A UNESCO World Heritage-listed treasure trove, Vilnius Old Town is cradled in the confluence of two rivers and is the best-preserved medieval town center in Europe.
It was created over the centuries in an abundance of architectural styles from Gothic to Renaissance and is centered on the Neo-Classical Cathedral and its airy surrounding piazza. From here labyrinthine cobbled streets abuzz with restaurants, stores and bars lead upward towards the Higher Castle among pastel-painted Baroque churches and centuries-old townhouses constructed of tiny red bricks.
Many of the myriad attractions of Vilnius lie within this district, from the Neo-Classical Presidential Palace to the Gothic St Anne’s Church, the Baroque chapel at the Gate of Dawn and the convoluted backstreets of one of the city’s two former Jewish quarters.
Overlooking all this stands the Higher Castle, which can also be reached by funicular from the Lower Castle next to the Cathedral. Although not much of the castle has survived the wars and revolutions that have marred Lithuania’s history, the Gediminas Tower has become a squat, hexagonal symbol of peace and there’s a panoramic vista across the city from the viewing platform atop the tower.
Much of Vilnius Old Town is car-free, and parking space is at a premium. There is plenty of free parking on Klaipedos gatve, a 10-minute walk away. All sights are within easy walking distance of each other.