In Vilnius you can find many interesting museums, however, we only recommend a couple of them as “Must see” places. For people who enjoy history the tour around Vilnius museums will be very interesting. So, if you are looking for great local tips of which museums to explore, you came to the right place!
Palace of Grand Dukes of Lithuania
First in our list is the “Palace of Grand Dukes of Lithuania”, located in the heart of Vilnius Old town, near the Cathedral square and Gediminas Castle. Museum is reconstructed and includes Renaissance, Early Baroque and some Gothic features in its multifunctional halls which today can hold many public events, conferences, open air performances and other.
The whole museum consists of four main routes to explore while inside. First shows the history and how architecture developed, you will be able to observe ruins of ancient buildings still in place. Furthermore, you move to witness the change from late Gothic to the Renaissance and then to early Baroque which best unfold in ceremonial halls. From there you get a possibility to enjoy everyday life of the Palace, it includes arms, music and everything in between. Lastly, if you are lucky and at the moment there is any significant national or international the museum’s modern national and international exhibition center is dedicated for significant national and international exhibitions.
All four main routes have different pricing and if you visit more than one, you get a discount for the second or third one. All the information about pricing and possibility to get a guide either audio or live is in Palace of Grand Dukes of Lithuania webpage.
Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights
Second in our list is the “Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights” or sometimes also called as KGB Museum, it is located near the edge of old town and Lukiškės square. For us this museum is probably the darkest one in Vilnius city. It is hard to describe the atmosphere which you can feel while visiting. It has history, which is painted with blood. Before Nazi occupation of Lithuania in 1941 this building was a gymnasium which then became the headquarters of the Gestapo. After Nazis left and Lithuania was occupied by Soviets in 1944, the place was used by Soviet Secret Police or in other words “KGB”. Here “KGB” stayed and continued imprisonments until Lithuania regained independence from Soviet Union in 1991.
Museum consists of two main parts, first and second floor is dedicated to the Lithuanian partisans’ resistance against the Soviet occupiers, day to day life of Lithuanian people under Soviet regime and for the deportation of Lithuanians to Siberia. While the basement is dedicated to show how prison, execution and torture chambers looked like. If you decide to go down there, keep in mind that the cells look exactly how the KGB officers left them upon leaving Lithuania in 1991.
National Museum of Lithuanian
Third is “National Museum of Lithuania” or sometimes also called “The New Arsenal”, located near King Mindaugas Monument, “Palace of Grand Dukes of Lithuania” and Gediminas Castle. It has probably the most historical and cultural heritage attributes in whole Lithuania as it works as treasury. The museum was opened in 1855, thus, it most likely is one of the oldest museums in whole country. Now it helps to enlighten everyone about the history of Lithuania, its national culture and customs.
While wandering through museum territory you can spot and explore the history of Lithuania, as well as, present traditional Lithuanian culture and customs. In front of the main door of the museum stands monument to our one and only King Mindaugas. He was an extraordinary man who united Lithuanian lands to stand together as one state and won international recognition of Lithuania. In 1253 he was crowned as a King. In addition to this monument there is a possibility to see the Old Arsenal building and nearby in a closed courtyard of this Museum there is a funicular which will take you to Gediminas’ Hill on which we can find Tower of the Upper Castle.
Gediminas’ Tower of the Upper Castle
Number four – “Gediminas’ Tower of the Upper Castle” our just “Gediminas Castle Tower” located on Gediminas Hill, near “Palace of Grand Dukes of Lithuania” and “National Museum of Lithuania”. It was opened in 1960 and after 8 years it became part of the Lithuanian National Museum. Inside you can find amazing exposition of Vilnius castles’ reconstruction models dating back to 14th century. When you reach the top of this tower, you can enjoy the view from an observation deck built to allow visitors to witness majestic panorama of Vilnius.
National Gallery of Art
Last but not least is the “National Gallery of Art” which is located in Konstitucija avenue near Chiune Sugihara sakura park. In order to find a dialogue with the public it became modern and multifunctional center of art. Here you can find two types of expositions, it is either permanent or changing. (You can find more information about current expositions here.
When coming you should be aware that it is closed on Mondays and national holidays. Also, closing time is one hour earlier on the eve of the national holidays. Entrance fee is 3 euros for adults and 50% discount for students like in most museums in Lithuania.
Tip of the day: On the last Sunday of each month, you can visit National and Republican museums who are under the Ministry of Culture control, they must open their doors and share their permanent expositions free of charge.
Best of luck planning your trip in Vilnius!