One day In Vilnius: After a breakfast watching the morning sun catching on the red roofs of the city’s cosy centre, it’s time to get ready to experience the city the best way possible - on foot. Traverse the Old Town and take in the sights and scenes beloved by tourists and locals alike. By the end of the day, you’ll be ready to take home a real feel of the city, and who knows, you might even have picked up a souvenir or two.
The Cathedral Basilica and Belfry of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus of Vilnius
This temple is a symbol of the Christianization of Lithuania. The Cathedral Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus of Vilnius was built in the very centre of the city, on the site of a former pagan temple. Standing next to the city's defensive castle, the Cathedral has survived the most celebrated and dramatic events in the history of Vilnius and Lithuania.
The Cathedral has been rebuilt several times over the centuries, attracting the talents of famous local and international architects and artists. The present building is in the Classicism style (created by the architect Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius), although its walls contain traces of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
In front of the Cathedral stands a 57m high bell tower. This distinctive structure is a popular draw for tourists, who can climb the belfry steps to access a panoramic view of the Cathedral square.
More information – here.
Gediminas Castle Tower
Visible from multiple points across the city, Gediminas Castle Tower is the main symbol of Vilnius and a great place to start your tour of the city. Crowning Gediminas Hill, the Castle offers the perfect spot to catch a panorama of Vilnius’ UNESCO-listed Old Town. Not only that, it is also a great place to soak in a golden sunset on cloudless days. And for the most historically curious, the Castle Tower also houses a permanent exhibition covering the architecture, armaments and iconography of the city’s past.
Pilies Street is the oldest and most ornate street in the old town of Vilnius. Originally part of the road that led from Vilnius Castle in the south towards Poland and Russia, it is now the city’s main tourist thoroughfare. Apart from its central location, the street’s main draw is its eclectic mixture of architectural styles. Both number 12 and number 14 Pilies Street are great examples of the Gothic style, while number 4 is a Renaissance Chapter House. And let’s not forget the Baroque pediment of the Church of St. Johns. So, just a short stroll up the street and you’ve already travelled a few hundred years worth of architectural history.
And Pilies Street is also a perfect place for a spot of lunch. Home to a number of small restaurants, delicatessens and coffee shops, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Rumoured to be named in honour of Adomas Mickevičius, the famous 19th-century poet who lived there, Literatai Street is a popular draw for foreign tourists and Lithuanians alike. What attracts the crowds are the unique works of art that decorate the street’s walls. Composed from wood, metal and glass, each individual piece refers to the work of a famous author. This is the perfect spot for any self-respecting fan of literature or poetry.
Church of St. Anne and Bernardine Church ensemble
This church, which has remained almost unchanged for five centuries, is one of the most beautiful and probably the most famous buildings in Vilnius. It is a masterpiece of the late Gothic style, wrapped in many enigmatic legends. The most famous of which is that upon seeing St. Anne's Church, Napoleon Bonaparte expressed a desire to take the building back to Paris on the palm of his hand.
The Republic of Užupis
Vilnius’ own mini Monmatre, Užupis is the city’s true cultural centre. Home to artists, musicians, and craftspeople, the area has a distinctly creative vibe. A turn down one of Užupis’ cute backstreets will find you in the workshops of one of the area’s many artisans, where you’ll be able to purchase some art, or even have a go yourself.
The spirit of the district is best embodied by its constitution, a somewhat ironic list of ordinances that is displayed on the walls as you enter.
You can’t leave Užupis without a visit to its resident angel. You’ll find her in the square, normally surrounded by tourists or locals enjoying a takeaway coffee from one of the nearby cafes.
Town Hall Square
Town Hall Square is regularly home to the city’s most important fairs, events and concerts, so there’s every chance that a trip there will find you in the vortex of the action. You might not get a chance to see the bears that the square was famous for in medieval times, but there’s sure to be enough happening to keep you occupied. Positioned between two busy pedestrian streets, the Square is also a great place to do some serious people-watching.
The Glass quarter
Originally a Jewish neighbourhood of goldsmiths, glassblowers, artisans and financiers, this area located between the M. Antokolskio, Gaono, and Žydų streets in the city’s old town became the Glass Quarter in 2018. Now home to a community of boutique owners, jewellers, designers and cafe owners, the Glass Quarter has become synonymous with style and a flair for the fantastic. In fact, during festival times like Christmas and Halloween, you’ll find the streets festooned with lights and decoration. A great place for shopping, or browsing, or cafe hopping, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a luxurious champagne and cake experience under a ceiling of rose petals. The Glass Quarter is a must visit.
The main artery of the centre of Vilnius, Gediminas Avenue runs from Cathedral Square to the Seimas (Parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania. Easily the city’s busiest street, it is home to the city’s National Theatre, a chic shopping center, and numerous other shops, cafes and restaurants. The first half of the street becomes fully pedestrianised on weekends, making it a real draw for tourists and locals. But don’t forget to walk the entire street, there’s plenty to uncover and explore. Not only that, Gediminas Avenue connects to the buzzing hub of Vilniaus Street, where the city truly comes to life at night.