If you’ve ticked off all the things to do in Vilnius that were on your list and thoroughly explored Old Town Vilnius, you may be thinking of getting out and exploring the rest of the country. A few of the best attractions are convenient options for day trips from Vilnius. They can be reached in a couple of hours and you’ll still have time to return to Vilnius after exploring them briefly.
Table of Contents
- Grutas Park
- Hill of Crosses
Trakai is the most popular day trip from Vilnius and has one of the most popular castles in Lithuania. You can get there in under a half-hour either via car or by public transportation, and you’ll be introduced to Lithuania’s grand medieval past and its lovely natural environment.
The main attraction in Trakai is the Island Castle, a red brick castle that seems to float among the lakes that converge in the region. The town of Trakai itself is also full of history: colorful wooden houses representative of the architecture of Karaim ethnic minority, the Peninsula Castle, and an elegant restored manor house are other must-see sights here.
Taste the local delicacy, the kibinai pastry, with a filling of your choice. It’s a Lithuanian food you should definitely try! Or take a paddleboat out onto the water, visit the castle museum, or have a nice walk in the beautiful nature the town is situated in.
How far from Vilnius: About 29 km/18 m and approximately 30 minutes by car.
How to get there: By car, take the A4 west from Vilnius. It’s also possible to take a bus or train directly there, with buses leaving more regularly from the main train station in Vilnius.
How much time to spend: Definitely plan to spend an entire day in Trakai, or at least the morning and the better part of the afternoon. Taking in the castle and the museum there, walking around the lake, and visiting sights—as well as incorporating lunch—means you can easily fill the time you have allotted for this day trip.
Though no defensive structures exist at Kernave any longer, this historic capital of Lithuania was once important to the holdings of the grand duchy. It’s one of the most haunting and beautiful day trips from Vilnius.
The hills where forts were built create an enchanting landscape as well as ideal lookouts for the rest of the countryside, which is beautiful no matter what time of year you visit.
This UNESCO-protected site reflects hundreds of years of human history, from archeological finds to the small town there where people still live.
How far from Vilnius: About 40 km/25 m and approximately 45 minutes by car.
How to get there: By car, take the A2 northwest to Kernave. Buses leave several times a day from the main bus station to Kernave.
How much time to spend: Kernave won’t take you much time to see, so you can stop by on your way to visiting other Lithuanian attractions. Take some time to climb the hills and visit the museum there to learn why Kernave is important and understand how it used to look.
Kaunas makes a wonderful Vilnius day trip. Lithuania’s second city and its interwar capital has a lot to offer, from a charming old town complete with castle to shops and places to eat. It’s one of the top Lithuanian cities for travelers, too.
You can visit the museum showcasing the work of Lithuania’s most beloved artist, Ciurlionis, check out the collection of representations of the devil at the Devils Museum, learn about a Japanese diplomat who helped members of the local Jewish population escape the horrors of WWII by issuing exit visas at the Sugihara House, and have a walk along Kaunas’s Freedom Boulevard, which ends in an impressive Orthodox church.
Pazaislis Monastery and Monte Pacis hotel is a lovely detour when you’re in Kaunas. Set in a park by a lake, this monastery, hotel, and restaurant is too romantic to pass up, even if you can only catch dinner at the award-winning restaurant.
The area around Kaunas is also beautiful and interesting to explore.
How far from Vilnius: About 100 km/62 m from Vilnius and approximately an hour and a half by car to get there.
How to get there: By car, take the A1 west from Vilnius. Buses and trains from Vilnius to Kaunas leave regularly several times per hour, making Kaunas one of the many easy day trips from Vilnius to enjoy. The bus station in Kaunas will mean a shorter walk to the Kaunas center, but it is still possible to walk from the Kaunas train station, which will take you 20 minutes to half an hour.
How much time to spend: You can easily plan for a day in Kaunas depending upon your schedule, working in meals around sightseeing.
Grutas Park is Lithuania’s Soviet statue park, where the monuments to Lenin, Stalin, and other Communist figures were relegated after independence. The park, set in a forest, is both beautiful and chilling. It allows visitors to understand the pervasiveness of Soviet iconography throughout Lithuania and the oppressiveness of the accompanying regime. Loudspeakers play Soviet songs for an eerie effect.
