A ride on a holiday-themed train, a spin around an ice rink in a palace, or window shopping in a hidden craftsmen’s neighborhood—these activities and many more are tempting travelers to Vilnius to realize their Christmas adventure dreams.
December 11, 2023. The Lithuanian capital Vilnius has begun the holiday season by lighting the main Christmas tree—a golden and silver vision—in Cathedral Square. The tree gave start to many season’s activities that make Vilnius a popular destination amongst the December visitors.
Travelers enjoying the festive spirit in the city this year should take advantage of these 10 attractions to get an all-inclusive Christmastime experience.
1. Natural Christmas tree—a nod to traditions
On December 1 Vilnius lit up its main Christmas tree. This year, a natural tree donated by one of the residents was decorated in gold and silver tones, 300 ornaments, and a 5-kilometer-long garland with 200 thousand LED lights. The 16-meter tree is placed on a heap of giant gifts that allow the visitors to reach a platform 5 meters above the ground and experience the tree’s magic from up close.
The tree is surrounded by the annual Christmas market that spreads the festive mood with hot beverages, seasonal delicacies, artisanal goods, and hand-crafted ornaments.
2. A magical ambiance at the gourmet hub
Senators’ Passage a fresh, locally sourced food venue set up in a 400-year-old mansion, has been one of the first establishments to awaken the holiday spirit in its premises. Visitors can snack on organic morsels that come straight from the source and enjoy a night in gourmet restaurants Nineteen18 and 14horses where skilled chefs create flavorful delicacies out of seasonal ingredients.
At the same time, the venue radiates a festive mood—a natural tree decorated with thousands of lights stands proud in the courtyard. Visitors can grab a glass of mulled wine and bask in its cozy lights from one of the outside seating areas.
3. Window shopping in a hidden craftsmen’s gem
A 600-year-old Glass Quarter tucked away in the Old Town used to host goldsmiths, glassblowers, craftsmen, and financiers. Now it is one of the most breathtaking parts of the city. Here window shoppers can pick up holiday gifts like, jewelry, hand-made items, and linen clothing, admire contemporary works of art, grab a bite in restaurants serving traditional Lithuanian and foreign cuisine delicacies, and explore the hidden courtyards.
4. A different skating experience in a palace
Visitors keen on trying out winter activities in Vilnius can go to an open-air skating arena located in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. The ice rink was opened in its Grand Courtyard on December 2. The rink spans over 700 square meters and welcomes visitors for eight mass skating sessions while the spectators cheer them on with cups of hot beverages on the specifically built observation platforms.
Also, the Grand Courtyard of the Palace invites visitors to immerse into a dream-like music, lights, and video projection show “Legend. Vilnius’ Dream” two times a day until December 30.
5. Christmas gastro feast in a century-old prison
The century-old former prison Lukiškės Prison 2.0 has opened its doors to gastronomic professionals and foodies. A Christmas gastro market on December 14-17 invites visitors to try new flavors—from gingerbread cookies to milky caramel, freeze-dried berries, natural spices, and even dried crickets. The establishment also guarantees good music, live performances, and explorations of the premises of the Prison that have been closed to the public so far.
6. Deluxe Christmas trains
On December 1st, LTG Link, a part of LTG, launched holiday trains that go on three routes from Vilnius—to Kaunas, the second largest city, Klaipėda, the port town, and Mockava, a village near the border with Poland which is a stop on the same route to Kraków and Warsaw.
The festive decor was inspired by Christmas Fairy Tale motifs and welcomes travelers to a magical ride with patterns and lighting taken from old-time trains and items full of stories from antique shops. The trains going the routes Vilnius-Klaipėda and Vilnius-Mockava, the stop on the route to Kraków and Warsaw, reminisce of the vintage Christmas with burgundy colors. The train running between Vilnius and Kaunas, however, is bright and more traditionally festive.
7. Alternative Christmas market six meters underground
An entirely different Christmas market popped up in the underground facilities of Liepkalnis Water Storage. Fire-breathing installations that unite creativity with technical ingenuity greet visitors at the entrance before they descend six meters underground for some festive activities.
Various workshops for mastering the art of gift-wrapping, ex-libris, monotype, knot-tying, and making ornaments and decorations from paper, wood, wax, wool, clay, leather, or crayons are inspired by Lithuanian and Oriental cultures.
8. Christmas mood in the Tourist Information Center
Although Vilnius is full of holiday-themed activities this month, travelers eager to explore the city inside out will get all the information from the Tourist Information Center which has been decorated in festive accents to spice up the visit.
9. Neighborhood straight from a Christmas movie
Paupys district, the newest in the city, has Christmas decorations that can rival any holiday movie—giant melting gingerbread cookies, candy canes, and baubles. The residents and visitors of the district can also enjoy numerous festive activities: a holiday train, markets, a wreath-making workshop, breakfast with Santa Claus, and other family events.
10. Holiday couture in Hotel Pacai
Hotel Pacai, a luxury establishment in the Old Town, sparkles with opulent elegance this holiday season. Decorations were created by one of the most famous Lithuanian decorators, Mantas Petruškevičius. The hotel is bedecked in traditional Christmas decor as seen on historical fashion buildings in Paris, London, or Milan. The ornaments were custom-made in Puglia, Italy by the same company that did decorations for the Dior fashion show a few years ago.
The hotel’s restaurant also offers a special menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.