What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

If you’re looking for somewhere different for a short Europe break, I think it’s definitely worth visiting Kaunas – Lithuania’s often overlooked second city.

As it’s still under the radar for many tourists, you’ll find that many of the city’s attractions are yours alone to explore, and it’s a great place for lovers of history and all things quirky. Here’s my guide to the essential things to do in Kaunas…

Things to do in Kaunas, Lithuania

 Kaunas Old Town

The prettiest part of the city, Kaunas’ old town is dotted with many small local museums and churches to explore.Through its heart runs the cobbled pedestrian street of Vilniaus gatvė, where you’ll find a great range of restaurants and cafes.

Follow the road to the west and you’ll end up at the old town square, definitely a great spot to visit in the evenings after a day of sightseeing, as you’ll find some of the city’s top rated restaurants here.

The square is also home to the old town hall, which dates back to 1542. Over the years it’s been used as everything from an ammunition dump and prison through to a palace, Russian theatre and a ‘club of ill repute’. Today it’s used to host weddings and is also home to Kaunas’ ceramics museum.

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

Laisvės alėja

Laisvės alėja, also known as Liberty or Freedom Avenue, is a total contrast to the old town’s Vilniaus gatvė. This is a 1.7km long pedestrian street, which is everything you’d expect from eastern block design: ie lots of grey concrete. Even so, when the sun shines it’s beauty comes through, as the long street has a line of lush green trees running down its centre, making it a pretty spot for a stroll.

The heart of the modern city, this is the place to come for some shopping, or a shot of strong Lithuanian coffee. (I also found a café that made the best hot chocolate – sadly I can’t for the life of me remember the name though!).

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

Green Hill Funicular

Ride this cute Swiss funicular, originally built in 1931, up to the top of Green Hill in order to save a steep climb.

It may only be 50m long, but your legs will thank you for it, I promise.

Christ’s Resurrection Basilica

My highlight of Kaunas was visiting Christ’s Resurrection Basilica, which towers high over the city.

Just a short walk from the top of the funicular, this building is like nothing I’d seen before – a giant art-deco masterpiece with a crazy history. The basilica was actually only consecrated back in 2004, and in the past it has been used as a soviet radio factory and even a Nazi paper warehouse.

This is also the best place to see Kaunas in all its glory – take the stairs or lift up onto the flat roof for an amazing view of the Nemunas and Neris rivers as well as the entire city. It’s the perfect spot for a panoramic shot and definitely one of the best things to do in Kaunas.

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

Museum of Devils

One of the strangest museums I’ve visited to date, this is full of exactly what you’d expect – a collection of over 2,000 devils from around in the world.

Here you’ll find devil woodcarvings, cuddly toys and even Hitler and Stalin devils doing a ‘dance of death’ over Lithuania. Definitely a unique experience!

The Presidential Palace of Lithuania

The old town is also home to the former Presidential Palace of Lithuania. This has now been turned into a beautiful museum telling the city’s history as well as talking about Lithuania past and present presidents.

During our visit we had the entire building to ourselves – to the point where a member of staff followed us around, turning on the lights to each room as we walked through the building. We had a fun little adventure!

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

 

National M K Čiurlionis State Art Museum

This one’s for the art lovers. The nation’s favourite artist, M. K. Čiurlionis was a painter and composer. This museum features many of his original paintings as well as giving you the chance to sit in a small lecture theatre and listen to his music.

The Ninth Fort Museum

Building of the defensive Ninth Fort began in 1902 and was completed on the eve of WWI. In 1924 it was turned into a prison and was also used as an extermination camp.

Opened as a museum in 1958, it’s home to a number of exhibitions documenting its dark history. Although not an uplifting topic, it’s well worth a visit.

The Ninth Fort Monument

This giant soviet-era concrete memorial stands on the site of a mass grave where Nazi victims were buried. It was unveiled in 1984 in memory of the 30,000 people who were murdered here.

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

Kaunas Castle

Sadly not a lot of the Kaunas Castle is left standing as many of its walls and towers have been destroyed or decayed over the years it was left abandoned.

Still it’s enjoyable to explore the ruins and the sturdiest standing tower now houses an art gallery.

 

Has this whetted your appetite for a trip to Kaunas, or perhaps you’ve been before and have some recommendations of your own to add to our list? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

What not to miss in Kaunas, Lithuania

 

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Keri

By day Co-Editor Keri is a freelance journalist and copywriter, but spends most of her free time either travelling or planning her next trip!  A complete travel fanatic, she has a love of tropical climates, wildlife and afternoon tea (hence the creation of her Global Afternoon Tea Challenge!)

