Visit Kaunas if you like history, architecture, a wide range of museums, good food, or if you are simply looking for a cute town to explore in Lithuania.
Kaunas is Lithuania’s second-largest city, after capital city Vilnius. It is a student city with the largest number of students in Lithuania. It’s a compact city that can easily be explored on foot.
In this article I want to share the main things not to miss when visiting this city. From things to do in Kaunas to where to eat and where to stay.
What to See & Do in Kaunas
1. The Historical Presidential Palace
The Historical Presidential Palace is a Neo-baroque building located in the Old Town. It served as the Presidential Palace during the interwar years but today it’s a branch of the M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum.
The palace is one of the most important memorials of the First Republic of Lithuania in (1918–1940). The building was at the center of major political events of the time.
It’s a beautiful building and the permanent exposition at the palace gives interesting information about the history of the First Republic of Lithuania.
2. Kaunas’ Adorable Old Town
When you visit Kaunas you can’t miss the Old Town. It’s a very walkable city center with cobblestone streets, cute boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
Go to Laisves Aleja (Freedom Avenue) for some shopping or to relax at one of the cafes or restaurants. Wander around the streets to take in the atmosphere and admire the well maintained historic buildings.
3. Kaunas City Museum & Old Town Hall
The former town hall is a beautiful building on a lovely square in the Old Town.
Even if you aren’t interested in the museum I would say visiting this part of the city is one of the main things to do in Kaunas.
The museum provides an interesting look into the history of Kaunas. It shows what life was like in Kaunas and shares some interesting facts about the city.
Note: the museum is closed on Mondays.
4. Vytautas the Great War Museum
Lithuania has a tumultuous history and if you want to learn more about past wars this museum in Kaunas is well worth a visit.
The museum contains archaeological finds, weapons, firearms, ammunition, army uniforms and more.
Note: the museum is closed on Mondays.
5. Kaunas Castle
Kaunas Castle is a medieval castle built during the mid-14th century. A lot of it has been destroyed however and much has been added over the centuries.
Inside the castle are several floors of exhibits, from the dungeons to a few intriguing artifacts at the top of a long stone spiral staircase.
Note: the castle is closed on Mondays and in winter also on Sundays.
6. Lithuanian Folk Music History Museum
This museum is great for anyone, but I’d especially recommend it if you are visiting Lithuania with kids. They encourage you to play the traditional Lithuanian instruments they showcase, which makes this museum a lot of fun!
It’s the only museum in Lithuania dedicated to folk music culture. It contains a wide range of exhibits; from Lithuanian and international musical instruments to audio recordings, photographs, letters, and posters. Apart from playing some instruments you can learn to sing a sutartinė (Lithuanian multipart song) and listen to folk music performed by contemporary bands.
Note: the museum is closed on Sundays & Mondays.
7. Go on a Funicular Ride
Kaunas has two cute funiculars. I took the Žaliakalnis Funicular up to Christ’s Resurrection Church.
Built in 1931, this is the oldest funicular in Lithuania and among the oldest vehicles of this type in the world still operational!
And, most of the Funicular is still original. Ok maybe I shouldn’t have told you that because everything also squeaks and shakes as if it’s from 1931! Only joking though, it’s actually well maintained and a fun ride.
8. Admire the View from the Roof of Christ’s Resurrection Church
After Lithuania regained independence in 1918 an idea gained ground to build a church as a national shrine and a symbol of gratitude to God for the regained freedom. Kaunas was chosen as its site because the historic capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, was part of Poland at the time.
Today it’s the largest basilical church in the Baltic States and quite unique because of the interwar architecture.
But what I like most is that you can go up to the roof for a great view of Kaunas!
9. Kiemo Galerija – Open Air Art Gallery
If you love street art you have to stop by this open-air art gallery.
This “backyard gallery” was created by artist Vytenis Jakas. He says the idea started by talking to the neighbors living around this courtyard to find out their stories. “There were a lot of interesting stories and that’s why the backyard gallery started with their photos” says Jakas.
I love to see how what must have been a dull, not so well maintained courtyard has been transformed into a beautiful gathering of art and I can imagine how it brought the neighbors closer together.
