Family Vacation in Lithuania: the Best Places to Visit with Kids in Vilnius
What are the best things to do and must see places for a family with kids in Vilnius? Well, one could play and organize archeological digs right inside a museum, descend into an underground royal tomb, ascend up to a the tower of an old castle, ride on a cable-railway or a trolley over a river, try to find a way through a maze, and shoot the “corn machine gun”. All of these and more ideas for a family vacation in Vilnius - in our review below.
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The Kids-friendly Museums, Attraction, and Theaters of Vilnius
The Lithuania National Museum (Lietuvos nacionalinis muziejus) occupies several buildings. Presented inside the New Arsenal (Naujasis arsenalas) are archeological findings, traditional peasant clothing, statues of saints, carved crosses from various epochs, it is also possible to peek into the huts of the Baltic tribes (Samogitians and Aukstaiians). Visitors of the Old Arsenal become acquainted with the history “Praistorija” of Lithuania, where they can see flintlock weapons, tools used by primitive man, their clothing, objects of daily lives, decorations made of wood, ceramics, bones, amber, and on a big map - all the migrations of the Baltic tribes. Meanwhile, in the Basteja Defense Wall of Vilnius (Vilniaus gynybinės sienos bastėja) an observation deck is open to visitors on the restored ancient fortresses.
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In the Gediminas Tower (Gedimino pilies bokštas) at the Castle Hill, there is another exposition of the National Museum with models of old castles, a collection of knight armor, weapons, cannons, and cannonballs. Presented inside the museum are photographs of the Baltic Way, a 600-kilometer chain of residents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, connecting Vilnius to Tallin as a sign of the three nations’ aspiration for independence in 1989. Opening up off of the observation deck is a view of Old Vinius and the shore of the Vilia River. Visitors can climb up to the tower by foot from the Cathedral Square or ride up to it on a cable-railway.
Below the Castle Hill is the Vilnius Cathedral (Vilniaus arkikatedros bazilika) with the chapel of Saint Casimir (Švento Kazimiero koplyčia). Catholic masses are held at the cathedral, as well as underground tours, which tell about the pagan altars that stood at this location in ancient times, as well as about Alexander Jagiellonczyk, Vytautas the Great, Vladislav Vasa, and other prominent Lithuanian rulers buried in the royal mausoleum and tomb.
Visitors are invited to come play foosball, table hockey, Battleship, and “Basketball” on Soviet machines at the Toys Museum (Žaislų muziejus). There one can begin “archeological digs” in the sand, press buttons with the sounds of musical toys, spin a medieval whirlabout, to jump hopscotch, and put on a performance at the puppet theater. Visitors are allowed to touch and play with virtually all exhibits: from old woven figures and wooden ships to Soviet celluloid kewpie dolls.
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At the Theater, Music, and Movies Museum (Lietuvos teatro, muzikos ir kino muziejus), visitors get to see old theater costumes, puppets, programs, posters, antique and modern filming cameras, traditional musical instruments, and mechanical music players. Some of the exhibits in the Music Department are still working, and it is possible to listen to them on museum tours, which are held in different languages.
The Lithuanian Art Museum (Lietuvos dailės muziejus) is also located in several different buildings. The expositions of the Vilnius Art Gallery (Vilniaus paveikslų galerija) are dedicated to the art of the 16th-20th centuries with works by various Lithuanian artists, the Razdiwill Palace (Radvilų rūmų muziejus) has paintings by European and Russian artists. Visitors can get more acquainted with modern Lithuanian art at the National Art Gallery (Nacionalinė dailės galerija), and see some antiques and listen to classical music at the Arts and Crafts Museum (Taikomosios dailės muziejus) in the Old Arsenal.
The Energy and Technology Museum (Energetikos ir technikos muziejus) is located at the former location of Vilnius’ first power plant. Here visitors can walk amongst pipes, motors, and generators and see turbines in greater detail, as well as find themselves inside a boiler, press buttons and move levels on its control panel. The museum features a restored interior of a Vilnius apartment from the times of the USSR, there is also a collection of retro automobiles, motorcycles, and Soviet-machinery made in Lithuania. On the second floor there is an interactive exhibition, where kids are explained the laws of physics in the context of a game. The audio guide to the museum can be downloaded right on the spot, using the museum’s free WiFi.
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Presented at the Police Museum (Policijos muziejus) is a collection of uniforms and models of police cars from different countries. The permanent exhibition is dedicated to the history of Lithuanian government security authorities leading up to the year 1940, and temporary exhibitions talk about other periods as well. The museum is open on weekdays and it is free.
The entrance to the Customs Museum (Muitinės muziejus) is “protected” by life-size photographs of border guards. Visitors learn about the work these people perform on the border, see the uniforms and border posts from various periods of time. The Smuggling Hall presents an automobile with uncovered hiding places and sea shipping containers with stuffed rare animals, ivory objects, snake and crocodile leather, and other products made out of protected species of plants and animals confiscated by customs.
Open at the National Bank of Lithuania is the Money Museum (Pinigų muziejus), which is dedicated to old and contemporary currencies alike. Visitors can see movies on the history of Lithuanian money and its credit and banking system, interactive screens display coins and bills from all over the world, and kids are offered to coin their own money as a souvenir with the help of a special machine. Entrance to the Money Museum is free.
