Are you planning your trip to the Baltic countries? Or are you just planning to visit Vilnius? Either way, you came to the right place. Here’s all you need to know and what you need to see in Vilnius in 1 day.
As will grew up, I was always mixing Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in my head and I was mixing their capitals too. All this changed after I drove through them all, in 2019, as part of my Baltic road trip. (which actually started in Eastern Europe)
Of course, you can take a flight to Vilnius (or any of the other 2 Baltic capitals) and rent a car from there. This will help you be more energetic by the time you get to actually explore the area. For Vilnius, you don’t really need a car, and you can easily enjoy one day in Vilnius’ old town.
Are you ready to explore this colourful, full of friendly people, and unique city where East meets West?
After spending 1 night and 1 day in Vilnius, Lithuania, I have some insights to share that will make your trip to Vilnius perfect. So this is your perfect 1-day itinerary in Vilnius and it includes all the things to see and do in Vilnius, Lithuania.
What to see and do in Vilnius: Vilnius 1 day itinerary
Vilnius is beautiful and it deserves at least 1 night and 1 day. The best time to visit Vilnius is in July and August when it really feels like summer.
If you have exactly one day to spend in Vilnius, you might not get to see all of it, but fortunately, the main attractions are close to each other in the old town.
By the way, did you know that some of the most Instagrammable places in the Baltics are right here, in Vilnius?
How to spend your morning in Vilnius? (7 am – 12 am)
Explore the old town! Start your day with a Vilnius self-guided walking tour! (check the map below)
I recommend adding the following to your itinerary, after breakfast and before lunch! Make sure to have a consistent breakfast and comfortable walking shoes.
Vilnius has one of the largest old towns in Europe, but it can be easily visited on foot.
The following morning Vilnius itinerary will take around 1h of walking in total, and has a length of 5km.
But that means you can take your time and enjoy each place, take pictures, stop to rest or even have a coffee if you find a place you fancy.
You can use this Vilnius itinerary directly on your Google Maps, where I saved all the main stops. (I skipped Uzupis constitution and Pilies street because the itinerary goes through them anyway)
Depending on where you’re accommodation in Vilnius is, you can start either from Subačiaus observation deck or from Vilnius Cathedral, to make the most out of this Vilnius itinerary and not waste energy.
- Subačiaus observation deck
Start your day and exploration of Vilnius with the best panoramic view over Vilnius. It’s also free. If it’s not close to your accommodation, leave this point for the afternoon, or even for the sunset. It is praised to be the best spot for sunset in Vilnius.
- Gates of Dawn
The next stop is one of the city gates, which on the inside is actually a chapel (Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn). Inside the class chapel is an icon of The Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, said to have miraculous powers. This place is a pilgrimage place in Lithuania.
- Vilnius’ Town Hall
This historical place for Vilnius is located in the heart of the old town in Vilnius. In the same building, you will find an information point, which free maps of the city and the tours available.
This is also the meeting point for free walking tours. If you don’t have a lot of time, I recommend joining one of the free walking tours.
- Bridge of Užupis
Welcome to Uzupis, the smallest republic in the world (it’s a joke, obviously).
Next to the bridge, you will see the entrance sign for the Republic of Uzupis. Of course, it is not a real republic and nobody will ask for your passport. Uzupis is the smallest district of Vilnius, which declared its independence at 1 April 1997, as a joke. Today, the republic has its own currency, anthem and constitution.
- Angel of Užupis
The statue of the Angel of Uzupis commemorates an artist and member of the community, Zenonas Šteinys who helped turn Uzupis into the friendly place we see today. He is considered a guardian angel of the community.
- Constitution of the Republic of Užupis
Uzupis has its own constitution, and it is currently translated to more than 50 languages. Each country can pay to have its flag hang in Uzupis.
After seeing the wall with all the constitution plates, you can decide if you want to roam a bit more around Uzupis, and discover the artistic side of Vilnius. If so, check out the Vilnius Potters’ Guild (Užupio g. 9), Jonas Mekas Draught Alley (Užupio g. 24), Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center (Malūnų g. 8), the Sculptures at the Užupis Art Incubator (Užupio g. 2a). Uzupis has a vibe of its own, and if time permits check out some of its Wooden Architecture on the Baltasis alley (Baltasis skg.).
During summer, every Friday and Saturday, you can visit Tymo Market (Aukštaičių g.) fills with food trucks that represent some of the town’s best fast food spots. Each Thursday, there is an organic market.
- Uzupis Art Incubator
After seeing the main attraction in Uzupis, you can either stop for lunch here, before continuing with your Vilnius self-guided walking tour. If you want to continue, visit some local craft shops, admire the street art and don’t miss the Jesus sculpture near the Vilnia river, between the Uzupis Bridge and Bernardinų Tiltas, on the Uzupis river.
