Triangular-shaped Laisvės aikštė is a central tree-lined pedestrianised spot, pleasant for two months in summer and quiet the rest of the year. It is surrounded by a few simple cafes and shops and the Juozas Miltinio Drama Theatre, in action since 1940. By the river, a small bridge and statues make for a pleasant stroll.

Drinking & Nightlife

Sampling the Northern Ales

Northern Lithuania is the land of barley-malt beer, with ale-makers keeping to ancient recipes and rituals practised by their ancestors 1000 years ago. People here drink 160L of beer a year, say proud locals. The biggest drinkers in the world, the Czechs, consume around the same amount. The Australians down around 110L per year, the Brits a meagre 100L.

Big-name brews to glug include Horn, brewed in Kaunas since 1853; Šiauliai-made Gubernija (; and Kalnapilis from Panevėžys.

Lakeside Biržai, 65km north of Panevėžys and the true heart of Lithuanian beer country, hosts the annual two-day Biržai Town Festival in August, a madcap fiesta where the town’s breweries sell their wares on the street; expect plenty of beer swilling and general drunken behaviour. Its Rinkuškiai Brewery can be visited, and its beer – everything from light lager to lead-heavy stout – can be bought in bulk in its factory shop. A lesser-known label to look out for is the sweet Butautų alaus bravoras, an ale bottled in brown glass with a ceramic, metal-snap cap. It has been brewed in the village of Butautų since 1750.