A. Aleksandravičius

3 DAYS IN KAUNAS

Three days in Kaunas: Congrats on your three-day Kaunas getaway. Best thing about it - you won't have to rush anywhere, and in three days you will not only get to know the city of Kaunas, but also get better acquainted with Lithuanian history. On the first day, you'll get to see sites most popular with tourists as well as some hidden gems of Kaunas. On the second day, a crash course into city's Modernist heritage awaits. Some of the architectural masterpieces you'll come across are on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list. On the third day, you'll become a real expert in all things Kaunas as you visit the best museums in the city.

1 DAY:

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.

More information – here.

 

Lunch at Monte Pacis

Next to the Pažaislis Monastery there is a unique hospitality complex "Monte Pacis", where traveling guests can not only stay, but also enjoy dishes reflecting the latest trends in the world of gastronomy. Ideal place for a strong lunch!

More information – here.

 

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.

More information – here.

 

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.

More information – here.

 

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.

 

Courtyard Gallery

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.

More information – here.

 

Devil's Museum

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.

More information – here.

 

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.

More information – here.

 

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.

 

2 DAY:

Vienybė Square

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

More information – here.

 

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.

More information – here.

 

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.

More information – here.

 

Žaliakalnis funicular

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.

More information – here.

 

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 information – here.

 

3 DAY:

The Ninth Fort

The Ninth Fort is one of the many fortifications that were erected around Kaunas in the 19th century. The site hosts a museum where visitors are introduced to the military architecture of the fortifications and can take a close look at World War I military equipment.

Another part of the exposition is dedicated to the period when the Ninth Fort served as a labour prison. Its authentic chambers, which still bear inscriptions of prisoners on their walls, host an exposition recounting the tragedy of the Jewish people in Lithuania.

More information – here.

 

Kaunas City Museum Folk Music Department

The museum, which houses more than 7,000 music-related exhibits, offers an exclusive look into the little-known world of Lithuanian music. Here, visitors are invited to learn why kanklės (a box zither instrument) produces such an exceptional sound. In the museum, you can try on a national dress, learn a number of Medieval dances, or walk up the museum's "musical stairs"!

More information – here.

 

Sugihara House

Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat stationed in Kaunas, who, during World War II, saved the lives of more than 6,000 Lithuanian, Polish and German Jews. He issued life visas to Japan without any official approval of the Japanese government.

This museum was established in the former Japanese Consulate to perpetuate the memory of Chiune Sugihara. The Sugihara House welcomes visitors with a modern audiovisual exposition. There are countless documents brought over from Japanese archives: the mandate delegated by President Antanas Smetona to vice-consul Ch. Sugihara, reports by the diplomat on work in Lithuania, telegrams to the Japanese government about the situation in Lithuania in 1940, the list of visas issued, photos, passports and other important historical documents from the personal archives of the saved families.

More information – here.

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