Planning a trip and looking for things to do in Lithuania? This guide for things to do in Lithuania suggests sights and activities that will appeal to a variety of interests. They include Lithuania’s most popular landmarks and attractions, off-the-beaten-path recommendations, and suggestions for culture hounds, history buffs, and nature lovers.
Let’s see what the best things to do in Lithuania are so you can meaningfully fill your Lithuania itinerary!
Table of Contents
- Old Town Vilnius
- Beaches and Coastal Getaways
- Day Trips from Vilnius
- Rumsiskes Open-Air Museum
- Hill of Crosses
- Soviet Sites
- Lithuanian Castles
- Lakes, Forests, and Hiking
- Historic Towns and Villages
- Manor Houses
- Spa Towns
- Seasonal Events
- Lithuanian Food
1. Old Town Vilnius
When you’re looking for things to do in Lithuania, you’ll no doubt want to take a tour of Old Town Vilnius. Old Town Vilnius is the heart of this Baltic capital city and includes some of Lithuania’s most important sights. Of course, things to do in Vilnius alone abound, so do plan to spend several days here to get the full experience.
Gediminas Castle Tower is likely the most important sight in Vilnius. Perched on a hill overlooking the old town, inside is a museum where you can learn about the development of the castle and its history. But you can also get a view of the surrounding complex as well as Old Town Vilnus.
Tip: Where footwear with tread. The stones that pave the path up to the castle can be slick, and in places the path is steep. Even if you take the funicular up the side of the hill, you will still feel more comfortable having footwear that provides grip.
Vilnius Cathedral also comes in at the top of the list of things to do in Lithuania. Vilnius Cathedral is at the heart of Old Town Vilnius. Its recognizable bell tower and square are a popular local meeting spot, and it’s here that outdoor events are often held—including the main Vilnius Christmas Market.
Tip: If you’re into the offbeat, book a tour of the Vilnius Cathedral crypt. You’ll learn about the historical figures buried there and how their remains were uncovered during a historic flood.
The Gates of Dawn is the last city gate left from when Vilnius was a walled city. In addition to preserving the memory of the city’s defensive structures, it is home to a Renaissance painting of the Virgin Mary that can be seen from the street below when the shutters of the window are open. You can climb the steps and enter the chapel to get a closer view.
The House of Signatories is an important Vilnius landmark located on Pilies Street. It was here that Lithuania’s first declaration of independence was signed. And yes, Lithuania has two independence days. The House of Signatories is where the 1918 declaration of independence from the Russian Empire was signed.
The Parliament Building, in addition to being where the Lithuanian Parliament meets, was the location of the signing of the country’s second declaration of independence—this time from the Soviet Union. To be more precise, it was the restitution of independence that was made legal here. Lithuania wanted to make the statement that the USSR had illegally occupied a free country and that the first declaration of independence was still in effect.
Tip: Looking for a good concentration of restaurants can cafes? Vilniaus Street, Vokieciu Street, and Pilies Street are good places to start. You can also try one of the options in Senator’s Passage.
Tip: There’s really no best time to visit Vilnius, but many people like it during the summer or early fall before the weather turns cold and icy.
Outside of the immediate old town area, you can visit other parts of Vilnius that are worthwhile.
Zverynas is a Vilnius neighborhood of cute wooden houses, tidy gardens, and a village feel—even though all you have to do is cross the river near the Parliament building to get to it!
Cats and dogs relaxing in the sun, lace curtains framing windows, and picket fences make Zverynas cozy and welcoming.
Have lunch in the garden of a restaurant, take a stroll through the quiet streets, or enjoy a picnic in Vingis Park, also located in Zverynas.
Tip: Both Panama Food Garden and Veranda have generous outdoor seating. They’re local restaurant summertime favorites for those visiting this Vilnius neighborhood.
Uzupis is across the river in another direction—behind the Cathedral and through Bernadinu Park. This traditional artists’ area is full of personality. Think quirky street art, a creative attitude, and lots of shops and restaurants.
Here, you can stop by the Uzupis Border Control to get a stamp in your passport for this self-described independent republic. Be sure to check out the Uzupis constitution, published in various languages on Paupio Street.
Tip: April 1 is Uzupis’ Independence Day. If you’re in town on this day, you’ll be able to enjoy a series of events surrounding this tongue-in-cheek holiday.
