Vilnius has prepared a long list of activities to make the most of summer in the city: festivals and concerts under the stars, hiking and cycling tours, horizon-expanding works of art at contemporary art galleries and unforgettable gastronomic experiences amidst the city’s red-roofs and iconic architecture promise never-ending impressions. Today, in anticipation of its anniversary, Vilnius is opening its uniqueness to people from all over Lithuania and the world.
Anytime locals in Vilnius leave the city, they start asking friends on social networks where they can find a nice café or restaurant in one or another city, because they never encounter these problems in Vilnius. Our city offers such a vast variety of gastronomic experiences that it’s practically impossible not to find a nice place to suit your taste. But if we’re talking about spots to bring guests, they must be the most extraordinary of places! Vilnius is not only famous for its good restaurants, but also for its excellent dessert bars – don’t pass by the ingeniously presented sweets without stopping in for a taste.
The Senators’ Passage. A palace ensemble built between the 17th and 19th centuries in the heart of the city has been given new life as a centre for gastronomy. Fans of quality food flock here to places like the 14Horses and Nineteen18 restaurants, where the from garden to plate food philosophy reigns supreme. This ambitious project aims to bring together responsible Lithuanian farmers and artisans to offer a new destination for culinary experiences in the Old Town. Within a couple of years, the restaurants have become a favourite place among residents and visitors, who meet here to enjoy delicious food, great wine and warm hospitality.
Dinner tour in the Glass Quarter. Jewellers began congregating in this part of Vilnius as early as the 15th century and the Jewish community was allowed to settle in the 17th century. Later, Vilnius’ first printing house opened in this area, and in the 19th century, glassmakers set up here. Today, you can have a unique experience here; namely, a dinner tour of four excellent restaurants and cafes in this beautiful area led by Adi Vilner, a local and the project’s audio storyteller. As you taste dishes from different cuisines – Baltic, Irish, Vilnius Royal and Jewish – the hidden stories and legends of your neighbours are revealed in such a way that you don’t even notice that three hours have passed.
Chicken Kyiv meatball at the legendary Neringa restaurant. The restaurant, famous for its special aura, exclusive interior with a stage and live music evenings, has once again become a popular place after undergoing reconstruction. Residents of Vilnius and visitors come here to taste the legendary chicken Kyiv meatballs. The interior has been restored to the way Neringa used to look, based on a 1959 design by the famous Lithuanian architects, the Nasvytis brothers. Thus, the retro flavour and good food still attract crowds like a magnet. And the chicken Kyiv meatball is really special here, because it’s made using an old recipe – so you will not find this version anywhere else.
Vilnius not only offers active leisure time, but also relaxation after an intense day of work. All you have to do is choose between a SPA centre or romantic sunsets by the most beautiful lakes.
Vilnius Grand Resort. A modern resort surrounded by lakes, birch forests and winding hills, harmoniously integrated into the landscape. It even has its own golf course, leisure and recreation complex, offering an exceptional service culture, original style, gourmet cuisine and a unique combination of services. Plus, it’s all just 20 minutes from the centre of the capital city! The new V SPA and Wellness Centre is worth a try – it combines state-of-the-art technology with ancient Eastern healing rituals.
Bokšto SPA. Promising its visitors “two inches above the daily routine,” the city’s newest day SPA is unique for both its location (it’s found on a cobbled street in the Old Town) and its spaces and services. Relax in the 25-metre, four-lane swimming pool and the classic Himalayan salt and Turkish baths, or head to the cold-water splash room, whirlpool or quiet room. And in the historic 15th and 17th century cellars, there are treatment rooms for body, face, hand and foot treatments, a hammam, a relaxation area and a garden with a sensory trail.
Blue Flag beaches. Locals in Vilnius cannot imagine summertime without water and the beach near the Green Lakes (Žalieji ežerai). The water of the lakes is really green: the emerald lakes are often visible through the portholes of planes as they approach the capital, beckoning visitors to feel their coolness first hand. We are delighted that two of Vilnius’ public beaches – Balsio (Green Lakes) and Žirmūnai – have been awarded international Blue Flag certificates and the right to fly the blue flags after meeting 33 stringent requirements in the categories of education and information, water quality, environmental management, safety and quality of services.
