Hi, I am a Lithuanian blogger Mahila. I was born and raised in Panevėžys and right now I live in Vilnius but come back to my hometown quite often. I don’t usually write in English, but, after publishing a guide to Panevėžys in Lithuanian, I decided to post an English version, too, as there isn’t much about Panevėžys on the internet in English. Or at least written from a local’s perspective.
I’ve had an idea to create a thorough guide on things to do and see in my beloved Panevėžys for a very long time and, finally, here it is.
It’s probably worth clarifying that I’ll only be writing about the places I’ve visited myself, preferably, recently. Of course, there are many other places I’ve heard about but never visited or visited a long long time ago, so I believe it wouldn’t be fair to include them for now.
I’m adding links to each place’s Facebook page or its website where you can find more info. Press on the images to enlarge them. Some descriptions don’t contain pictures but I can promise you to take and add them the next time I visit.
Famous local objects
The car market (mašinų turgus) aka “mašinturgis”
Pramonės g. 10B. Open on weekends between 6 am and 3 pm
Many people who have never been to Panevėžys look surprised when I suggest going to the car market. Why should anyone who’s not interested in buying a car spend their Saturday or Sunday morning in a car market? Well, the thing is, this market started long ago as a car market, but, throughout time, it grew into one of the most impressive flea markets in Lithuania.
When I need something, whether it is a lamp, an outfit for a theme party, an office chair – basically anything, I just go to the Panevėžys car market. Vinyls, kitchen appliances, furniture, bikes, roller skates, car details, nuts, olives, bread, plants, tons of second-hand clothes and accessories, and many more various items can be found in this market.
However, there’s one minus. Lately, I can see more and more new low-quality clothes that you could find in a regular market in the city center there. Overall, this isn’t nice as I see it harmful to the original flea market idea.
Oh, and by the way, you can still buy (or sell) a car there!
A friend of mine who was visiting Panevėžys last summer told me that this market was the best genuine open-air 90s museum he’d ever seen.
Coordinates: 55°43′55″š. pl. 24°21′40″r. ilg.
If you ask somebody from Panevėžys to recommend any beautiful sights, they’ll mention Senvagė. Located in the city centre, on the left bank of Nevėžis, Senvagė is a standing water pool that is famous for its fountain (that operates from early spring to late autumn), a cozy island in the middle, and also plenty of various sculptures scattered all over the area. As far as I know, the city is planning to renew Senvagė soon, so you’ll be seeing construction work there, but after that, the area should look even more beautiful than today. In the meantime, many locals say that there’s nothing to renew here, everything looks good enough as it is.
The key tree
Birutės g. 5
Below, you’ll find a description of a pub “Seklyčia prie uosio” (“Seklyčia next to the ash tree”). Its name comes from a very special ash tree called also known as a key tree you can find next to it. This ash tree has been struck by lightning three times and has suffered several fires, so the municipality was planning to simply cut it. However, a ceramic Algirdas Jonušis decided to make it a local celebrity. There’s an urban legend that people started nailing keys to the ash tree because, during an excavation that took place nearby, a box with 70 keys was found. These days, the tree is popular among newlyweds who come to perform a little ritual here.
I myself also had a chance to do the same ritual. The owner of “Seklyčia prie uosio” gave me a key which I nailed to the tree and thought of a wish. Then, the next step was to ring a bell made from a few cans that create a loud noise. I’ve heard some people complaining that this kind of behaviour (I mean, nailing the tree with keys) is a torture to the tree, but let me remind you that this tree was doomed to die and this key-tree idea brought it to a new life.
Food and drinks
Savanorių a. 4a,
I guess many of you who’ve spent some time in Vilnius will be familiar with the name. But the thing is, Panevėžys Špunka is the best Špunka in Lithuania. Everything’s amazing here – the interior (I guess the owners paid a few trips to the car flea market to collect the unique details you can see there), the music, and the food (the food is spectacular, trust me). The thing I really like about this place is that no matter who you visit Špunka with, be it friends or parents, you’ll feel equally nice and comfortable. The place is also pet-friendly.
Everything I’ve tasted in this Špunka was very delicious and at an affordable price. However, the most unique thing (Lithuania-wise) you can find here, in my mind, is the Scottish deep-fried Mars bar. I suppose it’s the most unhealthy dessert in the world. On the internet, it is stated that a portion contains 626kcal. Well, here it is served with ice cream and chocolate, so add at least a hundred more. I’d suggest getting a portion per group and sharing it with friends. But it’s extremely tasty.