Belmontas is a restaurant and events complex in a park beyond Uzupis. Families can have a pleasant day out when they have lunch here and wander the grounds or take to the forest paths.
Recommended Vilnius Museums
Museums and galleries in Old Town Vilnius are a good option for learning more about Lithuanian history, the local arts scene, and more.
The MO Museum is a private museum for modern collections and multi-media exhibitions. While local artists are featured, regional and international artists are also showcased.
The Palace of the Grand Dukes is dedicated to telling the story of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from archeological finds to interactive exhibits.
The KGB Museum is excellent for understanding Soviet terror in Lithuania. Housed in the former KGB headquarters on Gediminas Avenue, it preserves former interrogation chambers and educates about the Soviet occupation in Lithuania. It’s also one of the most moving things to do in Lithuania.
Tip: Be sure to make note of Lukiskis Square, which faces the KGB Museum. It was formerly Vilnius’s Red Square and had a statue of Lenin standing in the middle. This statue is now in Grutas Park (see below).
A Trakai day trip is one of the most popular things to do in Lithuania. This town near Vilnius has a romantic island castle surrounded by clear lakes and pristine nature. One of Lithuania’s historical capital cities, it offers visitors the opportunity to imagine the medieval era through the castle museum’s exhibits.
The town of Trakai is also well-loved by visitors. Colorful wooden houses line narrow streets. Architecture of the Karaim, a Jewish ethnic group, is preserved here, as is its cuisine.
Find kibinai carts or order them at a restaurant for an authentic and filling lunch. These meat- or mushroom-filled pastries will warm you even with a cool breeze blowing off the lake.
Along the waterfront, vendors sell handmade crafts and souvenirs. Browse for Baltic amber jewelry, find medieval-themed gifts, or support local ceramic artisans.
Tip: Trakai is beautiful year round, whether golden in the fall, under a blanket of snow in the winter, green with the first breath of spring, or in full bloom during the summer.
Kaunas is Lithuania’s second-largest city and was its interwar capital. Many visitors include it on their list of things to do in Lithuania. Kaunas is famous for its Modernist architecture as well as various sights and attractions.
Kaunas’ main drag, Laisves Avenue, is lined with shops, restaurants, and landmarks. It culminates in a former Russian Orthodox church.
While in Kaunas, you can also stop by its reconstructed castle, built on the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris rivers. Near the castle is also the statue of the Vytis, a knight on a horse, an important symbol of Lithuania and found on one of the flags of the Baltic countries.
Recommended Kaunas Museums
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, one of Lithuania’s most beloved artists, is represented with a museum in Kaunas. His haunting, ethereal images are a part of the collective Lithuanian consciousness, so just like Klimt’s or Van Gogh’s paintings appear on pencil cases and tote bags, in Lithuania, so are Ciurlionis’s reproduced on souvenir products.
Many people also like the Devil Museum, a museum that displays devil figurines, masks, and other items related to the devil from all over the world. Over 3,000 items are exhibited here.
For a unique experience, stay overnight at Monte Pacis at Pazaislis Monastery. The hotel is built in part of the monastery complex in the midst of a park. Or simply go for dinner—the award-winning restaurant has an excellent wine list and the service is second to none.
The area around Kaunas also has plenty of sights: small villages, historic churches, stunning views, and manor houses.
4. Beaches and Coastal Getaways
Lithuania’s Baltic Sea coast is pristine and refreshing. White sand, fishermen’s cottages with well-tended gardens, smoked-fish vendors, and a relaxed atmosphere are characteristic of this region.
Palanga and Sventoji
Palanga and its nearby, lesser-visited neighbor, Sventoji, are good options for those who want to enjoy the beach. Things to do in Palanga and Sventoji besides sunbathing include visiting the Amber Museum, enjoying the sunset on the pier, and seeing a former pagan site of worship.
Nida and Curonian Spit
Visiting Nida and the Curonian Spit means crossing the lagoon from Klaipeda by ferry. The spit is a narrow bar of land with villages, beaches, and pine forests along the way. The dunes of Nida are also an attraction that shouldn’t be missed.
Tip: If you’d like to spend more than a day on the coast, planning ahead is strongly advised because accommodation may be booked up months in advance.
5. Day Trips from Vilnius
Another one of the best things to do in Lithuania is take a day trip from Vilnius. Day trips from Vilnius include various Lithuanian cities and sights or attractions.
