Two days in Kaunas: A two-day stay in Kaunas will take you a century back, to the glory days of the city that served as the capital of Lithuania in the 1920s and 1930s. Two days in this big and colourful town will allow you to get to know not only its Medieval history, but also its more recent past. You'll also get to taste Lithuanian donuts in a parlour that's been open for four decades on the main street of the city – Laisvės Boulevard.
Aleksotas Funicular and observation deck
Kaunas is the only city in Lithuania to operate not one, but two funiculars - one in Žaliakalnis and another one in Aleksotas. A treat for engineering and dieselpunk enthusiasts, the funiculars provide an easier way to get up the steep hills of Kaunas.
Aleksotas Funicular, in operation since 1935, connects the old part of the city with the slopes of Aleksotas district. The funicular's wagon will take you to the Aleksotas Observation Deck, which gives a great view of the city in all seasons. You'll get to see the smiling sundial on the wall of Kaunas Faculty of Vilnius University and a panorama of Kaunas Old Town. If you're into guided city tours - take notice, as this is the place where they usually start!
Pažaislis Monastery and recreational trail
Pažaislis Monastery is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Lithuania. The ensemble, designed by Italian architect Giovanni Battista Frediani, is decorated with mouldings by Lombardy sculptors and frescoes by Florentine painter Michele Arcangelo Palloni. Since the summer of 1996, the monastery hosts the annual Pažaislis International Music Festival. During the off-season, the halls of the monastery serve as the meeting point for local artists and their audiences.
After touring the monastery, you can head for a walk on the Pažaislis recreational trail along the Kaunas Lagoon.
Lunch at Monte Pacis
The Monte Pacis hospitality complex is located on the grounds of Pažaislis Monastery. Dining in one of its spacious halls will surely make you feel like a Lithuanian noble. Having a glass of wine here is definitely a good idea, as the place has been recognized as the best in a number of categories at the Baltic Wine List Awards 2020.
Kaunas Castle, Confluence
The Medieval Kaunas Castle was built at the meeting point of two of Lithuania's rivers – Nemunas and Neris – to repel frequent Crusader attacks. The country's oldest stone castle is the only one that has two rows of defensive walls (as you might guess, the Crusaders were quite good at attacking cities). Kaunas Castle is open all year round to everyone interested in Medieval history.
Surrounding the castle is Confluence Park, oftentimes called the heart of Kaunas. It's a place fit for both relaxation and contemplation. Close to the point where Nemunas and Neris meet, you will find a pagan altar where ancient Baltic rites were performed millennia ago. After this journey back in time, you can climb Pope's Hill, where both Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis held Mass when visiting Lithuania.
Town Hall and Town Hall Square
Gothic, Baroque, Classicism - Kaunas Town Hall displays a number of architectural styles, and its main façade features a tower resembling a swan's neck. That's where its nickname - the White Swan - comes from. At 53 metres tall, the tower is the highest point of Kaunas Old Town.
As time went by, Kaunas Town Hall changed many purposes. In the past, it hosted fairs and court cases, an Orthodox church and even a wax melting furnace. Today, this is the go-to venue for the city's flashiest wedding ceremonies.
Vilnius street and lunch
Vilnius street is arguably the most beautiful street of Kaunas Old Town. It's also the city's oldest and was part of the road leading to Vilnius in the Middle Ages. Vilnius street hasn't lost its former glory, with old red brick houses still adorning both sides. It is pedestrian-only too, making it a perfect place for a slow stroll as you decide where to have lunch.
Sometimes it takes art to bring neighbours together. When Lithuanian artist Vytenis Jakas moved to this building with a large courtyard, he noticed that the common space was left unused. Jakas received great support from his new neighbours in drawing pictures and life stories of the Jewish families that once resided next door on the walls of the shared courtyard. The courtyard has since become a vibrant art space, with new objects and drawings appearing frequently.
Lithuania is home to many one-of-a-kind museums, and the Devils' Museum is probably the weirdest. This huge Modernist building - once the residence of its founder Antanas Žmuidzinavičius - hosts a collection of 3,000 devils, demons and imps that come in all shapes and sizes. Most of them are related to Lithuanian folklore, but some come from places as far away as Japan and Indonesia. It's also the best place to stop by if you want a truly original souvenir. We bet no one is expecting that you'll bring a tiny imp from your trip to Lithuania.
