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Out of all the attractions in Vilnius, the Gediminas Tower is an icon you cannot miss while you’re in the city.
It’s the last standing piece of Duke Gediminas’ legacy, the founding father of Vilnius, and has some epic views from the top to boot!
The cherry on top is that you can see these breathtaking views absolutely FREE. Plus, there is an informative museum if you’d like to learn about the Upper Castle too for a small fee.
Here’s a complete guide to visiting the Gediminas Tower of the Upper Castle in Vilnius!
Table of Contents
- Gediminas Tower and Upper Castle History
- Where is the Gediminas Tower in Vilnius?
- How to get to Gediminas’ Tower in Vilnius
- Walk up Gediminas Hill & Stairs
- Gediminas’ Tower funicular
- Gediminas tower opening hours & prices
- Gediminas Castle Tower Museum
- The views from Gediminas tower of the upper castle
- Facilities at Gediminas Castle
- Things to do around the Gediminas Tower
- Vilnius Cathedral Square
- Three Cross Hill
- Pilies Street & Vilnius Old Town
- Looking for places to eat in Vilnius?
- Where to stay in Vilnius
- Looking for more travel inspiration for Lithuania?
- Like it? Pin it!
Gediminas Tower and Upper Castle History
If you weren’t aware about the story of Vilnius and how the city was founded, I’ll tell you the tale.
Years ago, the capital of the Duchy of Lithuania was Kanarvé and then switched hands to Trakai, when Gediminas discovered the area on a hunting trip.
Years later, when Gediminas was on another hunting trip (he loved those), he had a prophetic dream in the forest. He dreamt of a wolf made of iron, who was howling as loud as the presence of a hundred wolves on top of a hill.
When he took this dream to a Baltic Shaman, he told Gediminas that the dream meant he should build a new city. It would be strong like the iron wolf and people would take about it for years to come, hence the howling.
At that point, the area where Vilnius is today was not a united city. It was made of small villages, like clans, who fought viciously between each other. Gediminas decided to unite these villages to create the new city of Vilnius. Hence, Vilnius was born named after the River Vilnia!
He started building the upper castle in the 14th century and the Gediminas Tower was the fortification was made of wood at that time. Years later, his grandson Vytautas solidified the fort and made it out of bricks.
It was reconstructed in the 1930s and by the 1960s became a museum. Since the Lithuanian independence in 1990, the Lithuanian flag has flown from the top and has become a symbol for the city.
Where is the Gediminas Tower in Vilnius?
The Gediminas Tower Castle is easy to spot from the Vilnius Cathedral Square.
It quite literally towers over the city and you can see it from Pilies Street (or Castle Street) and also from Gediminas Avenue too.
It stands on a hill slightly behind the Vilnius Cathedral and you can access it from behind the National Museum of Lithuania.
You can easily walk up to the Gediminas Tower from the bottom of Gediminas Hill, but if you cannot walk, there is a funicular that goes up and down the hill for a small fee.
How to get to Gediminas’ Tower in Vilnius
There are two ways to get up to the Gediminas Tower. It will all depend on your budget, how much energy you have and whether you’re able to walk up a steep hill;
Walk up Gediminas Hill & Stairs
The free option is to climb up to Gediminas Tower via Gediminas Hill. This hill starts off steep and then tails off with some steps to finish.
The hill at first is quite cobbly with big stones, so I would make sure you have some good walking shoes on. I had to hold onto the barrier at first like a granny lol. But, it was slippy in winter.
Then after that there’s around 30 steep steps up to the top viewing platform. It’s quite a climb that will leave even the fittest of you a little breathless.
There is a gate, so make sure you read the opening times below.
Gediminas’ Tower funicular
If you aren’t up for a hike, or cannot walk up to the top. Then there is a funicular that can take you up to the top of the Upper Castle that can be accessed from back of the National Museum of Lithuania.
Tickets cost 1 Euro each way and takes around 10 people at one time.
I ended up getting the funicular down as there weren’t any toilets at the top (not even inside the Castle museum) and so the only option was to use the ones at the bottom in the funicular station. Not a cheap toilet stop but when nature calls…
This runs from 10am – 9pm from April – September and then 10am – 8pm in October to March.
Gediminas tower opening hours & prices
If you just want to enjoy the views from the top of the upper castle hill fort than it is absolutely FREE. You can just climb to the top and head towards the tower. From here there is a platform where you can see some amazing views of the whole city.
But, when I was here there was a lot of construction blocking the views. So, I decided to pay for a museum ticket to go to the top of the Gediminas Tower.
The opening times for the Gediminas Tower hill is from 10am – 9pm in April – September and from 10am – 8pm in October to March.
Gediminas Castle Tower Museum
As well as taking in some breathtaking views, you can learn about the history of the Gediminas Tower in the Castle Museum there.
For only 5 Euros, you can climb around the tower and learn about the history of Vilnius and get a better view from the top.
Firstly, I loved the museum because it was so warm. But, also because there was some interactive displays too.
