Few cities offer a list of tourist attractions as impressive as those in Vilnius, Lithuania. Its historic Old Town, with palaces, churches, gardens and more, is so impressive that it is regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beyond the medieval city center, Vilnius also boasts modern attractions that include art museums, public parks, a cloud-scraping TV tower and a quirky sculpture of a supposedly Lucky Belly. In this attractions guide, you’ll find helpful information about the accessibility of the most popular things to do in Vilnius.

Gediminas Castle Tower & Funicular

Brick stone castle tower on top of tall grassy hill, with funicular tracks going up the hillside and a statue of a king at its base.

Gediminas ruled as the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1316 until his death in 1341. He was responsible for the founding Vilnius as a seat of power and for establishing a ruling dynasty. During his reign, Gediminas had a castle constructed and, although the earliest fortifications no longer remain, replacement structures named in his honor date to as early as the 15th century.

A wheelchair accessible funicular with a 37° incline carries visitors to the top of Gediminas Hill, upon which stands the iconic Gediminas Tower. The Gediminas Hill Lift is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and rides cost just €1 EUR each way. Ticket fees are waived for persons with disabilities, as the funicular is the only accessible route to the top of the hill.

At the top of the hill, visitors are treated to incredible views of the Vilnius skyline, with its historic and modern buildings, riverfront parks, bridges and more. With the opportunity to gain perspective on the city from the hilltop, the Gediminas Tower is the perfect launching point for further exploration of Vilnius’ Old Town. Additional information on the tower and its history are available from the National Museum of Latvia website.

The New Arsenal of National Museum of Lithuania

In the 16th century, the New Arsenal of the National Museum of Lithuania served as the residence of Sigismund Augustus, Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland.

Exterior of New Arsenal museum building.

During the 18th century, the building was used by Imperial Russia as an artillery storehouse and later as a barracks and prison. Following the Second World War, the New Arsenal was updated to house the National Museum of Lithuania.

Today, the New Arsenal showcases exhibits dedicated to the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and its ethnic culture. It contains many unique artifacts from centuries of Lithuanian history. Regrettably, only the first floor of the museum is wheelchair accessible, however it is still worth a stop during your journey through the Old Town. For more information to use in planning your visit, see The New Arsenal’s website.

Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

The original Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was constructed in the 15h century, but it was demolished in 1801. From 2002 to 2018, a new palace was constructed on the site of the original; it now houses an exceptional museum.

Beneath the palace, an archaeological exhibition provides a view into the excavated foundations of the former palace. Wooden ramps and platforms provide wheelchair users with a superior level of access. Expositions at the museum include reconstructed historical interiors (including a throne room), medieval weaponry and musical instruments.

Tickets are sold on a per exposition basis, from €4 EUR to €7, with an all-inclusive ticket priced at €13. Free admission is provided to visitors with disabilities. Additional information is available on the palace website.

Vilnius Cathedral & Cathedral Square

Front facade of Cathedral.

The Cathedral Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus of Vilnius, or Vilnius Cathedral, represents the center of the Catholic faith in Lithuania. The original cathedral was commissioned in 1251 on the site of the current cathedral building, which was consecrated in 1783. The cathedrals have been the site of numerous coronations of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and the crypts in the current structure house the remains of important figures in Lithuanian history.

The roof of the front portico features three sculptures depicting from left to right Saints Casimir, Helena and Stanislaus, said to represent Lithuania, the true cross and Poland, respectively. The cathedral is wheelchair accessible via a barrier-free entrance on the right side. Inside, visitors will find an ornate sanctuary filled with artworks from as early as the 16th century. For more information, visit the cathedral website.

Bernardine Garden

Patch of flowers alongside a dirt and gravel path in a large public park.

The Bernardine Garden is a 22 acre public park situated behind Saint Anne’s Church within Vilnius Old Town. The park dates to 1469 and extends to the bank of the Vilnia River. A botanical exposition presents native plants, sorted by groups and classes. Pathways throughout the park, composed of dirt and gravel, are wheelchair accessible.

Orthodox Church of St. Parasceve

The Orthodox Church of St. Parasceve is the oldest Eastern Orthodox Church in Lithuania, tracing its founding to the first half of the 14th century. Although the church was destroyed multiple times, it was rebuilt each time and in the same place. The current structure dates to 1864.

Historic church building.

In 1705, during the Great Northern War (Russia vs. Sweden), the Russian tsar Peter the Great visited the church. During that trip, the tsar became the godfather of Abram Petrovich Gannibal, an African who had been kidnapped as a child by the Ottomans and given as a gift to the tsar. Following his baptism in Vilnius, Hannibal rose to the Russian nobility and became a major general. His great grandson was famed Russian author Alexander Pushkin.

Although the church is not wheelchair accessible (due to stairs) and is often closed to visitors, the tremendous history associated with it makes the church a popular stop for tourists.

Vilnius Town Hall & Town Hall Square

The Vilnius Town Hall, located in the aptly named Town Hall Square, dates to 1432 at the latest, however the present structure is a 1799 reconstruction.

City town hall on main square.

The square is home to many public events and hosts the annual Christmas tree lighting. During the day of my visit, a march celebrating Polish culture was underway, and the route passed by the Town Hall. It’s a lively square, and a place you’ll surely pass by as you explore Old Town.

The Vilnius Picture Gallery, part of the Lithuanian Art Museum, is housed inside of the Chodkevičiai Palace in Old Town Vilnius. The gallery is one of Lithuania’s premier art institutions, with an impressive collection of works.

