If you’re looking for a quiet but beautiful winter holiday destination, Lithuania in December is chilly but busy with events. There are many things to do, but the city isn’t overcrowded, and there is just enough Christmas spirit to make things interesting.
Vilnius Christmas Market 2023
The Vilnius Christmas Market (known as Christmas Town) is the highlight of winter in Lithuania, with Cathedral Square being home to one of the most stunning Christmas trees in the world.
Two other Christmas markets are located at Vinco Kudirkos Square and Odminių Square. These end on the 1st January 2024.
Dates and Location
Vilnius Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 25th November 2023 to 7th January 2024.
Location: Cathedral Square, Vinco Kudirkos Square and Odminių Square.
Opening times: Generally from around lunch time until early evening.
Christmas Day: Open.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date to be announced for 2023.
Ice skating: Yes, at Lukiškės Prison.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, but limited.
Gluten free: Yes, but very limited.
Accessible: Yes, Cathedral Square is flat and accessible. The other markets are fine if you can manage cobblestones.
Pet-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on a lead.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: The incredible modern Christmas tree and decorations in Cathedral Square. The Vilnius Christmas train is available to take you around the city to see the decorations and markets.
Recommended tour: Vilnius Then and Now Tour
Travel tip: Walk up the Cathedral Belfry for great photos of Vilnius Christmas market.
Winter events: Visit the Christmas Design Square for something unique to Vilnius.
Vilnius weather in winter: Temperatures average 0°C / -5°C (high / low) in December.
Where to stay: Artagonist Art Hotel is the most well-located hotel in Vilnius.
Hotels near Vilnius Christmas Market
Cathedral Square is located on the edge of the Old Town in Vilnius. It’s a nice area with several sights and attractions, but you might prefer to stay closer to the Town Hall and City Gate where there are more places to eat out and lots of museums.
I suggest staying at Artagonist Art Hotel as it’s exactly halfway between Cathedral Square and the Town Hall.
For more ideas on where to day, my guide to hotels near Vilnius Christmas Market lists several hotels in a range of budgets.
City and Christmas Tours
A city tour of Vilnius is a fantastic way to experience the city’s rich history and culture. With its charming Old Town, Baroque facades, and stunning architecture, Vilnius is a city that truly has something for everyone.
I recommend this city tour of Vilnius as you get to see all the highlights of the city or maybe consider a food tour where you can learn about the local culture through their cuisine.
On a city tour, you’ll visit the city’s most iconic landmarks and attractions, including the historic Gediminas Castle, the beautiful Cathedral Square, and the towering St. Anne’s Church.
What to Expect in Vilnius
Vilnius Christmas Tree
The Vilnius Christmas tree is known for being one of Europe’s most unique and beautiful Christmas trees. It’s a symbol of Vilnius and its long-standing Christmas traditions.
The Vilnius Christmas tree is special because it has thousands of handmade ornaments.
These ornaments are created by Lithuanian artisans, who use a variety of materials, including natural fibres, wood, and glass.
The ornaments feature traditional Lithuanian motifs and symbols, such as folk patterns, angels, and stars.
In addition to the handmade ornaments, the Vilnius Christmas tree is also decorated with thousands of energy-efficient LED lights.
The lights illuminate the tree and create a festive atmosphere in the city’s historic centre.
Lithuanian Christmas Food
Christmas food and unique Lithuanian food are available at the Christmas market and in surrounding cafes and restaurants.
Vilnius restaurants have seen a resurgence in traditional Lithuanian food, incorporating local ingredients and old traditions with a new, modern viewpoint.
In Vilnius and Lithuania, Christmas is a time for enjoying delicious food and spending time with loved ones.
These traditional dishes are an essential part of the festive season and are sure to make your holiday celebrations even more special.
- Kūčiukai: Small, crunchy, slightly sweet bread bites that are traditionally eaten during Kūčios, the main Christmas Eve meal.
- Šaltibarščiai: This cold beet soup is usually served as an appetizer during Christmas Eve dinner. It is often accompanied by boiled potatoes and hard-boiled eggs.
- Mushroom sauce: A vegetarian alternative to the traditional meat sauce served with kugelis, a Lithuanian potato pudding.
