top of page
  • Writer's pictureEva

What to Do in Kaunas, Lithuania: Eva Edition

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

Oh, hi! Welcome back to my crazy little corner of the internet that explores my adventures and dalliances around Lithuania. If you're new here, I've only been here six months at the time of writing this post, and we're deep in the folds of winter here in Eastern Europe. Some days it's grey and muted outside, and I'm scraping to find light wherever I can. Then, on other days I'm hiking at the golden hour, being wowed by the pinkish-orange sun beaming off of white snow. So, I'm learning to appreciate it all.

Alright, let's settle in for some tea.

Y'all, I'm gonna start this blog post off with an amusing caveat: my Vilnius friends really do not like Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania. At the end of the day, it's purely a joke and they're super proud to be from Lithuania - and they go to Kaunas often. But, there appears to be some sort of sibling rivalry going on between the two cities ("Kaunas? Gross!")- and I think it's hilarious. They can't stand that Kaunas has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2022 - can't stand it. It's great.

With this in mind, I'll share that I went to Kaunas recently with some friends who "can't stand it" - and overall, I think they had a pretty good time. ;) But, this trip wasn't without its stories, and that's what we're here for today. I'm gonna give y'all some tips on things to do in Kaunas, and um, some things to look out for. Let's start with the good:

  1. Kaunas has an incredible Lithuanian folk music museum. This museum was actually our main motivator to visit Kaunas, since both my husband and I are musicians. It didn't disappoint, y'all. My favorite part of the exhibit was learning about and playing a traditional Lithuanian instrument called kanklės. There are different varieties of kanklės depending on your Lithuanian region, but overall, it's a mesmerizing string instrument that I could have played for hours. Honestly, my friends moved on to other parts of the exhibit while I just stood there and played it for... who knows how long. I felt a very strong connection to this instrument, and I can completely understand why it's a part of the national identity. If you're in Lithuania and manage to find one, try it out! I also really enjoyed the exhibit on wind instruments (handmade flutes, horns, etc.), getting plugged into neo-folk and ambient musicians (and festivals!) - and an interactive experience where you can create your own song from snippets of a popular Lithuanian song. Overall: A+. Visit this museum!

  2. Okay, sorry, Vilnius friends, but: Kaunas has a beautiful downtown castle AND a statue of Vytis the knight on his horse - you know, the famous knight and horse coat of arms on the red Lithuanian flag. Does Vilnius have that? No. (But we do have that Frank Zappa statue, so... there's that! Hey, I think it's epic.) The point is: I was awed by this castle in the middle of the city, especially being right next to this iconic statue. If it's this iconic in the winter, I can't imagine how pretty it is in the spring and summertime. Major points for Kaunas.

  3. I didn't get to experience it this time, but I fully plan to come back to Kaunas to see the exhibit of a personal shero, Yoko Ono, her art, and her connection with Lithuania. My friends have told me what Kaunas used to be like (the former capital of Lithuania, a bit sketchy), but now - from my perspective - it appears to have a huge appreciation for culture and the arts. It's home to a modern dance art scene I'm curious to explore, and a continuous rotation of exhibits. So, right up my alley.

  4. Alright, what do we need to look out for? We were on the main downtown street of Kaunas on a Saturday, and so many places weren't open. Why!? My friends, of course, took this time to remind me why Vilnius is better than Kaunas - and I'm still not sure why so many restaurants were closed on a weekend. My husband was getting hangry (uh oh!), so we ended up getting snacks from a Vero Cafe to tide us over, before driving over to Senoji Kibininė in one of my favorite little castle towns, Trakai. Maybe if I come back in the spring and summer, I'll experience something different, but for now - know you may have a hard time finding things that are open in the city center on the weekends!

My beloved kanklės.

Overall, I guess what I'm trying to say is... maybe Kaunas isn't so bad after all, Vilnius friends! ;) If you've been to Kaunas and have even more recommendations, feel free to send them my way - because yes, I will definitely be back.

Next time in Kaunas? The Devil Museum! See y'all soon - viso gero!


bottom of page