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If you’re looking for the best viewpoint in Vilnius then you need to schedule a visit to the Hill of Three Crosses.
Standing dramatically over Cathedral Square, you can see this gleaming trio of white crucifixes from afar. It’s like a siren calling you in.
When you make your way up here, you’ll be greeted with never-ending views of the red roofs and church spires of the Old Town, the Gediminas Tower, the Palace of the Grand Dukes and so much more!
The cherry on top? It’s completely FREE.
Here is a complete guide to the Three Cross Hill with top tips on what to expect!
What is the Hill of Three Crosses in Vilnius?
The Hill of Three Crosses is a monument and popular viewpoint in Vilnius. It was originally known as Bleak Hill.
Today, it’s one of the many attractions of Kalnai Park which is a park of rolling hills and so it makes it a wonderful stop to find some nature in the urban jungle.
The monument has three crosses together and at the base, there is a terraced viewpoint that you can stand on to take in the views.
There are lots of legends surrounding this hill that I will go into below which gives it historical importance in Vilnius too.
The history behind the Hill of Three Crosses
Lithuania was the last country to convert to Christianity in the 14th century. Before that, the country was mostly Pagan believing in their own Lithuanian Gods.
According to the legends, Petras Goštautas invited 14 Franciscan Friars to Vilnius. Once the Friars were here they preached the gospel and started to bad mouth the Pagan Lithuanian Gods.
Naturally, the people of the city weren’t best pleased with what these Friars had to say. So, some of the angry residents burned down their monasteries and decided to kill them. Seven Friars were executed on Bleak Hill, while the other seven were crucified and thrown into the Neris River.
A lot of historians say this is inaccurate but the story touched the Lithuanian people in 1636 after they had converted to Christianity. So, they built wooden crosses on Bleak Hill in their honour. They were then known as the Franciscan martyrs of Vilnius.
Over time these wooden crosses rotted and then collapsed in 1869. But, as the country was under Russian rule they could not rebuild them. Once they were occupied by Germany, a new monument was put in its place.
By 1950, the Soviet Union took over Vilnius and demolished the monument altogether. So, what we see today is a 1989 reconstruction by Henrikas Šilgalis. He built it during the Lithuanian Independence movement.
How to get to the Hill of Three Crosses in Vilnius
The Three Cross Hill is easy to find using Cathedral Square as a starting point. I made my way over to this viewpoint on foot which is easily done and the city is well signposted for pedestrians.
But, I will warn you now, it’s a steep climb up that hill!
There are pathways inside the forest area itself, but as it was winter and raining most days I decided to give the muddy puddles a miss. I climbed up the concrete roadway entrance nearby Gediminas Castle.
If you’re wanting to visit for sunrise, it gets dark, or just can’t face a steep walk, I get you.
Luckily, there is Uber and Bolt in Vilnius for easy taxi services. They can drop you off a mere 50 metres from the entrance to the Three Crosses viewpoint in the car park.
Vilnius also has bus and tram services that run in the city. Why not purchase a Vilnius City Card that can give you FREE transport plus entrance to some of the main attractions?!
Opening times and prices for the Hill of Three Crosses
The best thing about the Hill of Three Crosses is it is completely FREE! So, you can get access to one of the best views in the whole city even if you’re on a tight budget.
Plus, if you’re into photography there aren’t any entrance gates, security guards, or times to stick by so you can pop along to this viewpoint at any time of the day on your trip!
I love these sort of attractions as it gives you complete freedom and flexibility for the best weather/sunlight too.
The best time to visit the viewpoint for photography is early morning for sunrise or later in the afternoon for sunset.
I’ve also heard that the viewpoint at night time is fantastic as you get to see all the city lights. But, as a woman alone, I wasn’t really too comfortable.
What can you see from the Hill of Three Crosses?
So, you’re probably wondering, what makes the Hill of Three Crosses the best viewpoint in all of Vilnius?
Well, to me, it’s the fact that you can see all the main attractions in one frame. The Gediminas Castle, St Anne’s Church, The Palace of the Grand Dukes, Vilnius Cathedral, the lot!
Whereas, if you’re heading up to let’s say the Gediminas tower you won’t be able to see that from there.
You get a great mix of historical buildings and nature from the beautiful trees which create layers and textures in your photo too. Even in winter, when there was barely anything there, it was still pretty and made a nice effect with the branches.
You’re elevated so you can really get a beautiful birds-eye view, plus it’s free compared to most other viewpoints in the city which is always a bonus.
When I climbed up the first time it was a misty winter’s morning and the church bells were ringing to signal the new hour. So, it was really eerie which I loved!
As well as the Old Town, you can see the buildings and rolling hills from afar and see just how hilly the city really is!
On the platform, they also have maps that will guide you to what you can see from the viewpoint. On a clear day, you can see miles and miles of gorgeous views! It was endless.
Things to do in Kalnai Park
The Hill of Three Crosses isn’t the only attraction inside this beautiful park. If the weather is pleasant and you would like to go for a stroll around, there are plenty of attractions to keep you busy.
Kalnai Park is well signposted and provides some helpful maps of where to find everything. So, you shouldn’t get lost!
- (Stalo) Table Hill – Another hill viewpoint in the city but not as attractive as the Hill of Three Crosses. You see a lot more grass and nature and in the winter this was pretty bleak so I gave it a miss. In the summer this will be much more interesting, especially with blue skies!
- Hill of Gediminas’ Grave – Gediminas was a Grand Duke of Lithuania from the 13th – 14th century and is known as the founding father of Vilnius. He had a prophetic dream while on a hunting trip of a wolf made of iron, howling with the strength of a hundred wolves. A Baltic Shaman translated the dream that he needed to build a great city that people will speak about for thousands of years. So, Vilnius was born! As well as Gediminas Castle nearby, the Hill with his grave column can be found in this park.
- Concert Hall / Hill of songs – If you’re heading in from the car park side, you’ll see a huge concert arena in the park. During the summer months, Vilnius holds many singing events and shows in this area. So, keep your eyes peeled for events you can attend!
Looking for more amazing viewpoints in Vilnius?
Did you know that one of the highlights of visiting this city is finding the amazing panoramas?!
You can find endless sweeping views from churches, castles, bell towers, and even from restaurants in the sky!
Where to stay in Vilnius
I stayed here with Tinggly in their epic Blogger House, but unfortunately, that isn’t up for rent!
So, here are some hotels I have handpicked in the city for every type of budget;
- Luxury: Hotel PACAI
- Mid Range: Hotel Vilnia
- Budget: Hotel Panorama
Looking for more information on destinations in Lithuania?
I was able to cover a lot of ground in Lithuania while I was here and visited many places in Vilnius, Kaunas, Trakai, and even the Hill of Crosses.
From my adventures, I wrote these helpful guides to give you all the information that you need to prepare for your travels in Lithuania;
Hill of Crosses: How to reach there from Vilnius
Save this Hill of Three Crosses Vilnius guide for later!
With thanks to Tinggly for hosting my stay. Although I was a guest, all photos and opinions are my own.