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34 Comments

  1. May 22, 2017 / 11:14 am

    I feel like this town is becoming a bit popular because I’ve recently read several posts about it! Looks like an interesting town and that new church’s history is quite interesting! #MondayEscapes

    • May 22, 2017 / 3:09 pm

      Ah good to hear Lolo, it’s definitely worth a visit. Yes I found the new church really interesting too…

  2. May 22, 2017 / 7:38 pm

    We went years ago and missed so much of this! Such a shame, it looks like we will need to go back! #MondayEscapes

    • May 23, 2017 / 11:58 am

      Ah that’s a shame! There’s a lot more museums than I covered here too – these were just my personal faves…

  3. May 23, 2017 / 3:00 pm

    sure seems like a lot to pack in on a trip. i love riding the funiculars, saves on aching calf muscles #mondayescapes

    • May 23, 2017 / 3:07 pm

      I always keep busy on a city trip – only slow down when it’s the main (beach) holiday…

  4. May 23, 2017 / 4:14 pm

    I absolutely love this post as it reveals somewhere that I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of. Now I want to go!
    #citytripping

    • May 25, 2017 / 6:58 pm

      Well that’s what I was hoping I’d achieve so yay! I hope you get to check it out for yourself one day soon…

  5. May 23, 2017 / 7:09 pm

    Kaunas looks really interesting, such a range of architecture and so much to see. Great to read about somewhere I’m completely unfamiliar with! #citytripping

    • May 25, 2017 / 6:59 pm

      I love discovering new places, so happy to help Anabel!

  6. May 23, 2017 / 8:37 pm

    What an interesting place to visit, I cant believe the history of that church and now people get married there, thats so fascinating. Thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes x

    • May 25, 2017 / 6:59 pm

      I agree, crazy story – my favourite kind! 😉

  7. May 24, 2017 / 8:56 am

    Kaunas certainly is under the radar… I hadn’t heard much about it so this is a really interesting read. It is now on my radar, that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing on #citytripping

    • May 25, 2017 / 7:00 pm

      Good to hear, hope you get to check it out! 😀

  8. May 26, 2017 / 1:01 pm

    Goodness, Keri, the Museum of Devils surely has to be on the list of World’s Quirkiest Museums! Great idea to do a post on a lesser-known destination like this. Sounds like it’s worth a visit just to find that elusive hot chocolate shop! Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • May 27, 2017 / 4:59 pm

      Ha ha indeed!

  9. May 27, 2017 / 5:58 pm

    I have pinned this because it sounds like a place I need to go before everyone else discovers it! Looks like there is lots to do. I would love to visit the Presidental Palace and ride the funicular. I will have to try to find that hot chocolate place too! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    • May 31, 2017 / 3:19 pm

      At least you know what street to start looking on I guess! Wish I could remember the place, so frustrating! :s

  10. May 27, 2017 / 6:52 pm

    Looks great. I loved Viknius so must try there next. #farawayfiles

    • May 31, 2017 / 3:19 pm

      Excellent, hope you enjoy!

    • May 31, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      I agree, I love finding new and different places to visit Laura 🙂

  11. May 28, 2017 / 4:58 am

    I love a funicular railway and a quirky museum- so I will definitely add this to my list! #farawayfiles

    • May 31, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      I do love a weird museum – one day I want to put a post up about them all!

  12. May 31, 2017 / 9:09 am

    I feel the pull of Lithuania across the Baltic – it’s pretty easy to get to from Copenhagen. But I don’t know much about it – great tips and visuals from Kaunas – thanks for sharing wth #FarawayFiles. Erin

    • May 31, 2017 / 3:21 pm

      Glad it piqued your interest Erin! 😉

  13. June 1, 2017 / 5:17 am

    I have never heard of Kaunas before and don’t know much about Lithuania so this was a great read. That basilica’s architecture is so unique and I love how its lookout terrace looks. It certainly has some very unique attractions especially that Devil’s Museum one.

    • June 2, 2017 / 2:13 pm

      Thanks Mary, glad you enjoyed it. Yes the church roof provided some amazing views over the city and river I have to say!

  14. June 2, 2017 / 12:49 am

    Until recently, Lithuania didn’t really factor in our travel plans. Thanks to you and a few others, our thoughts are changing! Kaunas looks like a fun city to explore – thanks for putting it on our radar, and sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    • June 2, 2017 / 2:14 pm

      ooh that’s so cool to hear! I have to say I’d like to see more of Lithuania, I’m finding Eastern Europe more and more interesting at the moment…

  15. June 2, 2017 / 5:06 pm

    I agree Kaunas is definitely overlooked and I really liked it when I visited last year. I went in summer so it’s interesting to see the difference. Wish I had known the Basilica had a rooftop view as I just admired the church and walked on. You visited a few more museums than I did, but I did make it to the wonderful weird Devil Museum which really is one of a kind.

    • June 5, 2017 / 4:38 pm

      Ah that’s a shame you didn’t know about the church roof David! I can imagine the city is very different in summer, I do like returning and seeing destinations during different seasons…

    • June 9, 2017 / 4:10 pm

      Hope you have a lovely time. 🙂

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