Vilnius, Lithuania is full of things to do, but did you know that so many of those things are totally free? Exploring Europe tends to be expensive, so if you're on a budget listen up and make the most of your experience in Lithuania.
Vilnius is a gorgeous city that you will absolutely love, trust me! While you volunteer abroad in Lithuania you will have plenty of free time to explore the city and learn about its rich history. Make sure you see as much as you can!
Pst: We wrote a whole guide called Traveling On A Budget that you'd probably be interested in — it's crammed full of tips like how to get cheap passport photos and how to budget for a trip.
Make sure to add these free (or super cheap!) things to do to your list of "must-sees" while you are in Vilnius!
What Is There To Do In Vilnius?
- Explore Old Town
- Hike the Hill of Three Crosses
- Find the Uzupis Swing
- Climb To The Top of Gediminas' Tower
- Visit The Gate of Dawn
- Learn About History at Museums
- Visit the Many Churches Around Town
- Walkng Tours
- Treat Yourself At This Bakery
Explore Old Town
This is really going to be your main jumping off point to every other must see spot in Vilnius, so if you're visiting Vilnius this is likely where you're heading anyways. Old Town is beautiful. Spend time time walking through the windy, cobblestone streets and see what you stumble upon. There are great shops, restaurants, souvenir and art vendors when the weather permits, and other funky things you will find!
Hike The Hill Of Three Crosses
The Hill of Three Crosses was built in the 17th century and has become a symbol of Vilnius. You will easily be able to see it from afar while you are in Old Town, especially from Gedidimas tower (another free and favorite spot) but you can actually hike up to the crosses and get a great view of the city
There are a couple ways to get up there: a road and wooden steps. From Bernadine Park, cross a bridge and hike on up. There's a set of stairs or a road to walk up, but it takes about 15 minutes to walk up so it's not very strenuous.
The Uzupis Swing
Find this total hidden gem and you can call yourself a true adventurer! This is not a spot that you're going to see any other tourists at, which is half of the reason we like it (it's also super cool).
Here's the info on how to get there.
This is probably the first thing that comes up when you look up pictures of Vilnius. This tower is the remaining part of the Upper Castle which was used as a protection for the city long ago.
You can just climb up to the tower and get a view of the city or you can actually enter the tower (which isn't free, we know ... but worth it!)
The entrance fee is 5 Euros (or about $6 USD). I really recommend going inside if you can splurge. It's a bit of a museum in the tower with incredible black and white photos that tell the story of Lithuania's history. If you love an underdog story, you'll come away with a ton of pride for this country.
You can get here from Old Town. It's hard to miss!
The Gates Of Dawn
The Gates of Dawn were built in the 1500's and were built as a defensive structure. The gates are now the only part standing of the original wall. This is a huge piece of history in Vilnius and a must visit! Inside the Gates is a cathedral and a picture of Virgin Mary. This picture is now an icon and is thought to have powers which bless the city and those who come to worship. You can actually attend mass at this beautiful cathedral if you'd like, which is an experience even if you don't speak the language.
Open 06:00 - 19:00. Check out directions to the Gates of Dawn here.
Mass 09:00 (Lithuanian), 10:00 (Polish), Sun 09:30 (Lithuanian)
Vilnius has rich culture and history. Visit the many museums throughout the city to learn more about it and have your eyes opened to some pretty amazing things. There's quite a few that are dedicated to telling Lithuania's story during the World War II era.
Here's a list of the "must-sees". Some are free and some have a small entrance fee, so you'll need to see what your budget allows.
Visit All The Churches
The churches in Vilnius are many and they're a piece of art in and of themselves! I think half of my photos of Vilnius are of the churches because they're just that beautiful. The architecture, art, and stained glass is absolutely breathtaking, and a 100% free if you're admiring from the outside. Some church do charge to enter, but you get can around this by entering to participate and see a church service.
While there are tons and tons I love, here are some of the ones you shouldn't miss:
- St. Anne's Church
- St. Peter and St. Paul's Church
- Church of St. Casimir
Go thrift shopping! Explore the city to find a few thrift shops, but make sure you visit this one. This is an ILP volunteer favorite and you can find some great deals as you look through the shop. I found a beautiful long, mint and cream colored coat that I will cherish forever. I can just picture a babushka wearing it to church and so it always reminds me of my time in Vilnius when I wear it.
It's not a free activity, but window-shopping is always free. Plus, it's fun to try on some clothes even if you don't end up buying them.
Locals in many European cities offer free walking tours and Vilnius is one of them. They will give you insights in to the culture, cool history facts, and show you some pretty cool places around the city! The tour is free, but they do encourage tips so bring some cash with you, but it's a small amount.
There are two tours a day leaving at 10AM and 12PM (noon). They go every day rain or shine! Meet at Vilnius Town Hall (Didzioji str. 31) and look for a Free Walking Tour sign.
Visit This Bakery
Looking for some yummy and affordable treats? There's yummy pastries all over the city, but we do have a favorite - This bakery has some of the best and most authentic things around.
Most of the pastries and cakes are sold by the weight so you can spend as little as you want ... or visit totally free and just trade some favors for a bite of pastry someone in your ILP group purchased. It's also 100% free to hang out at the cafe and do some lesson planning, which is a nice change of scenery.
Interested in volunteering for a semester, not just visiting this amazing country? International Language Programs (ILP) just might be the perfect program for you! With countries all over the world you have amazing opportunites to make a difference and travel!
Click the button to learn more about Lithuania and what you can experience with ILP!