Is Vilnius safe to visit? Here’s my full assessment!
I recently spent a fun couple of days in the city of Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital. And, as a solo female traveller, I felt completely safe there.
The Baltics often get an unfair reputation of being “unsafe” due to the countries being not well-known as tourist destinations, their past in the USSR or perhaps their regrowth period in the 1990s (which was 25-30 years ago now!).
But nowadays, the three nations are rapidly growing, technologically-focused countries with excellent tourist infrastructure (and some of the best English-speaking of any non-native country I’ve visited).
I’m going to write posts about Riga and Tallinn too, but this post will focus exclusively on my favourite Baltic capital: Vilnius.
So, let’s break down Vilnius’s safety and why I think it’s an excellent safe travel destination.
Is Vilnius safe?
Absolutely! I felt completely safe in Vilnius.
I am an experienced traveller, but I can’t think of anything that would make first-time travellers feel especially anxious.
I arrived in the country at 6am at Vilnius bus station, which I knew to be a potentially slightly dodgier area of town. But, while I was quick to leave, I didn’t experience anything that made me feel in any danger.
Vilnius for solo female travellers
I visited Vilnius as a solo female traveller and felt completely comfortable all of the time.
There was nothing that made me feel in any way uncomfortable; no inappropriate attention or comments from men, Bolt drivers were either chatty in a respectful way or didn’t speak other than formalities (which is also fine!), people helped me whenever I needed it and the hotel felt completely secure.
I took my normal precautions like not going out too late at night and reading through reviews to find a secure hotel (I stayed at Urbihop, which was great although quite far out of the city centre); I’d take these when travelling alone anywhere in the world (including the UK, where I’m from).
Vilnius safety for LGBTQ+ and POC travellers
Being a white, straight woman, I can’t speak from LGBTQ+ and POC perspectives.
Before visiting the countries, I heard of a few reports of racism and homophobia; however, I believe that the situation is improving, with the younger generation being at the forefront of a more open and liberal country.
From reports I’ve read online and discussions I had in the country, most have said that there was a bit of staring, but other than that no obvious discrimination.
Hopefully, the situation will continue to improve and Vilnius will become an even safer, more tolerant destination for all.
Lithuania’s global security
In recent years, travellers have wondered about the global security situation in Lithuania and other post-USSR countries.
But it’s very, very unlikely that an attack or invasion could happen in Lithuania or any of the Baltic countries.
Lithuania gained independence from the USSR in 1990 (the first country to do so) and since then, the nation has worked very hard to increase national security.
Nowadays, Lithuania is a member of NATO, which means that if a country declares war on it, it also declares war on all of the EU, the UK and the USA.
It’s also a member of the EU, which offers further protection.
So, by that means, Lithuania is just as secure as France, the UK and Italy from a global security perspective.
Crime in Vilnius
Street crime in Vilnius does exist, but it’s not common. In fact, Numbeo’s data suggests that Vilnius is safer than London in nearly all areas. So, if you feel safe in London, you should feel even safer in Vilnius!
Areas like Užupis used to be unsafe (I’m talking back in the 1990s), but nowadays there aren’t really any “dangerous” areas per se – although some people recommend avoiding the area around the station at night.
Other than that, avoiding being a victim of crime in Vilnius is as simple as taking usual preventive measures that are sensible anywhere in the world:
- Secure valuables to deter pickpocketers.
- Take extra precautions in large crowds.
- Don’t walk around late at night, especially not alone.
- Be mindful of how much you drink.
Can you drink the tap water in Vilnius?
You certainly can! I drank tap water the whole time I was in the Baltics and it was very fresh!
In fact, Lithuania has some of the cleanest tap water in all of Europe – it comes from underground water sources which significantly lessens the risk of pollution or any other kind of human interference.
Tips for staying safe in Vilnius
Many of my safety tips for Vilnius are just common sense – don’t walk around late at night on your own, secure valuables and be mindful of how much information you give out.
However, here are a few other tips to consider:
1. Use Bolt taxis
Bolt is an Estonian taxi-hailing app (like Uber) that’s nowadays used across the world. It works very well in Vilnius – I never waited more than five minutes for a ride – and is very affordable (like most things in Vilnius).
I’m sure the buses are perfectly safe, but I’d recommend using Bolt taxis instead of walking home at night.
2. Wrap up for the cold
Vilnius’s weather isn’t as extreme as say, Tallinn’s, but if you’re visiting during winter do wrap up warm. It’s best to wear many layers, which trap heat between them, rather than one very thick layer.
Oh, and don’t be like me – purchase some warm, waterproof snow boots to wear rather than trainers/ sneakers!
It’s also a good idea to take lots of breaks indoors (Vilnius’s buildings are heated well) to have warm drinks!
3. Check your phone’s EU roaming capability
It’s always a good idea to have data, and if you can usually roam in the EU you should be able to connect in Lithuania.
I’d recommend double-checking this before you leave if you’re unsure – especially if you’re in the UK where things have unfortunately changed a little in recent years!
4. Most people speak excellent English
The English level in Vilnius is very good, with many people being fluent in the tongue. So, if you need any help, don’t feel embarrassed to ask!
Lithuanian people can be quite reserved with strangers, but I always found them to be very friendly and helpful once I started a conversation.
5. If you’re going skiing at Liepkalnis, ski within your limits and take a lesson if needed
One of my favourite things about Vilnius is the fact that there’s a ski resort just a ten-minute drive from the city centre.
If you’re going skiing in Liepkalnis, the slopes are smaller than you’ll find in the Alps or any other mountainous regions but do still be mindful if you’re a newbie or improver to the sport.
I hadn’t skied in 11 years, although I used to go on regular ski trips, so did a few laps of the beginner slope before tackling the rest. The hardest part was catching the button lifts!
So, is Vilnius safe to visit?
Absolutely! In nearly all ways, Vilnius felt safer to me than London.
Want more inspiration? Check out my YouTube video about Vilnius!