I was trying to make a decision where to visit in September and finally decided on the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia) as I kept seeing so many pictures from people visiting and had yet to visit myself. I decided my first stop would be Vilnius, Lithuania.
I flew on the 10th September into Riga as it was the cheapest city to fly into. It was an extra £100 to fly into Vilnius where I wanted to start my trip!! I had booked my bus ticket down to Vilnius online with Lux Express for 30 Euro return so I knew I could catch the bus I wanted the next day and not risk turning up at the bus station and having to get a later one.
The next morning I was up early and at the bus station for my 9am bus to Vilnius. The bus was great with free wifi and coffee!! The 4 hour drive was beautiful though I did think the countryside was very similar to the UK, the only difference was the wooden houses you would occasionally spot.
I arrived in Vilnuis and walked 10 minutes to my hostel Home Made House, it is one of my favourite hostels that I stayed at on this trip. It only sleeps 12 and the owner is great, very helpful and she makes an amazing breakfast. When I arrived I was given a map and told the things to see in Vilnius.
My first stop was the Museum of Genocide Victims as the museum is closed monday’s and tuesday’s and I was leaving very early wednesday morning. Admission is 4 euro for adults and 1 euro for students. It is set in a former KGB prison where many Lithuanians died during the Russian and Nazi occupations and documents the time from the 1930’s until 1991 when it became an independent country. I had no idea what had happened in this country during that time and while it is very depressing, the museum documents it very well and you need to learn the history of a country when you visit.
Afterwards as I was close to the river and the weather was lovely, I decided to go for a walk along the river and to cross White Bridge and chill out in the park before walking along the other side and back across at Green Bridge.
I then decided to walk up to Gediminas Tower as I had heard that the views of the city from the top are amazing. There is a lift up to the top but it’s really not too difficult a walk. It is the last remaining part of the upper castle that has survived and was rebuilt in 1930. The views of the city are spectacular and this is a must while you are visiting Vilnius. The tower itself is a museum and costs 5 Euro, you can also go stand on top of the tower and get a 360 view of the town. I decided though that the views from the walls around the tower were enough for me and I could get the shots I wanted from there.
After my busy day and lots of walking it was then back to the hostel and out for a few drinks with the people staying there with me.
The next day I was up early and after an amazing breakfast it was time to walk the 10 minutes to Cathedral Square to do the 10am walking tour of the old town with Vilnius Free Walking Tours. We met our guide by the monument of Gediminas.
We were then told about the history of Lithuania and Vilnius before moving on and doing our tour of the old town. We walked past the palace and university, town hall and to the city wall of Vilnius, where we saw the Barbakanas Bastion and amazing views of the city (photo at the top of the page is the view from here).
It was then down and across the river and into The Republic of Uzupis. On the 1st April 1997 it declared itself an independent republic and even has it’s own president. As you walk through the area you can see it’s own constitution written on the wall in different languages!!! (Have a read of it below, see what you think!!) It’s a great little part of the city and was once filled by artists, now it’s a great place to walk around with some great restaurants and art galleries.
We then passed back over the bridge and past Bernardine Church and St Anna’s Church. St Anna’s Church is a prominent landmark in Vilnius and a great example of gothic architecture.
We then walked to Literatu Street, this small street has tributes lining the walls to poets and writers who have influenced Lithuanian literature.
Our final stop was Alumnatas Courtyard where you can see the back of the Presidential Palace and we took a picture with some of the group.
After the tour I decided to walk through the university grounds, I went inside the church but decided not to pay the 4 euros to climb the tower and see the view of the city, though I have heard it’s a great view.
After that I walked to the Bernardine Garden where I walked around then read my book for a bit and had a bit of lunch in the Cafe. As there was a crossing for the river just outside the park I decided to do the climb up to the Three Crosses to see the view of the city from there. It is quite a steep hill but there are steps and it only takes maybe 20 minutes to get to the top. It looks a lot higher and further away than it actually is, and is another worthwhile view point as you get to see Gediminas Tower from there.
After I had finished the walk I went and sat back down in the park and read a bit more of my book, before popping into Bernardine Church, Vilnius Cathedral & St Casimir’s Church to have a look at their interiors. There are a lot of churches in Vilnius and it’s worth going in and seeing the great architecture in a few of them.
It was then back to the hostel for a chill and a few drinks before getting up early the next day for a trip to Trakai, a town about 40 minutes away from Vilnius on the bus. It’s a great day trip from Vilnius, a stunning area.
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Find out about Why I started travelling here, Miami Beach here, Key West here, Everglades here, Bolton Abbey here, Naples here, Koh Tao here, Yangon – Myanmar here, Ischica – Italy here, Koyasan – Japan here, Machu Picchu – Peru here, Memphis here, Faro – The Algarve here, Fiji – South Sea Island here, Egypt – My trip in a hot air balloon here, Doutbful Sound – NZ here, Death Road – Bolivia here, Iguazu Falls – Argentina here, Northern Lights – here, Hobbiton NZ – here, The Lost City Hike Colombia – here, Choquequirao Trek here & San Blas Islands, Panama here