Some day trips will take you only an hour or so away from the capital, while others are farther afield but still respect Vilnius as a homebase if you prefer not to stay overnight somewhere else.
Day trips include small villages and larger cities, natural environments, and other points of interest. By taking a day trip, you’ll be able to discover parts of Lithuania that are close to Vilnius but offer a different perspective about the history and culture of this Baltic country.
One of the most meaningful day trips you can take is to Kernave, an archeological site and Lithuania’s first capital. The green rolling hills were formerly topped by hill forts, and the memory of the medieval village here lives on.
Check out more day trips from Vilnius:
6. Rumsiskes Open-Air Museum
Rumsiskes Open-Air Museum is an excellent experience for those who want to understand Lithuanian culture on a deeper level. It’s one of the things to do in Lithuania that can easily take up a full day and is good activity for families and groups.
This museum is set up like a miniature Lithuania, with architecture built to represent that from the country’s various regions.
A town center contains shops and places to eat as well as a church.
The museum hosts holiday events that demonstrate the traditional Lithuanian way of celebrating them, allowing visitors to experience folk culture, peek inside traditional homes and other buildings, and learn from the experts who work at the museum.
Tip: Rumsiskes requires a lot of walking, so it’s important to dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.
7. Hill of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses also comes in at one of the top things to do in Lithuania. This point of interest near Siauliai is a demonstration about how a show of faith could also be a form of protest.
The site—populated with thousands of crosses of all sizes and materials—has grown organically over the decades. It was destroyed multiple times by the Soviet regime. However, people continued to place crosses at the hill.
The Hill of Crosses is a solemn and memorable sight. On sunny summer days, a woman playing a zither may fill the air with music and newlyweds may come here to take photos.
Tip: A visitor center across the street sells handmade and mass-produced crosses if you’d like to contribute your own cross to those already present. Of course, you may also bring your own.
8. Soviet Sites
Soviet sites in Lithuania remember the decades of rule by the USSR. Lithuania is still dealing with its Soviet history, and many statues and memorials have come down (and are still coming down). However, the architectural heritage and other sites of interest relating to local Soviet history continue to be used for modern purposes, have been converted into tourist attractions, or are used to education.
For example, Grutas Park is the resting place for Lithuania’s Soviet-era statues. These statues of Lenin, Stalin, and local Communist leadership have been placed within the environment of a green forest. As instruments of oppression, their power has been removed. Now they serve as strong reminders of Soviet propaganda and fear tactics in a benign setting.
Another example is the Cold War Museum, founded in a former Soviet-era missile base. Descend into the ground to learn more about the arms race and how the missile base operated. It’s one of the top things to do in Plunge.
Tip: Looking for more Soviet-era attractions? Take a look at the full list for more things to do in Lithuania:
9. Lithuanian Castles
Lithuania’s castles keep the memory of the medieval Grand Duchy of Lithuania alive. This large swath of territory, protected against invading forces by the grand dukes of Lithuania, at one time encompassed a significant chunk of Europe, including parts of neighboring countries such as Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine.
Many of Lithuania’s castles haven’t survived, and others, such as Trakai, have been reconstructed. Still others are more like manor houses. They represent a variety of eras and styles, and they’ll take you to beautiful parts of Lithuania.
10. Lakes, Forests, and Hiking
If you’re fond of the outdoors, Lithuania’s stunning natural landscape is waiting. In fact, it’s one of the things to do in Lithuania that makes people fall in love with this country. Sights and activities include viewing platforms, forest paths, lakeside relaxation, and hidden treasures that will make a day out fulfilling.
The area around Ignalina is full of lakes and forests. It’s a beautiful escape on a hot day, whether you want to hike, take a picnic lunch, or bask by the water. Historic villages, old oak trees, a beekeeping museum, and manor houses are more treasures in the area waiting to be uncovered.
Anyksciai is another option for nature lovers. A treetop walking path leads to a viewing platform for breathtaking views of the surrounding forest. An outdoor labyrinth is good for an afternoon of family fun, while one of the largest boulders in a relatively boulder-free Lithuania serves as a quirky backdrop for selfies.
You can also visit Burbiskis Manor here, which is both a museum and restaurant. Or visit the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum or the Horse Museum.
Tip: Ticks are prevalent in Lithuania during the warm season, so be sure you’re inoculated against tick-borne encephalitis and check your hair, skin, and clothing to eliminate stowaway insects.