Near the train station in the Railroad Museum (Geležinkelių muziejus), there are train-benches and automatic storage chambers from the Soviet time. On display, there are operating models of railroads, copies of modern and retro trains, old railroad lights, road signs, uniforms, a real track switch, a trolley, and ticket puncher that still works. Children can play in a special area with cartoons about railroad safety. Outside, there are locomotives, boxcars, and city trains, which can be viewed right from the platform.
Inside the Saint Michael’s Roman catholic church, there is the Church Inheritance Museum (Bažnytinio paveldo muziejus). Here visitors can learn about the various church utensils and priest vestments with the help of an audio guide. It is also possible to descend into the underground showroom with an interactive exposition.
A rotating observation deck is open at the Vilnius TV Tower (Vilniaus Televizijos bokštas). A speed elevator takes visitors up to a height of 160 meters. The platform is indoors and it features a restaurant and a “free fall” attraction. Next to the tower is the historic park of antennas, displaying “Butterfly”, “Ladoga”, and other television equipment.
Another observation deck is open on top of the bell tower of the Church of Saint John’s (Šv. Jonų bažnyčios varpinė) - the tallest building in Old Town Vilnius. The 45-meter height can be reached by taking the elevator or the stairs. The Foucault Pendulum, demonstrating the rotation of the Earth, is also installed in the tower.
To see the Nutcracker, the Swan Lake, or other musical performances, kids can be taken to the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theater (Lietuvos nacionalinis operos ir baleto teatras). At the Russian Drama Theater of Lithuania there are some plays for children, such as “Alenky Tsvetochek”, “Dyuimovochka”, the Cat House, the Ice Cream Palace puppet show; the Magic Chalk play by Norwegian author Sinken Hopp comes in two versions: in Russian and in Lithuanian.
Entertainment for Children and Outdoor Family Activities in Vilnius
The biggest indoor entertainment park in Lithuania - the X-Planet, located in the Ozas Shopping Mall - features attractions, video games, rock climbing and rope park for kids. The Dream City (Svajonių Miestas), in the Akropolis Shopping Mall has a maze with hills, cannons, racing, trampolines, rope courses, and a soft play area for children. The Gnomes World Cafe has a large play zone with a multi-level labyrinth for kids.
The Dolphin Sea wave pool, the Bora Bora spa zone, and the Lava sauna complex are open to visitors at the Vichy Water Park (“Vichy” vandens parkas). Guests can float down the 137-meter Canoe River around the entire complex on an inflated tube, while extreme ride enthusiasts are awaited at the “Maori Shriek” with a 15-meter drop, the “Fiji Tornado” with a 152-meter slide, the 110-meter-long Morea Volcanoe, and 6 more extreme attractions, while for small children there is the Game Island with slides and water cannons.
Waterfalls, fountains, and a pond with black swans can be visited at Belmontas Landscape Park (Belmonto parkas). Above it is the Belmontas Adventure Park (Belmonto Nuotykių Parkąs) with 6 courses: the “Yellow” one for children 6 years and older, the “Green” for children 8 years and up, the “Blue” and the “Red” for kids from 11 and up, and the “Black” and the “Zip-line” for kids 14 years or older. At each course there is at least one (or even multiple) zip-lines. The longest one is a 333-meter zip from the height of 40 meters at the Zip-line course.
The Uno Adventures Park (Uno nuotykių parkas) is located in the Park of Colorful Springs on the shore of the Nyaris River. There are 10 routes with 140 obstacles. Two of them are for children and one more is built for amateurs. Open for the bravest of visitors is the Elephant Jump attraction and a 401-meter zip-line over the river.
While on a walk around Old Town Vilnius, it is possible to find unusual sculptures and squares with play areas for children. The biggest park of Vilnius - the Vingio Park (Vingio parkas) has rental centers and the Vilnius University Botanical Garden (Vilniaus universiteto botanikos sodas) is also open to visitors. The Song Festival Grounds Stage holds concerts and city cultural events. It is possible to go on a horseback ride or set up a picnic at the Botanical Garden in Kairenai District. Visitors of the Pavilnis Park (Pavilnių regioninis parkas) can walk down a cognitive-historical trail (Pūčkorių pažintinis takas), and go up to the Puckoriu Slope observation deck (Pūčkorių atodanga).
Those traveling by car might want to stop at the Corn Maze (Kukurūzų labirintas). Each year, the pattern of the corn maze changes: it may be dedicated to sports championships, artists, or memorable dates, such as the Millennium of Lithuania. At the entrance to the maze visitors can shoot a “corn gun” and to swing. The maze is open to visitors from June to the end of November on the 16th kilometer of the Vilnius-Trakai highway.
In Kaunas, just an hour's drive of Vilnius, there is the CurioCity Discovery center for kids aged 1 to 13. The entire exposition is interactive, and every child is about to study everything that he/she is interested in, whether it is the human body or the Universe, the principles of operation of various mechanisms or the origin of natural phenomena. Here, visitors can clean a huge mouth with a giant toothbrush, go into space on a rocket, measure the loudness of their voice in decibels, ride a rainbow or sound waves, become scientists, doctors, firemen or construction workers, and solve all kinds of puzzles like real detectives.
Please check for kids-friendly festivals, exhibitions, and other family events all over the world in our What’s On? section.