This Christmas, give your heart to Vilnius and be sure that Vilnius won’t give it away. Yes, it’s easy to fall in love with the UNESCO-listed Old Town, one of the most beautiful Christmas trees in the world, and all the breath-taking places that can be captured in your photos. But it’s not a one-sided love story; Vilnius gives back with fantastic food, inspiring concerts and theatre performances, magical Christmas markets, and a Christmas spirit that will make even the Grinch’s cold heart warm with delight!
Well-connected by trains and buses, the old capital of Trakai is just a 30-minute trip from Vilnius. When temperatures dip below the freezing point, both locals and visitors go on the ice of Trakai’s lakes. For a true winter experience, make your way to the castle without crossing any bridges.
Hot air balloons are frequently seen floating over Vilnius in the summer. But, weather permitting, going up and enjoying the view of town from one is also an option in winter – the snow-covered city looks unbelievably serene from up above.
Cold weather is not a good reason to forget about swimming in a lake. Enjoy the heat of a sauna, prepare yourself with a honey massage, and try the traditional ritual of whisking yourself gently with leafy birch twigs. Sounds crazy, but it’s very relaxing. When you’re steaming hot and ready, jump into a lake. Ah, what a refreshing feeling. You don’t need to go far to relax – right on the shores of lake Gilužis in Vilnius Villa Alicante has an oak sauna of soap rocks where you can get your whisking and then refresh yourself in the lake. To get away from the city, enjoy a day trip to Trakai. Once cold get to a nearby Tony Resort for a sauna or a heated outdoor tub with the best view to the lake.
Even if there is no snow, enjoy the Christmas wonderland by skating at the open ice rink at Lukiškės Square. Or get away to the lovely nearby town of Trakai to skate on the frozen Galves Lake.
Vilnius is a unique combination of historical architecture and nature right in the heart of the city. Put on your snowshoes and follow the trails along the hills of Vilnius to see the breath-taking panoramas. Learn more about the wildlife in the national parks located right in the city. Enjoy the stillness of winter in the forests. Vilnius fits your feet. Go on. Explore.
Listen to classical music selected for the holiday season at the National Philharmonic Concert hall, visit a festival dedicated to Orthodox Christmas, go to a family-friendly concert on a Sunday, or listen to tango melodies. Also, enjoy the intimate atmosphere of St. Catherine’s Church while listening to Amélie From Montmartre and Chopin.
Join thousands of runners and even a crowd of Santas for a run in the Vilnius Old Town on 15 December. It’s a family affair – you can run 3, 6 or 12 km while your children run the trail of the Christmas Elves. Fung fact: the coldest run happened in 1979 with a pressing cold of -30°C. But cold weather can’t ruin the fun.
Where do locals gather in Vilnius at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve? Cathedral Square. With sparklers in hand, everyone exchanges wishes and looks up at the town’s main fireworks display. Make sure to get there a little early to secure a good spot – you want to be looking in the direction of Gediminas’ Hill.
Every year on 6 January, three-metre-tall figures of the Three Kings are carried through town in a festive procession. The Kings march from the Gates of Dawn to Cathedral Square, where they leave gifts at the nativity scene. The whole event serves to mark the end of the holiday season.
You shouldn’t miss the Bernardine Garden if you’d like to see winter views of Gediminas’ Castle and the hills that surround it. But if you’d rather go for a spectacular winter panorama, head to Pavilniai Regional Park and climb the Pūčkoriai Exposure.