Birutės g. 8
You shouldn’t skip this pub when in Panevėžys. In a village called Piniava, a few kilometers from Panevėžys, there’s a small brewery “Piniavos alutis” that has been operating since 1990. Its owner is a brewer Vidmantas Perevičius, who’s also the owner of this pub, located a few steps away from the central area of Panevėžys.
In “Seklyčia prie uosio,” you can try some unusual craft beer. They have a cozy outside seating area as well. Here, you can also take part in a beer tasting, there are sometimes parties or bigger events in the area next to the ash tree described above. Upon request, beer is served in clay jars that resemble upside-down human heads. Besides, the music you can hear there is also very nice.
Ramygalos g. 43
You should visit this place with one very specific aim only – to try the Čičinskas roast. The owners of this place claim to have patented the original recipe of this dish and they’ve been making it for decades now. Just don’t go there on a weekend night as you’re risking to find a loud trashy party. Well, unless you’re looking for a loud trashy party. Then, you absolutely must go there on a Friday or Saturday night.
Also, make sure you’re really hungry before taking the full portion. For me, half of a portion is more than enough.
Čičinskas roast is a dish popular in Aukštaitija. It’s a deep-fried meal made from minced meat with curd-potato-flour pastry wrapped around it and served with pickled vegetables. And ketchup. Yes, I’m not kidding. I can’t promise you’ll like it, but it’s definitely worth a try.
Kranto g. 24
In the city centre, on the corner of Senvagė, there’s a 4-star hotel Romantic which is without any doubt the fanciest place in town. In this hotel, you can find a cozy restaurant called Déjà vu that hosts a classy interior, a fireplace, and, if it’s summer, you can sit in a beautiful terrace with a view to Senvagė. The prices in this restaurant are slightly higher than in other places in Panevėžys, but I think it’s an ideal place for a birthday dinner with family. I’d recommend booking a table in advance as it gets rather busy during the weekend.
Respublikos g. 19-1a
Even though this pizza place has been operating for several years now, I still can’t remember its name as it’s so generic. However, it’s not the name but the food that matters there. Pizzas are baked in a wood-fired oven and are very, very good. If you’ve tried Pizza Verde or Don Simon in Vilnius (my favourite ones), you should expect something similar here. Highly recommended. However, the last time I visited, it was cash only.
Respublikos g. 34
I visited this pub for the first time only a few weeks ago and, unfortunately, it was too late for food. However, I’ve heard that both the food and drinks menu there is similar to the one you can find in Špunka. The place seems nice. The interior is quite impressive as you can see plenty of various meat grinders in there, so I’m not sure if your vegetarian or vegan friend would like it. I’m hoping to pay a second visit there soon so I can provide a more detailed review. When I was there it was cash only.
Respublikos g. 70
Pizzas here are pretty good, too, but not as good as in Pizza di Napoli. However, you can expect good value for money. The main advantage this place has to offer is its enormous inside playground for children. By the way, in the past, this building hosted a bank, later it was a nightclub, and now it hosts a pizza place and a gym.
Kranto g. 12
Locals refer to this place, which has been open since I was a child, in various different names: “Pas Urboną”, “Dryžiai”, “Plytinė”, “Kranto kavinė”, while my friends would say “Let’s go to Krantas.” This pub offers good food, some nice beers, and a cozy atmosphere. The thing I love about this pub is the fact that on Friday and Saturday nights they play various concerts on their wall with a projector. You can hear Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, and other similar artists there. Kranto 12 is an inseparable part of Panevėžys identity so you should definitely pay a visit here. If you’re planning to come on a weekend night, make sure to book a table in advance as it is always crowded.
Parko g. 24B
At one of the main entrances of the Culture and leisure park, there’s a cozy cafe called “Kapučino kavos ir šimtalapių namai” (“The home of cappuccino coffee and Šimtalapis cakes”). The place is pet-friendly so it’s a good idea to drop by after a walk with your dog in the park.
Laisvės a. 6
Once upon a time, there used to be a flower shop and the locals referred to this place as “Matista.” Later, the venue hosted a trashy pub “Taverna” with cheap beer and a hole somebody had kicked in the toilet door. Thus, the change this place saw with the opening of the restaurant “Bisas” was enormous. Right now, it’s an extremely cozy small restaurant. It’s great for family gatherings or dinner with friends. What’s nice about “Bisas” is its versatile menu and warm atmosphere. However, unfortunately, everything I’ve tasted there was just ok, but not spectacular. Or maybe I’ve just tasted the wrong dishes. Anyway, definitely worth visiting.