Grutas park is certainly one of the most worthwhile day trips from Vilnius you can take.
How far from Vilnius: About 130 km/80 m from Vilnius and less than two hours by car.
How to get there: By car, take the A4 southwest towards Druskininkai. However less frequent bus routes connect Vilnius and Grutas Park—furthermore, the stop for Grutas Park is hard to spot, so you may have to ask your driver to point it out to you so you don’t miss it.
How much time to spend: Dedicate a couple of hours to Grutas Park. The park can be taken at a leisurely pace, and while the contrast between peaceful nature and the formidable statues makes a strong contrast, this softer context eliminates any power they had and provides room for contemplation and empathy for those under the Soviet regime.
Druskininkai is one of those day trips from Vilnius it is easy to underestimate. It’s known for its mineral springs and spas, and you can certainly take advantage of them if you like. However, the town and its surroundings are a joy to visit.
Druskininkai itself has been lovingly landscaped and has plenty of fountains and flowerbeds to make your exploration visually pleasing. Furthermore, a variety of architectural styles creates an eclectic cityscape. Druskininkai, with its surrounding pine forests, has miles of cycling trails that offer access to attractions in the region, such as galleries and other points of interest.
How far from Vilnius: About 130 km/80 miles from Vilnius and less than two hours by car.
How to get there: By car, take the A4 southwest. A bus from Vilnius to Druskininkai will drop you at the central bus station there, but do plan in advance to make sure that the timetable will work with your schedule.
How much time to spend: Plan for the whole day—or at least the better part of the morning and afternoon—for Druskininkai. A few hours will be enough to wander around, visit its church, and have lunch at one of its restaurants. If you’d like a more active visit to Druskininkai or really want to maximize the sights you see there (and there are plenty!), then you should plan more time or even stay overnight!
Rumsiskes Open-Air Museum is one of the most educational day trips from Vilnius you can take. It will demonstrate the differences in the regions of Lithuania, highlight folk culture and familiarize you with traditional Lithuanian culture, and reveal how holidays in Lithuania are celebrated! Of course, you can visit for the Velykos or Uzgavenes celebrations, but any day in Rumsiskes is a fun one.
See different architectural styles, have a lovely walk around the grounds, interact with experts in the buildings and watch Lithuanian folk art demonstrations, and peek into the rural-style church. Have lunch there or take a picnic snack.
How far from Vilnius: About 80 km/50 m from Vilnius and about an hour by car.
How to get there: By car, take the A1 west to Rumsiskes. Buses also run between Vilnius and Rumsiskes.
How long to spend: Plan for several hours at Rumsiskes—more if you go for a holiday event. Rumsiskes is best experienced at a leisurely pace. You’ll do a lot of walking, but if the day is pleasant, you’ll feel it is worth it as the trails that lead you around the museum lead you through fields and forest.
You may not have heard of Vilkija. Vilkija is a little treasure of a town with winding medieval streets, ramshackle and lovely wooden architecture, an eccentric ethnic culture museum, and a view of the Nemunas River. Cheerful orchards, barking dogs, a brick church, the smell of woodsmoke, and plenty of history give Vilkija oodles of small-town character.
Vilkija is one of the lesser-known Vilnius day trips that will offer you off-the-beaten-track surprises.
How far from Vilnius: About 130 km/80 miles; you can reach Vilkija in under two hours.
How to get there: By car, take the A1 towards Kaunas and the A5; from the A5 turn on 141. Buses run semi-frequently from Vilnius to Vilkija, so if you’re using public transportation, you may have to plan carefully.
How much time to spend: Spend an hour or two in Vilkija, and if you like, combine it with another Vilnius day trip attraction that is in the same direction, such as nearby manor houses.
Anyksciai is perhaps one of the least advertised day trips from Vilnius. However, for those who like the outdoors, it may be just the ticket. In the regional park, you can enjoy a viewing platform that allows you to take in the glories of the surrounding environment and see an enormous boulder that is a standout in the otherwise very un-craggy Lithuanian landscape.
