Dear Richful Thinkers,
I recently read an article that said that one of the cheapest European destinations is Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. I visited a couple of years back and let me tell you, it was one of my favorite places. To be honest, it is on my bucket list to go back and visit. I went right after I finished grad school and needed some R&R. I knew I needed to go somewhere and I ended up watching House Hunters International where this dad was looking for a place in Vilnius. As I watched it, I decided to buy a ticket.
I stayed in a hostel just off the main square and it was about $9.00 a night for a bed in a shared room. There are many choices nearby for reasonably priced food, especially at nearby pubs and restaurants. The thing I loved about this city was the lack of tourists, which made it more relaxed. I could still walk around, take nice photos, and be relaxed. Personally, I do not like crowds, which is why I liked it. Also, this city is budget-friendly, but most of Eastern Europe is like that. Do not let movies like ‘Taken’ deter you from visiting these gems.
My recommendation is to carry Euros, as many places do not accept card. There are several cash exchanges in Vilnius. However, my recommendation is to use the Transferwise borderless account and exchange the currency on the app and then take the cash out of the ATM. It is cheaper and you are less likely to be scammed.
How to get there
From the Vilnius airport, you can take a taxi or a bus to the city center. It is approximately a 15 minute ride
If you travel by bus or train, then you will arrive at the railway station. Once here you have several options on reaching the city center. You can either take another bus (26, 34, 53) or a trolley (1,2,7,20).
What to see
Now, what can you do when you visit Vilnius, Lithuania.
- Visit the Gediminas’ Tower. It sits on a hill that you’ll have to climb or you can take this elevator that costs 2 euros each way. Then to go into the tower also costs about the same. Once you make your way to the top of the hill you are rewarded with a birds-eye view of the Old Town.
2. Gate of Dawn. Make sure you visit the outer portion of it as well. From the inside of the Old Town and looking into the entrance of Old Town. This gate was built in the 1500’s and it was originally used as a defense and a religious landmark as there is a statue of the Virgin Mary on the North side of the gate.
3. Literature Wall. This is more of a street if we are being honest. It pays homage to Lithuania’s literature and artistic past, so do not be surprised that you recognize some names.
4. The Republic of Užupis. This is the equivalent of Freetown Christiana in Copenhagen and it is essentially an artist colony. They have their own flag and unofficial currency. If you bring your passport they will stamp it for you.
5. St Anne’s church. This is a unique looking, gothic-styled church in Old Town that is actually both beautiful and haunting.
6. Three Crosses. This site can be found near the tower. So, if you’re looking out into the Old Town and then turn immediately left towards the hill-side you might be able to see these crosses. If you decide to make the climb up there, the look-out you get of the city is phenomenal. Legend says that several friars were beheaded upon this hill.
Where to stay
Depending on your preference, you can stay in a hotel, hostel, or an Airbnb. You will have to decide for yourself. I stayed at Jimmy Jumps hostel in the center and I have no complaints.
Where to eat
If you are looking for typical Lithuanian fare, you can find it at almost any pub. I have looked to see if the places I went to were still open but I could not find them. I am unsure if they are open. However, there are pubs all over old town, so you can find whatever your heart desires.