Inside you can learn about Lithuania’s independence including the Baltic Way. Which saw thousands of people unite together, holding hands through Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn in opposition to Soviet Rule.
The Baltic Way finally saw Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia gain their independence.
The views from Gediminas tower of the upper castle
The views from the top of the Gediminas Tower are spectacular! You can get amazing 360 degree panoramic views of the whole of Vilnius.
I fell hard for the Old Town in the city and I loved being able to get a birds eye view of all the red roofs, church spires and cobbled streets from there.
In contrast, you can also get a great view of the newer part of the city, including the skyscrapers and the TV Tower. That’s the tallest building in Lithuania and you can even have dinner from the top!
As it was December, it was completely freezing from the top with the icy breeze. But, I couldn’t stop taking pictures!
Facilities at Gediminas Castle
There isn’t really any facilities at the top of the Gediminas Castle Tower. Parts of the Upper Castle are currently under construction but even when this isn’t happening, there are no toilet facilities (even if you pay to enter the museum)
However, at the bottom of the Funicular station there are toilets before you leave the turnstile. Which means you will have to pay a Euro to use them.
There isn’t a ticket kiosk at the top of the Funicular. But, just hop on the carriage and head to the bottom. You’ll then pay your fee before you leave.
There isn’t anywhere to buy food either at the top or cafés to have a drink while you’re there. But, there are some vending machines to buy a coffee or some snacks. But, personally I’d just head into a local café after your visit.
Things to do around the Gediminas Tower
Once you’re finished exploring and snapping all views of Gediminas Castle. There are plenty of things to do in the area.
I spent a week in Vilnius and explored the city in depth. So, if you wanted some more guides about what there is to do see my guides below;
Vilnius Cathedral Square
The main meeting point in the city for locals, Vilnius Cathedral Square sits at the heart of the Old Town.
It’s home to the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, the Cathedral Clock Tower and Vilnius Cathedral which is one of the most important Catholic churches of Lithuania.
As well as the main attractions there are also little things to look out for like the foot prints that resemble the Baltic way, the statue of Gediminas and the Magic Brick where you can make a wish.
When I visited in December, they had also set up the famous Vilnius Christmas Tree and the Christmas Markets there too.
Throughout the summer, they use the area for various events and concerts. So, make sure you visit to check what’s going on.
Three Cross Hill
If you’re hungry for more viewpoints, one of my favourites in the city was the Three Cross Hill.
From the Gediminas Tower and Cathedral Square you can see three white crucifixes that are placed on top of a hill in Kalnai Park.
This is the Hill of Three Crosses which is a memorial to the martyrs of Vilnius and is one of the most popular viewpoints.
Visiting is completely FREE and you get some fabulous views of the Old Town and rolling hills beyond.
Pilies Street & Vilnius Old Town
All roads in Vilnius Old Town lead down the castle. But, the most famous of these is the cobbled Pilies street which means Castle Street.
If you head up here, it will give you a great introduction to Vilnius Old Town and you can get some great views of the Gediminas castle tower from there too.
The Old Town is one of the best parts of the city and here you can find the Vilnius Town Hall, the Church of Casimir, St Anne’s church, The church of St Johns, The Gate of Dawn and lots more.
You’ll need at least half a day to explore, so make sure you book enough time in your itinerary!
Looking for places to eat in Vilnius?
I have to admit, I wasn’t too familiar with Lithuanian Cuisine before my visit to Vilnius. But, after sampling the local delicacies in restaurants and going on a food tour of the city, I left loving it!
From zeppelins, to cold beetroot soup, potato pancakes, pigs ears and rye bread. There are so many new foods on the menu to sample.
But, what really opened my eyes to the food culture here was a flavours of Vilnius food tour by Urban Adventures. On this tour we went on an edible journey through Vilnius trying the local foods and learning about the history of them too!
Where to stay in Vilnius
I stayed with Tinggly on my visit in their Blogger House which was epic, but unfortunately it’s not up for rent!
But, I did check out some the local hotels in the city which you can book below;
- Luxury: Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius, Hotel PACAI, Radisson Blu Astorija, Relais & Chateaux Stikliai Hotel, Imperial Hotel & Restautant
- Mid Range: Amberton Hotel Cathedral Square, Shakespeare’s Boutique Hotel, Hotel Vilnia, Best Western Vilnius, Artagonist Art Hotel, City Hotels Algirdas
- Budget: Hotel Simple Plus, Grata By Centrum, Hotel Panorama, Domus Maria, Fabrika Hostel, Hostel Jamaika, Come to Vilnius Hostel
With thanks to Tinggly for hosting my stay. Although I was a guest, all photos and opinions are my own.
Looking for more travel inspiration for Lithuania?
I explored the city of Vilnius in detail and took some day trips out to Trakai, Kaunas and The Hill of Crosses too while I was here.
So, as well as the Gediminas Tower, make sure you read some of my helpful travel guides for your trip;
- The Hill of Crosses: How to visit from Vilnius