Tips for solo travel to Vilnius (plus a story of finding my Lithuanian roots)

Embark on a solo travel to Vilnius, a city that embraces single travelers with its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and warm hospitality.

Monica wrote this solo travel to Vilnius guide. She has crossed six continents and is known for traveling within the Middle East and for her outdoor adventures, from hiking to bungee jumping to paragliding.

It didn’t seem ‘right’ to know next to nothing about where I came from.

As only the third generation born in the United States, my ties to Lithuania should have been stronger.

But they weren’t; they were non-existent. The language was lost, familial ties were lost, and – save for a few family stories handed down to me from my aunt – even the exact place where my family had lived was a mystery.

So, what is a girl to do when she has nothing but overflowing curiosity about her heritage? And at that, a heritage that is not taught about in our American history classes and books?

A heritage rooted in a tiny Baltic country in Eastern Europe that many would be hard-pressed to locate on a map?

Well, I can tell you what I did. I flew there to investigate. I fell so deeply in love with my country and grew so much in my understanding of myself that I now travel back every chance I get.

As a now frequent visitor, I still find so many things to do in Vilnius and beyond.

Let me share with you why I love to travel in Lithuania, and why I wholeheartedly recommend this country for solo travel. Perhaps, after reading, you will consider visiting, too.

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Quick info: solo travel to Vilnius, Lithuania

  • Country: Lithuania
  • Safety Index: 67.52
  • Power Plug: Type A & B
  • Best neighborhood: Old Town
  • Lithuania E-SIM: Airalo
  • Lithuania Travel insurance: SafetyWing

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Is solo travel to Vilnius safe?

Gediminas Tower in Vilnius, Lithuania | Photo: Monica from This Rare Earth

You might be surprised to learn that I’d recommend solo travel in Lithuania to anyone – not just those of us who have Lithuanian blood in our veins!

Part of the wonder of travel, at least for me, is discovering unknown places, sights, flavors, and sounds.

Lithuania has all of that in spades since most of us don’t grow up learning anything about the Baltics.

Lithuania and its neighbors have experienced many struggles, such as back-to-back occupations, and have fought hard for their freedom.

These struggles are part of what makes Lithuania so peaceful. The local people seem to live quiet, happy lives.

The streets are safe – I’ve walked alone at all hours with no issues. I’ve taken public transportation all around.

I’ve rented a car and road-tripped the country. And I’ve explored many different towns and villages completely alone.

As with any destination, solo travelers should be aware of their surroundings, and you should always trust your gut.

But overall, the risks of traveling here are low. Violent crime is infrequent and there are no specific cities or areas that travelers should be sure to avoid.

On the contrary, all travelers, even solo females, should explore larger cities and small rural towns. You’ll find tons of history, endless green landscapes, and even quirky spots that deserve a look.

Is Vilnius good for solo travel?

Solo Travel To Vilnius | Photo: Monica from This Rare Earth

When I planned my first-ever trip, it took a lot of research.

This was both due to my want-to-see-it-all attitude and the fact that it wasn’t (and still isn’t) one of the most heavily visited European cities.

I had a long list of sights that I just couldn’t live without seeing, and it took a lot of effort to discover how to get from here to there.

Luckily, things have changed quite a bit since then. Public transportation is much easier to navigate nowadays, obscure spots are a little less obscure, and mapping out your itinerary will be pretty easy nowadays.

Most international visitors will fly into the international airport in the capital city, Vilnius, like I did.

This is not one of those cities you should spend one night in and leave as quickly as possible. This is a capital city you need to explore.

Vilnius has a wide array of sights to see

There are just so many things to do in Vilnius. The contrast between the centuries-old architecture and the nearby modern, hip cafes is an invited visual.

In the arts district, you’ll find traditional Amber jewelry (a Lithuanian specialty) as well as colorful, quirky galleries. There is something here for everyone!

Cathedral Square, for example, is one of the most well-known meeting points in all of Vilnius, and you are likely to pass by this spot a few times during your stay.

The wide open area is often used for festivals throughout the year, and if you’re lucky you might just get to participate in one.

The Cathedral of St Stanislav and St Vladislav is the official name of this iconic white building. Step inside for a visual treat.

Then, head over to the tall and breathtaking bell tower, nearby. Many visitors are not aware – you can actually climb this bell tower, and I highly recommend doing so!

