Trakai Island Castle is an incredibly unique castle in Lithuania, and it is the perfect day trip from the Vilnius! I’ve been to countless castles, and I have to admit that Trakai has one of the most beautiful backdrops (Castle Neuschwanstein still has it beat though). The castle sits in the middle of Lake Galvė and makes for the most stunning photographs.
The castle was built in the 14th Century and restored to its original state in the 19th Century before it was eventually opened to tourists.
The best part of Trakai Island Castle is that it is extremely close to Vilnius, so you can easily see it on a day trip from Lithuania’s capital city. In fact, it is so close that if you wanted to, you could go to the castle in the morning and be back in Vilnius in the early afternoon.
How to Get to Trakai from Vilnius
Trakai is only 28km from Vilnius! You need to take a bus from the main Vilnius bus terminal to Trakai. The ride takes approximately 30-45 minutes depending on traffic, and you get off at the last stop. Or the stop where the rest of the tourists get off.
The buses run every 20-30 minutes throughout the day. Between 9am and 10am they run more frequently leaving every 10-15 minutes.
You can show up at the bus station whenever you are ready to leave and not have to worry about waiting a long time for the next bus. The first bus leaves at 5:40am and the last bus leaves Trakai at 9:45pm.
You purchase your tickets onboard in cash, and they cost €1.80 each way, which is a pretty good price! You can’t purchase a return ticket, so you will need enough cash to purchase another ticket on your way back to Vilnius.
There are multiple bus companies that have a route from Vilnius to Trakai and back. They are all basically the same, so you can get on whatever bus shows up first and know you’re in good hands.
How to Get From the Bus Stop to Trakai Island Castle
Obviously the bus doesn’t drop you off at the castle, so you need to know how to get from the bus station to the castle. Luckily for you it is extremely easy!
It is a short 10-20 minutes walk depending on if you stop to take pictures or look around the town.
There is a large map at the Trakai bus station that you can take a picture of for a reference point while you walk. Trakai is a small town, so it is difficult to get lost. It is nice to have a picture of the map just in case though.
To get to the castle you turn right after you get off the bus. You know you’re going the right way if you pass a grocery store a few blocks away or you’re going the direction of all the other people that got off the bus.
Once you are on the path, you just keep following it through the town. You will come to a point where you have to turn, but there is a sign that tells you where to turn. Once you turn, you’ll be able to see the water. You can’t get lost from there!
You need to follow the same route to get back to the bus station when you’re ready to go back to Vilnius.
Inside Trakai Island Castle
You can go inside and explore Trakai Island Castle. The entrance fee is €7 for adults. The castle offers discounts for seniors and students so be sure to about reduce pricing if you fall into one of those categories!
Trakai Castle is a mix of open air and covered areas. The middle portion is open air and doesn’t have a lot to see. Once you get away from the centre, there is more to see. You can explore the main level, parts of the second level, and parts of the underground level.
The exhibits explain the history of the castle and the area as well as its importance. They speak about why this location was chosen and the battles that were fought. The exhibits are interesting, but they aren’t terribly high quality.
Is it Worth it to Pay to Go Inside the Castle?
I don’t personally think it is worth spending €7 to see the inside of the castle. I was underwhelmed by the experience and felt like I would have been happy just admiring the castle from the outside.
The inside of the castle is quite plain. It doesn’t offer any beautiful architecture or artifacts. The exhibits and information you learn are interesting, but you could also Google it.
For me, I was in awe of the outside of Trakai Castle and the surrounding landscaping, and I lost that enchantment when I walked inside the castle.
If you want to go inside Trakai Castle, you may want to do that first before you explore the outside of the castle. That will prevent you from being underwhelmed when you go inside.
What to do Around Trakai Island Castle
The most obvious and most common this to do is walk around and take pictures from all the different angles. Your friends will be envious of your trip to the castle once they see them- especially if you’re there on a day with a clear, blue sky! You can easily spend an hour or two walking around taking pictures of the castle from different areas.
Take a Boat Ride Around the Lake
You can take a 30-minute boat ride around the lake for only €5! The boat trip lets you get a unique perspective of Trakai Island Castle. You will get to experience the castle in a way unlike you are able to while on shore.
You can walk up and book your boat tour. There are a number of people offer them along the pier, and there is no need to book in advance.
Visit the Market
There is also a small market near the castle. The vendors sell various knick-knacks and souvenirs. The market isn’t large, and you won’t find anything spectacular there. But it is always fun to stroll through some vendor stalls and look at what they offer.
Eat with a View
There are a number of restaurants you can eat at along the water. They offer a great view of Trakai Castle! The downside is that they are very expensive, so you’re definitely paying for the view.
I recommend skipping those restaurants and heading back into town if you’re looking for something to eat. You will have a better meal at a significantly lower cost.
Trakai Island Castle should be on your radar if you’re visiting Vilnius. It is the only island castle in Eastern Europe, and it is well worth the visit!
It is extremely easy to get to Trakai from Vilnius, and even an inexperienced traveller will be able to make the trip without getting overwhelmed. You don’t have to transfer on the bus, and it is a short walk straight through town to get to the castle. It can’t get any easier than that!
Admittedly, the most difficult part of the trip is getting from where you’re staying in Vilnius to the bus station. You can easily arrange for a taxi to take you, or it is only a short walk from the centre of Vilnius.
Visiting Trakai is one of my fondest memories of my time in Lithuania. I hope you get to explore its beauty and make your own memories there!