Once you have explored the Old Town, visited all the museums, hung out in the city’s parks and squares, tasted the dishes of Lithuanian cuisine and have had a number of cups of good coffee, it’s time to head to the outskirts of the city, which promise a lot of new surprises.
Dūmų fabrikas (Smoke Factory). Just 10 kilometres from Vilnius Old Town in Naujoji Vilnia, known as Vileika among locals, this factory built at the end of the 19th century manufactured scythes that were exported all over the world. The factory’s several dozen chimneys were so smoky that the surrounding area was drowned in smoke, which is how the factory got its name. Now, after reconstruction it has been transformed into a space for cultural events: from contemporary dance performances to exhibitions of contemporary painting, graphics, photography, jazz concerts and fashion events – there’s plenty to see and do for culture buffs. The building, which has retained its authenticity, also houses the Sakiškės Brewery, where you can book a tour with a beer tasting event.
Pavilniai and Verkiai Regional Park Visitor Centre. Verkiai Palace Park, on the outskirts of Vilnius, is a favourite place among locals for strolls. And now, the new interactive visitor centre on the palace grounds offers tours and guided hikes through the Vilnia Valley. You’ll learn interesting facts about the plants in the parks, protected animal species, and even be challenged to solve a puzzle or find a treasure. And on the hike, you will find out how Lithuania’s biggest exposure ¬– Pūčkoriai Exposure – formed and what secrets the Vilnelė Stream holds.
100 km trail around Vilnius. Most residents of Vilnius discovered this trail during lockdown when they used to go for long walks around the capital, and now they would definitely recommend the fabulously scenic routes to visitors in Vilnius. The 100-kilometre route winds through some of the capital’s most beautiful spots, where even old-timers will discover places they have never seen before. The entire route is divided into sections, with varying levels of difficulty, and can be completed by running, walking or cycling. Oriented by stickers and tape on trees, the route is reminiscent of childhood games and guarantees a good mood and a mountain of impressions in nature.
This summer and straight through to the warm autumn days, locals and guests of the capital will be invited to exceptional events that will spread across the concert halls, parks, streets and squares of the city to celebrate the spectacular anniversary of the founding of Vilnius. And the evenings and nights spent listening to music and gazing at the starry sky will definitely be memorable.
Culture Night on 17 June. One particular summer night in Vilnius is always extra special – a night of culture in the city, with music, dance, theatre and film projects and unexpected performances in the city’s squares, art galleries with night time exhibitions, unexplored church crypts, and contemporary architecture buildings open to visitors. There is so much of everything that you will be tempted to wander from street to street and stay awake until dawn, when you’ll be greeted by the red-roofed Old Town of Vilnius.
Midsummer Vilnius on 11-22 July. The festival, which takes place every midsummer in the Grand Courtyard of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, always quickens the pulse of Vilnius, and this year’s programme is even more interesting – from the Tiger Lillies to Al Di Meola and the soloist Violeta Urmana, who promotes Lithuania around the world with her music. On the sixth evening of the festival, visitors will be treated to the Like Vilnius – An Audio-Visual Collage of the City, an event where the city’s features will emerge in the emotions of images and sounds revealed frame-by-frame, beat-by-beat, to create an authentic audio-visual portrait of Vilnius: modern-day Vilnius, historical Vilnius and the ever-changing city.
Vilnius 700 Music Festival on 25 July. On the day honouring the patron saint of Vilnius, St. Christopher’s Day, the city will become a unique international music arena in one of its most popular parks –Vingis Park. Whether you like classical, popular or electronic music, you will be surprised by the exceptional programme, which you can listen to from the comfort of the grass. St. Christopher is also the patron saint of travellers, so we’re looking forward to welcoming guests from far and wide – together we’ll throw a wild party!
Vilnius Capital Days on 2-4 September. It is a traditional event that locals love: a craft fair on the buzzing Gediminas Avenue where you can buy unique gifts, watch performances by musicians, attend big concerts at Cathedral Square, enjoy children’s entertainment and discover an array of tasty food stands – on days like this and in the late evenings, there’s no need to stay at home.