Off the beaten track, Kaunas in central Lithuania is a laid-back city, which offers everything for a traveller…
Catching a cab (€3) from the apartment to the Autobusu Stotsi (bus station), the bus (€14.34) to Kaunas leaves at 12:50hrs. Buses do leave hourly.
Expensive for only a 3-hour bus trip, but then again, Eastern Europe seems to be expensive for buses.
The scenery along this journey is quite flat with some farms, snow, and iced water.
Although the best time to visit Kaunas is early May to late August and not during February to March as it’s bitterly cold, the 6 days spent in Kaunas is memorable.
Maybe it’s not everyone’s idea of fun when layer upon layer of clothes are donned each morning during a 10-minute ritual, only to be peeled off layer-by-layer again when back indoors. But rest assured, Kaunas is worth visiting at this time of year as the starkness of the scenery is stunning.
Locals are lovely but I doubt the time of year really matters.
Shops, restaurants, transport, hotels, and apartments are all well heated and draft-proofed, so it’s not unpleasant.
Remember, the cold is only a brief experience for you whilst outdoors and not continual.
Kaunas was established at the convergence of the two largest rivers in Lithuanian (Nemunas and Neris) in the 4th and 5th century BC.
Built in the 14th century, the castle is now considered to be the oldest in Lithuania.
Kaunas City Tour operates from May-October, but as with most sights and tours in the Baltics, much is closed during the bitterly cold winter months.
Boat trips are also available during the summer months.
The upside of travelling during winter is the lack of tourists (apart from public holidays) and lower prices. The downside is that some sites are closed.
Typically, if you haven’t done your research or visited a Tourist Information office beforehand and just rock up to a sight, it may be closed for the winter and you will be disappointed.
Whilst you meander around the Old Town, you’ll bump into gorgeous buildings such as the Town Hall, Basilica of St. Peter and Paul, and the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption.
The Old Town encompasses nine forts, a castle, City Hall Square, and many churches.
Immerse yourself in a bygone era by hiring a horse and cart to take you around a few of the main sights, whilst listening to the echoes of the horse’s hoofs on worn cobbled stones.
Around nine forts surround the Old Town of Kaunas with the 7th and 9th forts only open for visiting, and a museum that offers information on fortification.
This impressive fortress was constructed and renovated between 1882 and 1915, as protection to the Russian Empire’s western borders. During World War I, as the largest defensive structure in the entire state, the complex occupied 65 km2.
Along Pilies g. 17, you’ll come across the oldest castle in Lithuania: Kaunas Castle. The first mention of this castle in written records was in 1361.
The castle’s legend goes something like this…the army of Queen Bona Sforza disappeared underground in the castle. In addition to the disappearance, the castle also had a prison in the 16th century, and so, spirits that have not yet found peace haunt the castle.
Regardless of legends, this is another elegant castle to explore, which also houses an art museum and the occasional festival.
Sadly, I only read about this museum on V. Putvinskio g. 64 afterwards, whilst travelling through Poland and that this is the only devil’s museum in the world.
Would have liked to visit as apparently the eclectic collections are from Armenia, Yakutia, Mexico, Cuba, the Ukraine, Japan, and other countries, which I think, would have been very interesting and enlightening.
Take a stroll along the extensive Laisvės Avenue, in the New Town.
At 1.7 kms long, this is the longest pedestrian avenue in Europe so walking the length is a must.
Not to mention the amazing assortment of shops, banks, supermarkets, restaurants, a cinema, casinos, nightclubs, museums, tourist information office, accommodation, and a central post office. You won’t be bored on the avenue.
Later in the morning and afternoon also sees many foods, hat, souvenir, and other stalls pop up, so check these out as well.
Booked 4 nights and extended another 2 nights at the Alpetri Apartments (Nepriklausomybes a. 5b) as it’s cheaper than a hotel on an Australian budget. Typically, hostels and guest houses are not much cheaper and only offer shared bathrooms. I’m past dorms and will only do shared bathrooms if I have to…been there done enough of that…
Although this apartment is under ‘Serviced Apartments’ in booking.com, it’s not serviced. As an example, apart from the initial supply on arrival, fresh towels or more toilet paper are not provided – and the apartment isn’t cleaned during a 6-night stay.
The actual apartment is excellent as it’s a great size, warm, boasts a full-sized kitchen, and everything you require – just like being at home.
Apart from cooking meals in the apartment to keep daily costs down (but also because there’s an amazing plethora of choices at the Maxima XXX supermarket), did have a birthday dinner out, and exceptional!
Buon Giorno Tratoria
You can expect excellent service and menu advice from staff at Buon Giorno Tratoria on Laisves Aleja.
This Italian restaurant offers delicious mouth-watering pizzas (not your typical mixes), excellent table wines, sumptuous deserts, and a wonderful cheese board, all at pretty reasonable prices.
Had a wonderful night here celebrating and would definitely visit again.
If you’re hungry and need to hide from the cold for a spell, then visit this lovely cosy place on Rotušės a. 26, for great coffee and service – local meals are also on offer. Prices are a little more expensive here due to its location.
At €3 for 2 medium-sized coffees and 2 large freshly backed pastries, this has to be the cheapest coffee and bakery place in Kaunas, and always super busy with locals.
There are two of these bakeries on Laisves Aleja although on opposing ends. Cheap meals are also on offer and although I didn’t indulge, they looked very good and tasty.
The 1.5-hour express train (€5.21 – 2nd class) from Kaunas to Vilnius leaves at 12:08hrs. Apparently, it’s a brand new and very flash train, which offers 1st and 2nd class tickets.
Many trains leave on this route from 04:56-21:28hrs; trains seem to run every half-hour at peak times, then drop off at 10:55hrs to about hourly.