How to Spend 1 Day in Vilnius
One day in the Lithuanian capital is just enough time to take in the highlights of the Old Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, visit one or two of the city’s museums, and experience the city’s cuisine and nightlife. Here’s how to get the most out of one day in Vilnius.
Morning: Explore the Old Town
Vilnius’ Old Town is one of the largest in Europe, but it’s still possible to get around on foot. A walking tour is the ideal way to take in the sights while learning more about the city’s baroque architecture and Soviet past, while adventurous travelers can also opt to explore by bike or Segway. Start with a visit to the magnificent Palace of the Grand Dukes, now home to the National Museum of Lithuania, then take in the views from the top of Gediminas Tower. Other landmarks worth visiting include the Gates of Dawn, Vilnius Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, and St. Anne's church, while the picturesque Pilies Street affords plenty of photo opportunities.
Afternoon: Markets and Museums
Head to Hales Turgus, the city’s oldest market, for lunch and a glimpse of local life—top buys include Lithuanian honey and indulgent Baltic pastries. Afterwards, cross the Vilnia River to discover the bohemian district of Užupis. It’s one of the most atmospheric areas of the city, full of shops, cafés, and art galleries, as well as some colorful street art. With limited time, it’s impossible to visit all of Vilnius’ museums, so pick just one or two to spend the final hours of the afternoon. Our pick is the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, otherwise known as the KGB Museum, which provides a sobering insight into the city’s Soviet era.
Night: Drink and Dine Like a Local
Vilnius is a great place to sample Lithuanian cuisine, and there are restaurants to suit all budgets in the Old Town. For a more immersive experience, join a food tour or enjoy a dinner show with traditional Lithuanian folk music and dancing. Must-try dishes include cepelinai (potato dumplings) and šakotis (a tree-shaped cake). Lithuania also has a long history of beer making, and most bars and cafés in the Old Town have a good selection of local brews. Joining a pub crawl or beer-tasting tour is a great choice for beer-loving travelers, providing tips and recommendations from a local guide, as well as a group of like-minded drinking buddies to enjoy the evening with.