‘An undiscovered gem’, ‘2022 is the year for this destination’, ‘I had never heard of this city before – and I really don’t wanna leave now. Such words are left in the visitor logs of hotels and Air Bnb apartments in Kaunas, the European Capital of Culture – and they are honey to our ears. It’s time you, too, plan a weekend trip to the second city of Lithuania, and we’re here to help squeeze the most out of your getaway.
Kaunas is perfect for all sorts of travellers – there’s a dense network of 20th-century modernist architecture, a small yet distinctive Old Town, plenty of nature, original museums, dozens of impressive street art examples, fantastic contemporary art and music shows, great pubs and fine dining options… Shopping, too – everything from high street brands to locally made design gems.
Apart from being the European Capital of Culture this year, Kaunas is also a UNESCO City of Design and the former temporary capital of Lithuania before WW2. Since 2004, Lithuania has been a proud member of NATO and the EU. Conveniently located in the centre of the biggest of the Baltic countries, Kaunas can easily be reached by plane (see Kaunas airport or Vilnius airport), international bus or car.
Today, Lithuania cherishes freedom, democracy, rule of law, and human rights above all. The first country to break free from the Soviet Union, Lithuania sees it as its mission to defend these values in our part of the world and beyond. Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine has only strengthened this uncompromising position. Standing united with the brave nation of Ukraine, Lithuania continues to be a safe place to live, invest, work, and travel.
Ordinary people have opened their homes and hearts for war refugees from Ukraine whereas charities, NGOs, businesses, and private initiatives are working day and night to ensure that those fleeing the war are safe and comfortable. Kaunas 2022 have established a cultural centre for Ukrainian refugees called CulturEUkraine – it offers coworking space, relaxation and art spaces etc. Cultural collaborations and residencies are also in the plans. You can find it in the Central Post Office, and it’s just one of many inspiring examples.
The city is compact, so it’s totally up to you where you will be staying. Both Old Town and downtown Kaunas have plenty of affordable hotels, hostels and private accommodation options. We recommend checking out the hip and highly contemporary Moxy Kaunas Center, the renewed Radisson Kaunas or the brand new family boutique hotel BōHEME HOUSE offering signature rooms and a roof terrace with magnificent views of the Old Town.
The team of Kaunas 2022 have prepared a stunning selection of authentic apartments representing different epochs of Kaunas. A weekend in a picturesque flat from the 70s or a night in a fantastically decorated interwar villa seems like an event in itself – of course, we do not expect you to stay inside all the time! The project is called “Bed & Culture” and is part of a bigger hospitality initiative “Experience Kaunas” aimed at authentic experiences by meeting locals.
Photo by Kaunas 2022
For a more upscale stay, think Monte Pacis, a boutique hotel located in a functioning baroque monastery of Pažaislis. The complex was chosen as the best European filming location, as HBO’s Catherine the Great was shot here. Hellen Mirren, the show’s star, also stayed in Monte Pacis – and loved every second of her time here.
As Kaunas has become one big stage for Europe this year, more than a thousand events have been lined up for all tastes and preferences. For the Spring/Summer season, the key points of the extensive Kaunas 2022 programme are the exhibition of Marina Abramovic at the Kaunas Picture Gallery, an exhibition focusing on 1972 uprising events and underground culture of Kaunas in the Kaunas Central Post Office and an installation by Yoko Ono at Bank of Lithuania (the latter only works on weekdays).
Along with these – the weekend of May 20-22, when the Second act of the Kaunas Myth Trilogy will take place. It’s called “The Confluence” and will focus on the meeting point of Lithuania’s main rivers, Nemunas and Neris, the mythological birthplace of Kaunas. Dozens of exciting events await, including boat excursions, concerts, art in public places, and an impressive mystery performance on the water.
We also recommend you book a visit to the unique Art Deco Museum, a private initiative that opened only last summer. Located in an authentic interwar flat, the museum is full of furniture and design objects you can actually sit on and touch. Oh, you can stay there, too, as it’s part of the Kaunas 2022 hospitality program.
If you are a fan of music, Kaunas 2022 will be hosting a big stage on the Town Hall Square – concerts and other performances will be held there all summer long. For electronic music fans, festivals Optimismo (June 3-5) and Audra (June 29-July 3) await.