Disclosure: To ensure that our content can be free to everyone, some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and we may earn a commission if you make a purchase. This comes at no additional cost to you and we will never link anything that we don't genuinely recommend.
Vilnius, the vibrant capital of Lithuania, is a city steeped in rich history, captivating architecture, and a thriving cultural scene. From exploring ancient castles to immersing yourself in the charm of the old town, Vilnius offers plenty of unforgettable experiences and incredible photo opportunities.
We visited Vilnius at Christmas in 2021, not knowing what to expect, but we loved every minute spent in this charming capital, and learnt so much about the interesting history of this Baltic hidden gem.
In this blog post, we’re highlighting the top attractions that should be on your itinerary when visiting Vilnius, and the best Instagrammable spots around the city. So, If you’re looking for a picturesque city break with culture, history and incredible food, Vilnius is the perfect destination for you.
Discover the Haunting History of Lukiskes Prison
By far one of the best activities to do in Vilnius is visiting Lukiškes Prison. Located in the heart of Vilnius, this infamous penitentiary now stands as a chilling reminder of Lithuania’s dark history. The prison was closed in 2019 after 115 years, and was left completely untouched, leaving an eerie and dark atmosphere.
We experienced a private tour of the prison, immersing ourselves in the gripping stories of the individuals who had once been held captive within these walls, all the while witnessing the prison cells left intact as if frozen in time.
The prison was also a filming location for Stranger Things season 4, so if you’ve seen the show you might recognise it! If you’re up for an even creepier experience, you can choose to do a tour at night for 20 Euros. Part of the prison has been transformed into a cultural centre with a music venue, art studios, a cafe, and since the release of Stranger Things in June, it now has a Stranger Things-themed cell in the complex which is available to rent on Airbnb!
2. Step into a Fairytale at Trakai Castle
Just a 40 minute drive from Vilnius is the town of Trakai, where you’ll find a breathtaking 14th century castle on an island in Lake Galvė. Trakai Castle looks straight out of a fairy tale, surrounded by serene lakes and greenery. The Castle is open to the public and has a museum inside, with an adult ticket costing 12 Euros. We recommend going on a leisurely walk through the castle’s halls, taking in the picturesque surroundings, and learning about the rich cultural heritage of the region.
3. Wander Through Vilnius Old Town
Exploring Vilnius Old Town is an essential experience for anyone visiting the Lithuanian capital. Stepping into this UNESCO World Heritage site is like stepping back in time. The cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and charming atmosphere create a truly enchanting ambiance.
In the Old Town, you’ll find a unique mix of architectural styles, including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical. Strolling through the winding streets, you’ll encounter iconic landmarks such as Vilnius Cathedral and St. Anne’s Church, both boasting impressive architectural details.
But beyond the landmarks, the hidden gems are tucked away in the Old Town’s nooks and crannies. Quaint cafes, artisanal shops, and inviting art galleries are waiting to be explored, offering a glimpse into the local culture and creative scene.
Explore our products
4. Challenge Your Senses at the Museum of Illusions
For a mind-bending experience, make sure to visit the Museum of Illusions. This interactive museum features optical illusions, holograms, and mind-blowing exhibits. It’s the perfect activity for a rainy or cold afternoon, and after you can grab a coffee in the café that looks like a drawing!
It’s worth a stop, even just for an Instagram photo in the café. Admission is 12 Euros for an adult, which can be bought in the museum or online.
5. Explore Vilnius Street Art on a Walking Tour
A unique activity to Vilnius is a Graffiti walking tour in Loftus, an old industrial estate that’s been transformed into a vibrant graffiti art exhibition. Talented local and international artists have transformed Loftus into a canvas for their creativity, turning ordinary buildings into captivating works of art.
Sir Selwyn Clarke Market
From colorful murals that depict cultural heritage to thought-provoking pieces that challenge societal norms, each artwork tells a story about the cultural and political history of Lithuania.
6. Experience the Flavors of Vilnius at Paupys Market
For the foodies, Paupys Food Market is the best place to go for a unique and modern dining experience. Located in the historic Paupys district in the Old Town, this food market is set in an indoor urban jungle, with modern architecture blended with lush greenery.
The vibrant market offers a huge variety of cuisines, from unique burgers and traditional Lithuanian dishes, to colourful buddha bowls and tasty coffees.
7. Brunch at Pink and yellow
Start your morning off in the best way possible by treating yourself to a brunch experience at the aesthetically-pleasing café, Pink & Yellow. This thoughtfully designed café not only offers a visually stunning ambiance but also offers a unique twist on your traditional brunch, with its tapas-style breakfast menu.
Choose from delectable egg tacos and mouth watering banana bread to fluffy pancakes and an array of other tempting options. Not only is the food presented beautifully, but it also surpasses all expectations in taste, making it truly some of the best food we have ever tasted!
8. Admire the architecture
Vilnius is full of rich history and ancient buildings, so one of the best things to do is wonder around the streets and discover Vilnius’ iconic landmarks. Start at Cathedral Square, where the magnificent Vilnius Cathedral proudly stands.
From there you can walk along to the imposing Gediminas Castle Tower, which offers breath-taking views of the city. Some other landmarks to look out for are the Gates of Dawn, the TV Tower and St. Anne’s Church to name a few.
9. See Vilnius from above in a hot air balloon
One of the most iconic and unique attractions in Vilnius is the opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride over the charming Old Town. What makes this experience even more special is that Vilnius is one of the few capital cities in the world that permits hot air balloons to soar above its historic streets. It’s the perfect photo opportunity to capture the picturesque streets from above.
Photo by Igor Gubaidulin
10. Embrace the Festive Spirit: Christmas Tree Lighting and Markets
Vilnius comes alive at Christmas, with twinkling lights covering the city and Christmas markets around every corner. Cathedral Square becomes a scene out of a Christmas movie, with an extravagant tree adorned with sparkling decorations and markets illuminating the square.
Vilnius at Christmas
This time of year is incredible for getting photos, with so many coloured lights covering the trees, buildings and streets.
Book your adventure