- Beets with horseradish: A simple and delicious side dish made with boiled beets and grated horseradish. It’s a must-have during Christmas Eve dinner.
- Kavos pudingas: This coffee pudding is a popular Lithuanian dessert, often served during the holiday season. It’s rich and creamy, with a strong coffee flavour.
- Medaus tortas: A honey cake with a soft, creamy filling covered in a layer of caramelized sugar. It’s a sweet and indulgent treat that’s perfect for the holidays.
- Kepsneliai: Small, crispy potato pancakes that are often served as a side dish during Christmas Eve dinner. They can be made with or without meat, so there are vegetarian options available. You can sometimes find them at the Christmas markets.
At Vilnius Christmas Market, you will find a variety of traditional Lithuanian street foods that are popular during the holiday season. Some of the typical street foods that you can expect to find include:
- Kibinai: These savoury pastries are originally from the Karaim community in Lithuania and are usually filled with meat or vegetables.
- Varškėčiai: Small, fluffy pancakes made with cottage cheese and served with sour cream or jam.
- Kugelis: A Lithuanian potato pudding that is usually served with meat sauce but can also be made with vegetarian options (as mentioned above).
- Cepelinai: Large, potato-based dumplings that are usually filled with meat or cottage cheese and served with sour cream or bacon bits. Very filling!
- Grilled meats: You can find various types of grilled sausages and meats, including traditional Lithuanian smoked sausages.
- Roasted nuts: Warm, crunchy, and sweet roasted nuts are a popular snack during the winter months.
These street foods are perfect for warming up on a cold winter day and experiencing the flavours of Lithuania’s rich culinary heritage.
Visit one of these restaurants to experience some of the best food in Vilnius.
Things to Do in Vilnius in Winter
- Vilnius Christmas Tree – In the centre of Cathedral Square, in Vilnius’s historic World Heritage-listed old town, is one of the most stunning Christmas trees, decorated in white ornaments in Lithuanian style.
- Cathedral Belfry – For a small fee, you can walk up the cathedral belfry for the best views of Vilnius from above.
- Gediminas Tower – A different but equally wonderful view of Vilnius is available at Gediminas Tower (€5 euro entrance fee). The view is particularly special at sunset.
- Town Hall Square – Another Christmas tree and unique decorations are on show in front of Vilnius Town Hall. This smaller Christmas market is a little quieter, although it can get busy on the weekends.
- Vilnius Train Station – A little unexpected is a Christmas market at Vilnius Train Station. This is a more contemporary market with modern music, food trucks (actually, they are train carriages serving food) and Lithuanian art.
Vilnius Tourism has information regarding events and the best ways to experience the city at Christmas.
While Vilnius is a relaxing city break getaway, consider adding the other Baltic States to your itinerary if you’re planning a longer trip. Riga in Latvia and Tallinn in Estonia are close by yet very different cities both aesthetically and culturally.
Location of Vilnius Christmas Market
Sustainable Travel Tips
The choices we make have an environmental and social impact on the places we visit. When visiting the Christmas markets, keeping sustainability in mind is important.
Implement some or all of these responsible travel measures during your visit.
- Shop mindfully. Only purchase what you really need.
- Walk, cycle and use public transport to get around.
- Stay in a sustainable hotel powered by renewable energy.
- Stay in hotels. Short-stay apartment accommodation can lead to a lack of affordable housing for locals.
- Avoid using plastic or buying items made or packaged with plastic.
- Try to eat locally sourced organic food where possible.
- Limit your consumption of meat and dairy.
- Be open to diverse cultures and experiences.
- Explore more than just the main tourist areas.
- Support the arts and attend local events.
- Visit fewer places but stay longer at each destination.
Yes! Vilnius does have a Christmas market; in fact, there are three in the Old Town.
The Christmas markets are held in Cathedral Square, Vinco Kudirkos Square and Odminių Square.
Vilnius’s main Christmas market is held from 25th November 2023 to 7th January 2024.
If you have visited Vilnius in winter or want to leave a review of the Xmas market, please comment below. This helps others interested in visiting and trying to plan their holiday.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Vilnius, Lithuania. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.