In 2023, Vilnius will celebrate its 700th anniversary. Yet there’s nothing old or boring about the Lithuanian capital. Exciting artistic, cultural, and gastronomic adventures await around every corner of the city throughout this and next year. Book your holiday, put on your party hat, and let’s celebrate together!
- Don’t miss when in Vilnius
- Where to dine and party
- Looking for a party?
- Events worth your attention
- Vilnius pass
Don’t miss when in Vilnius
The newest and hippest addition to Vilnius’ art scene opened in 2018. It houses one of the largest private collections of art in Lithuania, featuring around 5000 works of art dating from the 1960s to the present day. Designed by the master architect Daniel Libeskind, whose track record also includes the Jewish Museum Berlin, the building is a work of art in and of itself. Upcoming exhibitions include a show highlighting Lithuanian optical art (Optical Reflections, from August 2022 until February 2023) and a project featuring works by such world-renowned artists as the Guerrilla Girls, Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman, and Donald Judd (The Meeting That Never Was, from October 2022 until March 2023).
This formidable construction with a dark history has now been reimagined as a cultural hub. Titled Lukiškės Prison 2.0, the project accommodates 250 artists and an exciting programme of cultural events – gigs, film screenings, and music festivals, as it is a popular choice by international artists when it comes to venues for their shows. Built at the turn of the 20th century and sitting in the heart of the city, Lukiškės Prison is also a site of pilgrimage for fans of the Netflix show Stranger Things, because this is where many scenes of the newest season were filmed. The prison also offers guided tours.
A needle towers above the Lithuanian capital. At 326.5 metres, Vilnius’s TV Tower is the tallest building in the country and the eighth tallest in Europe. Opened in the 1980s, it recently experienced a thorough renovation. Today, visitors can soak up breathtaking vistas from the rotating viewing platform and enjoy exquisite classics of European cuisine at the Paukščių Takas (The Milky Way) restaurant located on the 19th floor of the tower.
Hot air balloons
The best way to appreciate the beauty of the red-roofed Old Town of Vilnius? From above, of course! During the warm season, the city’s skyline is peppered with hot air balloons. Several agencies in the city offer this unique experience, which is quite rare in other cities. Whether you’re just a few friends or a big group of over 100, the sky is yours!
Paupys Market is the freshest food destination in Vilnius. Contrasting with the surroundings of the city’s historical centre, this modern urban jungle of a covered market gathers more than 20 food vendors and bars and is perfect for diverse groups and adventurous foodies. During the warm months, enjoy a glass of something chilled on the market’s well-designed patio.
Where to dine and party
Pink & Yellow rooftop terrace
Decked out in trendy pastel pink and yellow hues, this rooftop bar is the perfect spot for a sundowner cocktail. The terrace provides an incredible view of the figure of Atlas perched on the top of the nearby Merchants’ Club building. To accompany your tipple, Pink & Yellow offers a menu bursting with Latin American flavours, including tacos, enchiladas, and ceviche.
Serving Lithuanian culinary heritage with a cutting-edge twist, Ertlio Namas is a family affair with an intimate air and dressed in elegant simplicity. The menu focuses on exquisitely executed dishes and is inspired by the bounty Lithuanian nature provides in all four seasons.
This incredible architectural landmark was closed to the public until 2020. Now, having undergone a complete renovation, this 17th-century passage is a favourite local gathering place. Here you’ll find organic food shops, cafés, and two of the best restaurants in the city – 14Horses and Nineteen18. The products served here are organic and come from their own farm as well as local farmers.
What makes Vilnius special is its charming courtyards and this luscious restaurant occupying one of them. Mykolo 4 is a celebration of the country’s bourgeois gastronomical heritage. The menu reflects painstaking research into 19th-century cookbooks and folktales, resulting in rich and complex dishes. The restaurant’s wine list includes an impressive selection of Lithuanian wines.
When in Vilnius, beer is the drink of choice, as the city is brimming with microbreweries. There’s no better place to sample a variety of the local hops than Alaus Biblioteka. Literally meaning ‘beer library’, it has 17 beers on tap, a total of around 60 different styles, and almost 300 bottled beers.
Whether you need morning fuel or an afternoon pick-me-up, this bright and airy café on Vokiečių gatvė is the address for caffeinated drinks. One of the three outposts of the native Backstage roasters, it serves sublime specialty coffee alongside mouthwatering pastries, sandwiches, and other goodies.
Opened in 1906, this magnificent construction is the oldest and largest market in Vilnius and the place to go to sample local flavours. Rows of farmer vendors as well as stands selling cheese and meat crowd under the colossal steel vaults – the market’s architect was inspired by the recently built Eiffel Tower.
Looking for a party?
We’ve got three names for you: Vilniaus, Islandijos, and Vokiečių. These three streets are the hotspots for local revellers. Some of the highlights include the laid-back Gringo on Vilniaus gatvė, the fancy cocktail affair Distilerija on Vokiečių gatvė, and the locals’ favourite Piano Man Bar on Islandijos gatvė.
Events worth your attention
On July 25, 2022, a very special guest, Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi, will perform in Vingis park as well. He has been nominated for many music industry awards – the Critic’s Choice Award at the 2019 Brit Awards, Song of the Year at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, and others.
On January 25, 2023, Vilnius will turn 700 years old – a milestone that’s well worth celebrating and a reason to discover or revisit the Lithuanian capital. The event-packed birthday programme will commence with the Vilnius Light Festival (January 25–29, 2023), when the city will be illuminated by numerous light installations created by many international light artists.
Then mark July 25, 2023, in your calendar to attend the Vilnius 700 Music Festival! On this day, which is known as the day of St. Christopher, the patron saint of Vilnius, the city’s verdant Vingis Park will turn into a huge open-air music stage. Whether you’re into pop, rock, or electronic music, the day-long programme will cater to diverse tastes in music. Entrance to the festival is free of charge – an anniversary gift from the city to its residents and visitors to the city.
In July-August 2023, the historical and new parts of the city, parks, streets, and enclosed spaces will fill with temporary but unique works of art – performances making up the first Vilnius Performance Art Biennial. See international stars as well as Lithuanian works of performance art that are making the country famous worldwide. This first edition of the biennial will examine Vilnius’ historical and modern achievements as well as its most important dates, events, places, and people. The biennial’s long-term gift to the city is that the festival will take place every two years and become a permanent part of the city’s array of cultural traditions.
From April through September 2023, experience Vilnius through the prism of Ričardas Gavelis’ iconic novel Vilnius Poker. Penned during the collapse of the Soviet system, this book is one of the first Lithuanian novels to examine the city and its residents. Now, the famous Lithuanian theater director Oskaras Koršunovas and scenographer Gintaras Makarevičius will invite visitors to the MO Museum to explore a familiar or undiscovered Vilnius by wandering through a city-labyrinth constructed of text, images, and sound. It is one of the newest and most popular museums in Vilnius, located in a building designed by Daniel Libeskind. Works of visual art reflecting one of the most famous Lithuanian novels will ask us what kind of character Vilnius is today and how we might envision it in the future. Your answer is part of the Vilnius puzzle.
The wide variety of entertainment and attractions Vilnius offers can be intimidating, especially when you’re in town for just a few days. Consider purchasing a Vilnius Pass via the Vilnius Pass app, which provides great discounts and access to some of the city’s best spots, including Vilnius Cathedral Bell Tower, the Botanical Garden, air balloons, and hop-on-hop-off tour buses.
For more information about Vilnius, visit govilnius.lt