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Top Historical Sights in Vilnius

By Viator, August 2018

5 20 Reviews | Add your review

Lithuanian history stretches right back to 13th century, with the first mention of Vilnius appearing alongside that of the legendary Grand Duke Gediminas, who is credited with founding the fledgling country of Lithuania. Historically, things have not gone smoothly for this little country, beleaguered over the centuries by Russia, Poland, France and Germany, but in the early days under the leadership of Grand Duke Vytautas, Vilnius became the capital city and most important trading post of the largest country in Europe, with territory from the Black Sea to the Baltic.

Jews, Germans, Russians, Poles, Muslims and Orthodox Christians all poured in to tolerant, open-minded and prosperous Vilnius in the 14th century, and the foundations of Old Town were laid behind fortified walls. Vast churches and public buildings were constructed over the course of this peaceful period, but in the middle of the 17th century Lithuania found itself in a long struggle against an ever-more-powerful Russia. By 1795, the Russians controlled Lithuania and remained in power for 120 years. Vilnius all but vanished off the map.

The Industrial Revolution reached Vilnius in 1860, and another great period of expansion was soon in full swing; the city spread rapidly outwards and both business and population boomed. During the political uncertainty after World War I, however, the city changed hands 10 times in six years before falling under Polish rule until World War II and once more becoming a political and commercial backwater. What happened next is well documented; the Gestapo annihilated 95 percent of Lithuanian Jews, and subsequent occupation by the Soviet Union saw thousands of Lithuanian nationals murdered or deported.

However, Lithuania did gain its independence from Russia in 1990 and has thrived since; as a member of the European Economic Community, a slew of new money came pouring into the country, bringing with it investment in building and trade. Tourism is now one of its biggest industries, and Vilnius’ legacy of constant change can be seen today in its multicultural streets. It’s here, in the Orthodox and Christian churches, the synagogues, the purpose-built suburbs and in the city’s hundreds of multi-ethnic restaurants and bars, that visitors are just as likely to hear Russian, Polish or English as Lithuanian.

Tours & Tickets

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Small-Group Sightseeing Tour to Paneriai Memorial Park and Trakai Castle, Vilnius, null
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Small-Group Sightseeing Tour to Paneriai Memorial Park and Trakai Castle

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 19 Reviews

This tour takes you to Paneriai Memorial Park and the picturesque Trakai Castle. Step back in history while you soak up the atmosphere in Paneriai Memorial ...  Read more

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $46.76
Small-Group Food and History Walking Tour of Vilnius, Vilnius, Half-day Tours
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Small-Group Food and History Walking Tour of Vilnius

4.5 star rating: Recommended 12 Reviews

Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is one of the least visited great cities of Europe. While the masses are cramming the streets of Prague and Paris, Vilnius ...  Read more

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $88.85
Soviet Stories from Vilnius, Vilnius, Food Tours
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Soviet Stories from Vilnius

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 3 Reviews

Get a look at life behind the Iron Curtain on this Vilnius time travelling tour that digs deep into the city’s Soviet past. Learn about ‘homo sovieticus’ and ...  Read more

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $43.25
Vilnius Walking Tour: Old Town, Uzupis and Lithuanian Brewery, Vilnius, City Tours
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Vilnius Walking Tour: Old Town, Uzupis and Lithuanian Brewery

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 17 Reviews

See top Vilnius attractions, visit quirky neighborhoods and sample tasty Lithuanian tidbits and beer on a 3-hour city walking tour! With a local guide to show ...  Read more

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $45.59
Vilnius City Bike Tour, Vilnius, Walking Tours
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Vilnius City Bike Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 1 Review

Join this 3-hour interactive city bicycle tour and see that there is so much more to Vilnius beyond the Old Town. Every tour is different and depends on your ...  Read more

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $19.87
Private Jewish Vilnius Tour, Vilnius, Bike & Mountain Bike Tours
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Private Jewish Vilnius Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 8 Reviews

Walk the ancient streets of Vilnius old town, where Lithuanian Jewish history can be traced back to the 14th century.

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $58.45
Walking Tour of Soviet Vilnius, Vilnius, Historical & Heritage Tours
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Walking Tour of Soviet Vilnius

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 10 Reviews

Step back in time and explore 50 years of Soviet rule on this 2 to 2.5-hour walking tour of Vilnius. Follow a guide through the grand streets of Vilnius and ...  Read more

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 2 to 2.5 hrs

From USD $11.69
Vilnius Private Walking Tour, Vilnius, Historical & Heritage Tours
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Vilnius Private Walking Tour

This private tour is to give You a general understanding of Vilnius Old Town history and culture. Tick the must-see boxes for Old Town as well as the artistic ...  Read more

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 2 to 3 hrs

From USD $105.21
Small-Group Vilnius Half Day City Tour, Vilnius, City Tours
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Small-Group Vilnius Half Day City Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 2 Reviews

Embark on this unique Vilnius City tour and marvel at some of Vilnius' most iconic sights such as the architectural stunning old town, Napoleon's beloved St. ...  Read more

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $29.23
Private Vilnius Old Town Walking Tour, Vilnius, City Tours
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Private Vilnius Old Town Walking Tour

This private walking tour starts at the very heart of Vilnius - the Valley of Shventaragis and finishes at the miraculous image of the Madonna in Gate of Dawn.

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $12.27

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