Free Things to do in Vilnius

When it comes to budget travel, the Baltic states are some of the best for value for money. Lithuania is probably the cheapest of all of them. Additionally, there are also many free things to do in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. What’s better for your budget than things that cost nothing, right? The following list of free things to do in Vilnius could keep you occupied for days! A sample itinerary has been included at the bottom of the article to help you plan.

As an aside, you may be interested to know that the Lithuanian government decided a few years ago to market the capital city as the G-Spot of Europe. With the tagline, ‘Nobody knows where it is, but once you find it – it’s amazing’. They even have a website. You should absolutely take the test on the site for a laugh. Anyway, back to the free stuff!

Search For Street Art

There is art to be found all over Vilnius. There isn’t necessarily one place to see it all though. This means you could easily spend a day wandering around town finding random murals. There is definitely more street art in the old town. Sometimes it’s hiding in back streets, so make sure you explore everywhere! Also be aware that the art isn’t always just confined to walls. There are random sculptures around town too, especially in parks or in front of buildings. There are art installations that light up at night. Sometimes the canvas isn’t a wall, but a car. Just keep an open mind and there is art waiting to be found all around the city.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Lights K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Car Art

Free Things to do in Vilnius – City Parks

From small river-side and street-side parks to massive inner-city parks covering thousands of hectares, Vilnius has a lot of green spaces. We’re going to look at four of the main parks in the city for this article because they are easily accessible and contain a lot of interesting and fun things to do.

Pavilnių/Pavilniai Regional Park

First, let’s talk about the Pavilnių/Pavilniai Regional Park, 5 kilometres east of the Vilnius City Centre. The park covers over 2100 hectares, making it small for a regional park but it’s still one of the biggest city parks in the world. It can be accessed from the Pūčkorių Atodanga bus stop or the Pavilnys Train Station. The park has the highest geological monument in all of Vilnius. The monument, called Pūčkorių Dam, towers 65 metres above the city and offers great views. As you can guess, the city of Vilnius is rather flat.

Aside from apparently having the ‘most impressive’ view over Vilnius from the platform of Pūčkorių Dam, Pavilnių/Pavilniai Regional Park has 15 other hills that offer panoramic views over the city. It also has botanical reserves, waterfalls, an adventure park and a river running through it. In addition to that, there is an old water mill and hiking trails within the park’s borders. You could probably spend a whole day there.

Vingis Park

As the second largest park that the city has to offer, Vingis Park is a popular spot with locals. It has a stadium on its grounds that has hosted many international music acts. You might find people cycling or running on the many trails going through the park. Or maybe you’ll get distracted by the pretty flowers of the small botanical gardens.

Bernardinų/Bernadine Park

This park is located right in the city centre along the banks of the Vilnia River. It can be surprisingly quiet, despite its location. It has served a few different purposes and had a few different names throughout history. Now it contains many paved walking paths, sculptured gardens, children’s playgrounds and a giant chess board. Then it has something unique in Vilnius; singing fountains. But only between 9 and 10pm in summer.

Kalnų/Kalnai Park

Kalnų/Kalnai Park is located right near Bernadine Park on the opposite side of the Vilnia River. Its name means park of hills. There are four main hills in the park that you can climb to get a view of the city. One of them is Crooked Hill, where a famous historical monument stands.

Monuments With City Views

As mentioned before, Vilnius is a rather flat city, which means that firstly, it’s great to walk around. Secondly, you don’t have to work very hard to get a decent view of it. As an added bonus, many of the viewpoints in the city come with a free history lesson.

Gediminas Castle Tower

Gediminas, sometimes referred to as the father of Vilnius, was the Grand Duke of Lithuania in the 14th century. He had a dream that led him to build a city around the hill the castle tower now stands on. It was named after the Vilnia river. The tower is the only remaining remnant of the castle built by Gediminas. The great thing about it being on a hill is that you get an almost panoramic view of the city below. To your left you’ll see the old town with all its old-world architecture. In stark contrast, on your right, you’ll see the new town with all its modern metal constructions. It’s also an amazing place to watch the sunset!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Gediminas Castle Tower

Trys Kryžiai/Three Crosses

The historical Trys KryZial/Three Crosses monument lies atop Crooked Hill in Kalnai Park. The crosses are said to be a monument to Franciscan monks. Legend says they were murdered for trying to convert the city to Christianity. Some versions of the legend say they were crucified and floated down the river. Some versions say they were beheaded on that hill. No matter which legend people believed, the crosses became an integral part of the city’s skyline. They can be seen from almost everywhere in town, which means you can get a great view of the whole town from them.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Three Crosses

Free Things to do in Vilnius – Take a Walk Along a River

While most cities in the world will have just one main river, Vilnius has two! Not only that, both have a fair amount of green spaces touching their banks. Let’s talk about the Vilnia River first. While it may be the smaller of the two rivers, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of things to do and see along its course. The Vilnia River winds through the old town and following it will bring you to some interesting sites.

