Kaunas (former capital, second-largest city in Lithuania) – has almost the charm of Vilnius, but it‘s also known for the art-deco style lovers of it‘s unique architecture. The Guardian added Kaunas in the top 10 European cities for art deco design. Kaunas is the first city in central and eastern European to be named a Unesco design city, for its inter-war architecture. Even if you‘re not a big fan of architectural sighseeing, but still you‘ll find the city has an unforgetable aura. Cozy and modern hotels, long and green pedestrian alley by the pubs and shopping places, the biggest shopping mall in the Baltic countries „Mega“ makes Kaunas worth a visit.
Old town – it‘s stunning and medieval. Kaunas was important as a trade center during the times of Hanseatic League, thus many building in old town have touches of german architectural influence. The Vilniaus street is the most beautiful, it connects Laisves avenue – the symbol of the new times – with city hall, which has a 53-meter-tall white tower and now is used for marriages. In the Old town are plenty of pubs, restaurants, coffee houses with summer terraces. The most interesting objects: Vytautas church, the Cathedral basilica, Medieval Hanseatic merchant’s house, Kaunas city castle and museum.
Art-deco architecture tour – it‘s memories of the Golden age - 20‘s and 30‘s - when Kaunas was a capital of Lithuania, culture was booming, life changing very fast. Interwar Art deco modern architecture is unique, representing how Lithuanian architects tried to incorporate traditional aspects into contemporary trends. Buildings worth to see: Central Post Office, Savings Bank, Church of the Ressurection, the Pažanga Company.
Sugihara house – Sugihara house was a Japanese consulate in 1939-1940. It‘s named after a famous Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who has worked there and is known for saving the lives of about 10,000 Lithuanian, Polish and German Jews during the years of World War II. He issued “life visas” to Japan without having any official approval of Japanese Government. Many Jews called the gates which once were next to the house the “gates of hope”. On 2 August 1940 all foreign consulates in Lithuania were closed, however, the Japanese consulate moved to the accommodation of the Kaunas restaurant Metropolis and continued to issue visas. Even sitting at the table on the railway platform, while leaving Lithuania, Sugihara managed to issue several tens of visas. In 1999 the museum was founded seeking to commemorate the Japanese diplomat. The museum exhibits Chiune Sugihara’s life moments and stories of people he saved and their relatives who live all over the world. Ticket – 3 euro.
M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum – established in 1921, museum has turned into one of the oldest and largest museums in Lithuania. It’s the place to get acquainted with Lithuanian and international art history and culture. The mission of the museum in to collect, protect, study and introduce the M. K. Čiurlionis – one of the most famous Lithuanian composers and painters – collection. Museum’s exposition is modern and interactive. Ticket – 4 euro.
Pažaislis Monastery – it‘s located ~7 km outside the city center, bus is certainly worth to visit. It stands by the unique artificial lake – Kaunas Reservoir, surrounded by the green forests, with towers shimmering in the evening sun. It’s called the gem of Italian Baroque style, contains the incredible frescoes by the Italian painter Michelangelo Palloni. Visitors are also welcome to dine in the highly rated on-site restaurant. Today the monastery is also a home to the annual international Pažaislis Music Festival, which was started in 1996 and now lasts for three months in summer season and offers about 30 different concerts. The festival was visited by Lord Yehudi Menuhin twice. Ticket to visit the Monastery – 4 euro.
Average prices in Kaunas: staying at 3* hotel averages 35 euro, at 4* hotel 54 euro. Three course meal for two person at the middle-ranged restaurant 30 euro. Breakfast 4-5 euro per person. Coffee 2-3 euro. Local beer 2,50 euro.