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Born from a legend about a howling iron wolf, Vilnius stands at the cusp of east and west, a testament to the Lithuanians' record as the last pagans in Europe and warriors who in medieval times expanded their empire as far as the Black Sea.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city's enchanting Old Town is a visual feast, thanks to its churches, meandering cobbled streets, palaces and intimate courtyards. It is also where many of the best places to stay in Vilnius are located.
Amongst a wealth of architectural styles, Baroque is dominant, resulting in echoes of a Jesuit town somewhere in Latin America, except that here the tapering crosses of the Catholic churches combine with the Pagan symbols of the sun and the moon: wife and husband in Lithuanian mythology.
As for hotels, from our selection of the best places to stay in Vilnius there are some notable examples occupying historic Old Town buildings, and others that mimic historic elements; less evident are bolder, more cutting edge places.
Any exploration of Vilnius should, if possible, be combined with a trip to historic Trakai, 28 km away, and Europos Parkas, the open-air museum with over 100 works by world-famous artists, 19 km away.
Vilnius for Two
The nightlife is cosy, there are little bars everywhere, poked into little gaps in medieval architecture, and it's an easy city to get around. There's also something beautiful and romantic to look at with every turn.
- One of the best places to stay in Vilnius for a romantic break, the Stikliai Hotel is reminiscent of a small chateau or villa. This is partly because its 29 rooms are arranged around a central courtyard - also a gorgeous, well known restaurant - and they're all decorated individually. Some with four poster beds. It used to be a tavern, with apartments above for rich merchants. It's also one of the best places to stay in Vilnius if you want to be close to the historic centre.
- If the two of you have something to celebrate then the Europa Royale Hotel, with its spectacular-church-spire-views, is one of the best places to stay in Vilnius. Once a lavish 19th Century mansion it's still pretty lavish. In summer the charming, vaulted Medininkai restaurant spills out into their courtyard.
Vilnius on a Budget
Vilnius is a good choice for anyone looking for a beautiful, unusual and culturally rich destination, but on a budget. Many of the best places to stay in Vilnius have room rates of under £100 a night.
- It's got location, tradition and a quirky restaurant in the cellar, yet the Narutis Hotel is still very reasonably priced. It's also got a spa with Turkish baths, saunas and jacuzzis. And as the oldest designated hotel in Vilnius - it's been 'a place for an overnight stay' since 1581, it's also one of the best places to stay in Vilnius if you're looking for a unique, historic place to lay your head.
Vilnius City Break
There's a lot to see in Vilnius. But many of the highlights are interesting for their history and architecture, so you don't necessarily need to spend a great deal of time at each. And many of the great churches and monuments are located in the Old Town.
- To soak up the feel of Vilnius quickly it's best to stay somewhere traditional, like the Grotthuss Hotel. Once part of a 16th Century fortress, this hotel is on a charming, medieval, Old Town street. The well known restaurant serves local dishes.
- Downtown, but off the main tourist trails, the Shakespeare Hotel takes its name seriously. And it's not just about The Bard, its rooms and suites are individually themed and decorated for the writers they're named after. Charming rather than twee, this is one of the best places to stay in Vilnius if you're after easy access to the Old Town's highlights.