Vilnia River

You may have noticed that three of the four parks mentioned earlier are connected in some way to the Vilnius River. That means a walk along this river gives you an almost never-ending list of things to see and do! Not only that, but it passes through a bit of the old town as well. That means you can see the best of nature, history and modern day living in Vilnius, all from one river. Here are just a few things you might see on your walk –

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. St Anne's Church near the Vilnia River K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Bridge of Locks on the Vilnia River

Neris River

The Neris River forms the dividing line between the new and the old city. It is a 510km river that starts in Belarus and flows all the way to Vilnius. While the Vilnia River winds through the quieter areas of the old town, the Neris River is flanked on both sides by a main city road. Despite that, it can be surprisingly quiet and soothing to walk along its sunken banks. Along this river you’ll see a beach as well as many green spots. You might also spot some street art on some of the several bridges that cross the river.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Neris River

Free Things to Do in Vilnius – 3 Day Itinerary

As you can see, a lot of the things mentioned above are inter-connected. So without any further ado, I present to you an itinerary to help you get all these things done in 3 days. You can even download the PDF version to take with you, using the link below :o)

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Free Vilnius Itinerary Page 1 K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Free Vilnius Itinerary Page 2 K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Free Vilnius Itinerary Page 3

Free Vilnius Itinerary

Related Post: Experience The Old World Charm of Vilnius



Check out our other Northern European guides –
Free Things to do in Riga
Free Things to do in Tallinn
How to Prepare for Finland in the Winter

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Experience The Old World Charm of Vilnius

What happens when a warm weather person ventures into the Baltics in winter? A lot of complaining about loss of feeling in the extremities of the body. I will never understand how people can live in such horrible temperatures! But I had heard that the old world charm of Vilnius in Lithuania was something that I really needed to experience first-hand. So I put on 20 layers and got myself on a plane.

Experience The Old World Charm of Vilnius – Airport or Train Station?

As far as international airports go, the Vilnius International Airport, or Vilniaus oro uostas in Lithuanian, is a bit on the smaller side. It is still the largest of four airports in Vilnius and sees about 5 million passengers through its halls a year. Upon entering the terminal, you could be excused for mistaking it for a train station.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Airport

The nice lady at the tourist information centre indicated which bus went to the old town and where it left from. Luckily the bus stop was just outside the terminal building. So I waited inside, away from the cold, where I could see the bus stop. It was already dark at 5pm.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Airport Bus Stop

The number 88 bus didn’t take long to arrive. Unlike what I’m used to at home, where you enter a bus through the front door, this bus took passengers through the back door. In my tired state, I just sat down without paying. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realised I hadn’t paid. The driver didn’t seem fussed about this at all and nonchalantly took my €1 when approached later.

The Old Town At Night

Upon arriving at the bus stop near the old town, a short walk from the main road took me to a cobbled street. As lovely and old-worldy as it looked, it really wasn’t easy to walk on. The cobbles were the biggest I’d ever seen. A few metres of walking on that was annoying enough to make me switch to the narrow footpath to the side of the road.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Cobbled Road

I went to the old town centre to search for some food. Almost everything was closed except a small supermarket, that looked like a convenience store, and a Hesburger. Hesburger is like a Finnish version of McDonald’s. It actually outsells McDonald’s in Finland and the Baltic states. As options were running low, I settled on the €1 Cheeseburger. It was as disgusting as I thought it’d be.

I grabbed some supplies from the convenience store/supermarket. I didn’t want to eat another cheeseburger the next day. Most groceries were reasonably priced, which was great for the budget. The old world charm of Vilnius and its town was nice, but it was also a little boring. At the time I thought it could be because it was night and many things were closed.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Empty Streets During the Day
Maybe it’ll be a bit more lively during the day, I thought. It was not.

Experiencing the Old World Charm of Vilnius by Day

I was struggling to get myself out into the cold, but I really wanted to see the city. Just as I was ready to go, it started snowing! I wasn’t going out in that, so I decided to stay inside a bit longer. I ventured out about 20 minutes later to find not one trace of the recent snow anywhere. Where did it go? Did I imagine it was snowing? No, I’m 100% sure it was snowing. Obviously snow works in mysterious ways incomprehensible to the mind of a warm weather person.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Where's the snow?
Where’s the snow?

Magic snow aside, the cloudy skies seemed to accentuate the beauty of some of the buildings. But they didn’t seem to do much for the mood of the locals. I’m quite used to people being friendly and approaching me wherever I travel. Things were a little different in Lithuania. People just didn’t seem to want to talk. I mean, they would interact with me if I asked for directions, but they’d give the shortest answer possible. They would constantly look like they were uncomfortable with the situation and waiting for any opportunity to get out of it.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Cloudy Sky

This happened with just about every Lithuanian I tried to engage with. All except the smoking lady at the bus station. She never actually spoke to me but her interactions with others were quite hilarious. She shamelessly interrupted conversations smokers were having with their friends to get a cigarette.

