Lithuania

Ratings Key:

A: Choice and/or quality of drinks: /10

B: Style and décor: /10

C: Atmosphere and feel: /10

D: Amenities, Events & Community: /10

E: Value for money: /10

F: The Pub Going Factor: /10

Kaunas

8/10

  • Nisha Bar Perspectyva – A: 9/10 B: 7/10 C: 7/10 D: 5/10 E: 8/10 F: 8/10
  • BO – A: 7/10 B: 7/10 C: 9/10 D: 7/10 E: 9/10 F: 8/10

Vilnius

10/10

8/10

  • Senamiestis Snekutis –  A: 8/10 B: 7/10 C: 7/10 D: 8/10 E: 9/10 F: 8/10
  • Spunka – A: 8/10 B: 8/10 C: 8/10 D: 5/10 E: 7/10 F: 8/10
  • 13.Statiniu – A: 7/10 B: 5/10 C: 9/10 D: 7/10 E: 8/10 F: 8/10

 

As Lithuania hasn’t yet whored itself out to stag parties and tourists, a trip to the two main cities Vilnius and Kaunas feel in nearly every way like a true local experience. In comparison to Riga in Latvia the centre is full of locals drinking in local pubs and brewery taps, which may on occasion have provisions for tourists and business travellers, but in large part serve the local population. It’s a great place to dive into and I came away from it with a very distinct impression of the scene.

The diversity in style and the determined focus on beer drinking surprised me, as I naturally assumed it would be similar to Latvia which still appears to be in development. There are cellar bars, brewery tap brasseries, grungy dive bars, ramshackle folksy farmhouse places and some rather upmarket joints too.

Since Lithuania is in the eurozone, the beer is nowhere near as cheap as you may think so expect to pay 2 euros 50 as standard at the time of writing, though it was common enough to find places which dipped under 2 euros for a beer as well. The hike in price since joining the euro has been ably compensated for by the explosion in microbrewing, meaning the options in a lot of bars are varied and all above par in terms of quality.

Vilnius is peppered with decent options for a drink in nearly every district, and when I totted up all the recommended places it seemed difficult to ever be more than 15-20 minutes walk away from the next good pub or bar.

Kaunas itself has a historic core and a grand boulevard where you can find a dozen good bars, many of which are frequented by local students and young business types.

There was no sense, as there was in Latvia, of grim Russian backstreet places or ripoff ‘gentleman’s clubs’. Lithuania is a forward facing country that sees itself akin to Scandinavian countries in some respects (although it is massively more socially conservative) and you’ll find the standard of English excellent everywhere, and the bar scene boistrous, occasionally extraordinarily drunk, but by the same token, friendly and hospitable.

Look out for many bars serving beer in PET bottles for people to take away, something which I am in two minds about, as the bar does get money that would otherwise go to an off-license, but loses atmosphere through the individuals not hanging around for a drink. In most of these type bars the situation was a lot more quiet.

Lithuania is full of surprises and delights apparently, but to find such a wealth of great options for social drinking was a treat, and I strongly, strongly urge you to visit.