Vilnius railway station, Lithuania
 

Vilnius station - terminus of the train journey from London.  Courtesy of Yuk Wah Chu.

UK to Lithuania overland by train...

The closest of the three historic Baltic capitals, Vilnius can be reached overland from London via Berlin and Warsaw.  Pictured right:  The cathedral and bell tower in Vilnius.

Train times, fares & how to buy tickets...

  London to Vilnius by train via Warsaw

  London to Vilnius via Kiel & the ferry to Klaipeda

  Warsaw to Kaunas & Vilnius by train

  Train travel within Lithuania

  Trains from Vilnius to Riga, Moscow & St Petersburg

  Useful country information - currency, visas, time zone

  Hotels & accommodation in Vilnius & Lithuania

Sponsored links...


Useful country information

Train operators:

Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (LG, www.traukiniobilietas.lt

Train times in Europe: http://bahn.hafas.de

Train times in all ex-Soviet states:  www.poezda.net

Train times for any journey in Europe

 

Time zone:

GMT+2 (GMT+3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+370

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.20 euros, formerly 4.0 Litas.  Lithuania joined the eurozone in January 2015.    Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.inyourpocket.com.  Recommended guidebooks

Hotels in Lithuania:

Find a hotel in Vilnius.  Hostels:  www.hostelbookers.com

Visas:

UK citizens don't need a visa for Lithuania.  Warsaw-Vilnius trains do not pass through Belarus, so a Belarus visa is not required.

Page last updated:

22 August 2016


London to Vilnius

Option 1, overland by train via Warsaw...

This is the fastest way, all by train with daily departures.  Alternatively you may prefer the train+ferry option using a Germany-Lithuania ferry, described in Option 2 below.  It's up to you!

London ► Vilnius

Vilnius ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Warsaw to Vilnius by train:  At Bialystok station, the Intercity train from Warsaw has arrived on the right, the connecting train to Kaunas in Lithuania is on the left.  Courtesy of Joerg Schmidt.

Option 2, by train to Germany then ferry to Lithuania...

This is a leisurely way to reach Lithuania, using comfortable trains from the UK to Germany then a civilised & comfortable DFDS Seaways ferry from Germany to Lithuania.

London ► Klaipeda & Vilnius

Vilnius & Klaipeda ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

What's the journey like?

1.  London to Cologne by Eurostar & ICE:  Watch the video!

2.  Cologne to Hamburg by InterCity train:

German InterCity train   InterCity 2nd class   InterCity 1st class (6-seat compartment type)

Most Cologne-Hamburg trains are InterCity trains, a few are high-speed ICEs.  Virtual tour of InterCity train...

 

InterCity 2nd class.  You'll also find a few compartment coaches on InterCity trains, and a bistro or restaurant car...

 

InterCity 1st class, often available in both open-plan saloons like this and in compartments.

3. Kiel to Klaipeda by DFDS ferry...

Traveller Lewis Baston reports:  "We took the Friday ferry that departs at 22:00, making - if you can get the 06:50 from London to Brussels - it feasible to board the ferry on Day 1, overnight, and arrive on Day 2 in the evening (20:00) in Klaipeda. The Klaipeda boat leaves from Ostuferhafen, which is in an industrial area east of the fjord on which Kiel is built. The ferries to Sweden leave from a very modern looking port more or less across the road from Kiel Hbf but the Klaipeda dock is more basic. The signage isn't great - if people know exactly what they are doing, there's a number 11 bus from Hbf that gets you most of the way to Ostuferhafen, but for the uninitiated it is a 10-15 minute taxi ride from the city centre and station.

The ferry is of a standard type rather than the vast mega-ferries that go on routes from Kiel to Sweden or from Hoek van Holland to Harwich. Embarkation is smooth and uncomplicated; the check-in building has a pizza restaurant in it. Passengers are taken to the ferry by a shuttle bus from the terminal. The last shuttle leaves an hour before departure.