The hilarity leveled up when she approached a smoking tourist. She didn’t speak English, so she just stood near the tourist and his friend. Then she started nodding her head and looking at them while they were talking. When they stopped to look at her, she pointed to the guy’s smoke and put her hand out in a ‘give me’ kind of fashion. Needless to say, the poor guy was a bit dumbfounded and handed her a cigarette. He then watched her walk off towards her next victim.

Street Art

I’d heard that a famous political mural with Trump and Putin kissing was near where I was staying. I wanted to find it! Of course, things didn’t quite go to plan. All I had was a street name, so I found that street. The mural was nowhere to be seen. I did find some other art along the way.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Street Art

That mural was right across the road from this interesting statement hung on the side of a train..
K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Train Statement

Was it a sign of a dystopian future? Or are the people of Vilnius really not able to express opinions after 10pm? It would explain their stoic demeanors and standoffish ways. Anyway, back to the art. Once I’d given up on finding the famous mural, I came across this in a back street.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Alien Street Art

If it hadn’t been for this, I’d have never noticed the drainpipe next to it. The thing I had been searching for was there. Sort of.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Putin Trump Mural Sticker

As I couldn’t find the original, this was the closest I’d get to seeing it. Then I spotted an embroidered car. I wondered, how many months would that have taken to make?

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Embroidered Car

The last arty thing I spotted, while not strictly street art, was still cool. What’s the best way to make something stare-worthy? Use coloured lights!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Light Art

Bernardine Park/Bernardinų sodas

On the west banks of the Vilnia River lies Bernadine Park. It has an interesting history that has seen it closed and reopened under different names by different regimes. These days it’s mainly full of manicured beds of flowers and fountains. From there you can access two historical monuments. The Trys Kryžiai or Three Crosses and the Gediminas Castle Tower.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Three Crosses K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Gediminas Castle Tower

I had intended to climb the hills for both of these. The path to The Gediminas Castle Tower from the Bernadine Park was closed for repair. This was also the path that was needed to access another path that led to the Kalnų Parkas and the Three Crosses. That meant that both required a longer walk around the outside of the park to reach their other access points. So I chose to just do the castle tower as it was rapidly approaching sunset.

Experience the Old World Charm of Vilnius – Gediminas Castle Tower at Sunset

The tower is actually a part of the Lithuanian National Museum, the main building of which is a few minutes walk from the tower. The path up to the tower is short, but steep.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Path to the Gediminas Castle Tower

A lot of the path is cobbled too, which makes it a little bit more difficult to navigate. I guess that’s why a funicular has been built to take people to the top of the hill for €1, or €2 for a return trip.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. City View From Gediminas Castle Tower

You can see almost the whole city from the top of the hill. I’ve got to admit that it was a pretty amazing view. The top of the hill was very windy. It was already quite cold without the wind. So you can imagine how difficult it was to take pictures with numb hands. But I just had to get a shot of this amazing sunset!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Sunset View From the Gediminas Castle Tower

Experiencing the Old World Charm of Vilnius at Night

Winter in Lithuania brings about an early sunset. So it starts getting dark before 5pm. The cold seems to really kick in after the sunset too. But that didn’t stop me from checking out the city after dark. Well, that and the fact that I was on the other side of the city from my accommodation and had to walk back.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Vilnia River

The river looked so pretty and peaceful after sunset, even though there was a main road running either side of it. It actually looked quite amazing at dusk.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Vilnia River After Sunset

I walked alongside the river for as long as I could, before heading back into the city via an intersecting road. It wasn’t long before I came upon another park, so it seems like there’s a fair amount of green spots in the city.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Lights in Park

This park was lit up with lights that changed colours at intervals. You don’t want to know how much time I spent staring at them! Let’s just say that I was so distracted by the lights that it took me a while to realise that there was an ice rink right behind me. Complete with a disco ball!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Old World Charm of Vilnius. Ice Skating at Night

Luxury Bus

Once it was time to leave Vilnius, I got myself a €16 bus ticket to Riga. I was not at all happy about paying that much for a 5 hour trip. But I guess that’s just par for the course in Europe. I remember wondering, when I purchased the ticket, what was so special about this bus? Was there a reason it cost so much?

Well, it was the most luxurious bus that I took in all of the Baltics. Or anywhere for that matter! The seats were roomy and comfortable. The heating was set at just the right temperature. And there was a hot drinks machine that dispensed coffee, hot chocolate and tea! I tried to drink €16 worth of tea, so I think I got my money’s worth!

Stay tuned for the continuing adventure in Latvia and in the meantime check out our list of free things to do in Vilnius.

Check out all the destinations visited on this trip –
Old World Charm of Vilnius
Riga
Tallinn
Helsinki
Kemi
Oulu

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