Lithuania

Kaunas – the coolest city in Lithuania

(Last Updated On: 06/09/2019)

Lithuania must be one of the least known countries in Europe. And when someone eventually visits it most likely it is Vilnius – the beautiful capital (that’s especially the case of Polish people).

But how many of you have actually heard of Kaunas, second biggest and probably the coolest city in Lithuania?

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

My first visit to Kaunas

While I’ve been to Vilnius many times that’s where my knowledge of Lithuania ends.

Technically I did visit Kaunas before too but I was only at the New Year’s Eve party at my friend’s brother’s place in the suburbs and we went for a quick walk around the Town Hall Square the next day.

I only remember an original Christmas tree made of plastic from back then.

I felt that Kaunas have a big potential and I wanted to return ever since.

Years have passed when I finally found a really good offer on buses, with the timing perfect for a weekend trip! Needless to say, I’ve bought the ticket right away!

I thought that the end of March will be already a good moment to visit Kaunas, with the spring knocking on the door but well, I was so very wrong!

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Tricky March weather

As soon as I arrived in Kaunas it started snowing. Like, really snowing!

The center was full of people attending some sort of market – kudos to them for enjoying being outside in such terrible weather.

There was no way I could look around to see what Kaunas is about as the snow was all over my face.

I quickly headed to my accommodation and after small troubles with finding it I finally checked in and called it a day.

It was snowing all evening long, I didn’t even go out to get some food and just stayed inside catching up on tv shows. I was slightly angry and disappointed but that’s the risk you take when traveling in March.

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Kaunas castle – the oldest in the city

Fortunately the next morning the weather was much better, even if grayish, and I was ready to have the most of the rest of my visit to Kaunas.

As it quickly turned out Kaunas is so much more interesting than I’ve ever expected and I was even afraid the day I have might not be enough to see all that Kaunas has to offer!

Most of the tourist attractions are located within a walking distance which makes Kaunas sightseeing so much easier.

I started in the Old Town, as that’s where my accommodation was located anyway and it was just convenient to move onwards from the confluence of Nemunas and Neris – two largest rivers in Lithuania that happen to meet in the heart of Kaunas.

That’s also where the castle is located – the oldest building in the city and the first stone castle in Lithuania. It dates back to the 14th century and at some point, it could have been an impressive structure but not anymore.

Only a small part remained to our times, now it hosts the city gallery and is often the venue for cultural events.

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

The heart of Old Town Kaunas

From the castle, it’s only a few steps to the City Hall Square with the City Hall itself standing proudly in the middle.

Locals call it The White Swan for its tall and slim structure and it really is a gem of the renaissance architecture.

The square is surrounded by small pastel houses and – on the contrary – massive churches.

Altogether the place looks really nice and I can only imagine how great it must be there in the spring or summer time when you can chill out at the outdoor cafes during long, warm evenings.

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Best view of Kaunas

The best view of the Old Town and its numerous church towers can be seen from the Aleksotas Hill.

You just have to cross the bridge over Nemunas river and you are at the lower station of the funicular, opened in 1935 (Kaunas is the only city in Lithuania that has funiculars, even two of them!).

Unfortunately, during my visit, this railway was not operating but the hill isn’t that high so going up there wasn’t so much of the deal.

And the view from there was really amazing, worth all the effort. Everything was covered with a thin layer of snow which even added up to the atmosphere.

The interesting fact is that until the year 1918 Kaunas was a border city and this very part already belonged to the Kingdom of Poland!

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

The edgy side of the Kaunas Old Town

I returned to the Old Town and joined the crowds on Vilniaus – the main pedestrian street. It got the name after the capital of Lithuania as it used to be the beginning of the long way from Kaunas to Vilnius.

The street is packed with interesting architecture but since it was also packed with people very quickly I started just wandering in the backstreets. They were often not so pretty anymore but they definitely had this cool, edgy vibe around.

The layer of paint was often scratched to unveil bare bricks. The place was also full of street art in the most unexpected places!