M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum
Coming to Kaunas and not paying a visit to M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art is akin to skipping the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Čiurlionis was the most famous Lithuanian artist, successful both in painting and music. In his museum, you will be able to get acquainted with the many sides of Čiurlionis - from his symbolist art to the recordings of his symphonies. Check the museum's website before you visit, as you might catch a concert or a performance while you're there.
Laisvės Boulevard and dinner
At 1.6 kilometres, Laisvės Boulevard (Laisvės alėja) is the longest walking street in the region. Laisvės Boulevard is also the obvious choice for walks and entertainment in Kaunas, with cool bars, funky restaurants (including a donut shop that hasn't changed in forty years), book stores and fountains. After a long, exciting day, relax and enjoy dinner at a restaurant you like most.
Spend the morning drinking coffee at one of the terraces overlooking the freshly renovated Vienybė Square. This square is open to rollerbladers, skateboarders, families with young children, businessmen, elderly people – everyone who has at least a little bit of free time and wants to relax.
Vytautas the Great War Museum
Vytautas the Great War Museum in Kaunas is a place worth visiting, even if you're not a war history buff. Here, you will find out how military science has evolved in Lithuania from prehistoric times to the present day, and get to know about the most important events in the country's history.
The difficult period when Lithuania was under Soviet and Nazi occupations is represented extensively in multiple exhibitions in the museum. It was not always the case, though. During occupations, the museum was forced to destroy exhibits and historical artefacts deemed unsuitable by hostile regimes several times. Only in 1988, when the Lithuanian Reform Movement started, public efforts were devoted to recreating the garden of the Museum.
Coffee break at Spurginė
While other cafes try to outdo one another with fancy new dishes, it seems unlikely that the Spurginė donut shop will change their recipes (or prices) any time soon. The interior has also stayed pretty much unchanged for the last 40 years. Try their ball-shaped donuts with sweet cheese sprinkled with sugar powder and go a couple of decades back in time.
A look at Modernist architecture:
Former Kaunas Central Post Office , Kaunas city municipality, Milk Centre, Romuva Cinema Romuva, Officers' club | More
An abundance of Modernist buildings is what makes Kaunas stand out in the region. Many of these masterpieces were created in the Interwar period, when Kaunas served as Lithuania's capital. A centre of power, culture and intellectual life, the city grew immensely in the roaring 20s and swinging 30s. As the Lithuanian society of the day was rapidly changing, the city needed buildings that would not only serve a practical purpose, but would also reflect the latest trends in art and architecture. A new generation of Lithuanian architects, who had received their training abroad, were tasked to turn Kaunas into a contemporary megapolis. During your stay, make sure to visit the former Kaunas Central Post Office, Kaunas City Municipality, Milk Centre, Romuva Cinema, Officers' Club and other masterpieces of Modernist architecture.
Laisvės Boulevard and lunch
At 1.6 kilometres, Laisvės Boulevard (Laisvės alėja) is the longest walking street in the region. Laisvės Boulevard is also the obvious choice for walks and entertainment in Kaunas, with cool bars, funky restaurants (including a donut shop that hasn't changed in forty years), book stores and fountains. After a long, exciting day, relax and enjoy lunch at a restaurant you like most.
Journey through time - a guided tour of a Modernist apartment
Time travel has not been invented yet, but a tour of the city's most stunning Art Deco building on Gedimino 48 is the closest you'll get to experiencing Kaunas in the 1930s. Every single piece of furniture in this apartment has been meticulously preserved. They even restored the original wallpaper! Take this tour for an exclusive peek into the lives of Kaunas' high society almost a hundred years ago.
The Žaliakalnis funicular has been operating since 1931. Travelling at a speed of 1.4 meters per second, the funicular will lift you and 24 other passengers from the city centre to Kaunas Jesus Christ's Resurrection Basilica in less than two minutes, offering a panoramic view over the city in the meantime.
Kaunas Jesus Christ's Resurrection Basilica
Kaunas is home to the largest basilica in the Baltics! Christ's Resurrection Basilica, built in a style that reflects the Modernist heritage of the city, has become a symbol of Lithuanian independence. While this church was built in the 30s, during the Soviet occupation it served as a radio factory for almost fifty years. In 1990, the church became a house of worship once again. Its rooftop is open to visitors, and after conquering 186 steps (or taking the elevator) you'll get the best panoramic view of Kaunas there is.MORE →