Coming to Vilnius? Make sure you don't miss anything ...
Before starting your meanderings around the streets of the Old Town, and its churches, museums, craft workshops and galleries, it is worth getting a bird’s eye view of Vilnius and taking in a panoramic view of the city. There are some hills and high buildings suitable for this purpose.
The highest building in Vilnius is the television tower. It has a total height of 326.5 metres, and at 165 metres the tower’s restaurant is the highest observation point in the city. The circular floor of the restaurant does a complete revolution once per hour, giving people sitting at the tables by the windows an excellent bird’s eye view of the whole city. A great vantage point to view the city centre is the bar on the 22nd floor of the Reval Hotel Lietuva, which stands near the northern bank of the Neris River, on the edge of the Old Town. An open air view of the Old Town can be had from several hilltops in the city. At the top of the castle tower on Gediminas’ Hill there is an observation area. You can get to the castle by the cobbled path that winds up the hill or you can take a ride to the top in the funicular. Across the Vilnelė River in the adjacent Sereikiškių Park you can go to the top of several hills along the escarpment: Trijų kryžių (Three Crosses), Bekešo, Altanos, Stalo and Gedimino kapo (Gediminas’ Grave).
A narrow path leads from Gedimino kapo (Gediminas’ Grave) Hill to Užupis, the artists’ district of Vilnius. This is the home of the self-declared ‘independent’ Republic of Užupis. It has its own insignia (you will see it as you drive into Užupis from the Old Town over the bridge on the Vilnelė River), its official seal and a guardian angel in the form of a sculpture. It also has a Constitution, a copy of which is displayed at the beginning of Paupio (Riverside) Street. Along the bank of the Vilnelė there are several nice cafés and open artists’ courtyards.
A tidy view of the Old Town is to be had from Bastėjos kalnas (Bastille Hill). At the bottom to the right of the hill is the Tymai quarter, unfortunately a bit rundown since World War II, but still the venue of Vilnius’ annual craftsmen’s fair. The churchyards of Šv. Trejybės (Holy Trinity) church and other nearby sacred buildings radiate peace and serenity.
Museum lovers will not be disappointed by the Lithuanian National Museum, the Museum of Applied Art and the Vilnius Picture Gallery. Admirers of contemporary art will find it worth visiting the Contemporary Art Centre, while those who wish to feel the chill of the dreadful totalitarian era inflicted on Lithuania (1940–1990) can visit the Genocide Victims’ Museum, which has been established in former KGB premises.