Vilnius on a budget, you up for it?

Wanting to prove that travel doesn’t have to be expensive, I am not long back from the Baltic beauty that is Lithuania, having had a grand time in its capital of Vilnius.  It was my first time to both country and city, and I was on a mission to enjoy the city to its full potential, but on limited funds.

Vilnius on a budget – The #TMS200 Challenge

The Money Shop £200 challenge – #TMS200

Spend 2 nights in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, but do NOT exceed a spend of £200.  The costs of flights are excluded, but everything else, including accommodation counts towards the £200 max budget.

Challenge accepted of course.

#TMS200 challenge

Day 1

The only challenge on day one was making it to the airport on time (M25 traffic) and then surviving a flight which consisted of far too many people who had been at the Stansted Wetherspoons for far too long prior to the flight. Sadly the flight was delayed, therefore allowing for another ‘just’ one more beer.

Budget wise, I knew already knew the cost of my 2 nights at the hostel Jamaika, I simply had to pay upon arrival (€70). The beer I had before bed from the hostel bar was optional (€2.50), but hard earned and easy on the wallet, so too my Uber from the airport to the hostel (€2.69). So cheap and easy, and free wifi at the airport meant that no purchase of roaming data was required to book the uber. Couple of quid/euros saved and Vilnius on a budget off to a cracking start.

hostel Jamaika Vilnius

hostel Jamaika Vilnius

Day 2

Up and at em’, sort of.

I think I rose from my slumber around 10am. Having reached the hostel at close to 1am and then spending the next hour checking in and making new friends and the bar, anything less than a decent 8 hours send in the land of nod was never an option.

A 10 am start allowed for a slow rise and shower, before moseying on down to the town hall where a hot chocolate and pastry (€3.50) was in order before embarking on a walking tour of the old town. As with many a’ walking tour I’ve undertaken, the tours themselves are FREE, but you are asked to tip based upon how good/bad you believe your tour experience was. In this case I handed over €10 at the end of the 1.5 hrs long tour.

Vilnius walking tour

Vilnius churches

Vilnius churches

Vilnius churches

Vilnius Pagen Goddess of nature

Vilnius

Vilnius

Uzupis Republic

Uzupis Republic

Cathedral Square Vilnius

Having visited sites of mixed architecture, statues of Pagen gods, the independent republic of Uzupis and many many churches, the tour finished in Cathedral Sq, and at the foot of the Gediminas Tower. I had read about the tower and its views prior to my visit to the Lithuanian capital and knew a climb to the top was both inevitable and essential. The climb to the base of the tower was a tad slippy, but even from the towers base the views over the city are great, but pay the €4 entry fee to the tower itself, and both the small museum and views from a 3 floors higher up are well worth it.

Gediminas Tower, Vilnius

Gediminas Tower, Vilnius

Views over Vilnius from the Gediminas Tower

Following my climb up the tower, a quick bite to eat was in order at Boom Burger (€15), before a return to the hostel and a quick (hour) power nap, via a souvenir shop and my obligatory purchase of a fridge magnet (€3).  Even Vilnius on a budget has room of a fridge magnet and expansion of my collection.

My exploration of Vilnius resumed later in the evening, starting at Alaus Biblioteka, a bar of many beers, of which I tasted a number, and a little secret cubby hole hidden in among the towering book cases. I’m a sucker for anything secret/hidden, but was surprised that no one else in the bar seemed as bothered about it’s existence as I. Anyway the beers were great, and the staff weren’t shy in letting me taste a number of different flavours before finally pulling me a full pint(s) of my favourite(s).

Following what was effectively a beer tasting experience (€10), food was again in order. A free map I had been given at the hostel recommend a place called Nino for their tapas and cocktails, and who am I to turn down such a recommendation? Potatos bravas, some sticky BBQ ribs and a mojito later ($15) I was recharged somewhat and ready to explore more of Vilnius’ nightlife.

Next stop was a bar called Who Hit John located in Town Hall Square, but this turned out to be a dud as the bar was tiny and already packed to the rafters. Instead it was back towards the hostel and a bar next door called bar Bukowski, which was set in an old abandoned palace. One last craft beer, enticingly titled ‘the beast from the deep’ and it was time to call it a night. Budget still in tact, I slept soundly knowing I still had room for more spending come my last day of Vilnius on a budget.

Alaus Biblioteka Vilnius

Day 3

With checkout not till 11.30am, I was in no particular rush come Sunday morning. Once I had risen, showered, packed I took a quick walk back down to Uzupis to get my passport stamped and then headed back towards the hostel to have a quick look at some street art located nearby.

Uzupis is a really interesting part of the city.  A former ghetto on the other side of the river (Uzupis means ‘other side of the river’), this small area of land is now a self declared independent state famous for its creative flair and bohemian atmosphere.

The declaration of independence took place in 1997, and the state has its own flag flying high in a number of spots.  Also flying high above the republic streets is the bronze angel of Uzupis, a symbol of the areas revival.

uzupis constitution

Closer to ground level, but no less impressive is the constitution of Uzupis, written by its president and king back in 1998.  The constitution is a list of rules and regulations for the citizens and visitors to Uzupis, they’re a bit random in places, but the fact that the constitution has been translated and displayed in 23 different languages shows how seriously they are taken.

Considering it is free to visit this area, it definitely fits the Vilnius on a budget mould. One not to be missed.

Uzupis Passport stamp

Uzupis Republic Bronze Angel

Uzupis Republic

Uzupis Republic

Uzupis Republic

Uzupis Republic

Street art wise, there’s a lot of paint from spray cans around Vilnius, but much of it is sadly just crappy tags, scrawled on building sides in the style of a four year old high on one too many rusks. It was nicely to finally find some proper art at this point, but I called time on my art exploration when I walked in on these two getting hot under the collar …

Vilnius Street Art

Vilnius Street Art

Vilnius Street Art

Back to the hostel and room key successfully returned, I then ordered another Uber using the hostels wifi and set off for the KGB museum across town.

