Vilnius is the largest of the Baltic cities in Europe and is arguably the most beautiful. What strikes you most when you visit this unique city is the countless church steeples which make up its recognisable skyline. The old town was added to the world heritage list by UNESCO in 1994 and now attracts many visitors each year. Don’t forget to get a good travel insurance policy before you jet off!
1. Old town
Undoubtedly the old town of Vilnius is a must see. It boasts to be Eastern Europe’s largest old town bursting of churches and stunning baroque architecture. Make sure you take time to see the cities university with its 15th century buildings. In the university stands the old town’s highest structure, the bell tower dating back to the 17th century. The university also houses St. John’s Church which attracts many visitors a year due to its stunning baroque style dating back to the 12th Century.
2. Gediminas hill
Vilnius is built upon Gediminas hill which peaks at 48metres high. From the top of the hill visitors can enjoy spectacular views across the city and its surrounding areas. You can see the three white crosses on the eastern hill which remind the city of the three crucified monks. On top of the bill there stands a 13th Century tower known as the Gedimino Tower. It was restored in 1930 and now houses the Upper Castle Museum. Inside you can see models of various reconstructed Vilnius castles from the latter half of the 14th century, through to the start of the 17th century. Included are armaments, as well as iconographic material of old Vilnius. Head up to the observation deck on Gedimino Tower’s top floor, which is the best place in the complex to appreciate the breathtaking panorama of Vilnius.
Vilnius cathedral can be found at the base of Gediminas hill. Admission to the cathedral is free. The cathedral boasts a 57metre high bell tower which makes up one of Vilnius most famous landmarks. Attending mass on a Sunday gives you a real insight into Lithuanian life. The square in which the cathedral stands transforms into a lively buzzing area full of locals sharing news and enjoying Sunday morning church. Inside the cathedral itself you can find the St Casimirs chapel another example of baroque architecture. Inside the chapel lies the coffin of St Casimir, the Lithuanian patron saint. Surrounding the chapel you can see stucco sculptures and frescos depicting his life.
4. New town
Visit the cities new town which to many would still be considered old as it dates back to the 19th century! Here you can visit the church of the saint virgins’ apparition, museum of Genocide Victims, the cities parliament known as the Seimas, and Vingis Park. The genocide museum is Vilnius most famous. It details those who were murdered in the prison during the Second World War as well as the post-World War II Lithuanian resistance movement.
Although not directly in Vilnius, Trakai has to be included as one of the finest day outings in Lithuania. It can easily be reached from the city by public transport. Trakai is a red-brick fairy castle located on a small island in Lake Galve. A wooden footbridge links the castle to the mainland. Just the walk alone around the shore of the lake offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Inside the castle itself you can find the Trakai history museum which details its fascinating history. In summer months you can see plays and concerts which take place inside the castle courtyard.