Top 10 must-see tourist attractions in Vilnius

Take a look at top 10 tourist attractions in Vilnius that every traveler has to see from the oldest to the newest and one thing to do at that attraction we recommend! By visiting those sights, you can visit the whole history of Vilnius.

Article by Martyna, the co-founder and guide at Vilnius With Locals Tours.

1. Gediminas Tower

People enjoying panorama of Vilnius from Gediminas Tower. Photo by Marius Morkūnas

Gediminas Tower is the main symbol of Vilnius located on Gediminas Hill. This is definitely a must see attraction for anyone visiting Vilnius. The hill and the tower are named after the founder of Vilnius - the Grand Duke Gediminas. The tower used to be a part of the defense castle which deteriorated through history. The surviving tower today is the perfect spot to enjoy the panorama of Vilnius.

Recommended thing to do: Enjoy a stunning sunset over Vilnius Old Town from the top of Gediminas tower!

2. St. Anne’s Church

St Annes church in Vilnius
A picture of St. Anne's church in Vilnius

One thing you will notice for sure while wandering around the streets of Vilnius Old Town – it is full of churches! You do not have to visit them all, but stunning architecture will catch your eye. Especially the red brick flamboyant gothic St. Anne’s church built at the beginning of the 1500s. The legend has it Napoleon Bonaparte was impressed by the beauty of this church so much he wanted to take it back to Paris with him!

The best way to get that wow factor is to reach the church from Bernardinu street. You just walk on narrow Vilnius Old Town street and then all of the sudden a view opens with the red brick church with its magnificent architecture. If the sky is blue, it will be even more impressive.

Recommended thing to do: Take a selfie with one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vilnius!

3. Gate of Dawn

The Gate of Dawn at night
A miraculous Gate of Dawn in the evening

You will find the Gate of dawn on almost all the lists of must see tourist attractions in Vilnius. While the size of the Gate disappoints most of the travelers, the importance of this place is much bigger than just the look of it. The only surviving gate of the Old City Wall and a miraculous painting the Blessed Virgin Mary. You can find the replica of the painting in one of the chapels of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican!!! The painting helped locals to get over all the terrible turns of history during the tough times of foreign invaders, fires and other misfortunes. To show the gratitude and devotion to the painting, people would bring tiny gifts known as votive offerings to the painting of Blessed Virgin Mary – items of hearts, legs, arms, etc.

Recommended thing to do: Try to count the votive offerings around the painting that people left to Virgin Mary asking for help and guess what they were asking for!

4. The courtyards of Vilnius University

The grand courtyard of Vilnius university
The grand courtyard of Vilnius university with St. John's church and the belfry

Vilnius University was founded in 1579. For a long time it was the only higher education institution in Lithuania. It had a huge impact on development of science and culture in Lithuania and neighboring countries.  Through history the university expanded and today you can find an architectural ensemble of 13 buildings, 13 courtyards, a church and a bell tower in Vilnius Old Town.

Since summer 2020, individual visitors can visit the courtyards of Vilnius university for free! You might feel like in a Harry Potter movie while wandering around those courtyards. Do not be afraid to go inside some of the buildings, especially the faculty of Philology where you can find a magnificent fresco ‘The seasons’ by P. Repsys and the main church in the Grand Courtyard where graduation takes place.

Recommended thing to do: Find the Observatory courtyard and look for the university motto – "Hinc Itur Ad Astra" (from here the way leads to the stars ).

p.s. The belfry of St. John's church offers one of the best panoramic views of Vilnius Old Town for a small fee.

5. Vilnius Jewish Quarter

Walls that remember project in Vilnius Jewish Quarter
The guide talking about #wallsthatremember project on Vilnius free walking tour

Once Vilnius was called Jerusalem of Lithuania. The area where Jews first moved to Vilnius is still known as a Jewish quarter, however today it is hard to find traces of Jewish History. Only the names of streets, plaques on the buildings, and some information stands remind us about the history of this part of the Old Town. Jewish culture was prospering in Vilnius for years and local Jews became known as litvaks. Unfortunately a small ghetto was established in the original Jewish quarter during WWII. After the war only a few thousand Jews survived.