The museum while informative, was a sad and sobering experience as you might imagine. There were various rooms giving details of Lithuania’s struggle for independence, and how the country and its people were brutal treated at the hands of the Soviets and Nazi’s.

The museum ticket (€4) also covers entry to the former prison located in the basement of the same building. Tiny cells, padded cells, interrogation areas and making for a chilling experience.

KGB Museum Vilnius

My final hours in Vilnius then took quite the unusual but happy turn. In search of food (again) before my flight home, I walked a couple of blocks to see what the area around the museum had to offer and found myself outside a cat cafe. Random, and while I’m probably more of a dog person, I like random and so ventured up into the kitty cafe for a hot chocolate and bite to eat.

To say this cafe was popular would be an understatement, and besides making a lot of new fluffy friends, the food and drink was really good too … the desserts not so much, but it was cool to stumble across such a place and chill out with a few furry felines.

From the cat cafe I was able to order one final Uber back to the airport and then proceed on my merry way back to LDN town.

Cat Cafe Vilnius

Cat Cafe Vilnius

Cat Cafe Vilnius

Challenge Complete

By the time I boarded the plane back to London, I still had a few euros left in my pockets. I had successfully spent 2 nights in the Lithuanian capital on ‘just’ £200.

In truth, Vilnius comes across as a very affordable city to visit. While I believe my hostel was a tad over priced, I found sightseeing, admission prices to different exhibits, food and drink all very affordable.

I have some misc spend above which equates to tips paid to my cab drivers and in restaurants, but as you can see I still landed well within the £200 budget set by my friends at The Money Shop.

Could I have spent more?

I definitely could have spent more had I wanted/been allowed to. I noticed prior to my visit that Segway tours of the city are possible, but such a tour would have eaten up almost a 3rd of my budget. Likewise I saw an escape room experience which looked cool, but again at €50 would have taken a sizeable chunk of my budget with it. Considering both of these things can be undertaken elsewhere in the world, I figured I was best spending on things more unique to Vilnius.

Not available in other parts of the world was a Lithuanian food tour, but while 4 courses were on offer and extremely tempting, the €60 price tag was too hard to swallow and so I made up my own food tour. Sad to say I missed out on a number of local dishes I would have otherwise like to have tried, but the budget comes before belly.

Could I have done it cheaper?

Almost certainly! A dorm room instead of a private room at my hostel would have saved me around 30-40 euros. The hostel also had a kitchen, so if I wanted to I could have also cooked some of my own meals rather than going out to eat. That however wasn’t going to happen, and neither was the dorm room. The dorm room because I arrived at gone midnight and didn’t want to be that guy who wakes everyone up when they come in late and attempt to find their bunk in the pitch black. Food wise, I enjoy trying new types of cuisine, so cooking for myself, while saving me money, would have had my taste buds filing a complaint around what they’d have missed out on.

Was £200 about right?

I’m very tempted to say yes here. Although I come in slightly under £200 total spend, given the chance to do it again I might have paid a tad more for a hotel or apartment, rather than a hostel. The hostel served its purpose though, it was well located, had wifi and a bar etc. It wasn’t at all bad, but y’know, hindsight!

Otherwise I think the £200 was almost spot on, and to visit Vilnius with a friend of partner would see too much extra spend required in my mind. Providing you’re happy to share a room, the cost accommodation shouldn’t budge. One private room with a double bed should cost the same for 2 people as it does 1. You pay for the room rather than the number of people occupying it surely!?

So yeah, for 2 people, Vilnius could provide a very fun, affordable getaway. My £200 did NOT include the cost of flights, but there’s always Ryanair for super low fares … minus the comfort element of course.

So anyway, here’s the full breakdown of my spend versus the #TMS200 challenge.

Spending £ $ Notes
0.86 1.08 1
Day 1
Hostel 60.20 75.60 70.00 Hostel Jamaika
Uber from airport to hostel 2.31 2.91 2.69
Beers at hostel bar 3.87 4.86 4.50
Day 2
Croissant + hot chocolate 3.01 3.78 3.50 Café Vito
Walking Tour 8.60 10.80 10.00 Vilnius with locals
Gediminas Tower 3.44 4.32 4.00
Boom Burger + drink 12.90 16.20 15.00 Boom Burger
Supermarket shop 3.87 4.86 4.50 Water and fruit juice
Fridge magnet 2.58 3.24 3.00
Beer tasting 8.60 10.80 10.00 Alaus Biblioteka
Tapas 12.90 16.20 15.00 Nino Bar
Beer 2.58 3.24 3.00 Bar Bukowski
Day 3
Uber to KGB museum 2.61 3.28 3.04
KGM museum entry 3.44 4.32 4.00
Hot chocolate + lunch at Cat Café 11.18 14.04 13.00 Cat Café
Uber to airport 2.85 3.57 3.31
Misc 10.32 12.96 12.00 Tips at bars and restaurants
TOTAL Spending Money inc airport transfer 155.26 194.98 180.54

Link to base spreadsheet – Vilnius_Budget.xls


Told ya, well within the £200 budget.  Vilnius on a budget complete.

A big thanks to The Money Shop for inviting me to be a part of the challenge and for choosing to send me to Vilnius. While The Money Shop set up the challenge and provided the budget, please let it be know that all options expressed above are my own.

It should also be known that mine was not the only TMS200 challenge, head on over to this page –> The Money Shop £200 Challenge – to see how fellow travel blogger Emily Luxton got in with her TMS200 challenge in the Czech capital of Prague.

Vilnius on a budget