It’s a lot like climbing to the top of a lighthouse, and the panoramic views of Vilnius are spectacular.

The St. Anne’s and St. Bernardine’s Church Complex are also sights to see. Every time I’ve stepped foot in Lithuania, I have made it a point to stop inside these stunning yet contrasting churches.

Both are free to enter, and the interiors are equally stunning. It is worth noting that Lithuania is a Catholic country.  Whether you are Catholic or not, add these to your itinerary, stat!

St. Anne’s church is built in the Gothic style and showcases tall, ornate spires. It is believed to have been built in the late 15th century by architect Benedikt Rejt from Prague.

The exterior of the church has remained unchanged since then. The interior has had some upkeep, and more modern elements were added in the 20th century.

Not to be overshadowed, the impressive St. Bernardine is right next door. This massive and unusual neighborhood was built in a bright and whimsical style.

Seeing these two very different churches side by side highlights the contrast and beauty. 

Vilnius has a deep history

Lithuania’s history, after many occupations, is long and difficult. The Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fights in Vilnius tells the story of these struggles.

Though a dark and somber experience, this museum is likely THE MOST important stop you will make in Vilnius.

On a personal note, this museum opened my eyes to all that Lithuania has been through.

Words cannot express all that I felt, but suffice it to say that there was massive respect, loads of sadness, a bit of pride, and a keen understanding of exactly where I came from.

This museum takes you through the chronology of all-too-recent atrocities that occurred in Lithuania over the years from both Soviet and German occupations.

This museum taught me things I would never have known about Lithuania’s history and resiliency.

Each floor features photographs of historical people and events, and is jam-packed full of so much information it is overwhelming.

The basement holds a former KGB prison and – chillingly – an execution room. It is incredibly haunting but so important if you really want to understand the Lithuanian people.

If you travel outside of Vilnius, Kaunas is another city full of historical sights and museums. For history lovers, Vilnius and Kaunas should be at the top of your list.

Vilnius has incredible food!

I do need to touch on the traditional food here, because after all of your walking and learning about the country, you are sure to need some fuel.

One surprise highlight I discovered on my first trip to Lithuania was the cuisine.

Etno Dvaras is the first restaurant in Lithuania to have its dishes certified by the Lithuanian Culinary Heritage Fund.

So, if you grab a meal here, know that you will be eating authentic Lithuanian treats cooked in traditional ways.

One of the most popular meals in Lithuania is cepelinai, which are gargantuan-sized dumplings made of potato flour, and filled with meats or cheeses.

Yes, the cheese version is vegetarian, and it’s delicious. These are like no other dumplings on earth, though – the “walls” are extremely thick, and they will fill you up quickly!

Bright pink beetroot soup and potato pancakes with dill are everyday staples as well.

Lithuania is also well known for its beer. If you are a beer drinker, don’t skip the local favorite, Švyturys.

Vilnius is cheap to visit

I am also happy to report that Vilnius, and all of Lithuania, are extremely inexpensive. Though they are on the Euro, you will find significantly lower price than found almost anywhere in western Europe.

You can find hotels and guesthouses for well under $50 per night, depending on your needs, and hostel beds are quite cheap.

A full dinner with more food than you can finish might be around $12 USD. And souvenirs are very affordable too.

On my last visit, I got a warm and fluffy winter scarf that was top quality for $20, and no doubt it would be more than double the price in the US.

So while you can splurge and find more luxurious accommodations in Vilnius, you certainly don’t need to and can actually get by quite cheap.

Easy access to other off-the-beaten-path countries

Lithuania is one of three Baltic countries, joined by Estonia and Latvia. Latvia and Lithuania share borders, and Estonia is just north of Latvia.

Many visitors road trip through the three Baltics, and I highly recommend doing so!

Alternately, Lithuania shares borders with Belarus and Poland, which are also exciting escapes I’ve taken.

So, how do I feel about Lithuania now after having visited many times over?

I still get extremely excited when my plane first touches down. I still feel like its “home.” I still learn a new fact or observe mannerisms that make my upbringing make sense.

And, I have since took my father to explore his own heritage here, and will soon be taking other extended family members to Lithuania next.

It’s strange to be from a country that you know nothing about. I’m happy to say that is no longer the case! And that I will keep going back, as much as possible, to learn even more.

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I’ve been giving expert and genuine advice to solo travelers and digital nomads for the last 15 years. You choose the destination and I will answer all your questions!

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