This was when I started really falling for Kaunas and the more I explored, the stronger my affection was!

Kaunas street art

Kaunas street art

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Cool, alternative Kaunas

The Old Town very smoothly changes into the Center. That’s where you can see one of the greatest murals I’ve ever seen – a girl on the pony that looks like it’s painted with crayons! So beautiful!

But the center of Kaunas hides numerous cool, alternative and quirky spots, I was over the moon when I was trying to chase them all and randomly kept finding even more hidden attractions.

Like the courtyard on Ozeskienes street, close to the synagogue.

At first there you see just a Charlie Chaplin painted on the wall but when you go further you find so many little quirks you don’t know where to look!

But the weirdest of all must be the Devils’ Museum. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sunday but just the sound of it seems crazy enough for me and the museum itself is the reason why I know I will return to Kaunas soon!

Kaunas street art

Kaunas street art

Kaunas street art

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Kaunas modernism

Did you know that Kaunas has one of the greatest collection of interwar architecture – modernism?

After the WW1 Kaunas was temporary the capital of Lithuania, that’s when the city grew and the new buildings appeared especially in the center.

It was a way to create a new look of the place, the architecture was based on the national identity, emphasizing the importance of Kaunas.

The Zaliakalnis Funicular, even older than Aleksotas one, can take you to the Christ’s Resurrection Church – the most spectacular modernist building in the whole Lithuania if not all of the Baltic countries.

And it really is impressive, you can see it from more or less everywhere in the city and well, taking a picture of this church isn’t such an easy task.

It is very likely that Kaunas modernism will be rewarded the UNESCO World Heritage Site title and I support these efforts as the place definitely deserves this award!

Kaunas modernism

Kaunas modernism

Kaunas modernism

Laisvės alėja – the salon of Kaunas

The core of the center is 2kms long Laisvės alėja running from the Old Town all the way to the Church of St. Michael the Archangel and the nearby park (with the small mosque!).

It’s all pedestrian, very neat and some of the fancy shops, cafes, restaurants, and most important institutions.

Laisvės alėja is like the runway of the city, it’s worth to be seen there and you go there to see others.

It’s the best to do some people watching from one of the cozy cafes here, that’s what I did when I was done with exploring Kaunas. And it was the perfect ending of my weekend there!

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Visit Kaunas Lithuania

Is it worth to visit Kaunas?

I went to visit Kaunas totally unprepared, I literally knew nothing about the city.

Even if the weather wasn’t really on my side on this weekend Kaunas still managed to intrigue me and made me itch for more.

I thought that 2 days will be more than enough there yet I’ve left with a feeling there are still so many places I need to see in Kaunas!

I’ve been a huge fan of Vilnius as it is this alternative, quirky capital but now I can see it has strong competition. I can’t decide which city is actually cooler and I slightly lean towards Kaunas, to be honest.

So whenever I have a chance I will head back to visit Kaunas to fall for it even more!

Visit Kaunas Lithuania


Travel resources

With over 15 years of independent traveling, I’ve learned which websites and services are the best when planning a trip. I always use and trust the following websites:

Money – My number one tip for everyone is to start using Revolut bank card to save money when traveling.

You get the card by mail within a few days and you can use it all over the world. You top up the card in the app on the phone, where you can also have accounts in different currencies and exchange money between them, for no extra fee and at very favorable rates. Everything is super easy and fast, you only need an internet connection to manage your accounts in the app.

Revolut supports over 140 currencies and offers free withdrawal from ATMs all over the world. In the first 6 months I’ve used Revolut card in 12 countries in 3 continents and had no issues at all. And I saved a lot of money in the exchange rates!

Click here to learn more about the service and order your own Revolut card!

Accommodation – I always book my accommodation through Booking.com.

They have really good deals (especially with their “Genius” program that you become a member of after few reservations) and in most of the cases, if your plans change, you can cancel the reservation without any extra costs.

I also value them for a really good customer service that I had to use a few times.

Check the best deals on accommodation in Kaunas here!

