True Lithuania

Entertainment and Recreation in Kaunas

Classical forms of entertainment are concentrated in the New Town. All the theaters are near Laisvės alėja (Freedom Avenue). As the plays of Drama theater are in Lithuanian the Musical theater and Pantomime theater may be more interesting to foreigners.

Romuva, the traditional gala cinema of Kaunas (est. 1939) is also in Laisvės alėja.

Recently the New Town hub of entertainment has moved southwards to Nemunas coast. Enormous Akropolis mall there includes a multiplex cinema, ice rink, and bowling facilities while the nearby 17 000-seat Kaunas arena is the largest in the Baltics and thus the location of gigs by world-famous stars. Žalgiris basketball team (the prime sports franchise in Lithuania) plays its home games there.

A group of Žalgiris fans marches across Kaunas Old Town towards the Kaunas arena where a 2012 Lithuanian basketball final against the arch-rival Lietuvos rytas is to be played.

The hub of outdoor entertainment and nightlife has moved from New Town to Old Town (mainly to Vilniaus street and Rotušės (City Hall) square). These locations now have many bars and nightclubs while Laisvės alėja empties in the evenings with many of its historic restaurants closed for good.

Kaunas is known for many calm parks popular for strolls. Every borough has its own, each with a unique location. Santakos park (Old Town) is at the confluence of two major rivers, Nemunas island park (New Town) is, well, an island, Ąžuolynas (Žaliakalnis) is the largest urban oak forest in Europe (770 oaks in 84,42 ha), Mickevičius valley (Žaliakalnis) has a mountain creek valley feel and poet Mickevičius connections, Basanavičius park (Panemunė) at the Nemunas bend is known for its sheer size (280 ha - comparable to that of New York Central Park) and nice vistas of its Trijų mergelių (Three girls) pedestrian bridge, Botanic park (Freda) hosts multitude of exotic plants while Pažaislis forest (Petrašiūnai) borders historical Pažaislis monastery and Petrašiūnai cemetery.

Three girls bridge crosses Nemunas river to the massive Basanavičius park. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Non-downtown parks on the banks of Nemunas also include beaches. Kaunas Reservoir is the favorite place for water recreation (swimming, sunbathing, yachting) but swimming is also possible in Nemunas itself at Basanavičiaus park or in western Kaunas in Lampėdis billabong.

The Soviet boroughs also have some parks, entertainment and nightlife catering the local residents but they are known as "sleeping districts" for a reason. The only exception may be "Mega" shopping mall near Vilnius-Klaipėda highway which is a northern alternative to Akropolis and hosts some entertainment, including cinema.

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