11. Historic Towns and Villages
When you drive through the countryside, one of the best things to do in Lithuania is stop in small towns and villages that may be only mentioned in passing in guidebooks—or not at all. You’ll see churches, town squares, and other landmarks that have stood for decades or centuries, preserving the look of the Lithuania of the past.
Ziezmariai is close to Vilnius. Its most remarkable sight is its wooden synagogue, currently under restoration. A church, a central square, and a cultural center round out are among the other things to see here. While you don’t need to spend much time in Ziezmariai, stopping by is worthwhile for the loads of history here. In addition to the Jewish history of the town, one of the biggest battles of medieval Lithuania took place nearby in the 14th century.
Vilkija is another small town in Lithuania with a lot of personality. The winding medieval streets are lined with worn-in wooden architecture surrounded by apple trees and flower gardens. The view of the Nemunis River is especially nice here—you can climb onto a small platform behind the church for a higher viewpoint.
The ethnic cultural museum here is also of interest. The house in its shady garden bedecked in handmade decorations is as welcoming as it is unique.
Kedainiai is notable for its complex history, which saw people of multiple faiths gather in one town—and the houses of worship are still standing to prove it. You’ll see synagogues and churches as well as German-style houses on the pretty main square.
Marijampole is a city in western Lithuania that’s great for visitors. Beautiful street art, a pleasantly laid out park dedicated to poetry, and a quiet town center characterize this city. One of its main attractions is the monument to the Lithuanian language, one of the languages of the Baltic countries.
12. Manor Houses
Lithuania’s manor houses are its grand country estates for the gentry. If you love luxury real estate or historic properties, this is one of the things to do in Lithuania you should put at the top of your list.
Some manor houses have been lucky: they have been preserved or renovated and now serve as hotels or museums. For example, Uztrakis Manor in Trakai has recreated interiors that show how it may have looked when it served as a residence.
Other manor houses have fallen into disrepair. Their ruined state is a shadow of their former glory. However, these manor ruins are often still picturesque. Many are able to be easily reached en route to other attractions. Some have informational boards describing their history and lines of ownership.
13. Spa Towns
Lithuania’s spa towns make great things to do in Lithuania whether you want to go just to poke around or visit one of the wellness centers there.
Druskininkai is Lithuania’s foremost spa town located in the southern part of the country. Eclectic architecture, flamboyant fountains, carefully tended landscaping, and clear, clean air characterize Druskininkai.
Birstonas is another spa town, somewhat smaller than Druskininkai. It is the source for Lithuania’s mineral water brands Vytautas and Birute. It has a river promenade and public and free ways to benefit from the health-giving properties of the mineral water.
These spa towns have been popular in the region since the time of the Russian Empire. They maintain an aura of past-century resort town and are appropriately pleasant and peaceful places to visit.
14. Seasonal Events
Seasonal events may be one of the trickier things to do in Lithuania because you might not catch them if you haven’t planned your trip around them. However, they’ll make your trip memorable and interesting if they do happen to align with your Lithuania itinerary.
Christmas in Lithuania
You’ll find yourself enchanted with the local Christmas trees. Each city tries to outdo the other, and the Vilnius Christmas tree often makes it to the list of Europe’s most beautiful.
Easter in Lithuania
Easter in Lithuania is a beautiful time of year when spring begins to show itself. Colorful Easter palms, called verbos and made of dried grass and flowers, are a symbol of this holiday. Lithuanian Easter eggs are another. If you visit Lithuania during this time of year, you’re sure to see Easter-related decorations and catch related events.
Kaziukas Fair is an enormous outdoor market that happens the first weekend in March to celebrate Saint Casimir. A procession with an effigy of the saint starts off the weekend.
Old Town Vilnius fills with vendors from throughout Lithuania as well as neighboring countries. It’s an excellent opportunity to shop for souvenirs and gifts, folk art, books, food, and clothing.
Each year is a bit different, but Gediminas Ave. and the streets around the Cathedral represent the center of the market. It’s three days’ worth of fun, and if it’s good weather, it has the potential to draw enormous crowds.
Tip: Be sure to bring cash to Kaziukas Fair. Not all vendors accept credit cards.
Masks are an important part of Uzgavenes. Furthermore, a fight between two effigies representing winter and spring is staged—Lithuanian Carnival is traditionally a way to say goodbye to the winter months and welcome warmer days and more light as the season changes.
Pancakes are widely served on this holiday as a representation of the sun.