Best Hotels in Vilnius
Vilnius Grand Resort 192 rooms from $50Nr Vilnius
A large contemporary hotel just 20 minutes from central Vilnius, surrounded by pine forests and two magnificent lakes. A host of activities including a championship golf course, indoor pool and indulgent spa. A selection of bars and restaurants. Impressive banqueting halls. A convenient city escape.Private dining room - Banqueting halls for special occasions, including weddingsSights nearby - 20 mins away is Vilnius and its ample historic landmarks, art galleries and museumsGreat walks - Walk around the lake and through the pine and birch forests surrounding the hotelViews - Magnificent views over the lake
Atrium Hotel 28 rooms from $67Vilnius
A renovated 16th century building reworked in a contemporary refurb. Simple rooms decorated in neutral tones with wooden beams and sloping ceilings giving them a loft like feel. A rustic restaurant offers Argentinian dishes and a great wine list to boot. Excellently located for exploring the city.City Style - Excellently located to take advantage of the cultural sights and lively evening scene in the Old TownSights nearby - An array of sights are within walking distance including the Gediminas Tower and Cathedral Square
Europa Royale Hotel 51 rooms from $69Vilnius
A lavish 19th-century mansion; ideally situated for exploring the city's landmarks. Traditional elegance throughout. A lovely restaurant with a summer time patio and panoramic views of the city's spires from some of the suites. An ideal choice for a city break.Value chic - Situated in the medieval Old Town, with central courtyard, and an extensive wine cellar.Sights nearby - Countless sights within walking distance including Cathedral square, Vilnius Cathedral and the Palace of the Grand Dukes.Great walks - Right on Piața Unirii, boasting a small park with fountains.Full of character
Narutis Hotel 53 rooms from $103Vilnius
A beautifully decorated hotel in Old Town. Frescoes, beamed ceilings, wooden floors, gothic vaults, and vibrant colours. Individually decorated light airy rooms. Suites feature Turkish baths and jacuzzis. Quirky cellar restaurant serves traditional and European cuisines. Ideal for a city break.City Style - A chic hotel in a great location on the main street of Vilnius Old TownSights nearby - Walking distance to many of Vilnius' sights. Cathedral Square is at one end of the road and the Town Hall at the otherSwimming Pool - Indoor PoolSpa
Mabre Residence 40 rooms from $92Vilnius
A traditional Residence with elegant rooms and suites, a fantastic steak house restaurant, and beauty spa. Great value, authentic, and centrally located in the old town of VIlnius.Sights nearby - Situated in the heart of the Old TownSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorSpaLocal markets - Good for local colour.
Grotthuss Hotel 20 rooms from $93Vilnius
Privately owned boutique hotel on narrow medieval street. A characterful building with traditional decoration - stone facades, marble floors, paintings, artworks. Lovely restaurant with courtyard, spacious rooms, and conference facilities. Ideal for business or leisure.Value chic - A homely boutique hotel in the heart of Vilnius’ Old Town, with winter garden restaurant and superb Spanish and French wines.Sights nearby - Just an eight minute walk to the Gate of Dawn, down pretty cobbled alleyways and lanes.House party feel - Be prepared to meet people.Full of character
Ramada Hotel 55 rooms from $114Vilnius
Functional elegance behind a classical façade in Vilnius' old town. A combination of contemporary sensibility and old world beauty. Marble columns, Provencal wallpapers, golden touches. chandeliers, giant bath tubs. The restaurant has superior service and classical cuisine. A fine stay.City Style - A lavish hotel in a central locationSights nearby - Within walking distance to many sights including the Town Hall and Presidential PalaceFull of characterSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
Shakespeare Hotel 31 rooms from $145Vilnius
In the heart of the Old Town but off the tourist track. An atmospheric hotel in the vain of literary greats with charming individually decorated rooms. Lovely restaurant and even a banqueting hall for special events.City Style - A historic hotel with chic rooms, magnificant architecture and a sophisticated bar and library.Great walks - Explore the historic centre of Vilnius, with its well preserved complex of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and classical buildings.Local markets - Cathedral Square, the iconic central square of the city, is host to exhibtions, fairs, markets and even concerts.Sights nearby - Within walking distance of Gediminas' Tower, the remaining part of the Upper Castle in Vilnius.
Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square 96 rooms from $219Vilnius
Five Star Luxury in the heart of the ornate and romantic old town of Vilnius, in the UNESCO listed Cathedral Square. Every luxury and state of the art conveniences in this supremely elegant hotel: marble bathrooms, lavish suites, spa and first class restaurant. Hard to beat for business or pleasure.Restaurant - The Telegrafas restaurant with views of Cathedral Square blends the very best of local and international cuisineSpa - Luxurious and extensive spa with indoor pool, Finnish and steam sauna rooms and beauty treatmentsSuites - Lavish suites some with wonderful views over the Cathedral Square and Old TownSights nearby - Located in Cathedral Square, the heart of the Old Town
Stikliai Hotel 43 rooms from $219Vilnius
Charmingly decorated hotel with noted restaurant. Rich traditional elegance throughout - rugs, beautiful painted walls, original artworks, antique furniture, urns, and chandeliers. A gorgeous inner courtyard for dining and bedrooms with four poster beds. Truly delightful.City Style - Fluted woodwork and lavish upholstery abound in this classic Vilnius hotel, surrounded by narrow lanes and intimate courtyards.Great walks - Wander the narrow streets of the Old City and admire the architectural jems you'll find hidden on her streets.Local markets - Scour the stalls at the historical flea market or pick up glass crafts around the area.Sights nearby - The hotel is within walking distance of the Cathedral Square.Recommended by - Kiwi Collection, Relais & Chateaux