Vilnius has a nickname which is ‘The Rome of the North’ and ‘The Jerusalem of Lithuania’. It has a wealth of historical and religious treasures, not to mention the oldest Baroque old town in northern Europe.
But Vilnius is not just a living museum. It has a forward-thinking, confident charm that is evident in its lively nightlife and creative arts quarter. And, with low-cost direct flights from many European hubs, the Lithuanian capital is just beginning to establish itself as a real city-break favourite.
Vilnius’s Old Town is one of the city’s main draws. It got all the ingredients of your historic centre. For example storybook churches, impressive palaces and a web of cobblestone alleyways leading from vast squares.
What might surprise visitors, though, is the size of the old town. Although still easily walkable on foot, it seems to sprawl for miles, particularly in comparison to its more compact Baltic counterparts in Tallinn and Riga.
Hill of Three Crosses
In the Hill of Three Crosses, legend has it that the crosses date back to the 17th century. When three monks placed them here to pay tribute to three fellow monks who were killed here three centuries earlier. The ones that stand here today are, in fact, recreated versions.
You can still see them just below, lying in a crumbled jumble beneath the shiny new crosses. Although views are incredible at any time of day, we would recommend coming here at sunset to watch.
Museum of Occupation & Freedom Fights
This is undoubtedly one of the more sobering sights in the city, but a must-visit for anyone with an interest in Soviet history. This was once the headquarters of the Gestapo and later the KGB. This insightful museum illustrates the horrors experienced by Lithuanians in the 20th century.
The first and second floors set the scene, with informative displays and videos telling the stories of the thousands of captured men, women and children during the First and Second world wars and the Soviet regime.