The most famous pieces on display are two of the three known versions of Repentant St. Mary Magdalene, a masterful work by Wtadystaw Niewiarowicz (1814-1891). According to the museum, the work captured attention because “in other paintings dedicated to Magdalene, one sees only utter repentance, absolute anti-sensuality; in other words, in a skinny and tired face, in the sagging and tortured body, one sees only the soul; while here, there is sin, repentance, uncertainty, power body, and spirit all in one.”

The original oil painting was first presented in Lviv in 1842 and made its way across Europe, before its first showing in Vilnius in 1844. Now, two of Niewiarowiczs three original copies are housed in the picture gallery — it’s a tremendous opportunity for visitors to see famous works, in addition to the museum’s other impressive pieces.

The main entry to the gallery is not wheelchair accessible, however staff will lead disabled visitors to an alternate entrance with an elevator that provides access to the various galleries. The cost of admission is €6 EUR for adults, however disabled visitors receive free entry. For more information, visit the picture gallery website.

Vilnius TV Tower

At 1,071 feet tall, the Vilnius TV Tower is the tallest structure in Lithuania. It was the site of an important event in Lithuanian history when, on January 13, 1991, 14 unarmed civilians were killed in an attempt to prevent Soviet troops from taking control of the tower. The Museum for the Struggle of Freedom, dedicated to the events of that day, is located on the ground floor.

TV tower at night with lit up city.
Image courtesy AB Lithuanian Radio and Television Center.

Visitors can enjoy views of the city at a height of 541 feet from the tower’s observation deck. Due to the result of safety regulations, there are strict terms for disabled people who wish to ascend the tower. The TV Tower’s English website states the following:

Persons with reduced mobility, if they need a wheelchair, are unfortunately not permitted to access the observation platform and the café bar “Paukščių takas” on the 19th floor (due to the absence of evacuation in case of breakdown of the lifts).

Persons with visual impairment, if they need a white cane or a guide and mentally handicapped persons, if they need an accompanying person- can only enter with an accompanying person.

Strangely, the TV Tower’s Latvian language website tells a slightly different story that may offer some home for wheelchair users:

We are sorry, but persons with mobility and visual impairments can only ascend to the observation circle and the café-bar “Paukščių takas”, located at a height of 165 m, due to the impossibility of evacuation without the operation of the lifts. Persons with reduced mobility must be accompanied by two persons and one with a visual impairment.

Disabled persons and their accompanying persons (up to 2 accompanying persons) are charged  a boarding ticket of EUR 6.

Three times a year, we make it possible for people with disabilities to visit without an accompanying person. We will mobilize the necessary forces of specially trained professionals who will be ready to evacuate people with disabilities in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Regardless of the true circumstances, I was traveling alone and didn’t have anyone to accompany me. If you do visit the TV Tower on your trip to Vilnius, please report back on its accessibility in the comments below!

MO Museum

The MO Museum is a private modern art museum located in downtown Vilnius. It features a collection of nearly 6,000 major Lithuanian artworks from the 1960s to the present.

According to the museum website, some of the collection features works of art that were “considered ideologically unacceptable by Soviet authorities and to which, following state policies, Lithuanian museums of the era paid little attention.” The museum’s unique collection presents the work of a “generation of artists who entered the art scene with the restoration of Lithuania’s independence.”

The museum’s modern buildings feature art galleries that are wheelchair-friendly and there are accessible toilet facilities. The price of admission is €11 EUR for adults, however it is free for persons with disabilities.

St. Anne’s Catholic Church

The Church of St. Anne, a Roman Catholic church in Vilnius’ Old Town, was opened in 1500, however a previous church structure on the site was destroyed in a 419 fire, so the parish community’s history is much older than the church building itself.

Imposing gothic style church.

With its Gothic architecture, the church is an imposing piece of the Old Town skyline. Its historical value was critical to earning Vilnius’ Old Town recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard

The Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard is located feet away from St. Anne’s Church. Consecrated in 1516, the church is consecrated to Saints Francis of Assisi and Bernardino of Siena.

Red brick church.

Built in the Gothic architectural style, the church also features elements of the Renaissance and Baroque styles. This is largely due to various periods of renovation and renewal, necessitated by the impact of wars and Soviet occupation.

Wheelchair access to the sanctuary is provided via a ramp to the right of the entrance. Inside, visitors will find statues, paintings and frescoes that were produced over the centuries.

The Lucky Belly

When planning my trip to Vilnius, every travel guide I read included a strange bronze sculpture on its list of important things to see. That sculpture, known as the Lucky Belly, is affixed to the wall of the Novotel hotel on Vilnius Street.

According to Go Vilnius, the story of the sculpture is as follows:

The Lucky Belly sculpture is based on an old legend about a former Mayor of Vilnius, who in the 19th century was interested in one poor local family consisting of two talented and successful sons: one became a trader and the other a famous jeweller. The mayor marvelled at the success of such a poor family and asked the mother how she managed to raise her children to become such successful people. The woman answered, “What you stroke – grows.” She used to stroke one of her son’s arms every morning and the other son’s tummy. She patted the mayor’s head after she told him her secret.

So, what say you? Will you rub the Lucky Belly during your trip to Vilnius?

Money Museum of the Bank of Lithuania

The Bank of Lithuania’s Money Museum presents exhibitions on the history of money and banking, Lithuanian currency, and contemporary money from around the world.

The museum is located one block from the Vilnius Cathedral and Old Town. The museum is typically accessible via a wheelchair lift at the front entrance but, during my trip, it was out of service. Staff assured me that it would be repaired. To learn more about the exhibitions, visit the Money Museum website.