is the lita, and though Lithuania is a part of the European Union, travelers may not use euros there. When you travel to Vilnius, you will have to spend money, but what do you need to know beforehand as well as when you are out and about?
Lithuania uses paper bills in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, and 10 litas and coins in denominations of 5, 2, and 1 litas. Centas coins
are also used. Lithuania had chosen to convert to the euro but delayed the conversion due to economic crisis. Banknotes show famous Lithuanians and important places in Lithuania. Litas were used prior to Soviet occupation of Lithuania and have been used since 1993, after Lithuania regained its independence.
Changing Currency in Vilnius
Many banks in the States won’t be able to change dollars to litas, especially small banks or credit unions, so it may be necessary to change money upon arrival to Vilnius. This essential task can be done at the airport; alternatively bank machines can also be found in the arrival hall. (You’ll need litas if you are going to take a bus or taxi from the airport; your taxi driver may not be able to accept credit cards.) Once you get into town, bank machines, such as those belonging to Swedbank and SEB, are numerous and easy to spot. If you prefer to change dollars or euros to litas, you may also do so at banks with tellers.
Using Credit Cards
Credit cards are usually accepted without issue at most shops and restaurants in Vilnius. However, it is often good to carry a few litas for taxis and when you find yourself in a situation where credit cards won’t work.
Lithuania is still a largely cash-based society. Some establishments may not be able to break large bills for you, and exact change is always appreciated. Cashiers will often ask for lita coins or centas in order to be able to give you a round number of bills and coins as change.
Tipping in Lithuania
Tips are expected for waitstaff and other services in Vilnius. They are typically not figured into a bill. Rounding up the bill or leaving a few litas extra is deemed sufficient when tipping. However, Lithuanians will caution you against leaving many small-denomination centas coins, which is considered to be rude.
Prices in Vilnius
Prices in Vilnius tend to be favorable for the western traveler. Vilnius museum
entrance prices often cost around 5 litas. A taxi from the airport (when you order a ride by phone) should cost around 20 litas. Many people consider clothing to be more expensive in Vilnius than the United States, but this phenomenon may be made more apparent because large-scale sales are a rarity. Dining out is affordable, and it’s possible to find meals from 10 litas at the less expensive establishments. Those who choose to shop at supermarkets may not notice much difference in the prices that they’re used to in the US. Alcohol also tends to be affordable, both at the supermarket and at restaurants.
How to Save Money in Vilnius
If you’re on a budget, you can save money in Vilnius by following a few simple tips:
- Find free Vilnius activities. Free concerts and other events are offered free of charge frequently in Vilnius.
- Order a taxi, don’t use one that is waiting. Waiting taxis will charge four or more times as much as taxis that are ordered by phone. If you are watching what you spend, have a list of numbers for taxi services handy so you never have to pay more for a ride.
- Walk. Vilnius is an extremely walkable city. You will see more on foot, anyway!