10. Devils Museum
I felt this deserved a mention just because it’s so different. And allegedly it’s the only devils museum in the world – whatever value you attach to that.
The museum contains a collection of more than 3,000 devils from approximately 70 different countries.
Note: the museum is closed on Mondays.
11. Botanical Garden
If you need a break from museums, go for a relaxing stroll around Kaunas’ Botanical Garden.
With an area of 62.5 ha (154 acres) it is the second-largest botanical garden in Lithuania.
12. Ninth Fort
The Ninth Fort is a part of the Kaunas Fortress, which was constructed in the late 19th century. During the occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union, the fort was used as a prison and way-station for prisoners being transported to labor camps.
During the occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany, the fort was used as a place of execution for Jews, captured Soviets, and others. Well over 30,000 Jews were murdered here.
A vast memorial was unveiled in 1984, which marks the place where they were buried.
The Ninth Fort museum contains collections of historical artifacts related both to Soviet atrocities and the Nazi genocide, as well as materials related to the earlier history of Kaunas and Ninth Fort.
Note: the museum is closed on Mondays.
Located outside of the center I wasn’t sure if this monastery would be worth the visit, but it absolutely is!
Pažaislis is the largest monastery complex in Lithuania and the most magnificent example of Italian Baroque architecture in the country.
Its frescos are impressive and the monastery is incredibly well restored. Plus there’s a good museum giving a lot of information about the interesting history.
There is still a small number of nuns living inside the monastery grounds and there is a hotel with a restaurant here as well (see the restaurant review below).
And, if you want to combine your visit here with another activity there is a beach nearby on the man-made lake that’s perfect on a sunny day.
Note: public transport is limited to this place. It’s better to rent a car, use Bolt (see below about getting around) or cycle. There is a cycling lane all the way from the Old Town to the monastery.
Where to Eat in Kaunas
A Review of 4 Restaurants in Kaunas
This is a review of only four restaurants in Kaunas. But the same as what I wrote about restaurants in Vilnius goes for Kaunas as well: there are so many good restaurants to choose from!
1. Lithuanian Pub Entry
This cozy, stylishly decorated pub is well worth a visit.
They serve anything from typical pub food such as burgers and chicken wings to traditional Lithuanian dishes dating back to the interwar years. Or just go for a healthy salad or a good Australian steak.
Apart from good food they have a great selection of cocktails and some local Lithuanian drinks (try one of their fruit wines!).
Their food is reasonably priced and I enjoyed their friendly, amicable service.
And if you don’t have time to eat here, it’s a good pub too with a nice terrace perfect for people watching on those sunnier days.
2. Višta Puode
Višta Puode is a perfect place for lunch in Kaunas.
They offer both traditional and modern Lithuanian cuisine and focuses on local ingredients.
The restaurant itself is a light open space, nicely decorated and with a large terrace perfect for those sunnier days.
Their prices are good, their service is friendly and if you are in Kaunas with kids, the restaurant has a nice play area with toys to keep the kids entertained.
3. Hop Doc Gastropub
Hop Doc is a pub just off the main bar & restaurant drag.
It has a modern, slightly industrial look and feel. With a nice, trendy pub menu you can order a wide variety of snacks and dishes ranging from buffalo wings and burgers to a vegan fajita bowl or Thai style shrimps.
Additionally, they have a great selection of local and international beer – over 100 apparently. And a good list of cocktails including a few interesting beer cocktails!
It has a small terrace on the pavement, which can’t really compete with the terraces on Vilniaus gatve (the main restaurant street just around the corner).
It’s definitely more of a real pub, which includes not offering table service. Prices are reasonable.
Lastly, Hop Doc also offers happy hour deals and brunch on weekends.
4. Monte Pacis
If you are looking for a higher-end restaurant in Kaunas, and especially if you want to visit the Pažaislis Monastery anyway, I can highly recommend this restaurant!
The food is delicious and the service is great!
If the weather is particularly good you can dine outside but most of the time you will dine inside the restaurant which is located in one of the historic buildings on the grounds of the monastery.
The dining area, and the whole dining experience actually, has a very classic feel to it, which is very fitting as you are sitting right by the monastery.
