Are you looking for things to do in Vilnius, Lithuania? You have come to the right place. Below, you’ll find ideas for enriching your stay, learning about the capital of Lithuania – one of the Baltic capitals – and enjoying everything the city has to offer, from sights to culinary delights to other activities that will keep you entertained, surprise you, and create great memories.
1. Looking for Things to Do in Vilnius? Visit a Museum
Vilnius’s museum options have improved in the last few years with the opening of the MO Museum contemporary art gallery—which focuses on local art and art from the region with interactive exhibits and a fun gift shop and the Palace of the Grand Dukes, a multi-media experience that takes visitors back in time to allow them to experience the evolution of the Lithuanian state.
Of course, the Museum of Applied Arts, which has showcased grand collections from fashion history, and the Vilnius Picture Gallery are options, too. And don’t forget the recently opened city museum, a long overdue addition to the local museum scene.
2. Take a Walk in the Park
Whether you visit Vilnius in the summer or winter, a walk in the park has its advantages. The central park, Bernadiniu Park, near the Cathedral, is a historic park that was redone a few years back to make it more useable and attractive, and the results are pleasant, shady paths, a singing fountain, and old trees that block the noise of the city. In full bloom, it’s lovely, but it’s also magical when frozen over during the cold months.
Vingis Park in Zverynas is a larger park accessible from the center. With an amphitheater and racetrack, as well as miles of trails, it serves cyclists, runners, and those who enjoy other active leisure activities well. But if you just want a nice walk in the forest, it will also suit.
3. View the National Library
The long-awaited completion of the renovation of the Mazvydas National Library has finally happened, and the results are impressive. The Neoclassical façade, with its tall columns and large wooden doors, may seem formidable, but inside is a gorgeous space complete with a café, decorative bookshelves, and multimedia and reading rooms that the public certainly take advantage of. Often, the library hosts book readings or talks by authors or photo and other exhibits. There’s no reason not to enjoy free things to do in Vilnius like this one!
4. Tour the Parliament Building
Near the National Library, you’ll see the Brutalist-era Parliament Building, known as the Seimas. This building at Gedimino pr. 53 is significant beyond it being where the government meets.
In this building, Lithuania signed its declaration of independence from the Soviet Union, known as the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, and it was also one of the places where Lithuanians prepared to face off with invading Russian forces when they did so—a glass-encased exhibit on the side of the Parliament Building contains some of the barricades used for that purpose in 1991. Tours of the Parliament Building are able to be booked in English two weeks in advance by phone or email. It’s one of those things to do in Vilnius that you won’t forget.
5. Be Impressed by the Presidential Palace
The Presidential Palace in Vilnius is another easily accessible but highly significant landmark that has been important to the city for centuries. It’s the official residence of the President of Lithuania and has been so since 1997, though it began its life as a bishop’s palace. It eventually became a royal palace and kings and other members of the nobility either lived there or visited, including Tsar Paul I, Tsar Alexander I, Napoleon, and Louis XVIII of France, and its current façade reflects its renovation in the Empire style.
Free-of-charge guided tours for groups of up to 10 people are available Saturdays from 9:00 to 18:00. Reserve by phone or email.
6. Get Learned at Vilnius University
Vilnius University is one of the oldest universities in Eastern Europe, and its architecture and interiors reflect this long history. Numerous courtyards, a maze of connected buildings, an astronomical observatory, a beautiful old library, a Baroque church with an interesting sculptural alter, and numerous frescoes and mosaics are some of the secrets held within Vilnius University.
Take a self-guided Vilnius University tour or, better, hire a guide for the richest experience—it’s easy to get lost and miss something if you go on your own. Things to do in Vilnius like this one can enhance your understanding of the city’s history.
7. Climb the University Bell Tower
The University Bell Tower is one of a few things to do in Vilnius that will get you a bird’s-eye view of Old Town Vilnius. After paying the fee, you can ascend into the upper reaches of the tower—partly by elevator, and the rest via a set of stairs. The tower can be accessed either by the university church’s courtyard or via a gate from behind the university on Sv. Jono Street.
8. Be Awed by Vilnius Cathedral
Visiting Vilnius Cathedral is one of the most important things to do in Vilnius. The Cathedral serves as the end to Gedimino prospektas and dominates Cathedral Square.
The vast interior of the Cathedral is somewhat minimalist—its interior decorations were largely destroyed during the Soviet era, when it was used as a warehouse and for other utilitarian purposes. However, the St. Casimir’s Chapel, which honors the patron saint of Lithuania, is a colorful Baroque space of frescoes, stuccowork, and statues.
