If you are traveling around Lithuania or passing through the city’s Capital for a layover, you should without a doubt spend at least one day in Vilnius.
This one day in Vilnius Itinerary will walk you through everything you need to know. I share with you the best hotels and the perfect cafes. If you want amazing meals, I’ve got you covered.
However, for more restaurant choices, check out my article about the best restaurants in the city.
I’ll also share some of the best museums, outdoor activities, and tours to take during your one-day Vilnius itinerary.
Let’s get exploring!
Where to Stay in Vilnius
There are tons of great hotels in Vilnius. If you are only staying in Vilnius for one day, you will want to make sure you sleep in the Old Town.
The Old Town is the center of the city and where all of the main tourist attractions and great restaurants are centered around.
From here, you can walk everywhere and see a lot in a short period of time.
- Litinterp Guest House – If you are traveling solo or as a couple and want a budget option that isn’t a hostel, this is a great option. This guesthouse is right off of one of the main streets in the old town. You are a five-minute walk to the cathedral. It is less than a two-minute walk to tons of restaurants and bars. It is safe and quiet at night, and the hotel staff are very friendly. Single rooms with shared bathrooms start at $24 USD. Book a stay at Litinterp Guest House here. (I also filmed a video when I stayed here and showed some of the apartment. You can watch that here.)
- Jimmy Jumps House Hostel – Jimmpy Jumps is the highest-rated hostel in Vilnius, and for good reason. The rooms are clean. The staff are friendly and helpful. You can meet a ton of great people and although it’s not the cheapest hostel in town, it’s the best option for budget travelers who want to explore the city in 24 hours or less. Beds in a dorm start at $13 USD per night. Book a stay at Jimmy Jumps Hostel here.
- Mini Home – This is a self-catered apartment with a lockbox where you can let yourself in when you check-in (and check out). You have a small kitchen, a huge and very comfortable bed, and a little balcony to sit on when it’s warm. The bathroom is large with a shower and bath tub. It also has a washing machine if you’ve been traveling for a while and need to get things clean for not additional cost. For two people, this is an absolute bargain. It only costs $49 USD per night if you book in advance. Book a stay at Mini Home here. (I also filmed a video when I stayed here and showed some of the apartment. You can watch that here.)
- Kesminta Apartments – This is another place that focuses on private studio and one-bedroom apartments. However, you get the service of a hotel with a receptionist and help checking in and out. It’s incredibly well located right in the center of the old town. Most of the apartments are brand new or have been recently renovated. They are impeccably clean and you can self-cater to save a little bit of money or just to eat a healthy meal while you’re traveling. Studio apartments start at $50 USD per night. Book a stay at Kesminta Apartments here.
High-End Vilnius Hotels
- Artagonist Art Hotel – This is probably my favorite hotel in Vilnius. It is incredibly beautiful, modern, and well-decorated. The rooms are clean and comfortable and stylish. I love the breakfast and all of the healthy and filling options (a must when you are traveling through somewhere quickly in my opinion!). It’s more expensive than the others listed above, but it’s still pretty affordable for what you get. Rooms start at $90 USD per night. Book a stay at the Artagonist here.
- Hotel PACAI – This hotel consistently ranks as the best hotel in Vilnius. It is stylish and chic. It has five stars, a beautiful spa, and one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever had the joy of laying upon. Best of all, if you book far enough in advance or during the week, it’s actually not terribly expensive. Their double rooms can sometimes be available for about $180 USD per night, but usually, they hover around $220 per night. Book a stay at Hotel PACAI here.
Getting Around Vilnius Quicker
If you want to get around a little bit quicker, you may want to consider renting a scooter or bike. You can also hop on the bus to get to and from the bus station or train station without spending too much time walking.
This app allows you to pay for the bus. It allows you to scan scooters and to use the local bike-share network. It gives you bus times and routes for the different buses. You can simply put in where you want to go and it will tell you, based on where you are standing, which bus stop to walk to and what number bus to take.
It’s incredibly convenient and if you want to see a lot in one day in Vilnius, this will be your best friend.
One day in Vilnius Itinerary – Coffee (or Tea!)
If you’re a coffee addict like I am, no day can start without a good cup of coffee.
Thankfully, there is no shortage of fantastic cafes and coffee roasters around Vilnius. If you are only in the city for one day, these are the cafes I recommend adding to your list, with Crooked Nose being the main priority.
Click the links below to be taken to their Google Location. That way, you can pin them directly to your map and then when you’re feeling in need of a pick me up, you can simply go to your map and see which is closest.
- Backstage Cafe Central Location (second location and where they actually roast here)
- Crooked Nose & Coffee Stories
- Elska Coffee
- Taste Map Coffee Roasters (my second favorite place in Vilnius for coffee)
One Day in Vilnius Itinerary – What to Do
Ok, you’ve had a good sleep, a big cup of coffee, and now you’re ready to tackle Vilnius in one day.
While the actual city of Vilnius is pretty large at 401 km2 (155 sq mi), the city center is quite small and very easy to explore in a short period of time.
However, one day in Vilnius will never be enough to see all of the incredible museums. It certainly won’t be enough time to eat at all the great restaurants. But it will be enough time to see some very cool sites.
These are the places I highly recommend exploring with your one day in Vilnius itinerary. Again, I have linked to Google Maps so that you can quickly see where things are as you explore around the city.
It’s worth noting that there are some free WiFi hotspots around Vilnius in case you don’t have international roaming. Always look for the open WiFi (usually called Bite) when you are in the Old Town.
One Day in Vilnius Morning Activities
- Cathedral Square and Vilnius Cathedral – Free entry.
