I was going to title this article “30 Things to Do in Vilnius for Free,” but then I realised that I wouldn’t be able to include a climb to the top of the tower of St. John’s Church on the list. And that would mean you’d miss out on arguably the best viewpoint in the city. Which would suck. A lot.
So, instead I’ve decided upon “30 Things to Do in Vilnius for under €5.” There are still a lot of things on the list that are completely free of charge, so if you manage everything on there you’ve still only spent €30.50, which is an absolute bargain, in my opinion.
All prices were correct in May 2018, when I visited. Obviously I don’t know if and how much they may change in the future.
I’ve tried to include a diverse range of sights and activities, so whether you’re a bit of a history buff or a culture vulture, a shopping enthusiast or a culinary connoisseur, you should find a few things on this list to intrigue, delight, educate, and amaze you.
And of course, if you do want to check out the two-day itinerary we followed, you can read it here.
So, without further ado (and in no particular order), here are 30 things to do in Vilnius for under €5.
#1 Climb the tower of St. John’s Church for incredible, unobstructed 360 degree views of the city
Not to be attempted in you suffer with vertigo (those stairs seem to go on forever!) but for everyone else it’s a must.
#2 Shop for linen on Stikliu Street
The traditions of flax cultivation and processing in Lithuania stretch back several thousand years, and the first textile workshops in Europe were established in the Great Duchy of Lithuania in the beginning of the 17th century. Whilst many will argue that Belgium and France are the producers of the best quality linen in the world, there’s no doubt that the Lithuanians definitely know a thing or two about linen!
Cost: free (unless you buy something, of course!)
#3 Check out the famous (and controversial) Trump/Putin street art
Over the years this famous piece seems to have morphed from the pair sharing a kiss (as seen in this post) to Trump giving Putin a blowback, in the photo below. It can be found at the southern end of Pylimo gatvė.
#4 Take a look at St. Anne’s Church for a wonderful example of Gothic architecture
Constructed in the late 15th century, St. Anne’s Church is widely recognised at one of the most beautiful churches in the city. Don’t forget to take a peek inside.
#5 Head to The Kitchen to sample their mackerel paté
To be honest I’d recommend splashing out on the amazing buffet breakfast for €9.50 (which includes, amongst a trillion other delicious breakfast items, their wonderful makerel paté), but as this post is entitled “30 Things to Do in Vilnius for under €5,” I can unfortunately only include the mackerel paté here. But, take my word for it, it is rather wonderful on its own or otherwise.
#6 Enjoy a drink in the smallest bar in Vilnius – Who Hit John
There was some conflicting information online as to which bar exactly was worthy of the title, but – having done our research – we can confirm that it is in fact Who Hit John, not Monstro.
Cost: from €1.50
#7 Gaze upon the Gate of Dawn at dawn
Even if you don’t arrive at dawn, you should still definitely rock up here and take a look. Built between 1503 and 1522 as a part of defensive fortifications for the city, the Gate of Dawn is now the only remaining city gate of the 10 that were originally constructed. There’s a chapel built into the gate itself, where an icon of the Virgin Mary is kept.
#8 Check out Literatų Street’s outdoor art gallery
One of the most wonderful and unusual outdoor art galleries I’ve seen, Literatų Street comprises of 223 small, mixed-media prints, drawings and paintings by 223 different artists – all of whom have made their mark on the city in one way or another.
#9 Learn about the history of Soviet occupation in Lithuania
The Museum of Genocide Victims is housed in the former KGB Headqaurters. The cells and interrogation chambers used until 1991 can be visited and are located in the basement of the building.
#10 Marvel at the intricate detail of the baroque interior of the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
It’s a bit of a walk from the Old Town, but once you peer inside you’ll be glad you made the journey.
#11 Have a read of all 38 items (plus three morals) on the constitution of the Republic of Uzupis
On April Fools Day 1997, the residents of Uzupis (Vilnius’ quirky, bohemian neighbourhood) declared the district an independent republic. Uzupis has its own flag (or rather, four – one for each season), currency, president, cabinet of ministers, an anthem, and an 11-man-strong army.
Oh, and a constitution (translated into 23 different languages and engraved on to plaques) that’s on display along Pylimo Street.
#12 Meet the ambassador of Uzupis
Bizarrely but unsurprisingly, the ambassador of Užupis is not a human being, but rather a cat. And an overweight, ginger, camera-shy one at that. He resides in Keistoteka Bookstore, located almost opposite the constitution of Užupis, its entrance marked by a colourful hand-painted sign and an old grammaphone case full of books (oh, and a photo of the ambassador himself).
Cost: Strokes are free (if he’ll let you!), but you’ll need to part with some money if you want to buy any of their books.
#13 Gaze up at the Angel of Uzupis
Created by sculpture Romas Vilčiauskas, this bronze statue of a trumpeting angel was unveiled in Užupis in 2002, and soon became the Republic’s official symbol.
#14 Educate yourself about the numerous items that can be made from hemp
As you arrive into Uzupis, one of the first streets you’ll walk along will probably be Uzupis Street. This is where you’ll find the hemp shop where anything and everything is made from hemp. We tried the cookies, which were….um…interesting!