The Cathedral is free to enter to visitors.
9. Ascend the Vilnius Cathedral Bell Tower
Vilnius Cathedral’s Bell Tower was not always a bell tower. The tower that originally stood in that spot was a defensive tower, a part of the defensive structures around the castle—you can see the outline of those structures marked in the pavement in the square.
While several fires over the centuries destroyed or damaged the tower, the current tower is open to visitors and continues to maintain watch over the passage of time with its bells and clock.
10. Be Creeped Out by a Vilnius Cathedral Crypt Tour
One of the more unexpected things to do in Vilnius is to take a tour of the Vilnius Cathedral crypt. You’ll go underground to discover some interesting facts about important historic figures, such a Barbora Radvilaite, who is buried here and learn more about the history and evolution of the Cathedral itself.
11. Go Back in Time at Gedimino Tower
Grand Duke Gediminas founded Vilnius after having a dream of a howling iron wolf, according to legend (depicted in a sculpture near the base of Gediminas Hill). The top of the hill is littered with ruined parts of the castle as well as the reconstructed tower.
You can either enjoy the view of Old Town Vilnius from the base of the tower or enter it to climb to the top, where a flag also flies. The interior of the tower contains a small museum to help you visualize how the castle once looked and gives you a peek into Vilnius’s past.
Gedimino Castle Tower is the symbol of Vilnius—you’ll see it depicted in magnets, on mugs, on t-shirts, and as a part of promotional materials about the city. It can be seen from various points in the old town area and makes a scenic backdrop either from the Hill of Three Crosses, the Bastion area of Old Town Vilnius, Uzupis, or the river. It’s one of the most iconic things to do in Vilnius.
12. See the View from the Hill of Three Crosses
The Hill of Three Crosses (not to be confused with the Hill of Crosses in Siauliai) makes an excellent lookout point, particularly on atmospheric days or at sunset, when the skies over the rooftops of Vilnius give the historic center a romantic soft focus—you may want to consider your footwear for climb, which is partly supported by a set of stairs to the top.
Legend has it that the crosses memorialize the deaths of Franciscan friars who spoke out against the worship of pagan Lithuanian gods, but this legend has yet to be substantialized.
However, like many important landmarks in Vilnius, the Hill of Three Crosses is also meaningful to Lithuania’s break from the Soviet Union—the Soviet authorities would not allow the crosses to be restored when the wood they were made from rotted and the remnants demolished, but the three crosses were rebuilt in 1989, shortly before Lithuania declared independence.
13. Relax with a Beer Tasting
Lithuania is a great country for beer lovers. You can try locally brewed beer at any restaurant or bar in Vilnius, or you can go to one of a couple of establishments dedicated specifically to beer. Bambalyne, on Stikliu g., is set in a cellar and allows you to explore unique and interesting beers in a cozy atmosphere. The Beer Library on Traku g. offers different beers from around the world, and it’s also good for an evening out.
Of course, you can also hire a guide to take you through the beer-making process, help you discover the specifics of Lithuanian beer, and introduce you to some of Vilnius’s favorite pubs! It’s one of the best things to do in Vilnius for groups.
14. Let a Coffee Tasting Energize You
You can hardly go 20 meters in Vilnius without encountering a coffee shop. Coffee is big business in Vilnius, with coffee shops and roasters upping the ante as they compete for clientele. If you love coffee as much as Vilnius residents do, consider enjoying a coffee tasting with or without a guide.
Coffee tastings in Vilnius are available from Vilnius Relax.
Or take yourself on a coffee tasting tour by using the Good Coffee Map.
15. Find Your Favorite Wine
Lithuania isn’t exactly known for its wine, being a northern country with a short growing season. However, it does make fruit and berry wines, which are on the sweeter end of the wine spectrum. Enjoy a sampling of locally made wines or visit one of Vilnius’s many wine bars for French, Italian, South American, or other wines. Burbulio Vynine, In Vino, or the Kempinski Hotel wine bar are good options.
A local wine tasting can be arranged through Vilnius Relax.
16. Get Sweet on Mead
What’s mead and why should you taste it? Next to beer, mead another one of Lithuania’s locally produced alcoholic beverages. It’s made of honey, one of Lithuania’s most prized culinary treasures. You may remember being offered mead at your local Medieval or Renaissance fair, but in Vilnius, you can try contemporary-style mead and learn how it is produced today! Vilnius Relax offers tastings.
