, asking whether you wish to deduct a 30-minute trip or a longer one (or the corresponding amount). Just pick the most suitable option and you’re good to go! Unlike paper tickets, this card allows you to transfer within your chosen time frame without having to pay for a new trip.
To get your hands on a physical card, you can visit one of JUDU’s customer service centers, a local post office (Lietuvos Paštas), or, the most popular choice, a Narvesen convenience store, which, as you can see on this map, can be found all over the city. On the other hand, it is so much more convenient to go for the e-version. Just access the Trafi app and buy your digital card online. All top-ups can also be completed online, even for those who purchased a physical/plastic card.
That being said, if you plan on using the metro frequently, it’s worth looking into the daily and multi-day options available:
While in Vilnius, you have the option to explore the Old Town with a free walking tour. These tours, led by local guides or tour companies, offer guided visits to the historic centre, sharing intriguing stories about each place and providing valuable cultural context. Even though these tours are technically free, it’s customary to show appreciation for the guide’s efforts by leaving a tip at the end. In Vilnius, a reasonable minimum tip would be around €5,00.
That being said, here are a few companies that run free walking tours in Vilnius:
With 3 days in Vilnius, you will have enough time to cover the city’s main highlights, while at the same time getting to check some lesser-known places – both in the Old Town and on the outskirts.
That being said, and because we believe a good traveler must always be able to explore beyond the obvious, we wanted to add a few more obscure places to your list of things to see and do in Vilnius in 3 days:
Vilnius Botanical Gardens: Split between the Kairenai and Vingis parks, and are home to over 10.000 plant species, these are the largest and most important botanical gardens in the entire Baltic region. The entrance fee is 4,00€.
Trakų Vokė Manor: Located between Vilnius and Trakai (the most popular day trip from the capital), this charming mansion was built in the late 19th century by a local nobleman. Today, the complex includes not just the palace but also a bell tower, a mausoleum and some well-preserved old stables.
Bastion of the Vilnius Defensive Wall: While not much of the original 16th-century city’s defensive structure remains, this bastion survived the ancient wall’s dismantling and has since been renovated and converted into a museum. Nevertheless, you can skip the museum and just take a walk around the structure to admire the surrounding views.
Lukiškės Prison: Although it’s quickly becoming one of the top tourist attractions in Vilnius, this former prison is still somewhat of a hidden gem. Having closed its doors in 2019, it has been transformed into a cultural center where countless artists have set up their shops and ateliers in the former offices and cells. Besides, you can take a guided tour (20,00€) of the prison’s facilities.
Stebuklas Miracle Tile: While its origins remain a mystery, legend has it that those who step on this brick/tile will be blessed with good luck. However, the Stebuklas Tile now holds a much deeper meaning in Lithuania’s collective consciousness. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the three Baltic nations joined forces in a peaceful protest against Soviet occupation, forming a human chain of over 2 million people. Symbolically, this chain, which began in Tallinn (Estonia), ended precisely on top of the Miracle Tile.
Since Vilnius’ essentials can be visited in just 2 days, I highly recommend taking the remaining 24 hours for a well-deserved day trip. That being said, you’ll get to explore the city’s expansive Old Town, visit the former Jewish Quarter and even technically set foot in another country at the self-proclaimed Republic of Uzupis, while still saving some time to visit the picturesque Trakai Caste!
Without further ado, here’s what to see and do in Vilnius in 3 days:
Although Vilnius has one of the biggest Old Towns in Europe, your first day here won’t be spent exploring the historic center’s intricate maze of streets and alleys. However, as a much-deserved reward, you’ll have access to some of the most breathtaking panoramic views of the Lithuanian capital. Before we dive in, though, let’s start by visiting the Lukiškės Prison. Although it’s quickly becoming one of the top tourist attractions in Vilnius, this former prison is still somewhat of a hidden gem. Having closed its doors in 2019, it has been transformed into a cultural center where countless artists have set up their shops and ateliers in the former offices and cells. Besides, you can take a guided tour (€20,00) of the prison’s facilities. From there, you’ll start walking along Gediminas Avenue, Vilnius’ main thoroughfare, which will lead you right into the historic heart of the city. Halfway through the bustling avenue, we recommend visiting the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights (€6,00), poetically housed inside the former KGB headquarters in Lithuania. The exhibition portrays the Soviet repression in this Baltic nation, as well as the numerous armed and peaceful attempts to break free from the control of the former superpower. At the end of Gediminas Avenue, you’ll finally reach Cathedral Square, home to the stunning Vilnius Cathedral and to the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (€13,00), where once lived the rulers of this great nation, which, at the height of its power (15th century), was the single, largest country in Europe! Somewhere hidden in this square, don’t miss the chance to step on the Stebuklas Miracle Tile. While its origins remain a mystery, legend has it that those who step on this brick/tile will be blessed with good luck. However, the Stebuklas Tile now holds a much deeper meaning in Lithuania’s collective consciousness. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the three Baltic nations joined forces in a peaceful protest against Soviet occupation, forming a human chain of over 2 million people. Symbolically, this chain, which began in Tallinn (Estonia), ended precisely on top of the Miracle Tile.