The restaurant won an award for the best wine list in Lithuania and I have to agree, the wine list is pretty impressive. Plus they offer more than 30 wines by the glass so if you don’t feel like ordering a bottle, at least try a glass.
If you are used to fine dining in western countries you will find the prices here extremely reasonable but it is one of the more expensive restaurants in Kaunas. Although the lunch menu I had was surprisingly inexpensive!
The restaurant combines historical recipes and fresh products from both the restaurant’s own garden and from local organic farms to create its dishes. Their menu changes frequently and they also offer a 3-course set menu and a 6-course tasting menu if you want to try some of the chef’s favorites.
Where to Stay in Kaunas
Hof Hotel in Kaunas – Hotel Review
Hof Hotel is a comfortable, relatively small hotel right in the center of Kaunas.
The hotel has a modern feel to it, is well maintained and the staff is friendly. It’s a good mid-range hotel perfect for exploring Kaunas for a few days.
Maironio g. 21A
Tel: +370 37 367 999
Quick hotel facts
- 22 double and triple rooms with private balconies
- 3 Family rooms with kitchenette
- Extra long beds (230 cm / 7.5 feet)
- Located in the city center
- Private parking free of charge
- Free Wi-Fi
- Complimentary buffet breakfast
- Bike rental
I stayed in a standard double room during my stay. The room was nicely decorated, spacious enough and offered everything I needed to visit Kaunas for a few days.
The rooms even come with a small balcony and the beds are very comfortable!
I would say Hof Hotel is more of a boutique hotel so don’t expect facilities such as a gym, a pool or all-day dining.
What it does offer is a breakfast area and a cozy lobby where you can relax with a book and buy some drinks and snacks.
The breakfast area is a small space tucked away in the basement. But, it’s big enough for the size of the hotel and the breakfast buffet is great. Offering anything from your standard options such as omelets and croissants to healthy salads, quiche, and a few local options.
Also worth mentioning is that the hotel has parking, 24-hour front desk, and an elevator – so no dragging your suitcase up the stairs 😉
Note: Hof Hotel is located in what looks like a courtyard and there aren’t any clear signs outside of this courtyard. So, like myself, you might have some difficulty finding the hotel’s entrance. Its location on Google Maps is correct though, so just follow that.
With prices for a double room starting just under € 50 I think this is good value for money. It makes Hof Hotel a great mid-range hotel in Kaunas. And the fact that it’s located right in the center of Kaunas and you can walk anywhere from here just adds to its value.
Click here for more information and to book Hof Hotel online.
Of course this is just one of many options for places to stay in Kaunas. Booking.com offers a great range: from budget ho(s)tels to luxury hotels and several apartments to rent in Kaunas.
Kaunas is one of the main places to visit in Lithuania.
With its cute old town with cobblestone streets, historic buildings and a relaxed, almost small-town feel it makes for a very easy city to explore.
I can highly recommend going on a walking tour if you want to learn more about Kaunas. I went on a private tour and the things I learned not just about Kaunas but also about what it was like to live under Soviet occupation and how far the country has come since then, was simply fascinating!
Oh and if you are a fan of HBO’s Chernobyl: did you know that several sites in Kaunas have been used in this series?
How Much Time Do You Need to See Kaunas?
Kaunas is sometimes promoted as a day trip from Vilnius, but I would say you need 2 full days to visit Kaunas if you want to see all (or at least most) of the main sights.
Tip For Getting Around Kaunas
Kaunas, with a population of less than 300,000, is a very compact and walkable city.
But, if you don’t want to walk or have to go a bit further I recommend using Bolt. Bolt is the local version of Uber and a 10-minute ride costs barely more than a cup of coffee in a local coffee shop!
Alternatively, cycling is also becoming more popular in Kaunas, especially among tourists. So renting a bike could be another option to get around Kaunas.
If You Are Traveling to Lithuania, Also Read:
- 6 Places Not to Miss When Visiting Lithuania for the First Time
- Where to Eat in Vilnius, Lithuania
- Interview With an Expat About Life in Vilnius
Map of Things to Do in Kaunas, Where to Eat & Where to Stay
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Disclaimer: I was invited to visit Kaunas by the Kaunas Tourism Division. But of course, as always all opinions shared here are my own.
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