Direct flights from multiple European cities, inexpensive but comfortable hotels, and cheap but delicious food make this 700 years-old city with its walkable Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) an easy destination to travel to.
How to fly to Vilnius
There are multiple ways of flying to Vilnius very cheaply or even for free with airline miles or credit card points.
Although United Airlines does not fly to Vilnius, their partner airlines such as Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), LOT Polish Airlines and Turkish Airlines do fly which means that you can fly any of these airlines and pay for your flights with United Airlines miles. A round-trip from the U.S. to Vilnius in economy cabin will cost 60,000 United miles plus about $100 in taxes and fees. Moreover, by taking advantage of the United’s Excursionist perk, you can combine your trip to Lithuania with a trip to another European country without paying any additional United miles for that extra flight (you would only need to pay small taxes and fees though). For example, you can fly from the U.S. to Vilnius to visit places associated with the Divine Mercy devotion, then fly to Portugal to visit Fatima, and then return back to the U.S. by paying for all of your flights (U.S. city – Vilnius – Lisbon (Portugal) – U.S. city) only 60,000 United miles plus about $130. You can learn more about the Excursionist Perk, about how to earn United miles and how to book flights with them in one of my previous articles here.
American Airlines miles is another option for cheap flights to Lithuania. There is a smaller flight availability with American Airlines miles though than it is with United Airlines miles due to the fact that Oneworld alliance (which American Airlines is a part of) has less member airlines than the Star alliance (which United is a part of). If you choose to use American Airlines miles to fly to Lithuania, at least part of your trip will be on Finnair airline as it is the only Oneworld airline that flies to Vilnius. You can also fly part of your trip on British Airways or Iberia however that is not recommended because flights on those two airlines have significantly higher taxes and fees that you would pay in addition to American Airlines miles.
For the most part of the year a round-trip between the U.S. and Vilnius will cost 60,000 American Airlines miles plus $70-100 in taxes and fees (if you fly with American Airlines and Finnair). If you fly during off peak times (January 10-March 14 or November 1-December 14), you will only need 45,000 American Airlines miles plus $70-100 for the same round-trip flights. You can read more about how to earn American Airlines miles and how to book flights with them here.
Booking Aer Lingus flights and paying for them with British Airlines Avios points is one of the best options to fly from North America to Europe, especially if you live in Boston, Chicago, Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto or Washington D.C. areas. Round-trip between these cities and Dublin, Ireland costs only 26,000 Avios points during off-peak times and 40,000 Avios points during peak times plus about $120 in taxes and fees all the time. From Dublin you can continue flying with Aer Lingus to other major European cities such as Rome, Paris, London or Madrid. Although Aer Lingus does not fly to Vilnius, you can easily reach it either from Dublin or any other major European city cheaply and easily. You can read more about how to use British Airways Avios for Aer Lingus flights here.
Ryanair, Europe’s largest low cost airline has direct flights between Vilnius and these major European cities: Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan, London, Paris, and Rome.
Wizzair, another low cost airline, also flies directly to Vilnius from Athens, Barcelona, London, Milan, Paris, Rome, and Tel Aviv.
The cost of a one-way flight with Ryanair or Wizzair from European city to Lithuania is usually from $30 to $150, depending on the time of the year and the distance you fly. Although you cannot book tickets of those two airlines on any bank travel portal (flights have to be booked on Ryanair.com or Wizzair.com), you can still use certain credit cards points or bank account bonuses to cover the cost of these flights.
Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Norwegian, Air Baltic, LOT Polish Airline, and Turkish Airlines also fly to Vilnius and have connecting flights with hundreds of cities around the world. Flights with those airlines can be booked on bank travel portals (with Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You and similar points). You can also use the points earned from other credit cards or bank account bonuses to cover the cost of these flights.
Where to stay in Vilnius
Three out of four places related to St. Faustina and Divine Mercy devotion in Vilnius are located in the Old Town which has a few dozens of wonderful and reasonably-priced hotels. You can find 3 or 4 star hotels for $50-80 per night and each of these hotels will be within a walking distance from the house where the original Divine Mercy image was painted, the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn where the image was publicly venerated for the first time or the Divine Mercy Shrine where the image is venerated today.
I have personally stayed at Hotel Domus Maria and Grotthuss Boutique Hotel that are located in the Old Town as well as Grata by Centrum Hotel and Ratonda Centrum Hotel (both located about 30 minutes’ walk to the Old Town). I could recommend any of these four hotels as they have very clean and quite rooms, polite staff and excellent breakfast (included in the hotel rate).
The Old Town of Vilnius has a lot of restaurants, many of which offer traditional Lithuanian dishes most of which are similar to the Polish and German food. You can usually have a three course meal for 10-15 euros or even less. I have visited restaurant Forto Dvaras (16 Pilies Street) several times and always enjoyed the food there. You can see most of Vilnius restaurants and read their reviews here.
If you want to save money on food, you can buy it in supermarkets (there are a few of them in the Old Town). MAXIMA, IKI, and RIMIare the three most popular supermarkets in Lithuania. In the old town you will find the smallest versions of these supermarkets and if you need to visit a big one, closest to the Old Town would be MAXIMA at 11 Mindaugo Street and IKI at 22 Sodu Street (same building as the Bus Station).
How to get around in Vilnius
Vilnius Airport is just a 10-15 minutes ride away from the city center by a car or a bus and 7 minutes by train. There is a direct shuttle bus between the airport and the bus station, two city buses (number 1 and 2) that start their routes at the airport and end at the bus station as well as two other city bus lines (3G and 88) that go from airport to the city center and then continue to other parts of Vilnius.
All buses stop on the street near the main entrance into the airport, tickets can be purchased from the bus driver. There is also a small train station a few minutes of walk from the airport – trains connecting airport to the train station depart from here, tickets can also be purchased on the train. You can read more about the ground transportation to/from airport on Vilnius Airport’s website here.
Vilnius Bus Station is located next to the Vilnius Train Station and both stations are right next to the Old Town (about 10 minutes’ walk). If your hotel is in the Old Town or near it, you will be able to see the main tourist sites as well as most Divine Mercy – related places by walking, no public transportation will be needed with the only exception of St. Faustina’s House (where the saint lived and where the Divine Mercy Chaplet was revealed to her) – you will need to take a trolleybus from the Old town to reach this house. I will explain how to do that in detail in one my future articles.
In case you need a map or a schedule of Vilnius city buses and trolleybuses, you can find them here. On the map and on the schedules, in addition to the street names, you will see words like “Oro Uostas” which means Airport; “Stotis” which means Bus/Train Station; and “Senamiestis” which means Old Town.
Marius Z., the author of the Heaven-Bound Pilgrim is writing about travel to holy places in Israel, Italy, Poland, France, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal and other countries. He writes about how to travel to the holy places cheaply or even for free while using credit card rewards points, frequent flyer miles, and hotel rewards points. History and spiritual message of each holy place is presented along with the information on where to eat, shop and stay while on pilgrimage.