Burbiskis Manor is also a lovely place to visit—it’s a hotel and museum of sorts with a gorgeous rose garden and a restaurant great for a little time-out. Labyrinth Park and Kalita Hill are great for families. But a little stroll around the town of Anyksciai shouldn’t be missed, either.
How far from Vilnius: About 115 km/71 miles north of Vilnius and approximately one-and-a-half hours by car.
How to get there: By car, take either the A2 or the A14 north. Buses also travel between Vilnius and the town of Anyksciai. This day trip is certainly one where it helps to have a car because after you get into the town proper, you will have to find other transportation to the regional park and other attractions.
How much time to spend: The Anyksciai region can easily be a full day out! Spend some time in the town, the park, and at the nearby attractions for a pleasantly exhausting day trip from Vilnius!
Hill of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses near Siauliai is a bit far for a very comfortable Vilnius day trip, but visitors will understand how worth it the trip is. This living monument to memory and prayer is a haunting, hopeful, and stalwart reminder of faith.
Thousands of crosses of all sizes and materials have collected over the years at this hill—and have done so even when Soviet authorities bulldozed the entire site. Now, while it’s a Lithuanian must-see sight, it’s also a deeply meaningful one that visitors can feel personally moved by and leave a little something of themselves or wishes for their loved ones behind.
How far from Vilnius: About 220 km/138 m from Vilnius and approximately two and a half hours by car.
How to get there: By car, take the A2 north to Siauliai. While you don’t need a car to see the Hill of Crosses, you will have to do some transportation jumping and walking to reach it by public transportation. Once you get into the Siauliai bus station, you can take a local bus to the Hill of Crosses outside the town—the sign is hard to see, so ask your driver to help you find the stop. Further instructions can be found on the Hill of Crosses page.
How much time to spend: You won’t need too much time—about an hour—for the Hill of Crosses itself, but it does lend itself to meandering, photography, and silent reflection. You can choose to go into Siauliai if you like to see what’s there while you’re in the vicinity.
Belmontas and Pavilnai Regional Park is one of the easiest day trips from Vilnius. It’s actually within the bounds of Vilnius itself! This restaurant and entertainment complex is set in a lovely park with a path-lined river running through it. Go to enjoy an outdoor lunch and a walk amongst the trees.
How far from Vilnius: About 3.5 km/2 miles.
How to get there: Belmontas is only a 10 to 15-minute drive by car! You can also cycle there, take a taxi, or take a local bus.
How much time to spend: Plan to spend about three or four hours here. You can take out some time for lunch and spend the rest of the time hiking through the forest.
Birstonas is known as a resort and spa town, and it’s easy to spend a weekend here getting the royal treatment at one of the many spas or spend the weekend enjoying this town.
In addition to the healing waters that the town is known for, you can visit the Birstonas Museum housed in a former villa; Vytautas Hill, the site of a former hunting lodge that offers great views of the surrounding countryside; and the Birstonas Viewing Tower for bird’s-eye views of the Nemunas River. Go cycling or take a stroll through this pretty little town.
As one of the best spa day trips from Vilnius, Birstonas is a great option if you want to relax.
How far from Vilnius: About 100 km/62 miles and approximately one-and-a-half hours by car.
How to get there: Take the A4 west and get onto A16 towards Birstonas. You can also take a bus from the main train station to Birstonas. The Kautra bus service allows you to book tickets to Birstonas online.
How much time to spend there: It depends upon if you want to visit Birstonas for a day or stay longer—you’ll have to plan in advance for any wellness or spa treatments, but even spas with hotels offer day passes. Consider visiting Vytautas Mineral Spa for a massage or some time in the steam room and pool area. However, you can easily skip the spas and just enjoy learning about this historic Lithuanian town.
Of course, Lithuania is relatively small, so many other day trips from Vilnius can be taken. Consider visiting the Ignalina region, Zeizmariai, or even Rundale Palace, the latter of which is on the border of Lithuania and Latvia and requires about four hours by bus or car. Alternatively, you can choose a route, such as along the Nemunas River, and stop at interesting spots along the way.
Taking a day trip from Vilnius is one of the best things to do in Lithuania for travelers!