Vilnius is a small city full of friendly people, great nightlife, and interesting sites. It’s a small city, everything is easily done within a day, but the nightlife and cheap accommodation makes staying a few extra nights worth it. Because Lithuania is so small, Vilnius serves as a great central hub to explore the countryside from.
Here’s how to spend two days in Vilnius
Explore the city
The city itself is quaint, colorful, and easily walkable. There is a colorful house, decorative church, or bright mural around every corner of the narrow streets. Some highlights include the colorful town hall square, cathedral square with it’s imposing columns, and Literatu street, a monument to Lithuanian writers. Because Lithuania is so small, anyone who writes anything about Lithuania also merits a sculpture. All the sculptures are different and created to represent the author. This quirky alley makes a great place to pose for your next gram.
Visit an entirely different city
Get out of Vilnius without going far with a visit to Uzupis, the “free”, alternative city within Vilnius. This area started out as the grungy, edgy, artsy part of the city. Like all good stories, the story of Uzupis starts in a bar. Some of its residents got drunk one night and decided to declare independence from Lithuania. Although it’s not actually independent, you can get your passport stamped, or if you’re really dedicated, you can become an ambassador. You don’t have to be an ambassador to a country. You can be an ambassador to anything you choose, like redheads, beer, or cats. There are embassies in countries across the world, as well as embassies in cheese, Shrek’s Swamp, and the Republic of Penguins. The constitution is written in multiple languages and posted on a wall in the center of the city. The constitution features important rules like “everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat” and “a dog has the right to be a dog.” Unfortunately, like a lot of arts districts worldwide, Uzupis is gentrifying and a lot of the people that made it edgy and artsy can no longer afford to live there.
See the city from above
For an excellent view of the city, either pay to climb the tower in Cathedral Square, or climb the hill of the three crosses for free. This is best done at sunset, and offers you and excellent view of the city above. It’s a bit of a hike to the top without great steps on a dirt path, but the views are worth it. The park it’s set in is also a great place to pass the time people watching.
Try the food, then lay down
Laying down after is a must. Lithuanian food is heavy and packed with carbs. It’s a lot of different variations of potatoes, meat, and cream sauce. Dvaras is a great place to try a variety of Lithuanian food. It’s a bit touristy, but still inexpensive and delicious. An entree runs around five euro and will fill you up for the rest of the day. Make sure to try the zepplins, large potato dumplings filled with pork and covered in a sour cream and bacon sauce.
Trakai is a small city about an hours bus ride from Vilnius. There isn’t much to see in the city, the draw is the lakeside, island castle. The castle is massive and costs around 5 euro to enter. It has multiple exhibits full of Lithuanian art, objects of the time, and history of the castle. Outside the castle there are many small shops selling Lithuanian souvenirs and traditional foods. Stop by the food truck selling Kibinai, which is basically a hand pie stuffed with different meats and veggies.
Have some cheap beer
Lithuanian beer prices are great, not as cheap as the Balkans, but a respite from the prices in Western Europe. It’s hard to go wrong with a bar in Vilnius, but two stand out:
This small craft brewery makes a few different kinds of beer. While the beer isn’t exactly spectacular and life-changing, it’s decent beer at decent prices. The quirk of this bar is the pour your own beer taps at every table.
This is one of Uzupis’s most popular bars. It’s where 12 guys got drunk, wrote a constitution, and formed their own free city. It’s a laid back, friendly bar, with a good atmosphere. As far as drinks go, it’s your standard bar fair, good beers, wells and a couple wines. This bar is all about the history.