Attractions In Kaunas: The 10 Best

Kaunas, Lithuania
Kaunas travel guide

Kaunas is Lithuania's second-largest city after Vilnius. It has a rich history and a contemporary European culture influenced by Roman Catholic traditions. The city's architecture is a stunning blend of medieval, interwar modernist, and twenty-first-century styles.

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Kaunas lies at the confluence of the country's two largest rivers, Nemunas and Neris, about 100 km (62 mi) west of the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. At 100.1 m (328 ft), the city's highest point is the Ninth Fort, a part of Kaunas fortress.



I spent many pleasant summer days in Kaunas as a teenager. My favorite place was its zoological garden, which at the time was Lithuania's only zoo; of course, with delicious plombir ice cream! Even after living in Vilnius for nearly 30 years, I prefer Kaunas for a weekend getaway because it is cozier and calmer. Here is my list of the ten most exciting attractions in Kaunas. Perhaps you might want to put some or all of them on your bucket list for your visit to Lithuania's second-largest city.


Top 10 Kaunas Attractions


1. Kaunas Castle


Kaunas

The Kaunas Castle, standing at the confluence of the Neminas and Neris rivers, was built in the 14th century to defend against Teutonic Order attacks. The castle was Lithuania's first stone fortification and the only one with two defensive walls. In the 16th century, it was a prison, and ghosts of prisoners still roam there at night.

Today, the castle is home to a branch of the Kaunas City Museum, and annual cultural events occur in and around it. The 7-meter (23-foot) tall bronze sculpture Freedom Warrior stands near the Kaunas Castle.

Address: Pilies g. 17, Kaunas 44275
Official website: Kaunas Castle


2. Liberty Avenue


Kaunas

Liberty Avenue is a 1.6-kilometer (one-mile) long pedestrian-only boulevard. In Lithuania, it is one of a kind. Directed east-west, the boulevard connects the New Town to the Old Town. Liberty Avenue is divided into two walkways by a median strip lined with linden trees and is home to numerous restaurants, cafes, and cozy boutiques. Young artists perform here all year round.

Walking along the boulevard, you see the city's exceptional interwar modernist architecture. Kaunas is, perhaps, the only city in the world where so many modernist buildings in the Bauhaus style were built and preserved until today: Lithuanian Post, Kaunas State Musical Theater, Bank of Lithuania, and many others.


3. Kaunas Cathedral Basilica


The gorgeous interior of Kaunas Cathedral

The Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Kaunas is the largest Gothic building of sacral nature and the only Gothic cathedral basilica in Lithuania. Founded by the Lithuanian Duke Vytautas the Great in the 15th century and later rebuilt several times, the church acquired Renaissance, Baroque, Classicism, Neo-Gothic, and Neo-Baroque architectural features.

The only interior elements reminiscent of Gothic times are the Presbytery mesh vault, built in the 15th century, and a 16th-century peculiar crystal vault covering the ceiling of a two-story sacristy.

Address: Vilnius g. 1, Kaunas 44281
Official website: Kauno Arkikatedra

Visiting Lithuania's Largest Gothic Sacral Building, Kaunas Cathedral


4. Aleksotas Historical Funicular


Historic funicular

Lithuania has three funiculars, two of which are historical, in Kaunas' Žaliakalnis and Aleksotas neighborhoods, and one modern in Vilnius' Old Town. A Swiss company built the Aleksotas funicular in 1935. It has an 18-degree tilt angle and a length of nearly 133 meters (436 feet). Wagons are made of wood and can seat up to 25 people.

At the Aleksotas Bridge, the funicular connects the Old Town with Aleksotas Hill. There is an observation deck on the hill overlooking the beautiful panorama of historic Kaunas.

Address: Amerikos Lietuvių g. 6, Kaunas 46251
Official website: Aleksoto funikulierius


5. Town Hall


Kaunas Travel

Kaunas Town Hall, built between the 16th and 18th centuries and later restored several times, features Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical architectural elements. The White Swan is the name of the stunning building with its 53-meter (174-foot) high tower. It is the most famous landmark in the entire Old Town. The large square with various buildings – St. Francis Xavier (Jesuit) Church, Zabieliai Palace, Siručiai Palace, horse-post station, Priest Seminary Rectorate Palace, and St. Trinity (Seminary) Church – surrounds the structure.



The role of the town hall has changed over the centuries. Previously, the building housed city markets, fairs, courts, a prison, and warehouses. Now, it hosts ceremonies and formal events and houses a branch of the Kaunas City Museum. Near the entrance, there is a unique 15th-century wax-melting furnace.

Address: Rotušės a. 15, Kaunas 44279
Official website: Kaunas Town Hall


6. Santaka Park


Kaunas Travel

Santaka Park is where the Neris and Nemunas rivers meet. Both locals and tourists enjoy strolling around the picturesque area. Pope Hill, the 15th-century Church of St. George, and Kaunas Castle are only a few of the park's historical sites, including the altar that pagans once used for their rituals.


7. St. Gertrude Church


Kaunas Travel Guide

Founded in the 15th century, the Gothic Church of St. Gertrude is one of the oldest churches in Lithuania. The Marianites – a Catholic male clerical religious order founded in the 17th century in Poland – have owned the church and a nearby monastery since 1921.

The church is a one-nave, almost square building with a narrower presbytery having a dissymmetric three-walled apse. Created in the 18th century and characterized by a combination of the architectural forms of Classicism with the predominant features of Late Baroque, its ensemble of altars, pulpits, and choir is a valuable object of cultural heritage.

Address: Laisvės al. 101a, Kaunas 44291
Official website: Gertrūdos bažnyčia


8. Thunder House


Gothic Kaunas

The Thunder House is one of Kaunas's Old Town's most beautiful and unique Gothic buildings. The name comes from a figurine of the God of Thunder discovered on the wall. The 15th-century stone building with an ornate pediment and a spacious basement is the Hanseatic merchants' only trade place in Lithuania.

Today, the Thunder House is part of a Jesuit gymnasium and houses an exhibition by Adam Mickiewicz, a famous Polish-Lithuanian Romantic poet who once lived in Kaunas.

Address: Aleksoto g. 6, Kaunas 44280
Official website: Perkūno namas


9. Kaunas Mosque


White Mosque

Lithuania has only four mosques belonging to the Tatars, a Turkic ethnic group. Build-in the 20th century, Kaunas Mosque is the country's only stone mosque. The building, with historical forms and oriental motives, has an elliptical dome and a slender minaret.

Address: Totorių g. 6, Kaunas 44236
Official website: Islamas visiems


10. Ant, Grasshopper, and Beetle


Ant, Grasshopper, and Beetle

To honor the memory of puppet animation pioneer Władysław Starewicz, often called the European Walt Disney, three bug sculptures portray the director's three primary puppet characters: a stag-beetle, an ant, and a grasshopper. Starewicz began his moviemaking career in Kaunas in 1910, creating 3-d stop-motion animation movies (puppet movies, as he called them).

Starewicz began his filmmaking career in Kaunas in 1910, creating 3-d stop-motion animation movies (puppet movies, as he called them). Although most of his intriguing movies last less than 15 minutes, they are technically astounding by today's standards. You can easily find these interesting sculptures opposite the Town Hall in the Old Town.



Where to Stay in Kaunas


Unsure of where to stay in Kaunas? For my trips, I use Booking.com, a well-designed website that helps me find everything from small B&Bs to large hotel chains, vacation rentals, and homestays.




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Have any questions about things to do in Kaunas? Planning a trip to Lithuania? What about other suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment below.




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