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.
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. Over at the other end of town, the Hop Doc gastropub (see Restaurants) combines craft beers, a foodie attitude and foot-tapping playlists, while on Town Hall Square Skliautas is a much longer-established destination for culturally minded drinkers.
If all that sounds a bit too highbrow, lined all the way along Kaunas’ famous tree-lined, pedestrian-only boulevard Laisvės and its Old Town extension Vilniaus are nightspots of almost all kinds. Beer enthusiasts can head to ÖL Alaus Kultūra (see Restaurants); cocktail-sipping lounge lizards to Barbar’a or La Fin; fast-pulsed hipsters to YZYbar; and cool denim- or black-clad rovers who need Cadillac-sized snacks to go with their drinks, to Rocknrolla (see Restaurants). Couples on romantically stylish dates with a buzzing atmosphere should go west to Michelle (see Restaurants) or Soul.
For dancefloor action that lasts as long as you have energy for, several venues provide excellent weekend combination of light and sound systems, great drinks and attractive strangers. Note that face control is as strong in these parts as the burly bouncers, so wear decent clothes and shoes and don’t get completely soused beforehand. Enjoy subterranean techno and lots of red-hot locals at Nox near Laisvės, or Red Moon near Vilniaus; a headier and soulful minimal sound at Lizdas; a rowdy and slightly alternative crowd at Džem'pub; and a touch of the exotic with fab cocktails at Mojo Lounge.