17. Find Your Favorite Lithuanian Cheese
Lithuania is famous for its mild, high-quality dairy products. If you love cheese, don’t miss out on sampling some of Lithuania’s finest examples. Restaurants serving local cuisine will often offer platters of local cheeses. But you can also head straight to the Dziugas cheese shop to sit down for a sampling and a glass of wine. These are located on Vilniaus g. and Ausros Vartu g. in Old Town Vilnius.
18. Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
If you’re on vacation, you may just want a timeout from sightseeing. Vilnius’s day spas make an excellent option for things to do in Vilnius. Affordable treatments from massages to wraps to facials can be booked in advance—consider doing so if the forecast calls for rain! A couple of good options are Spa Vilnius and Azia Spa.
If you are in Lithuania and want to stay over at one of its spas, consider Vytautas Mineral Spa in Birstonas or one of the various spas in Druskininkai, in the south. Healing waters, relaxation, and professional spa services will have your muscles loosened up, your skin tightened, and your stress levels decreased.
19. Shop for Amber
Vilnius is great for shopping for Baltic amber. From the palest—almost white—yellow color to deep cherry, as well as translucent golden, green, or flecked, Baltic amber is a gift from the sea that Lithuania’s artisans have turned into jewelry and gifts. Shopping for amber is one of those things to do in Vilnius you won’t regret.
Vendors on Pilies g. sell simple strings of rough amber at low price points, while dedicated amber shops will sell amber that has been set and polished into precious metals. If you’re looking for a memorable souvenir of your travels or a special gift for someone back home, a piece of Baltic amber may be just what you’re looking for.
To learn more about amber, you may check out the Amber Museum on Mykolo g. The workshop and gallery there expand on the story of amber and help visitors to trace its origins as tree sap from millennia ago to the beautiful nuggets of sunlight they seem to be today.
20. Get Familiar with Local Design
Each of the countries of Eastern Europe has its own designers producing clothing, bags, and other products that are popular locally and beyond the country’s borders. Lithuania is no different. Check out the A to Z of Lithuanian clothing brands to learn where to look for local clothing makers.
You can also visit boutique shops, such as Locals.lt, which cater to a modern, trendy aesthetic while offering only items designed by Lithuanians. Don’t forget to look for the top Lithuanian candle brands, too, which make lovely gifts. Shopping for local products is one of the best things to do in Vilnius to support small businesses.
21. Discover the Luxury of Linen
Lithuanian linen is a sustainable, useful, and beautiful souvenir from the Baltic region. While you can shop online for linen clothing, bedding, and towels, nothing quite beats being able to try on, feel, or examine potential purchases in person. Try Linen Tales for classic tops, dresses, kitchen linens, and sheets and duvet covers; Balta Balta for hand-dyed linen using colors from nature; or Grizas for funky, flowy designs. Shopping for linen is one of the most popular things to do in Vilnius for visitors!
22. Take a Folk Art Class
Taking a Lithuanian folk art class can be a fun individual, partnered, or family activity. Lithuanian practitioners are happy to teach visitors about their folk art culture and help them craft examples of their own pottery, leather craft, soap, bone carving, or weaving. Other folk art classes may include papercutting lessons or “straw garden” demonstrations.
The Old Crafts Workshop in Vilnius can help you find a class that is right for you.
Vilnius Potter’s Workshop is located at Paupio g. 2-20, Vilnius 01201.
Also find options at the Lithuanian Ethnic Culture Center.
23. Explore Galleries
Exploring Vilnius’s galleries is a great activity for art and photography lovers—the galleries around the city showcase local artists’ work, typically in smaller, more intimate spaces, meaning you can mull the pieces quietly and at a relaxed pace.
Some galleries include Titanikas at Mairionio g. 3; Pamenkalnio Gallery at Pamenkalnio 1; and Prospekto Gallery at Gedimino pr. 43.
24. Enjoy an Opera or Ballet
For night-on-the-town things to do in Vilnius, consider a night at the opera. Vilnius’s Opera and Ballet Theatre is located in a Soviet-era building smack in the center of the city. This means that it’s super easy to get to if you’re already staying in the old town or its surroundings and you can conveniently plan for dinner or drinks before or after.
The theater has a full repertoire of productions throughout the year, typically at affordable prices. You may want to check the performance calendar in advance to secure tickets online ahead of time.
25. Celebrate with Festivals
Vilnius’s annual festivals will introduce you to folk song and dance, local musicians, European films, and even local architecture. They’re one of the many seasonal things to do in Vilnius that will make your trip memorable.
For example, Open House Vilnius, which takes place in spring, is a free festival that allows visitors to peek into government buildings, former palaces, and other structures important to the fabric of the city.