Facilities on the ferry are pretty good. It is Lithuanian-operated and crewed, so you do get the occasional taste of post-Soviet customer service, but mostly it is fine and the quality of the food and cabins is a pleasant surprise. We went 'Commodore Class' which involves two proper beds and an outside window, looking out in the direction of travel. The ferry was busy, with lorries packed in like sardines. There are two bars and two restaurants (one self service canteen style and one a la carte). We chose to book breakfast, lunch and dinner (a word of warning - if during booking online you are offered breakfast vouchers and your room rate says it includes breakfast DO NOT order a breakfast voucher - this differs from Stena Line's system I think). The meals are full, hearty and Baltic-style - and very tasty and filling, particularly if you (like me) are fond of meat and potatoes. But my companion, whose tastes are more refined, also thought the food was good. In retrospect, you only really need breakfast and one other meal, not two!

Arrival in Klaipeda is, as in Kiel, in an industrial port area. There is a bus (1A) into town but its timetable does not match up very well to the later ferries. Arriving on the 22:00 departure from Kiel you need to be lucky and on the first shuttle bus from the ferry to the dock gate to get the bus (it does not wait for passengers, however useful that would be!) and there aren't buses to meet the 23:00 departure from Kiel. You are more or less at the mercy of taxi drivers, although even taxis are scarce. Booking in advance might be efficient. We paid €20 split between four, which felt reasonable at the time as it was bucketing with rain. The standard bus fare is LIT2.60, a good deal if you arrive earlier in the day as the stop is just outside the dock gate and port building where outbound passengers check in.

Photos below courtesy of Lewis Baston...

Ferry check-in at Kiel   Kiel to Klaipeda ferry boarding in Kiel

Ferry terminal at Kiel...

 

The ferry to Klaipeda boarding in Kiel...

Cafe on board   2-berth cabin with shower & TV

The cafe-lounge on board...

 

2-berth Commodore cabin with shower, WC, TV...

Klaipeda station   Klaipeda to Vilnius train

Klaipeda station...

 

The express train from Klaipeda to Vilnius...


Warsaw to Vilnius by train...

See the Warsaw to Vilnius page...

Train travel within Lithuania...

Trains are a good way to travel between Vilnius, Kaunas & Klaipeda:

1st class seats on Kaunas-Vilnius train   Kaunas-Vilnius douible-decker train

1st class seats on a Kaunas to Vilnius double-decker train.  Photos courtesy of @zugreiseblog

Moving on from Lithuania...

Vilnius ► Riga

Sadly, there are now no direct Vilnius-Riga trains at all.  At least the Communists knew how to run a railway!  The Riga to Vilnius journey is now faster and more frequent by long-distance bus, see the section below.  However, if you prefer to travel by train, no problem:  You can use a daily local train from Vilnius to Daugavpils in the evening, stop overnight in a hotel at Daugavpils, then travel by local train Daugavpils to Riga next morning.  Being an evening train-hotel-morning train arrangement, it's quite time-effective even if slower than the bus.

Traveller Russell Goddard went from Vilnius to Riga by train as above, then used an onward Eurolines coach to Tallinn:  "While not unpleasant, the coach was a distinctly soulless experience, lacking the character of the trains. The coaches are a way of getting people from A to B with a minimum of bother, which I'm sure is a plus in many people's books, but as someone who travels as much for the sake of the journey itself, I was glad I'd gone by train from Vilnius to Riga via Daugavpils rather than taking the coach all the way from Vilnius to Tallinn! In Tallinn itself, the bus station is inconveniently located some distance from the city centre, while the rail station is right on the edge of the old town - if only it had a decent international service!"

Alternative by bus:  If you'd rather travel by bus, as in this case it is certainly more frequent and faster, there is a regular Eurolines bus service from Vilnius to Riga, with a number of departures daily, fare €17-€23, journey time 4½ hours, see www.luxexpress.eu.

Vilnius ► Moscow

Vilnius ► St Petersburg


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.


Recommended guidebooks

Make sure you take a good guidebook.  For the independent traveller, this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both books provide a similarly excellent level of cultural and historical background and practical information.  You won't regret buying one of these guides..!

Click the images to buy online at Amazon.co.uk...

 

 


Find hotels in Vilnius & Lithuania...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

 


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