Many visitors flock to Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city, after exploring Vilnius. Kaunas, as a cultural and historic center of Lithuania, is undoubtedly interesting and important for travelers who seek out the full Lithuania travel experience. But the area immediately surrounding Kaunas city proper—the Kaunas Region—has many picturesque and historic spots offer opportunities to learn more about Lithuania, take impressive photos, and enjoy the charm and tidiness of Lithuanian villages and the countryside. You’ll be surprised at how many things there are to see!
Consider including some of the following on your list of things to see in the Kaunas Region:
Pazaislis Monastery is located on the Kaunas Reservoir Reserve in a park and can easily be accessed from Kaunas. The Monte Pacis Monastery Hotel is a part of the complex, so it’s possible to visit the monastery during a stay at the hotel or stop by the hotel’s award-winning restaurant during a visit to the monastery. Baroque elements, a well-kept yard, and other details make this working monastery an interesting peek into history and tradition. It’s possible to purchase a guided tour to see the monastery and learn about its secrets. A walk in the surrounding park by the lake is also pleasant.
Raudondvaris Manor Complex
The Raudondvaris Manor/Castle complex is probably one of the most popular things to see in the Kaunas Region. It’s picturesque and offers a variety of options for visitors, from a restaurant to a museum and space for concerts and public and private events. An arts incubator occupies the former 19th-century stables. The grounds of the complex are pleasant for strolling whatever the weather. The castle itself is a renovated structure with its origins in pagan and Teutonic defensive structures, which were reimagined in the 17th century into the current form. War and reconstruction have long been a part of this castle’s history, but today it is one of the most recognizable buildings in Lithuania’s list of castles and manors.
Pilies takas 1, Raudondvaris
Zapyškis St. John the Baptist Church
The 16th-century Zapyškis church stands solitary in the middle of a well-manicured field, majestic even with its small size and only modestly Gothic elements. As with many churches in Lithuania, it is possible that this church was built on the site of a former pagan place of ritual. One of the oldest brick buildings in Lithuania, it acts as a symbol of the past and is no longer a place of worship but is open to the public and hosts concerts and events. The wide promenade built by the Nemunas River magnifies its usefulness as a site for gatherings, tourism, or enjoying the countryside, and people continue to be drawn to the site as they have been for centuries.
If you watch for the signs on the main road, you may also see an old Jewish cemetery shaded by a copse of trees and protected by a fence with the announcement that the cemetery was surveyed through an EU project.
Muziejaus g. 1, Zapyškis
Babtynas Manor, in its shabby-chic style, is an out-of-the-way concert and events venue with its own personality. The exterior, which remains charmingly dilapidated, gives way to rooms in livable shambles. Have a walk around the grounds: a barn maintains a stable of antique motorbikes; a sitting area by the pond creates a cozy moment for photos; and a wooden well, sculptures made of organic materials, and a swing in a giant tree all fit the overall mood, which is more quirky than romantic.
Žemaitkiemio k. 10, Babtai
The Third Fort
The Third Fort of Kaunas Fortress is a late 19th-century structure. As a part of Kaunas Fortress Park, it’s possible to have a look around this ramshackle brick construction, though the mud path, overgrown grass, unsafe-looking wires, makeshift bridges, and crumbling stone may put off all but the most intrepid. Like some other things to see in the Kaunas Region, the Third Fort appears to be caught in a limbo between neglect and realized potential. When we were there, signs of modern life, such as a kite in the window with Third Fort’s logo and recently created sculptures, were present, but it was devoid of people, everything shuttered due to the weekend, the pandemic, it being the off-season, or all three. It houses a military uniform exhibit and hosts workshops, festivals, and concerts.
Titnago g. 43, Seniava.
Hill Fort Mounds
Lithuania had over 1000 hill forts, early wooden defensive structures that were situated on elevated earth constructions. While the hill forts are long gone, the evidence of human settlement—and the views the mounds offer—remain. Some of these mounds have offered valuable archeological clues to the people who lived in the region, and others, as points of interest, allow you to survey the natural kingdom as you might have if you were a medieval pagan leader looking to protect your domain from the Teutonic Knights. Hill fort mounds in the Kaunas Region include Pypliai Mound, Pakalniskiai Hillfort, and Lentiniai Mound.
When you travel around this area, it’s best to have a car and GPS because many things to see in the Kaunas region are out of the way and may be difficult to find. You should also dress for the weather and be prepared to walk—if it’s rained or snowed recently, you’ll also have to deal with mud and potentially wet footwear, so be prepared. If you don’t plan to visit any museums and only check out the grounds of the region’s sights, your day trip may be near to free excluding meals and gas, which makes visiting the Kaunas region a cost-effective option for those on a budget.