True Lithuania

Klaipėda cruise port: what to do

Klaipėda became a regular port for Baltic cruises, albeit not one of the most popular ones. Still, Klaipėda offers a large array of sights in or around it. There are several possible directions you could explore.

If you want to spend your day in Klaipėda sightseeing, here are the best ideas how to use your ~7 free hours in Klaipėda port. Pick one, as you won't have time to do several of them.

1.Traverse the Curonian Spit. Skip Klaipėda itself altogether and go to explore the Lithuania's (and maybe Eastern Baltic's) most famous natural sights, the "Lithuanian Sahara" of traveling sand dunes. It is possible to do on your own, as the passenger ferry to the Curonian Spit is frequent and it stops next to the main cruise port. Once on the Spit, there are hourly buses that traverse the entire peninsula. Key stops include the Nagliai Nature reserve (you need to ask the driver to let you off there), Juodkrantė resort and Nida resort with its breathtaking Parnidis dune. A short hike on dunes in Nagliai reserve and some time in Nida would likely be the best-spent time in the Curonian Spit, although to feel less time pressure you may also go directly to Nida and just spend several hours there. Nida is 50 km south of Klaipėda, so plan your time to get back accordingly.

2.Spend the day in Smiltynė. Smiltynė is the northernmost tip of the Curonian spit where the ferry from Klaipėda Old Town arrives. After crossing the lagoon by ferry (see above) you should not board any bus, but instead, explore the area on foot. Officially it is part in Klaipėda, though those forested shores seem a world apart. Smiltynė includes Klaipėda's best beaches, some old buildings and the Sea Museum with its dolphinarium (with regular dolphin shows), sea animal zoo and Lithuanian shipping exhibits. You may also watch modern ships coming and going into the Klaipėda port from the breakwater.

3.Explore Klaipėda on foot. Although the city has been ravaged by the Soviets with nearly all of its churches destroyed, the Old Town and 19th-century New Town are still picturesque. The city is unique as it has been developed by two cultures, its population consisting of Lithuanians and Germans for a long time. The key sights include the Theater Square, Castle remains and Tiltų street in the Old Town, as well as Liepų street in the 19th century New Town. More somber sights are the Museum of Lithuania Minor and the Soviet-destroyed Lutheran Cemetery, both testaments to how the Klaipėda of the old was destroyed in the Soviet genocide of the 1940s and repopulated by people from elsewhere. You may also shop at the Akropolis mall.

4.Go to Palanga. Take a walk from the ship to the Klaipėda bus station and take one of the every-15-minutes buses to Palanga, the Lithuania's "summer capital" and primary resort. There, you can visit not only the long sandy (often crowded) beaches, but also the Lithuania's top Amber museum with a collection of amber jewelry, pieces of amber with prehistoric animals/insects, and more. The museum is located in a former Tiškevičius family palace and surrounded by one of the Lithuania's prettiest parks. A walk to the end of the sea bridge is another must to the visitors of its resort, while architecture buffs may search for pretty wooden villas from the 19th-century era when count Tiškevičius has established the resort.

5.Explore the northern seaside of Klaipėda. First, go through the New Town to Klaipėda University. From there, you can take an hourly city bus (number 24) to the northern suburbs. In these suburbs, there are several resorts, such as the historic Giruliai resort which also has the remains of Nazi Germany defensive battery on the beach. The main natural landmark is the Olando Kepurė cliff near the northern end of the bus route.

Note: the suggestions there assume that your cruise ship would stop at the main cruise port in the Old Town Klaipėda. Some cruise ships dock further south.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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