- Gediminas Tower – It’s free to walk to the top of the hill and see the tower, it’s €5 to go inside.
- Three Crosses Monument – Free to visit and a really nice walk through the hills of Vilnius downtown. From Gediminas Tower, it is about a 10-15 minute walk to the crosses. Take the opposite pathway on the way back down until you reach the river. If you turn right at the river, you can cross back into the old town quite quickly. Alternatively, you can turn left at the river and meander along until you reach the Užupis neighborhood which is well worth a little exploring.
- St. John’s Bell Tower – Located inside Vilnius University, one of the oldest universities in Eastern Europe, is St. John’s Church. You can go to the top of the bell tower for €5 and take in some of the best views of the city from above.
- St. Anne’s Church – this brick gothic church is one of the best remaining structures of its kind in Europe. Originally built in the 16th century, you can walk around outside and inside for free.
- Gates of Dawn – The only remaining city gate in Vilnius, which was once walled and had nine different gates to enter through the city walls. It was built in the 16th century and on the interior side (the city side) of the wall, there is a small chapel to the Virgin Mary. You can walk up to the stairs beneath the archway to access the chapel.
As long as you’ve had a decent breakfast, you can easily explore all of these places in a few hours while wandering around Vilnius. Many are simply places that you’ll spend a few minutes. Others, like the bell tower, will take more time.
Like I mentioned above, if you grab a scooter or a bike, you’ll see even more in the morning.
After all of that walking and sightseeing, you’ll want to sit down to a delicious meal. If it’s cold outside, you’ll definitely want to sit down and have something to warm you up.
If it’s summertime and you want to stay outside, there is an abundance of outdoor cafes. However, I highly recommend getting yourself a little picnic of things from Halės Turgis or Hall’s Market. This is one of the best markets in the city and has a huge selection of Lithuanian produce to choose from.
A few things not to miss: local farm cheese, Lithuanian cured meats, freshly baked rye bread, and some fruits or locally-made jams to go on your bread. There are dozens of stalls inside selling everything you could possibly want to sample. Most vendors speak at least a little bit of English.
For a cozy spot to have Lithuanian food when it’s not quite so warm out, I can’t look past Etno Dvaras. This is the best place to go to be able to find a huge selection of regional Lithuanian food.
This is a great list of Lithuanian foods that you’ll want to try while in Vilnius.
Etno Dvaras also has a nice selection of hot teas made from scratch, no tea bags here! I love pairing a hot fruit tea with their pork dumplings or delicious pork rib soup.
Afternoon Activities – Museums Not to Miss
There are so many incredible museums in Vilnius. Depending on what your interests are, I really recommend getting yourself to the KGB Museum or the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights.
This museum is housed in the former KGB offices and tells the story of the occupations of Lithuania in the last hundred years or so.
From the Soviets to the Nazis and then back to the Soviets. You’ll be able to learn about the freedom fighters of Lithuania who sacrificed so much in order to try to regain independence for their country.
The other museum that I highly recommend visiting is the Palace of the Grand Duke of Lithuania. This grand name goes to the grand building that sits just behind the cathedral.
The building was originally constructed in the 15th century for the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was part of the lower castle of Vilnius. It was destroyed in 1801 and rebuilt in 2002 in the Renaissance style of the cathedral.
Now you can explore reconstructed rooms and see what the interior of the palace looked like in its heyday. It also has historical and archaeological information about the city of Vilnius. There are art exhibitions that come and go, but the main exhibitions focus on the history and culture of Lithuania.
Evening Drinks (or late night spots!)
Between touring and dinner, you may want to treat yourself to a beer or glass of wine. I know when I’m exploring, a cold beer at the end of a day well spent always tastes the best!
A few of my favorite places for good beer in the city are:
- Šnekutis – this is a great local spot with tons of different types of beer and delicious bar snacks.
- Savičiaus Špunka – This little hole-in-the-wall spot is perfect for beer lovers. They also have a nice selection of traditional Lithuanian bar snacks like fried bread (kepta duona) and smoked fish (rūkyta žuvis).
- Beer Library – Like any good library, this is where you come to learn. The owner and bartender here is perhaps the country’s leading expert on Lithuanian beer. Pick his brain about what to try and where else in the country you should go for good beer.
Wine and cocktail lovers should head to Distilerija. This is a fantastic spot in the center of the city where you can either sit outside and people watch or sit at the bar and instead watch the bartender create magic. They have a huge selection of cocktails, wines, and craft beers from around Northern/Eastern Europe.
Where to End You One Day in Vilnius
You can pick any of the amazing restaurants that I mention in this article to end your one day in Vilnius.
If you want something fancy, Ertlio Namas is the best place in the entire country. This is where modern culinary methods meet traditional Lithuanian recipes. They combine to create a dining experience you won’t soon forget.
For a small, more local dining experience, you can’t go wrong with Senoji trobelė. Located just on the edge of the downtown, it’s worth grabbing a scooter or a Bolt (like an Uber) here if you don’t want to make the 15-minute walk.
During the warmer months, there is a lot of outdoor seating. In the colder months, this cozy interior feels more like you’re at a local pub, which I personally love. They serve up locally produced “farm beer.” Farm beer is made with live yeast and is a very traditional way of making beer here in Lithuania.
They also make their own gira (kvass) which I highly recommend for those that don’t want to have an alcoholic drink. The menu here is all about warming traditional Lithuanian food. You can’t go wrong with any of their soups or stews and their cepelinai might be the best I’ve had (and I’ve sampled a lot of them now!).
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