Vilnius loves a good outdoor market, especially when it aligns with a seasonal festival or holiday. These outdoor markets take place throughout the year and offer visitors and residents opportunities to shop for local crafts and souvenirs, try local foods, speak with artisans, and enjoy the related events, which often include music or dancing or demonstrations of holiday traditions.
While many of these outdoor markets appear along Gedimino Avenue, they can also pop up at the Town Hall Square, the square in front of the presidential palace, and in the case of the Design Square market, on Kudirkas Square or Cathedral Square. If you visit Vilnius during one of these outdoor markets, you’ll have a great opportunity to stock up on gifts and enjoy the lively local culture.
What Can You Buy at the Outdoor Markets in Vilnius?
Many of Vilnius’s outdoor markets focus on local handicrafts and other handmade items, such as apparel or accessories. You may find:
- Jewelry: Handmade jewelry from fine gold and silver jewelry in modern styles to costume jewelry made with ceramic or wooden beads to Baltic amber necklaces, earrings, and bracelets are only the beginning. The range of jewelry items available at these seasonal markets is impressive.
- Clothing: Dresses of hand-dyed silk, Lithuanian linen pieces, knitted or fur hats and gloves, coats, dresses, and of course children’s apparel can be purchased from clothing designers from all over Lithuania.
- Pottery and Ceramics: Lithuania has many skilled potters and ceramicists working their favored material in various styles, from traditional pottery with designs typical to Lithuania to whimsical or functional pottery. You’ll also be able to buy charming and colorful wind chimes and magnets.
- Wooden Objects: You’ll typically find wooden utensils for the kitchen, coasters, and dishes for snacks, but sometimes artisans working in wood also set up shop and display their skills in garden statues or decorative figures.
- Candles and Soaps: Many times, Lithuania’s best candle makers will sell their wares at Vilnius’s outdoor markets. Soap makers also have enticing displays of soaps with scents often inspired by locally available ingredients or made with ingredients sourced from nature.
- Teas, Herbs, and CBD Products: Lithuanians appreciate products made from nature, which means that these markets will feature many sellers offering herbal teas, spices, and even CBD or hemp products for use in health and wellness.
- Seasonal and Holiday Items: You’ll find Christmas decorations and gifts at the Vilnius Christmas markets and Lithuanian Easter palms and decorated eggs at Kaziukas Fair.
Of course, you’ll also notice plenty of food—both hot food that is prepared on the spot and food items you can take away. The latter includes:
- Lithuanian cheeses, whether fresh or smoked
- Smoked and dried meats and fish
- Hearty breads
- Sweets, such as the Lithuanian sakotis cake and mushroom cookies
- Fresh, in-season produce, such as mushrooms in the fall and berries in the summer
- Locally sourced honey and honey products such as beeswax candles
- Nuts (collected from the forest, of course!)
What Seasonal Outdoor Markets Should You Watch For?
Kaziukas Fair: One of the most anticipated markets is Kaziukas Fair, which falls on the weekend closest to St. Casimir’s Day in March. This market is the largest of all of the seasonal markets, and vendors from Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, and elsewhere participate. Many of the streets of Old Town are closed for Kaziukas Fair.
Herb Market: St. John’s Day marks the high point of the summer and is associated with pagan customs, which is where the June herb market comes into play. Summertime has been a prime time for gathering herbs for medicines and tea and for use in food and rituals. This market brings the tradition from the field and forest to the city. You’ll see many wreath-decorated maidens—both young and old—tying herbs in bunches or explaining their uses to customers.
St. Bartholemew’s Fair: This outdoor market held in August is a mini Renaissance festival with actors dressed in clothing from the past and selling wares used by people throughout history. Demonstrations of arts and crafts from the past, games, and a cheerful atmosphere accompany this fair.
Capital Days: Capital Days celebrate the city of Vilnius with a calendar of events and a market that stretches the length of Gedimino Avenue. Held at the beginning of September, it marks the beginning of the fall season and coincides with the return of the university students for the academic year.
Nations’ Fair: Also held in September, this celebration of various nations’ cultures, this outdoor market, in addition to offering much local fair, also features foods from various cultures, such as Ukraine and Georgia.
Christmas Markets: Visitors to Vilnius can shop at various Christmas markets, including the one at Cathedral Square set up around the Christmas tree and the one on Town Hall Square. Buy gifts, warm up with spiced wine, and enjoy the sparkle of the season with these lively markets. Christmas in Lithuania is the perfect time to buy gifts!
Design Square: Design Square, which often coincides with seasonal outdoor markets, is typically a separate section in its own tent dedicated to Lithuanian jewelry, clothing, and bag designers. A stroll through this tent or set of tents will introduce you to local trend setters, creative business people, and unique products you won’t find anywhere else. Snag a cool backpack, a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry, or even a designer dog collar.
Tips for Enjoying Vilnius’s Seasonal Outdoor Markets
- Carry Cash: While many sellers have been able to move to a cashless payment system, many still prefer cash. Have plenty of euros with you if you plan to shop.
- Go Early or on Friday: Many weekend markets begin setup on Friday, which is a great time to visit them—Vilnius residents are still at work, so the crowds are thinner. While not all vendors will have arrived by that time, you can begin to get a lay of the land and can browse at a leisurely pace. Alternatively, try to go early on Saturday or Sunday before the crowds arrive.
- If You Aren’t Interested in the Market, Choose Another Way Around: The markets on Gedimino Avenue have the potential to crowd the main thoroughfare so much that it makes using it to get from one point in the city to another slow going—and that’s if you’re on foot! If you want to avoid the crowds completely, choose another route.
- Buy It When You See It: If you see something you like, don’t wait to buy it! That particular stall may not be in the same place the next day—or the person managing it may have already packed up and gone home.
- Prepare to Be Jostled: While Vilnius enjoys a low level of crime, you should still watch your belongings because crowded areas can create opportunities for pickpockets. In addition, people visiting the markets usually do not hesitate to crowd and push, which means you may have to do the same if you want to make a purchase or make your way from one side of the market to the other.
- Carry an Extra Bag: Vendors do not always have bags for their customers, and it makes sense to carry your own reusable bag in which to place all of your purchased souvenirs and gifts.
- Talk to the Sellers: While not all sellers will speak English or the language of your choice, those who do are typically happy to tell you about the origins, process, or inspiration for their products. This type of interaction inevitably makes purchases more precious, interesting, and meaningful.
- Look for Lithuanian Products: Much of what you’ll find at the outdoor markets in Vilnius is specific to Lithuania, but oftentimes the products made according to Lithuanian heritage are grouped together. These include papercuts, woven sashes, brass jewelry depicting pagan symbolism, beaded cuffs, and pottery. Many of these items are beautiful, functional, and make unique souvenirs for yourself or for your home.
- Consider How to Get Your Purchases Home: A few items, such as large baskets or fragile pottery, can be impractical or difficult to get home, especially if you have a trans-Atlantic flight in your future. Consider how you’ll pack what you buy for the flight home and whether it will have to go in your carryon or can withstand riding in your checked luggage.