- St. Anne’s Church
Head over to Bernardinų Tiltas and turn right to the St. Anne’s Church, a Roman Catholic church, which is regarded as one of the city’s most famous landmarks.
This red-brick church has a beautiful Gothic architecture. Next to it, you will see a monument to Adam Mickiewicz, a famous Polish poet.
- Bell Tower of St. John’s Church
Even if you don’t want to visit the church, I recommend you drop by and climb all the way up to this bell tower, as it offers a fantastic view over the old town of Vilnius. There is a fee for the tower, but it’s worth it.
- Pilies street
From St. John’s Church, you will go back on the main street, Pilies Street and walk your way to the Vilnius Cathedral. Enjoy the colourful vibes of this beautiful street, admire the souvenirs shops and the nice restaurants.
- Vilnius Cathedral
This beautiful building dating from 1783 is often referred to as the Vilnius Cathedral but actually it’s called The Cathedral Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus of Vilnius and it is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania.
Fun tip: Somewhere between the Cathedral and the tower, is a small pavement title “Stebuklas” which translates into “miracle tile. The legend says you have to jump in one leg on it, turn 3 times clockwise and make a wish and your wish will come true. I really don’t know if you’re supposed to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise, as everyone was doing their own thing. If you are having trouble locating the tile, just looks around for people randomly stopping and turning around in one spot.
The Cathedral Square is often used for fairs and gatherings, such as public events and concerts and it is considered a symbol of Lithuania.
- Gedimino Tower
From Cathedral Square you are able to see the Gedimino Tower, which is only a couple of hundred meters away. If you are too tired after this long self-guided walking tour in Vilnius, you can skip it, especially if you have seen the panoramic view of the old town from the Bell Tower of St. John’s Church.
Lunchtime: Where to eat in Vilnius? (12 pm – 2 pm)
The last stops are really close to many restaurants in the old town. If you’re a vegan, or just love yummy meat-free food, then you have to go to RoseHip Vegan Bistro for lunch! It’s close to the last stop of your morning itinerary of the 1-day Vilnius itinerary.
If you decided to do the itinerary the other way around, then you can have lunch in the Užupis Republic, at one of the many hipster places. Locals recommend the following places to eat in Užupis: Thierry Kepykla, Šnekutis, Maghrib, Sweet Root, Užupio Klasika.
How to spend your afternoon in Vilnius? (2 pm – 7 pm)
After getting the general vibe of Vilnius, I suggest visiting a museum and some churches, even if you are not a religious person.
If you have more days to spend in Vilnius, Lithuania, then consider adding these places to your itinerary: Genocide Museum, Belmontas.
Visit Trakai Island Castle in the afternoon
I know you are looking for what to see in Vilnius in one day, but I really hope to convince you to spend your afternoon at Trakai Island Castle. Technically speaking, the Trakai castle would fit more on a list of what to see around Vilnius, but it’s worth it!
If you drove to Vilnius, then you have no excuse not to see Trakai Castle, and if you don’t have a car, don’t worry! There’s a bus that will take you there!
How to get to Trakai Island Castle?
- Go to the Trakai Island Castle by car
Depending on the traffic, you can get from Vilnius old town to Trakai Island Castle in under one hour. If you go there by car, it will take around 30-40 minutes and you will have to pay the parking. The parking was ~2 Euros per hour.
- Go to the Trakai Island Castle by bus
Only 10 minutes away from the Gates of Dawn is the bus station (near the train station) for the bus that takes you to Trakai Island Castle. When you get there, just ask at the ticket office/information office where the bus Trakai Castle is.
The bus ticket costs €1.80 each way and can be bought on the bus. The bus runs every 30-40 minutes. You can find the bus schedule at the Tourist Info office at the Vilnius City hall.
The bus ride to Trakai Castle takes about 45 minutes and then from the actual bus stop to the castle, you will have to walk 20 minutes.
Once you get to the Trakai castle, you will go on a boat ride (about 5 Euros for 30 minutes). on the shore are lots of restaurants overseeing the castle and the lake.
You can walk around the castle for free, even after its closing time. The ticket for the castle costs 7 Euros.
I recommend sticking around until the sunset because it is a beautiful view. But if you’re going to Trakai with the bus, make sure to not miss the bus back as the last one leaves at 21:35 (20:45 on Sundays).
Where to stay in Vilnius?
As a budget traveller, I recommend Filaretai Hostel, near Uzupis. I paid around 20 Euros for 1 night. They have free parking and private double rooms with shared bathroom. It’s basic accommodation, perfect for a night or 2.
Of course, there are plenty of options for accommodation in Vilnius, for all kind of budgets.
I hope you enjoyed this self-guided walking tour of Vilniuswhich includes the main things to see and do in Vilnius! And I hope this day convinced you to spend more time in the beautiful country of Lithuania.
Lithuania has so much more to offer and I will soon write about more beautiful places in Lithuania.