Kino Pavasaris, also in spring, is Lithuania’s largest film festival, where viewers can watch both locally relevant films and those made abroad. And the Christofer Summer Music Festival presents a wide array of musicians and types of music at various venues around Vilnius and other major cities in Lithuania.
26. Get Active
If you love the idea of incorporating a challenge into your travels, consider scheduling your visit to Vilnius during one of its sports events.
The annual marathon takes place in December, but Vilnius also hosts a women’s run in June and a Christmas run.
Of course, you can also take advantage of Vilnius’s miles of biking trails.
Furthermore, in the warm months, many people take advantage of the bike and scooter rental hubs located around the city. You can also book a tour using one of these modes of transportation!
27. Fill Up on Lithuanian Food
Lithuanian food can be tasted at various restaurants around the old town and beyond. You have your choice between chain restaurants and independently owned ones that may serve better-quality versions of favorite local dishes. Potato pancakes, local cheeses, and fried bread are all some typical foods you may want to try. Sampling local cuisine is one of the most delicious things to do in Vilnius.
28. Bask in the Beauty of Brunch
The brunch scene in Vilnius is improving, though it’s still often relegated to weekends. Have a late breakfast outside in the sunshine while you prepare for the day or recover from a late night or find a cozy spot inside where you can sip your coffee slowly and enjoy the atmosphere and being around other people enjoying a slow morning.
29. Be Unique in Uzupis
Uzupis is officially a part of the old town area of Vilnius, but it’s declared, in its tongue-in-cheek way, that it’s an independent republic, complete with constitution and border control.
Uzupis’s independence day is on April 1, if that paints a better picture about how seriously it takes itself. This formerly run-down district of artists, even though it continues to be renovated and now commands some of the highest real estate prices in the city, continues to have a bohemian feel—galleries and workshops, design boutiques, and restaurants with an artistic flair all make their home in Uzupis. This district is one of those can’t-miss things to do in Vilnius.
30. Discover Cozy Zverynas
If you’d like less predictable things to do in Vilnius, visit Zverynas, another historic Vilnius neighborhood. Formerly the royal hunting grounds, Zverynas is now a neighborhood with lovely ramshackle wooden houses straight out of a fairy tale.
The peaceful nature, soft colors, and faded beauty of the area will make you believe you’ve left the city altogether. However, it’s easy to get to—just cross the bridge from the Parliament Building and you’re there. Turn right at the Orthodox church to start seeing examples of Zverynas’s prized architecture immediately.
31. Explore Jewish Vilnius
Exploring Jewish Vilnius is a worthwhile activity because the remnants of “the Jerusalem of the North” are hidden in plain sight, which means it’s helpful to have a guide to point out the most important landmarks.
Part of Old Town Vilnius was the Jewish ghetto during WWII, and one synagogue remains nearby, the rest having been torn down, along with the Jewish cemeteries that were destroyed during the Soviet era.
History may have tried its best to erase the Jewish heritage of Lithuania, but a small community of members as well as those devoted to preserving history and memory keep this knowledge alive. For example, you’ll see street art that presents Jewish figures around the Stiklu g. area of old town—they mark the vestiges of the past.
32. Promenade along the River
Vilnius’s river promenade has been recently reconstructed as a comfortable and pleasant area to walk, bike, run, or simply sun yourself with a book. The river promenade follows the Neris River into both Antakalnis and Zverynas, so it’s possible to get a very good walk in if you follow it for its length.
33. View a Film
Various film festivals throughout the year offer movie buffs the opportunity to see a wide variety of films and documentaries. However, a couple smaller, independent movie theaters will also have special showings and events with directors. Check out Pasaka and Skalvija for such options.
34. Get Away in Belmontas
Looking for off-the-beaten-path things to do in Vilnius? Belmontas is a retreat from the city. This former mill is now a restaurant and events venue where the pleasant breeze from the forest, a path along the river, and other countryside elements allow for an afternoon getaway without leaving the city limits.
35. Ride in a Hot-Air Balloon
Hot-air balloon rides are a Vilnius activity that will remain in your memory for years to come, particularly if you share this experience with a loved one. Vilnius is one of the rare cities that allows hot-air balloons to fly over it, and the expert balloon pilots will—following how the wind blows—take you on the ride of a lifetime.
36. Take in Trakai
Trakai is visitors’ most favorite day trip from Vilnius and undoubtedly one of the most popular things to do in Vilnius – or at least from Vilnius, anyway.
The reconstructed castle, which appears to float above the water of the lakes that converge around it, is a museum, and the village around it upholds traditions particular to the area. It’s easy to get to via bus or train, and it’s lovely year-round, whether it’s a sunny summer’s day or a wintry afternoon with snow piled high and ice smooth along the water’s surface.
