The Official Development Agency of the City of Vilnius

About Vilnius

Vilnius is an outstanding example of a medieval foundation which exercised a profound influence on architectural and cultural developments in a wide area of Eastern Europe over several centuries.

The legend of Vilnius

Today Vilnius is 697 years old. Legend has it that the city started with a dream Grand Duke Gediminas had on a hunting trip. In his dream, Gediminas saw a huge iron wolf standing on a hill howling as if hundreds of wolves were trapped inside it. When the Grand Duke consulted the court magician Lizdeika, he was told that the wolf was a symbol of a great capital that would one day stand atop that hill. By 1323, Gediminas was already sending letters to European cities inviting merchants and craftspeople to visit the city.

Facts about Vilnius

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and thus home to the country’s President, Seimas, Government and Supreme Court. Diplomatic missions, as well as educational, cultural, financial, research, and healthcare institutions are based here.

Population: 

540,900 inhabitants

Ethnic Composition: 

Lithuanians 63.2%, Poles 16.5%, Russians 12%, Belarusians 3.5%, Other 4.8% (2011)

Location/Territory: 

The City of Vilnius occupies an area of about 400 sq. km, of which approximately 20.2% is developed and the remainder is a greenbelt (43.9% approx.) and water (2.1% approx.)

Language:

Lithuanian

Religion:

Roman Catholic 77.2%, Russian Orthodox 4.1%, Old Believer 0.8%, Evangelical Lutheran 0.6%, Evangelical Reformist 0.2%, other 0.8%

Government: 

Mayor

Currency:

Euro

Local Time:

GMT + 2 hours (EET), GMT + 3 hour (summer time)

Working Hours:

Governmental institutions work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Shops are usually open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. on weekdays and until 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Shopping malls are open all week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Supermarkets are usually open between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., and some supermarkets are open until midnight.

Weather in Vilnius

The rainy season begins in October and gradually turns to snow by December. Winters in Vilnius are usually mild, but you might come to Vilnius when it’s truly freezing. Good news: there’s still plenty to do despite the cold. The end of January and February are usually the coldest months. You might be lucky and enjoy snow during Christmas, but you can expect even more snow after the New Year.

Springtime is lovely with flowers blooming, but you should also expect some rain. It might get hot (25-30°C) in June, but summer kicks into high gear in July. Summer weather is a mix of hot temperatures and sun, or rain showers and colder wind. Don’t worry too much; the weather is always perfect to explore Vilnius.

Public Holidays in Vilnius

  • January 1 (New Year’s Day)
  • February 16 (Restoration of the State Day (Independence Day, 1918))
  • March 11 (Restoration of Independence Day (from the Soviet Union, 1990))
  • April 12-13, 2020 (Easter)
  • May 1 (International Labour Day)
  • June 24 (St. John‘s Day)
  • July 6 (Day of Statehood (Crowning of Lithuanian King Mindaugas))
  • August 15 (Assumption)
  • November 1 (All Saints‘ Day)
  • December 24 (Christmas Eve)
  • December 25-26 (Christmas)

Culture in Vilnius

The magical Old Town of Vilnius holds many secrets and a long history. The cobblestone streets lead you on a romantic walk through the UNESCO World Heritage site. But Vilnius has more tricks up its sleeve. Vilnius is home to many talented contemporary artists, which means you can attend a play or a film by a world-famous Lithuanian director, listen to the best opera singer in the world, or visit the exhibition of an acclaimed contemporary artist.

Dozens of free events take place daily in Vilnius, and every month there’s a theatre, film, dance, or a culture festival going on. Vilnius is also a hot destination for touring artists, so plan ahead and you might get to see them up close and personal while in town. At night, Vilnius turns into a different city where people dance until sunrise amid a booming club and bar culture.

Outside Vilnius

There’s plenty to see in Vilnius, but if you have more time on your hands, a day-trip will open up new horizons. There are various daytrip options depending on your interests, but one common feature is that they’re all relatively close by and easily accessible.

Just a 30-minute trip from Vilnius, the Town of Trakai is home to a stunning fairy tale view of a castle in the middle of a lake. The Kernavė Archaeological Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the valley of the Neris River, will transport you to prehistoric and medieval ages.

You can also visit the geographical centre of Europe, which is near Vilnius, and then check out Europos Park, an exquisite open-air contemporary art museum. Ready for a bigger road-trip? Take a day-trip to Kaunas, the Hill of Crosses, or even go to the Baltic Sea.

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