Cost: free (unless you buy anything)
#15 Visit the National Gallery of Art
Built during the Soviet era, the National Art Gallery nowadays collects and researches Lithuanian art from the 20th and 21st centuries.
#16 Decide what you’d eat at Sweet Root if you had €65 to spend on a meal
Widely recognised as one of the best restaurants in Vilnius, Sweet Root serves up creatively prepared, seasonally-inspired food. €65 is the set price for a seven-course tasting menu, including a welcome drink, a coffee, and several little tasters. But if you can’t afford the hefty price tag (I certainly couldn’t!), you can always salivate over the menu. Have a look at the reviews on Trip Advisor here.
Cost: free to look at the menu; otherwise it’s €65
#17 Make the short hike up to the Three Crosses
This will give you an alternative view of Vilnius to the one you’ll have admired from the top of St. John’s church tower. Personally I prefer the one from St. John’s tower, but it’s nice to get a different perspective.
#18 Grab a Lao-style coffee and peruse some books at Mint Vinetu
I don’t know about you but I love a good coffee and I love a good book, and the opportunity to combine the two in Vilnius was simply too good to pass up. If you don’t like Lao coffee (strong black coffee served with condensed milk), then there are plenty of other options to choose from.
Cost: the price of a coffee (I think mine was around €1.50)
#19 Hang out in Cathedral Square
Cathedral Square is a spacious, relaxing place to hang out for a while, and one that buzzes with local life. While you’re here it’s also possible to visit the cathedral itself and the adjacent bell tower.
#20 Enjoy an ice cream or sorbet from Ice Dunes
Ice Dunes have a little ice cream cart set up just outside the entrance to Bernadine Gardens and next to one of the bridges that crosses the river Vilnia (on the other side of the bridge you’ll find the Republic of Uzupis). I went for the blackcurrant sorbet and it was so good!
Cost: Depends on how many scoops you go for. I went for one for €1.30
#21 Pretend to play the piano
The Republic of Uzupis is filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful pieces of artwork, as well as artfully placed antiques and artefacts. We came across several old pianos, the best of which was this one right on the water’s edge. It makes for a wonderful photograph, but unfortunately you can’t actually play it, as all the keys are gone!
#22 Get a stamp in your passport at the Uzupis Information Centre
Although it’s not legally recognised as a different country, Uzupis is classed as a micronation within Lithuania, and as such this allows you to get a new stamp in your passport.
#23 Admire the view of Vilnius at sunset from the top of Gediminas Hill
Unfortunately the entire hill was closed for maintenance when we visited but I’ve heard that it’s a fantastic place to head to at sunset. It’s also possible to go inside the tower, in order to have a look around the small museum.
Cost: free, but entrance to the museum is €4
#24 Relax and read a book in Tibet Square
Part of the Uzupis Republic, Tibet Square is a small grassy square shaded by trees and decorated with Tibetan prayer flags. In the square you’ll find Vilnius’ Free Little Library. Operating on trust alone, this is a wonderful concept and one that I wish was adopted in more places across the globe.
#25 Take your pick from around 80 different Lithuanian beers at Bambalyne
This medieval style bar-come-shop is located down in a cellar on Stikliu Street. They sell around 80 different Lithuanian beers, which you can either buy to take away or choose to drink on site.
Cost: depends on how many beers you drink! I think mine was around €3
#26 Browse the outdoor markets
On a sunny Spring day in Vilnius the market stall vendors are out in abundance, displaying all sorts of artwork and handicrafts for sale.
You’ll find a lot of feline-inspired wares for those cat lovers amongst you; the majority of stalls are located in and around Pilles Street.
Cost: browsing is free, but it’s so hard to resist the temptation to buy something.
#27 Get some shots for your Instagram feed at Sugamour
If you had a list of Instagrammable places in Vilnius, Sugamour would definitely be somewhere near the top of that list. Their cakes and sweets look far too good to eat, too!
Cost: in order to snap your photographs, you’ll need to buy something. A coffee will set you back €1.90
#28 Photograph Town Hall Square
Town Hall Square is one of Vilnius’ most attractive squares and is (aside from Cathedral Square) the one you’ll often see on Instagram shots and postcards.
#29 Try some traditional Lithuanian cuisine
You may not be able to get a proper taste of the country’s cuisine for under €5 but you can get a little teaser. Check out the menu at Lokys on Stikliu Street. First opened in 1972, this restaurant serves up traditional Lithuanian ‘hunters’ cuisine, along with a few veggie options.
Cost: main courses such as “beaver stew” (snigger snigger) will set you back more than €5 but you can try the “Lithuanian cold beet soup with potatoes” for €4
#30 Vist the city’s cat café
I would say I’ve saved the best until last, but seeing as though we never made it to Vilnius’ cat café, it’s a bit difficult to provide confirmation of this fact here. However, if there’s one thing we were gutted we missed, it was visiting Vilnius’ cat café, Kačių kavinė.
Reservations are recommended.
Cost: free to enter but there is a minimum order of €5 (ok, this is not strictly under €5, but you’ll let me off a cent, won’t you? 😉 )
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