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Vilnius

Culture & history

Our most recommended Vilnius Culture & History

Vilnius: 3-Hour Jewish Heritage Tour

1. Vilnius: 3-Hour Jewish Heritage Tour

Explore Vilnius by air-conditioned minibus, with an English-speaking guide, and discover the history of the Jews in the city as you travel through the former ghettos along Žemaitijos Street, discover the Vilnius Choral Synagogue, and go to the Jewish cemetery. The story can be traced back to the 13th century. In folklore Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews) were known for their love of education, no-nonsense straight-talk, and sardonic wit. They first settled in Vilna, as the capital was and still is known in Jewish culture, from around the time of its founding in 1323. By the 18th century, Vilna had become the world capital of traditional religious (Talmudic) learning, and was often referred to as the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Towering over the many great Jewish figures the city has produced is the Talmudic leader, Gaon of Vilna. Some 94 percent of the Litvaks perished in the Holocaust, the highest percentage of genocide in Europe. Today, a small community of around 5,000 Litvaks make bold efforts to maintain their heritage.

Vilnius: Then and Now Old Town Tour

2. Vilnius: Then and Now Old Town Tour

Vilnius is a beautiful city, renowned for it's green spaces and Baroque architecture. It is also a very old city with lots of history, which nuances are best presented by a local Lithuanian. We recommend starting your tour where the history of the city began 10,000 years ago at the Cathedral Square. Other meeting points in the Old town would also work, however this one is recommended. Walking through important buildings, streets and other objects you will find out how Lithuania emerged from the swamps to become a self-sufficient country, how it came to its fall, what was the situation during the Soviet occupation and what the situation is now.

The Hill of Crosses: Full-Day Tour from Vilnius

3. The Hill of Crosses: Full-Day Tour from Vilnius

This full-day tour starts at 09.00 AM when you’re picked up at your centrally located Vilnius Hotel. After about an hour’s drive you’ll reach the Ukmergė District, stopping at a park established to remember those who fought against the Soviet regime. You’ll see crosses dedicated to the partisans, to the most important dates of Lithuanian history and to famous individuals, such as Pope John Paul II and US President Ronald Reagan. Learn about the symbolism of the cross in Lithuanian culture and history. Continue to the Siauliai area, where you’ll visit the Hill of Crosses, one of the most popular sightseeing attractions in Lithuania. Enjoy lunch at local restaurant and taste traditional Lithuanian dishes. After lunch you’ll head back to Vilnius arriving at around 5:00-6:00 PM.

From Vilnius: Kaunas, Trakai and Paneriai Forest

4. From Vilnius: Kaunas, Trakai and Paneriai Forest

During this private day tour you will be able to explore the most interesting sites in the surrounding areas of Vilnius. The tour will start from Paneriai memorial park, where thousands of Jews from Wilna were killed.  The Paneriai or Ponary massacre was the mass murder of up to 100,000 people by German SD, SS and Lithuanian Nazi collaborators, during World War II. The murders took place between July 1941 and August 1944 near the railway station of Ponary, now known as Paneriai, a suburb of what is today Vilnius, Lithuania. After the tour in the park, you will head to the second capital of Lithuania, where today you can see the most beautiful castle, on the island in the lake. Here, you have the possibility to enjoy lunch in traditional Karaim restaurant or take boat trip around the lake. After, the group will head to the temporal capital of Lithuania - Kaunas, which is second largest town in Lithuania today. You will also visit Pazaislis monastery. After this, you will head back to your accomodation in Vilnius.

Vilnius: Private Paneriai Park, Trakai Castle, Kernavė Tour

5. Vilnius: Private Paneriai Park, Trakai Castle, Kernavė Tour

After pick-up from accommodation in Vilnius start the tour with Paneriai memorial park, where thousands of Lithuanian Jews were killed. Learn about the Paneriai or Ponary massacre where up to 100,000 people were murdered by German SD, SS and Lithuanian Nazi collaborators during World War II. After the tour of the park visit Trakai castle, once a major centre of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and where today you can see one of Europe's most beautiful castles on the island in the lake. Here you will have the chance to have lunch in a traditional Karaim restaurant or enjoy a boat trip around the lake. After Trakai visit the first capital of Lithuania, Kernavė. Kernavė is highly significant in Lithuanian history and boasts five hill forts and historic churches. A Lithuanian state cultural reserve was established in Kernavė in 1989 and it was in 2004 that Kernavė Archaeological Site was included into the UNESCO world heritage list. After enjoying this site you will be returned to your accomodation in Vilnius.