Discover Lithuania’s medieval history in Trakai, try pastries made famous by the Karaim minority that made Trakai their home, or relax on the water.
Uztraku Manor, which looks over Trakai Castle from across the lake, can also be included in this day trip from Vilnius. You’ll see restored historic interiors and experience the romance of life at a manor house in one of Lithuania’s most beautiful spots.
Making a full day of Trakai is one of the best things to do in Lithuania!
37. Feel History at the Gates of Dawn
The Gates of Dawn is the remaining gates of the formerly walled city of Vilnius. It’s also an important religious site, particularly for Catholics, due to the icon of the Virgin Mary that hangs above the archway. Though most of Vilnius’s defensive structures have since disappeared, the Gates of Dawn is a reminder that once the city was enclosed in stone and brick walls and had nine gates in total.
38. Warm Up with Cepelinai
What are cepelinai, you ask? They’re one of Lithuania’s national dishes and a must-try food when you visit this Baltic country. Cepelinai are large, fist-sized dumplings made of mashed potatoes filled with meat or cheese, drizzled in bacon grease, and served hot with sour cream.
They’re a perfect wintertime meal and will fill you up quickly—and keep you full. If you aren’t very hungry and have the option, order one instead of the typical two! Wash them down with a glass of local beer for one of the most classic things to do in Vilnius for visitors.
39. Chill Out with Saltibarsciai
If you’re looking for more foodie things to do in Vilnius, try Lithuania’s famous summer soup. Saltibarsciai is another national dish, this one most popular during the summer.
This cool, refreshing, slightly sour “pink soup” is made from kefir, dill, onions, and beets, which give it a startling, but lovely, pink color. It is typically served with boiled potatoes and can be enjoyed throughout Vilnius when the weather is warm.
40. Watch the Flag-Raising Ceremony
Head to the Presidential Palace at noon on Sunday to watch a flag-raising ceremony, where uniformed soldiers replace the flags flown in Daukanto Square every week. More elaborate flag-raising ceremonies are performed for special occasions, including those that incorporate military uniforms from the past.
41. Go Ice Skating
If you’re looking for active things to do in Vilnius, during the winter, an ice-skating rink is set up in the center and remains there through the cold months. Take a couple of hours to skate while the sun is shining under a cold February sky or go more romantic when you skate to music at night.
42. Check out Soviet History
Looking for offbeat things to do in Vilnius? Vilnius’s Soviet history is apparent throughout the city, from the Soviet-era buildings in Brutalist style to a Soviet bunker on the outskirts of the city that will recreate aspects of this 20th-century regime for you.
Of course, many buildings have scars left from Soviet times on them, from awkward renovations to decorations that have been removed. Some of the best Soviet sites in Lithuania are located in Vilnius.
43. Go to Prison
The prison in the center of the city, Lukiskes Prison, is no longer a prison, though it served this purpose for over 100 years. It’s now an events venue and a place for artists and creatives. It was even the site of filming for season 4 of the series Stranger Things.
Take a guided prison tour if you’d like to know more about the prison’s history, including its foundation, eventual closure, and rebirth as Lukiskes Prison 2.0.
44. Elevate Your Status with a Manor Visit
Though Lithuania has manor houses and castles throughout the country, you don’t have to go much beyond Vilnius to see some examples.
One of these nearby manors is Traku Voke, which like many manor houses in Lithuania has undergone restoration. It’s a favorite place for picnics, but you can also view the interiors to understand how the noble family who owned it lived.
45. Get Literary
One of Old Town Vilnius’ prettiest streets is Literatu gatve. Not only is it picturesque – it’s educational, too!
Walk down this winding street and notice the various creative plaques on the blue wall. Each represents a work of Lithuanian literature.
The inspiration for the name of this street comes from when one of the region’s most important poets, Adomas Mickevičius. Mickevičius lived there in the 19th century.
It wasn’t until 2008 that Literature Street got its current purpose. Since then, artists have created small memorials to the greatest works of Lithuanian literature from ceramics, glass, metal, and other materials using almost any technique you can think of.
46. Get Quirky with the Frank Zappa Monument
The Frank Zappa monument is one of Vilnius’ most unusual sights – it’s easily one of the most memorable things to do in Vilnius. Though Lithuania has a tenuous – at best – relationship with the musician, he became an unlikely symbol of post-Soviet Lithuania.
In fact, the artist who created the bust formerly was employed making statues of Soviet leaders.
You’ll find the bust and the accompanying mural in a small square off of K. Kalinausko g.