Other Holidays in Lithuania
Of course, other holidays in Lithuania can be enjoyed when you’re here. For example, All Saints Day is a November holiday when people visit cemeteries and light candles. As long as you’re respectful, you can visit the cemeteries and see thousands of candles lighting up the darkness. It’s a solemn and moving experience.
Jonines, or St. John’s Day, celebrates the shortest night of the year with bonfires and other rituals—it’s a pagan holiday celebrated throughout the Baltics. It’s an excuse to party throughout the night.
Ceremonies and other events take place for both of Lithuania’s days of independence, with the Lithuanian flag displayed throughout the country and people singing songs together.
Annual events in all cities take place throughout the year, including city festivals, poetry festivals, and holiday celebrations. Vilnius’ annual events include Open House Vilnius, an architectural festival, Culture Night, Museum Night, the Street Music Festival, the Accordion Festival, Wine Days, and seasonal outdoor markets.
15. Lithuanian Food
When you visit, one of the most important things to do in Lithuania is try the food. Lithuanian food can be found in restaurants serving traditional cuisine, but you can also find examples of traditional foods and products at supermarkets and outdoor markets.
In the summer, saltibarsciai, or Lithuanian cold pink soup, is ubiquitous. It’s a refreshing dish made from kefir, cucumbers, dill, and beets and is typically served with potatoes. Use the map published by the national tourism agency to taste different variations of this soup throughout Lithuania.
Cepeliniai are dumplings made of potato that are filled with meat or cheese. They’re filling and take a long time to cook, so they’re a great option if you’re visiting during winter and want to warm up in a cozy restaurant with a plate of traditional food. Cepeliniai even have their own international day of celebration: World Cepelinas Day, the first Sunday in February.
Lithuanian desserts are a good option for exploring the world of Lithuanian cuisine. Sakotis, or tree cake, can be found at outdoor markets or supermarkets, so you can either taste it when you’re in Lithuania or take some home as a souvenir.
Other Lithuanian desserts, such as tinginys or simptalapis are often sold at outdoor markets and fairs.
Tip: A Lithuanian cookbook makes a great gift or souvenir. English-language cookbooks can be found at most bookstores.
If you’re interested in learning how to cook Lithuanian food yourself, try a cooking class. Cooking classes that specialize in Lithuanian cuisine will take you through the steps required to make some of Lithuania’s most favorite traditional dishes. This activity is one of the things to do in Lithuania that will give you skills to apply when you’re back home and reliving fond memories of your travels.
Demonstrations and Regional Routes
Throughout Lithuania, you’ll be able to learn more about regional and traditional food.
For example, follow the Beer Route to learn about Lithuanian beer-making. Or learn how cheese is made in Druskininkai. Alternatively, visit Ilzenberg Manor, a working manor that makes dairy and meat products and offers tours and demonstrations.
Shopping is another one of the most recommended things to do in Lithuania. Shopping is an excellent opportunity to pick up one-of-a-kind pieces or clothing and accessories of Lithuanian design.
For example, you’ll find boutiques stocking Lithuanian clothing brands throughout Lithuania in standalone shops or in shopping centers. They’re also sold at pop-up markets and Design Square markets.
Lithuanian linen is another item to shop for if you’re looking for souvenirs from Lithuania. You’ll find clothing items, accessories, sheets, towels, and other items for the home in linen in timeless styles and colors.
Of course, you can also search for traditional handicrafts and Lithuanian folk art at souvenir shops or directly from the vendor at outdoor markets. Wood carvings, ceramic pieces, or woven sashes make beautiful gifts or precious souvenirs.
Maybe you’d like to travel with the benefit of a guide. Tours are one of the best things to do in Lithuania for learning about the country from experts.
Group tours to Lithuania often include travel in the Baltic countries or possibly Poland.
However, you’re certainly able to book tours of Lithuania only. Or you can hire a private guide to take you to certain parts of Lithuania.
For example, maybe you’d like to see the high points such as Trakai, the Hill of Crosses, and Kaunas.
Maybe your interests lean more towards discovering more about Jewish Lithuania or Soviet-era Lithuania.
Wherever your interests lie, you’ll be able to experience Lithuania in the way that suits you best, whether it’s a single-day tour or a tour with overnight stays along the way. Guides can also suggest their favorite things to do in Lithuania or introduce you to sights and activities that don’t make it into many guides.