Vilnius, Trakai and Kernave Private Full-Day Tour

6. Vilnius, Trakai and Kernave Private Full-Day Tour

Once you are picked up by your guide at your accommodation, you will head to Gediminas tower in Vilnius to take a look at the Old Town of Vilnius. Later you will take a stroll in the Old Town. Then you will head to Kernave, the first Lithuanian capital, located 40 minutes drive from Vilnius. On the way it is possible to visit the Cognitive Walkway of Dukstos Oak-Wood. Upon reaching Kernave (a medieval capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and today a tourist attraction and an archaeological site) you will explore 5 hill forts, archaeology museum and hand-made souvenirs shop. Afterwards you will head to Trakai, with possible stops at view-point of Neris river-bank or Uztrakis mansion. Trakai prides a magical castle, located on an island. You will be able to visit castle museum, to take a boat trip (additional charge), and have lunch in traditional restaurant owned by the Karaim family. After lunch you will head back to Vilnius, where you will do some more sightseeing in the Old Town

From Vilnius: Trakai Castle and Paneriai Memorial Tour

7. From Vilnius: Trakai Castle and Paneriai Memorial Tour

Following pick-up from your hotel or apartment in central Vilnius, drive to the Paneriai Memorial Park, built at the site of the Ponary massacre where up to 100,000 people were murdered by the Germans during World War II. Pay your respects to the fallen heroes and see historic photographs and documents that detail the tragedy.  Move on to the former medieval residence of the Lithuanian Grand Dukes at Trakai. Take a guided tour of the legendary castle and learn more about the Grand Duchy of Lithuania during its golden age. See historical artifacts inside the fortress, built on an island on beautiful Lake Galvė.  Enjoy up to an hour of free time to explore on your own and purchase souvenirs, or use the time to taste some traditional dishes from Lithuania and of the Jewish Karaite faith at your own expense. Drive back to Vilnius and get dropped off at your hotel or apartment on arrival.

Vilnius: City Bike Tour of Vilnius Highlights

8. Vilnius: City Bike Tour of Vilnius Highlights

Hop on a bike and explore the beautiful town of Vilnius with a guide. On this bike tour, learn about the history of Vilnius, ride down Gedimino Avenue from the Old Town to Zverynas District, and get that perfect photo from the Subaciaus observation deck. Meet your guide in the Old Town and pick up your helmet and bike. Follow the winding streets of Vilnius' Old Town, pausing to admire the many famous sights in this UNESCO World Heritage area. As you bike, learn about Vilnius' fascinating history, from its medieval era triumphs to the 20th-century occupations and its successful fight for independence. As you bike down Gedimino Avenue, the main street of Vilnius, you can see how the city has grown. Before arriving in the Zverynas district, enjoy a break on the Cathedral Square near the stunning Gedimino Tower. Continue to the Subaciaus observation deck, admire the Old Town's beautiful architecture, and snap the perfect picture of Paupys and Uzupis.

Dzukija National Park and Grutas Park: Full-Day Tour

9. Dzukija National Park and Grutas Park: Full-Day Tour

Once you and your group have been picked up from your accommodation in Vilnius, get ready for a day filled with adventure.  From Vilnius, you will travel to Merkine, where you will head to the Three Crosses area, which acts like a gate leading to a dome and a pyramid. Spend at least a few minutes here, as it's said to have a cleansing effect. Afterwards, proceed to the dome and pyramid and after short meditation, you will continue to the Cepkeliai Marsh.  The Cepkeliai Marsh is the largest swamp in Lithuania; here you will spend some time hiking. Later, you will continue to the Grutas Park, which is an exposition of Soviet statues scattered around the park. You will have lunch either in Marcinkonys village or Grutas Park. After lunch, you will head to Liskiava Monastery Ensemble and Druskininkai resort town. In the evening, you will return to Vilnius.

From Vilnius: Day Trip to Curonian Spit National Park

10. From Vilnius: Day Trip to Curonian Spit National Park

Start with an early morning pick-up from your centrally located Vilnius hotel and drive to the Lithuanian seaside for 4-hours. There, you will experience the haunting atmosphere in the cormorants colony, have a look at the characters of the famous Lithuanian sagas and fairy tales on the mysterious Hill of Witches and walk on beautiful moving sand dunes, probably the largest in Europe. You will also have time to explore the cultural center of Curonian Spit - Nida village. See sand dunes with rare flora, littoral forest with centuries old trees and hand planted hill pines, white sand beaches, as well as urban infrastructure, streets, embankments, the Old Town with the architecture typical of this region and the scent of freshly smoked fish will make an indelible impression on you. In the evening, drive back to Vilnius.

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What people are saying about Vilnius

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 300 reviews

We had a wonderful tour with our English-speaking guide, Agnes. She was thoroughly knowledgeable of both Jewish and Lithuanian heritage. She answered all of our many questions, ranging from specific historical details to contemporary facts. She was extremely personable and went to great lengths to satisfy our curiosity. We started our tour with a drive to the Jewish Cemetery where Rabbi Gabon Elijah’s was buried. We also visited the Choral Synagogue, the original street in the Jewish Quarter and saw various photographs of Jewish life between the two world wars. Everything was both extremely revealing and sensitively handled. We would recommend Agnes to anyone interested in learning about Jewish life in Vilnius, then and now.

When my guide learned I was interested in two specific regions, made I got to see them. He asked if there were books for the regions. We walked through old Kaunas and had a nice lunch, my treat. When he found out I needed a basketball shirt for a special friend, we detoured to a basketball shop at Akropolis.

In a short travel, I couldn't see the diversity in Vilnius if i didn't catch bike tour. The guide who Lituania guy is kindly explane a lot of things about history & geographical issue in nowadays. Very thanks to guide us. And highly recommand this tour.

Our guide, Ugne, was incredibly knowledgeable about the city, and the tour was really informational! Would definitely recommend taking this tour if you’re looking to get to know Vilnius better.

In depth tour guide of Vilnius with most professional guide. Would totally recommend to everyone