Insurance – I never travel without the insurance as you never know what might happen on the road and better safe than sorry (I’ve learnt my lesson).

I can recommend World Nomads that offer the insurance dedicated to travelers just like you and me.

Click here to get the insurance policy for Lithuania here.

Day tours – I do go for a day trips when I travel as often they are the most convenient way to see the place that saves you time and money.

I most often use Get Your Guide that offers a variety of tours all over the world. Click here to check all the best tours you can take during your travels!

Offline maps – For years I’ve been using MAPS.ME app and I can’t recommend it enough!

It’s free, works offline perfectly fine and saved me many times. You can easily transfer Google Maps with all the bookmarks to maps.me and use them offline wherever you are.

Click here to download it to your phone before your next trip!


For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:

  • If you don’t want to miss new posts and news from me click here to sign to my newsletter! You can also follow me on Bloglovin!
  • Join my Facebook group about Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR and connect with fellow travellers and enthusiasts of these regions – just click here!
  • I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Kaunas too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. If you like what you are reading and seeing here and would like to support me and my blog please consider using those links. It would be like getting me a virtual drink that you don’t have to pay for! Thanks!

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Visit Kaunas Lithuania       Visit Kaunas Lithuania


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32 Comments

  • Reply
    stacjabalkany
    03/03/2017 at 10:28

    Powiem Ci, że ja także od jakiegoś czasu zamierzam wybrać się na Litwę, a ponieważ nie lubię stolic to chodzi mi po głowie właśnie Kowno i myślę że jak będzie ciepło to musi ono faktycznie być piękne:)

    • Reply
      kami
      03/03/2017 at 23:10

      Do Wilna też trzeba obowiązkowo jechać! Niby stolica, ale zupełnie nie sprawia takiego wrażenia, bardzo kameralnie tam jest. A Kowno w ciepłym sezonie musi być fantastyczne, polecam bardzo!!

      • Reply
        stacjabalkany
        04/03/2017 at 11:34

        Kurde tylko kiedy na to czas:)? Już mam kalendarz zapełniony praktycznie do sierpnia…a kiedy jeszcze bloga pisać?

        • Reply
          kami
          06/03/2017 at 17:40

          a to blog jest priorytetem ;) ? świat się nie zawali jak będziesz miał opóźnienie w pisaniu, ja o Kownie po roku w końcu napisałam. U mnie nawet lepiej, cały rok mam już praktycznie zaplanowany ;)

          • stacjabalkany
            20/03/2017 at 00:17

            no właśnie masz chyba rację:) priorytetem ma być moje własne chyba szczęście z podróżowania a nie brak zaległości na bogu:)

          • kami
            29/03/2017 at 14:56

            każdy priorytety ustawia sobie sam, ale chyba jednak nie blog powinien być najważniejszy ;)

  • Reply
    Nick
    03/03/2017 at 20:40

    I think the most interesting thing about Kaunas is its amazing amount of Art Decco. The city really needs to start helping protect more of it. Its a shame that Vilnius sucks up all the Oxygen, because Kaunas needs the love.

    • Reply
      kami
      03/03/2017 at 23:20

      Yes! I need to return there for a proper art deco and modernism exploration! This city is such a gem!

  • Reply
    Stefania
    07/03/2017 at 15:45

    I didn’t know Kaunas, thank you for sharing. Some of these streets with snow falling and people taking a stroll are enough to prove it is worth a visit!

    • Reply
      kami
      23/03/2017 at 10:14

      It’s definitely worth it! The city was a huge surprise to me, I’m already thinking of returning!

  • Reply
    Janek
    08/03/2017 at 10:27

    Patrząc na tytuł spodziewałem się wpisu o atrakcjach życia nocnego w Kownie. ;) Zręczna gra słów.

    • Reply
      kami
      23/03/2017 at 10:18

      przypadkiem wyszło ;)

  • Reply
    Rangel
    30/03/2017 at 10:48

    I’d love to go to Lithaua some day! Seems very nice.

    • Reply
      kami
      17/04/2017 at 18:48

      It is lovely! I hope you will have a chance to visit it soon!

