Arriving in and getting around Vilnius are fairly simple affairs once you understand the basics. Accordingly, travelling further afield is relatively painless if you’re prepared to do your research beforehand and use some sign language when using buses and trains. Car rental prices approximately match Western standards.
Arriving in VilniusThe three main points of arrival in Vilnius offer very different experiences indeed, making your first few minutes in the city anything from a pleasure to a pain. Improvements are taking place all the time. Print copies of Vilnius In Your Pocket can be bought from kiosks inside the airport, bus and train stations for just €0.58. Alternatively, download one online before you leave by clicking here.
Public transportServed by a network of city-owned buses and trolleybuses, the capital's public transport services begin at around 05:00 and continue through the day before stopping not much later than 23:00. Vilnius does not yet have a nightbus service except on New Year's Eve and on a couple of other special occassions. Getting about the city is cheap, and relatively easy once you have the hang of the basics. (Being able to buy tickets directly from bus and trolleybus drivers helps). Note that public transport can be very crowded during peak hours, and that pickpockets are not uncommon on the busiest routes (especially those to and from the bus station).
TaxisDespite recent creeping taxi (taksi) prices, travelling by taxi in Vilnius remains relatively cheap, especially if you order one in advance by telephone. In an attempt to stem the flow of moonlighters, all taxis in Lithuania are now instantly recognisable by their compulsory yellow number plates, although this should in no way lure anyone into believing this has changed the free-market spirit of the average taksistas (taxi driver). Taxi drivers in Vilnius are no different to taxi drivers anywhere else, and will in general take any opportunity to relieve clients of more money than they need to. The standard rule is to make sure the meter is running and set to the correct tariff before setting off. Arguments with taxi drivers are futile, and there are several stories floating around of drunken foreigners being assaulted when arguing about the fare. Finally, be extremely cautious of hotels who offer deals with individual taxi companies as they're usually set at extortionate rates. Prices listed below are for standard daytime journeys within the city limits.
- Air Baltic
- Austrian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Nordic Aviation Group
- Norwegian Air Shuttle
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
Car rentalOffices representing all of the major international car rental companies can be found in Vilnius alongside a few local businesses of varying standards. All types of vehicle are represented, with many companies also offering chauffeur services. Most major driving international licences are accepted.
CyclingLithuania is as flat as a pancake, has relatively little traffic, a bracing coastline and lots of interesting places to see and explore making it an attractive destination for cyclists. Likewise, Vilnius is criss-crossed with cycle paths, is positively overflowing with parks and wherever you are in the city you’re never more than a brisk 15-minute pedal from the countryside. A well established, national non-profit organisation exists to help cyclists in many ways. Baltic Cycle offers everything from maps, cycling tours and even bicycle rental where you can pick up a machine in one country and drop it off in another. Political cyclists in Vilnius will be pleased to hear that the city now holds its very own Critical Mass (Kritinė Masė) on the last Friday of every month, weather permitting, starting from Cathedral Square at 18:00 sharp.
HitchhikingHitching a ride is quite common in Lithuania. As in every country, women are advised never to do so alone. To get onto the road to Riga, take trolleybus Nº11, 16 or 19 to the final (Pašilaičių Žiedas) stop in Pašilaičiai where Laisvės meets the A2 (E272) highway. For the A1 (E85) highway to Kaunas and the sea, take trolleybus Nº4, 6, 12, 15 or 18 to the penultimate (Ūmėdžių) stop and walk along until you reach the section where the road starts going up the hill. This is also the place to start hitching for Druskininkai and Poland. For more information about hitchhiking in Lithuania and beyond, see the excellent www.autostop.lt, run by the long-established Vilnius Hitchhiking Club who organise everything from social events to help finding free accommodation.
Long-distance busesAll long-distance national and international buses leave from Vilnius’ main bus station (autobusų stotis). Although tickets for many journeys can be bought directly from the driver it’s worth getting one in advance at no extra cost. The ticket office for national bus services is located inside the waiting room. International tickets can be bought from several different outlets found scattered around the building as well as from a number of travel agencies in the city. Backpackers and other travellers on a budget from Western Europe might be surprised to learn that bus travel in Lithuania is more expensive than using the train.
Tourist informationVilnius City Card
Available from any Tourist Information Centre in the city and online via www.vilnius-tourism.lt, there are two different types of card valid for either 24 hours (58Lt/€17) or 72 hours (90Lt/€26), both of which come with public transport, with a further 24-hour version without public transport for just 45Lt/€13. The Vilnius City Card entitles holders to all sorts of deals including free museum entry and guided tours as well as discounts on a range of things including concerts, meals in restaurants and hotel bookings. Check the aforementioned website for more detailed information.
TrainsVilnius’ main train station (geležinkelio stotis) handles services to a number of destinations within Lithuania as well as international trains to Belarus, Russia and Latvia. Most tickets can be bought from a row of kiosks to the right of the main entrance. Tickets for international trains can also be purchased from a small office inside and immediately to the left of the main entrance. The general rule is that tickets stop being sold 10 minutes before a train is due to depart. With the exception of some international services, tickets can be bought on board trains from the conductor for which a €1.45 commission is charged.
Travel agenciesMost of the following companies provide services for onward travel or simply for taking a holiday. Some can also arrange visas for Russia and Belarus.
- Amber Tours
- Baltic Clipper
- Baltic Tours Vilnius
- Baltic Travel Service Lufthansa City Center
- BPC Travel
- BTI West Express Lietuva
- CWT Lithuania
- Krantas Travel
- Lithuanian Holidays
- Lithuanian Tours
- Senamiesčio Gidas
- Sofa Travel
- The Beautiful Land Of Nevermind
- Vilnius Travel Service
- Visit Lithuania
- Zigzag lt
- Zip Travel