Age-old rivalry between Vilnius, the current capital, and Kaunas, capital of Lithuania in the 1920s and 1930s, still persists – bohemian, multicultural, pastel-coloured Vilnius versus conservative, grey, formalist Kaunas. But that’s a dated stereotype, of course, and nowhere is that more obvious today than in Kaunas’ diversifying nightlife.
The city’s fun nightspots embrace all kinds of tastes and budgets, from thumping high-energy techno nightclubs where locals show off their bodies and dance moves, to unique and individual bars playing leftfield sounds pre-mixed by thoughtful introspectives. And everything in between. But rather than be pigeonholed, most places defy categorisation and in their efforts to survive do their best to be all things to all people. Which means that there are few wine bars, for example, compared to what you’d find in Vilnius. A wine bar is also a cocktail bar is also a restaurant, etc. In any case, we have tried to differentiate them somehow, and the best are listed here.
New and old still clash. At Kultūra, a new watering hole for the city’s unprejudiced, non-attitude, alternative-minded arts community, competition for noise sometimes comes from over the road courtesy of the rowdy, thigh-slapping, singalong folk music at a branch of the Bernelių Užeiga pub-restaurant. Two doors up from the new bar is a soul-crushingly austere architectural monument dating from 1937.
Not far away, on Laisvės, the basement of the art-house cinema Romuva has been transformed into an adorable hipster hangout called Movido. Like Kultūra, fun and quirky music, local craft beer and tasty informal food thrown together in the kitchen are the highlights.