Do you have an opportunity to go to Kaunas, Lithuania? As always, it makes sense to do some research before actually booking the trip. Let’s have a look at the benefits and downsides of visiting Kaunas – and if there are any better options in the vicinity.
The big question is whether Kaunas is worth visiting. Overall, we would say it’s worth it if you are only going for a day or two. If you are planning a longer trip, there are better destinations in the Baltics. Vilnius and Riga would qualify as such.
But it also depends on your interests – as well as the type of vacation you’d like to have. So in order to answer the question in depth, we have to look at Kaunas from all angles.
Reasons to visit Kaunas
- Historic city
- Charming old town
- Central location for exploring Lithuania
- Very affordable destination
- Has an airport with Ryanair connections
The main reason to visit Kaunas is that it is a historic city. The first mention of Kaunas was in 1361 and it has a beautiful and well-kept old town to show for it.
Within the old town, there are many fascinating attractions – many of them are churches, but the highlight might in fact be the Kaunas Castle. The city also has several museums, often small in size, but with surprisingly interesting exhibitions.
The attractions in Kaunas should absolutely keep you occupied for a full day or two.
Then we have the location – another positive. Kaunas is situated at a relatively central position in Lithuania. So if you want to go in-depth with this country, consider staying in Kaunas. You can go east to the popular coastal city of Klaipeda or west to the capital Vilnius. Beautiful nature also surrounds Kaunas. The Latvian border is only a few hours north and the Polish border to the south is even closer. So you can easily rent a holiday apartment and a car, just to use Kaunas as a base for exploring the cities, towns and natural areas in the vicinity.
Kaunas is affordable. Eating out doesn’t cost a lot and hotels are very reasonably priced for a city this size. Kaunas is one of the cheapest major cities of the Baltics and it also compares favorably to other Eastern European destinations.
Finally, Kaunas has an airport. It is small but Ryanair offers over 20 connections. So you should be able to find a cheap flight to Kaunas quite easily, and if you want to, you can continue your journey from there.
Reasons NOT to visit Kaunas
- You can see all the attractions in a short time
- Not that pretty outside the old town and shopping districts
- Public transportation sucks
- Expect rudeness/bad service
Initially, we’d like to state that we actually like Kaunas a lot and consider it a good destination. But there are some issues that should give Kaunas a lower priority than other Baltic and Eastern European cities.
One of the main issues is that it doesn’t take that long to explore the main sights. In just two days, you can see all the most important sights. Tourists who plan longer trips (a week, for example) often end up getting bored. So if you go to Kaunas, we recommend just staying for a short while. You can stay longer if you use Kaunas as a base for exploring other cities in Lithuania and plan to drive around a lot. But otherwise, best to keep it short.
The old town of Kaunas is pretty, and so is Laisves Avenue in the new town – one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets. But outside the most popular areas, Kaunas isn’t actually that pretty, and at peak hours there is a lot of traffic and the smell feels polluting. Just something to be aware of.
Public transportation could be better. You can go around by bus, which is the only real option. Buses are cheap but a bit slow, and many foreigners are confused by the schedule. Uber is not present in Kaunas, but you can get private rides with Bolt. Regular taxis are a bit hard to find, unless you go to the train station or bus terminal. We recommend taking a Bolt or arranging a taxi in advance if you’re going anywhere – since taxi scams can happen if you’re not careful.
As in other Lithuanian cities, you can expect some general rudeness from people. That’s just how it is, so don’t take it too personally. Service can be bad in stores and restaurants. You might face some cold attitudes and impolite responses to your questions. It’s not uncommon to wait 10-15 minutes for someone to come over and take your order in a restaurant or bar. However, people are quite nice when you get to know them and socialize in private.
Kaunas is absolutely worth visiting for some travelers, and we feel that most people will enjoy a day or two in this city – although a stay should not be too long.
But are there some better options? Actually, yes. There are cities similar to Kaunas that are not too far away.
First and foremost, we recommend a trip to Vilnius. There are more things to do and see in Vilnius, and in many ways, it feels like a more dynamic city. Read our article about whether Vilnius is worth visiting. It is possible to fly to Kaunas Airport and then take a bus directly to Vilnius city centre.
Latvian capital Riga is also highly recommended. It’s more interesting than Kaunas, although also more expensive – but not by much.
Although located in Poland, Gdansk also feels like a Baltic city and it also has an airport with many cheap connections.
Most Tier 2 cities in Eastern Europe can serve as alternatives to Kaunas when it comes to the range of attractions and trip prices.
But again, Kaunas is a great city to visit on a short trip. Perhaps the best idea is to combine it with some of the other destinations in the vicinity – rather than choosing one over the other.
Book your trip to Kaunas
If you have decided to go to Kaunas, it is time to book your trip.
Get your flight ticket at Skyscanner and book your hotel at Booking.com.
We recommend staying with the Moxy Kaunas Center – a nice hotel in the new part of Kaunas with nice rooms and solid facilities.
Enjoy your trip to Kaunas! Don’t miss our other articles about Lithuania.