By now, you surely will have noticed an orange tower atop the hill that rises behind Cathedral Square – that’s where you’re heading next! Called Gediminas’ Tower (€6,00), this is the only remaining structure of the city’s ancient castle and provides visitors with one of the most magnificent views of Vilnius. To reach the hilltop, you can either walk your way uphill or take the funicular (€2,00 round-trip; €1,00 one-way). However, for an even better and more iconic perspective of the historic center, make sure to check out the Three Crosses Monument. This memorial is located on another hill, behind the old castle, and can only be accessed by foot (there’s no admission fee, though). Finally, you’ll make your way back to the banks of the Neris River and take a pleasant walk to your final destination: the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. While it’s slightly away from the Old Town, this church boasts the most beautiful and elaborate interiors in all of Vilnius.
Now that we’ve had the chance to see Vilnius from above, it’s time to explore the core of the historic city. After all, Vilnius boasts one of the largest and most captivating Old Towns in Europe, meaning there is a lot to unpack! Without further ado, our itinerary starts with a visit to St. Anne’s Church, one of Vilnius’ most significant and iconic landmarks, before strolling along Pilies Street, the oldest and arguably the most beautiful street in the Old Town, that once served as the main path taken by kings and international envoys to reach the former castle and palace. Along the way, don’t miss the picturesque Literature Street, an adorable lane adorned with plaques commemorating the country’s most celebrated writers and poets. Afterwards, take a small detour and check out the remarkable University of Vilnius! Besides standing as one of Eastern Europe’s oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning, the University of Vilnius is also a magnificent space, featuring a network of old courtyards inside a complex dominated by an ancient medieval palace. While you can explore the campus independently (€2,00), going for a guided tour (€8,00) will make it easier to find and access the university’s most impressive locations, including the Church of St. Johns, the Littera Bookstore, the White Hall, the Joachim Lelewel Reading Room, the Pranciškus Smuglevičius Hall and the Faculty of Philology Hall.
Once you’re happy with your university tour, why not visit another country? That’s precisely what we’ll experience with a visit to the Republic of Užupis, a district within Vilnius, historically populated by artist and bohemians, whose residents decided to declare independence in 1997. While it was all supposed to be taken with a pinch of humor, the fact is that this “nation” even has its own flag, currency, constitution and even a government, standing as a free and autonomous community, similar to the likes of Christiania (in Copenhagen) or Metelkova (in Ljubljana). Aside from the countless art installations and dilapidated buildings along the Vilna River, the neighborhood is actually quite pretty, with its colorful houses and cobblestone streets. Back in the Old Town, it is now time to visit the Jewish Quarter, a place rich in cultural history/diversity but also a living memory of severe repression and persecution. For centuries, this area was home to one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe, but when the Nazis invaded Lithuania during World War II, the district was fenced-off and two ghettos were established, forcibly confining the Jewish population until their inevitable deportation to one of the many concentration camps. Out of the more than 250.000 Jews living in Lithuania, only 5% survived the Holocaust.
To cap off your day, you’ll exit the Old Town through the historic Gate of Dawn, the most famous of all the ancient city entrances, but not before passing by the Church of St. Casimir and the beautiful Town Hall building. Outside the former city walls, there’s still time for a brief visit to the Bastion of the Vilnius Defensive Wall. While not much of the original 16th-century city’s defensive structure remains, this bastion survived the ancient wall’s dismantling and has since been renovated and converted into a museum. Nevertheless, you can skip the museum and just take a walk around the structure to admire the surrounding views.
Since you’ve already visited the main sights in Vilnius, your final day in the Lithuanian capital will be spent exploring the surrounding areas and nearby suburbs, discovering some of the best day trips from the city. With that in mind, your path will lead you right into the stunning Trakai Castle, arguably the most beautiful in the Baltics. Beyond the imposing structure, what truly sets this castle apart is its unique location on a small islet, completely surrounded by the expansive Lake Galvé, and linked to the town by wooden footbridge. It is a stunning place, even if you decide not to enter the castle (tickets cost €12,00) and just enjoy the scenery. To reach Trakai, you can take a 30-minute train journey from Vilnius Central Station, with tickets priced at €4,90. Tickets are available online, but keep in mind that Trakai Train Station is about 3 km away from the castle. Alternatively, you may go to Vilnius Bus Terminal and reach Trakai by road. Bus tickets are also available online and cost €2,60, with the journey taking about 35-40 minutes. The Trakai Bus Station is a little over 2 km from the castle.
After lunch, you’ll get back to Trakai station and board a train to Paneriai (25 minutes; €3,30), a suburb of Vilnius where you’ll find the Memorial Museum of Paneriai. It’s estimated that the Nazi authorities executed around 70.000 people at this site, regarded as the main destination for Jews deported from the Vilnius ghetto and other political opponents found in Lithuanian territory. In this grim extermination center, victims were murdered and then cremated in mass grave pits, some of which you can still see today. The memorial also houses a museum, providing further details about the history behind this tragedy and the stories of some of the victims. It’s tough and heavy, but it’s also a must-see. Lastly, if you still have some time left, then it’s worth hopping on bus 51 (15 minutes; €0,65) and visit the Trakų Vokė Manor, a charming mansion built in the late 19th century by a local nobleman. Today, the complex includes not just the palace but also a bell tower, a mausoleum and some well-preserved old stables. To return to Vilnius, you can simply catch the same bus back to Paneriai, followed by a 10-minute train ride to the capital (€0,90).