- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Go to Vilnius, Lithuania
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and its largest city, with a population of 542,664 as of 2015. Vilnius is located in the southeast part of Lithuania and is the second largest city in the Baltic states. Vilnius is the seat of the main government institutions of Lithuania as well as of the Vilnius District Municipality. Vilnius is classified as a Gamma global city according to GaWC studies, and is known for the architecture in its Old Town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
Reasons to Travel to Vilnius
Vilnius has a beautiful historic Old Town filled with baroque architecture.
You could easily spend a day leisurely exploring Vilnius’ charming Old Town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Europe’s largest baroque capital. Pop into shops, stroll the winding streets and admire the impressive baroque architecture. Don’t forget to saunter around Vilnius University’s picturesque courtyards, admire the gothic architecture of St. Anne’s Church and wander through the impressive Gates of Dawn before you head down Vokiečiu gatvė to settle into a cafe and people watch.
You can admire breathtaking views of old and new from above.
You’ll find Gediminas Hill looming over the city. If you’re looking to break a sweat you can climb up the hill starting from the steps behind the cathedral, or you can purchase a ticket and take the funicular up. You’ll be treated to sweeping views of both Old Town and Vilnius’ modern day city center once you arrive to the top.
It was a neat experience gazing at the cobblestone streets and historic buildings to my left and skyscrapers and city lights to my right. I’d recommend planning your trip to the hill later in the day so you can catch sunset. Head to SkyBar or the TV Tower for more panoramic city views.
Vilnius is super inexpensive.
One of the many reasons I have always loved eastern European countries is because of how affordable they are. By Western standards, Lithuania is very inexpensive. I found Vilnius to be the least expensive capital city on my trip through the Baltics – prices were much less than in Riga and considerably cheaper than Tallinn. You can grab a cheap meal for around €5 and a beer for €1 if you’re on a budget, or you can splurge on luxury travel experiences, like a hot air balloon ride, for far less than you will pay in other countries.
Vilnius is brimming with history and museums.
Aside from gorgeous architecture, the city also has several interesting museums. The Museum of Genocide Victims is housed in a former KGB Headquarters and is dedicated to the Lithuanians who were imprisoned, deported or murdered from WWII through the 1960s. I’d also recommend visiting the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum which documents the shocking details of Lithuanian Jewish Life during the Holocaust. The museum is small and the exhibits are simple, but it was an extremely moving experience.