Recommended thing to do: Look for #wallsthatremember paintings on the walls to see the real people who lived in Vilnius before WWII.

6. The Church of St Peter & St. Paul

The interior of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Vilnius
Decorations inside the church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Vilnius. Photo by Jolanta Jd.

There are many churches in Vilnius and it is nice to look at them while walking around Vilnius Old Town. But one of them is really worth visiting for its interior. It is the church of St. Peter and Paul located a bit outside Vilnius Old Town. When approaching the church, it does not look very special. Like any other church you have seen. However the beauty of the church is inside. There are over 2000 white sculptures all over the walls of the church and you can spend hours trying to understand what the authors had in mind depicting all these people, animals and signs.

Recommended thing to do: Find the sculpture of the reaper reminding us that our time on this earth is only temporary.

7. Vilnius Town Hall

Visiting Vilnius Town Hall on Vilnius Free Walking Tour
A group of Vilnius Free Walking tour in Vilnius Town Hall Square

Vilnius Town Hall was the center of Vilnius Old Town for a long time where the main markets used to take place. Today it is used for concerts, exhibitions, and city events. It is also becoming more and more popular for weddings. All the tours around Vilnius Old Town pass the Town Hall square at some point. This is a good spot for people watching.

Recommended thing to do: get comfortable in one of the outdoor cafes to enjoy the picturesque surroundings.

8. Vilnius Cathedral square

Vilnius Cathedral square - the heart of Vilnius

Today Vilnius Cathedral square is the very heart of Vilnius. A huge square is the spot for all the major city events, Christmas market, and during casual days – a meeting point for locals.  The main attraction in the square is a white Vilnius Cathedral building. Many travelers think it is actually a museum or some art gallery due to not typical architecture for Catholic Church. You will notice people stopping in front of Vilnius Cathedral and spinning around. This is one of the must things to do in Vilnius.

Recommended thing to do: Find the miraculous tile close to the main entrance of the Cathedral and do the following:

  1. Stand on the tile facing the Cathedral;
  2. Close your eyes;
  3. Make a wish;
  4. Turn around three times with your eyes closed.

9. Presidential Palace

A group of tourists in front of Presidential Palace in Vilnius
A group of tourists in front of Presidential Palace in Vilnius during Vilnius Free Tour

The palace built to inhabit Russian governors in the 19th century today serves as the office of Lithuanian president. This is one of a few buildings in Vilnius Old Town with a green roof. If you are visiting Vilnius during a weekend, you can apply for a tour around the Presidential Palace in English. However pre-booking is required.    

Recommended thing to do: Do not miss the flag replacement ceremony every Sunday at 12 pm performed by Lithuanian military!

10. Uzupis Republic

Entrance to Uzupis Republic in Vilnius
A group of Vilnius Free walking tour next to Uzupis Republic sign

Now that you have seen all the main historical tourist attractions in Vilnius Old Town, it is time to relax a bit and visit a bohemian artistic part of the city. A group of locals decided to find an “independent republic” in Vilnius to express their art and ideas over 20 years ago. You will find many interesting pieces of art all over the place from Backpacker Jesus to Destiny’s swing under the bridge.

Recommended thing to do: Read the constitution of Uzupis on Paupio street and choose your favorite rule!

You can visit all these places by yourself, but if you want to hear all the cool stories behind, join Vilnius Free Walking Tour to get a great introduction to Vilnius.


Thank you for reading the article. For more travel tips from our local guides around the world check the blog section of our website! We release unique travel recommendations every week. If you like this article or have any question, feel free to leave us a comment below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More blog posts 

Previous Next
Close
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this