Vilnius is the capital city of Lithuania and is part of the European Union and Schengen area. For a tourist Vilnius offers the following points of interest;
- Vilnius town hall
- Gates of dawn
- St Annes church
- Vilnius castle complex and Gediminas tower (and view of the city)
- The Hill of Three Crosses (and view of the city)
- Cathedral Square
- Museum of genocide victims
I decided to fly to Vilnius in December, my friends and family thought I was crazy. It will be too cold they told me, I thought to myself, what about all the people living there? Surely they survive the cold weather! The best thing about traveling this time of year is there is a high chance of snow, and there is nothing better than snow at Christmas! Another bonus of winter travel is that the flights and hotels are cheaper too.
From the airport it is easy to take a minibus for €1 to the bus station which is right opposite the train station (pictured above). There is also a convenient McDonald’s opposite the station with free WiFi and clean toilets.
There are many beautiful buildings to admire in the old town of Vilnius, and it is a very walkable city. You can easily walk around the old town, visiting the points of interest and museums. There are also many restaurants, bars and hotels you’ll see in the old town, most of them are great value.
If you don’t want to walk, there is a Vilnius city tour which will take you to most of the points of interest, this is also a good way to meet other tourists. You’ll still have to walk up to the castle complex and the Hill of Three Crosses though.
The Vilnius castle complex and Gediminas tower are an easy short walk, slightly uphill from cathedral square. With the full on blizzard that I was enjoying, it made going back down quite slippy, adding to the fun of the castle complex visit. There are great photo opportunities from the top of the old town, river Neris and cathedral square. You can walk down a different way which leads you to a path to the the Hill of Three Crosses. It is a little bit more of a walk than the castle complex but worth it for the great photo opportunities at the top.
I decided to take a walk over the King Mandaugas bridge, walk down the river and return over the white bridge. Because the river was freezing over I managed to get a decent reflection photo of some old town buildings. You’ll also be able to get some decent shots of the castle complex from this side of the river as well.
Lux bus and Ecolines offer direct bus services to Riga which take less than 4 hours. The standard price is €17, but it is possible to find prices as cheap as €5 on some days. Both companies offers services with an entertainment system on the back of each seat, so you can watch movies, listen to music, play games and view your current location via GPS. You can also enjoy the free WiFi and charge your phone. I also read that if you take a selfie on, or next to the Ecolines bus and post it on Instagram with the hastag #Ecolines, they give you free ticket for your next ride.