Respublikos g. 28
In front of J. Masiulis bookshop, there’s a nice pub called “Drunken Horse Pub.” It’s as basic as a pub can get, which is actually an advantage for me. This pub offers a broad variety of beer. Those who are used to the high Belgian beer prices in Vilnius will be pleasantly surprised by the friendly prices here. It’s a good spot to watch sports. “Drunken Horse Pub” is open until late during weekends, so it’s also an advantage.
Laisvės a. 7
In the most central part of the city, there is a mini gallery that hosts various exhibitions and right next to it you can find a cozy cafe-bar which is great for gatherings with friends. Keep in mind that the cafe closes quite early, though.
Senamiesčio g. 29
I have to admit that I haven’t visited Tauros loftas for quite a while. However, all the times I was there were great. Plenty of space to hang out with friends, a nice interior, and a broad beer menu. However, as I understand, due to neighbours’ complaints about the noise, Tauros loftas doesn’t operate as a regular pub anymore and is only open for concerts and similar events. If you’re planning to come for a concert and have a table, make sure to make a reservation.
Biliūno g. 3
Skaitakalnis park is one of my favourite places in the city. At the moment, it is under construction. In the summer, this park hosts concerts and other events, but I find this area special because of other reasons. Next to the entrance on Smėlynės str., there’s St. Peter and Paul Parish Cemetery where you can see gravestones dating to the early 19th century. This cemetery is very old (in comparison to other cemeteries in Panevėžys), beautiful, and also rather spooky (which I find fantastic). Since the park is also rather old, the trees in it are very tall so the atmosphere in the whole area is mystical enough, too. I used to be a gothic girl when I was a teenager so, because of this spooky feel, this park was a regular meeting spot among my friends.
In the central area of the park, there are the ruins of a house that belonged to a poet J. Čerkesas-Besparnis. The municipality is planning to restore the building in the next few years and make it open to the public, so stay tuned.
Kultūros ir poilsio parkas (The culture and leisure park)
My parents’ home is next to this park, so I always walk my parents’ dog and go jogging or roller skating there. This park isn’t as old as Skaistakalnis park, but still a very beautiful one. There’s a huge skatepark, great bicycle lanes, also, a few newly-opened viewpoints where you can watch the river Nevėžis flow. What I love most about this park is its amazing new bridge which looks very beautiful at night, so I can’t help taking pictures of it every time I pass by. Also, in the area closest to my apartment block, there are plenty of crow nests. When I was a teenager, I used to dress in a gothic style, listen to gothic music, read spooky stories, and every morning wake up to a crow sound coming from the park. Perfection.
Respublikos g. 30
According to Wikipedia, this theatre is the only puppet wagon theatre in Europe. I realized I’m not a big fan of puppets when I was still a child, but I believe that there are plenty of those who find this form of theatre fascinating. This theatre opened in 1986, and it keeps on touring all around the world every year. However, I’m not sure whether there are any plays in English you can watch while in Panevėžys.
Respublikos g. 14
Panevėžys has an amazing library that moved to a newly-reconstructed building in 2006. While more than ten years have passed, it still looks great. It’s light, spacious, but cozy, and modern at the same time. Even after I left Panevėžys in 2007, I used to come back to borrow books from this library as A. Mickevičius library in Vilnius seemed much more modest. The library hosts various events, such as meetings with writers or book launches, exhibitions, and so on. You can also come to work there. The thing I really appreciate in this library is a special area dedicated to a local poet Elena Mezginaitė who’s one of my favourite poets from Lithuania. By the way, soon, this library will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Algirdo g. 54-19
It’s funny as having spent the first 18 years of my life in Panevėžys, I only visited this apartment-museum only in 2016. The apartment that belonged to the theatre director Juozas Miltinis (1907-1994) is in Algirdas street, in a basic block of flats. In the apartment, you can see a huge collection of books, photos, paintings, and other personal items that belonged to this director. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn a little bit more about this, without any doubt, the most famous person who has ever lived in Panevėžys. Juozas Miltinis moved to Panevėžys in 1940 and made the city famous for theatre. The apartment is open to everybody, but you should make an appointment in advance. Also, not sure if you can get any tour in English here.
Laisvės a. 5
After its best days when Juozas Miltinis was still alive, this theatre saw some worse times. However, right now, the theatre is experiencing a renaissance. At the moment, it is being reconstructed and is bound to get a fresh new look and feel. However, its lobby will remain the same as it’s always been, which is great. Even during the reconstruction, the theatre hosts plays, concerts, and other events. However, not sure if you can find anything in English here.
Of course, there’s much more you can see in Panevėžys and I’m pretty sure you can add something to this list, too, so don’t hesitate to do that in the comment section.