  • Reply
    David Amando Trombetta
    14/09/2017 at 18:29

    I loved Kaunas, it was my favorite city in Lithuania! Vilnius was very European and too modern for me and Kaunas is a great mix and has a bit from everything that’s why I liked it more! –

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      15/09/2017 at 10:10

      I always loved Vilnius but then I visited Kaunas and I’m not that sure about Vilnius anymore ;)

  • Reply
    Jamie Polivka
    14/09/2017 at 19:40

    I need to go to Kaunas!! Get well soon!

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      15/09/2017 at 10:02

      Thank you! Kaunas is really great!

  • Reply
    Katarzyna Koźlikowska
    14/09/2017 at 19:58

    No właśnie coś słyszałam o jakimś wirusie… Zdrowiej! A Kowno zrobiło na mnie bardzo pozytywne wrażenie – byłam kiedyś pod koniec czerwca. I bardzo przyjemnie jedzie się stamtąd do Wilna. ;)

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      15/09/2017 at 10:10

      dzięki, już jest zdecydowanie lepiej, ale jeszcze mam godzine żeby zdecydować co robię ;) A Kowno naprawdę wielkie zaskoczenie, bardzo fajne miasto!

  • Reply
    Lecebochce.pl - blog podróżniczy
    15/09/2017 at 08:46

    Kowno zawsze kojarzyło nam się z miastem, w którym nic nie ma (byliśmy dwa razy przejazdem). Będzie trzeba to zweryfikować:)

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      15/09/2017 at 10:03

      to jak można uważać, że nic nie ma skoro się tylko przejazdem było :) ? Zdecydowanie trzeba to zweryfikować!

    • Reply
      Lecebochce.pl - blog podróżniczy
      15/09/2017 at 10:58

      Kami and the rest of the world Zawsze się ma jakieś wyobrażenie:)

    • Reply
      Evi Mielczarek
      17/09/2017 at 19:04

      Zawsze można znaleźć coś ciekawego, choć akurat w Kownie o to nie trudno! Cudowne miasteczko, idealne na weekend!

  • Reply
    Mark Davies
    15/09/2017 at 10:59

    Loved Kaunas, we stayed at R hostel for 4 nights and really enjoyed. Went to the open air museum of the countryside which is a couple of buses away but worth it

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      21/09/2017 at 13:55

      I didn’t know about the museum! Thank you for telling me, I will do my best to check it next time I’m there!

  • Reply
    Rasa Mar
    15/09/2017 at 16:41

    There is a great project – Nykoka (the website – nykoka.lt – has a map with most of the Kaunas murals). Also Kiemo galerija – it’s near Laisvės al., you will see Chaplin’s mural beside the entrance. A lot of little streetart projects are done all over city centre. If you need specific addresses – drop me a PM, will mark it on map ;)

    • Reply
      kami
      07/05/2018 at 15:03

      I’m so sorry for my late answer, I swear I already wrote back so something must have gone wrong… Anyway, thank you for the tip about the street art map! I’m actually hoping to go back to Kaunas next month so it will be very useful! I’ve discovered Kiemo galerija by accident but loved it! If you have time I’d love you to mark some of the best spots in Kaunas for my next trip there. Thank you so much!!

  • Reply
    Brittany
    24/04/2018 at 13:16

    Thank you for the information! How many days would you recommend between Kaunas and Vilnius?

    Aciu! ;)

    • Reply
      kami
      07/05/2018 at 15:04

      I think 2 days in each city should be enough to see the best attractions. And in Vilnius make sure to go for at least half a day to Trakai, it’s so interesting!

  • Reply
    Stan Pleskunas
    10/02/2019 at 02:50

    Kami,

    Thanks for the information. Going to Lithuania for the 1st time in September 2019. As a Lithuanian-American, I am looking forward to using your suggestions to plan our trip.

    • Reply
      kami
      12/02/2019 at 13:54

      I’m sure you will have a great time Stan! Enjoy Lithuania!

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