How to Spend 48 Hours in Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius summer panorama of Old town from Gediminas Castle Tower
Vilnius summer panorama of Old town from Gediminas Castle Tower | © Yegorovnick / Alamy Stock Photo
Adelina Kiškytė

Vilnius is a fast-growing tech hub, attracting young entrepreneurs and ambitious start-ups. But with its enchanting Old Town and dynamic cultural scene, the Lithuanian capital also makes the perfect destination for a weekend getaway.

Providing the backdrop to part of HBO miniseries Chernobyl, Vilnius became known to an international audience for its Soviet-era architecture. But the Lithuanian capital, though compact, is rich in culture and history. In 48 hours you can explore eclectic architecture, dine at innovative restaurants and immerse yourself in the city’s bohemian nightlife. What’s more, all this can be done on foot.

Day one

Morning – Explore the Old Town

Begin your first day in Vilnius in the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sit down for a stylish breakfast at Sugamour on Vokiečių Street – its Eggs Benedict and indulgent hand-crafted French desserts come highly recommended. During wintertime, look out for Sugamour’s seasonal Nutcracker-themed facade.

Make your way towards Rotušė (Vilnius’s Town Hall), located just a few steps away from the restaurant. This historic building was once the main landmark of the city. First mentioned in historical records dating back to 1432, the town hall was initially a Gothic-style building. As a result of damage sustained in part by fire and war, at the end of the 18th century Lithuanian architect Laurynas Stuoka-Gucevičius rebuilt it in Neoclassical style, though its Gothic cellars remain. Today, the town hall serves as an events venue.

Make your way across Town Hall Square towards Pilies Street, or join an Old Town walking tour to benefit from knowledgeable local guides who will tell you about the architecture and history of the Old Town and take you into Vilnius’s hidden courtyards. The meeting point for most walking tours is next to the Town Hall, or on Cathedral Square.

Afternoon – Learn the mysteries of Cathedral Square

Before you move on, grab lunch at Queensberry restaurant and wine bar on Didžioji Street. Queensberry specialises in local wines and traditional Lithuanian cuisine with a modern twist. Its creamy smoked eel soup is a customer favourite.

Walk down Pilies Street and you’ll find yourself at Vilnius Cathedral Square.

On the left stands the Bell Tower. Built in the 13th century, the tower was once a part of Vilnius’s defensive wall and now serves as the belfry of the Cathedral. Explore the Bell Tower from the ground or make the climb to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of Gediminas Avenue, the city’s main street.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Stanislaus and St. Ladislaus is an important historical site, and the symbol of Lithuania’s Christianisation. Inside the basilica, you’ll find ancient sculptures, paintings and frescoes, but that only tells part of the story. Join a guided tour in the crypts of the basilica to learn about the chilling mysteries of this historical landmark, which was previously a pagan temple.

Wander around Cathedral Square, explore the Palace of the Grand Dukes, or venture up the Gediminas Castle Tower before making your way towards the Republic of Užupis.

Evening – Visit Republic of Užupis, an independent state inside the city

Try the tastiest Neapolitan pizza in the city at Užupio Pizzeria. You might have to queue for a table, but their Capricciosa is worth the wait.

You’ll find yourself in front of Užupis Angel as soon as you step out of the pizzeria. From here, follow Culture Trip’s guide to exploring Užupis for an evening filled with art and culture.

After visiting this most bohemian district of Vilnius, continue the evening at La Boheme restaurant on Šv. Ignoto Street, where you can enjoy a glass of wine and European dishes under rustic vaulted ceilings.

Night – Join the party in downtown Vilnius

For a taste of Vilnius nightlife, step into Bardakas, whose name translates to chaos. Fittingly, Bardakas is loud, hectic and fun, especially when the bartenders decide to put on a show with the smoke machines.

Keep in mind that the dress code at venues along Vilniaus gatvė tend to be strict. You won’t get away with wearing comfy sneakers – smart casual is the name of the game here.

Day two

Morning – Have a stylish breakfast at Lola

Time to step out of the Old Town and explore Naujamiestis (the New Town), known as the hipster part of Vilnius.

Start with a brunch at Bauhaus-inspired Lola. The restaurant looks like one of Piet Mondrian’s paintings and the interior complements its colourful smoothie bowls. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll find the Date With Dates bowl particularly irresistible.

Afternoon – Explore Lithuanian modern art and stock up on souvenirs

Visit the MO Museum, Lithuania’s first privately owned and self-financed modern art museum. Opened in 2018, the museum is notable for its striking architecture by Studio Libeskind and its avant-garde sculpture garden. MO hosts interactive exhibitions, film screenings and workshops.

When your appetite returns, head to Kinza for its Uzbek plov – a lamb pilaf with a sauce of your choice. Kinza also serves vegetarian plov that is well worth trying, even for meat-eaters.

Walk to Šv. Stepono Street for an all-year-round Easter vibe. Margutis (the Easter Egg), is a 300kg (661lb) sculpture that symbolises the revival of this once-forgotten part of Vilnius.

Right by Margutis is Parduotuvėlė – a tiny shop selling Lithuanian products you won’t find at mainstream shopping centres. While you’re here, get your hands on some Cannamella handmade caramel sauce with birch sugar.

Evening – Dine on seafood and enjoy a drink by the train tracks

Take a short walk to Aušros vartai (the Gates of Dawn), the most visited religious monument in Vilnius and a major site of Catholic pilgrimage. The Chapel of the Gates of Dawn displays Our Lady, the original painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Copies of this painting are placed in chapels all over the world.

Dine at Uptown Bazaar, a busy food hall with live music at weekends. Choose from world cuisines or go right to Jūros Bjaurybės for their oysters.

Before heading into the night, grab a drink at Peronas. The bar is located inside a railway station, right by the rail tracks – you might even take a seat outside and sip your drink while trainspotting.

Night – End your 48 hours in Vilnius dancing

To finish up your 48 hours in Vilnius, visit Kablys + Club. Well-known techno and house DJs are frequent guests at Kablys – you could be forgiven for thinking you were out in Berlin.

Don’t be surprised if the sun is up when you leave Kablys + Club. Time flies when you’re having a good time in Vilnius.

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