In the late 19th century, my great-great-grandmother took a train from Klaipeda to the other end of Germany, leaving everything she knew behind. She had just divorced her husband and was looking for a job. Back then, the city still belonged to Germany and went by the name of Memel.
With this kind of family background, can you imagine how excited I was to visit Klaipeda? And so was my grandmother, even though she wasn’t travelling with us. But at least, we could send her pictures of where her grandmother had grown up.
I assume that most of you who read this have no family ties to Klaipeda. But do you know why you should still be as excited as me about visiting? Because it is a fantastic city that should be part of every Lithuania itinerary.
We recommend that you spend at least two days here to explore the entire city and also to visit the Curonian Spit. But the more time you have, the better. If you’re wondering about what to do in Klaipeda, then we have lots of suggestions for you.
Our Favourite Things to Do in Klaipeda
#1 Walk around Klaipeda Old Town
One of the best things to do in Klaipeda is to walk around the Old Town. As I already mentioned above, the area used to be German. That’s why the architecture here is vastly different from the rest of the country. Don’t be surprised to see those half-timbered houses you’d expect to find in Germany.
Even after two wars, a handful of traditional houses remain which make going for a long walk worth it. We recommend walking down Turgaus Gatve until you reach the Theatre Square. If you take a closer look, you can see the Klaipeda Coat of Arms on the facade of the theatre. In winter, you can find an ice-skating rink in this square.
Next, head south and find one of our favourite places to visit in Klaipeda – the Friedrich passageway. We loved this cosy alleyway so much that we came back multiple times to take yet another picture.
#2 Visit the History Museum of Lithuania Minor
Wow, that’s a long name for a museum. But we promise that it is worth visiting. Come here to learn about the history of the region. The museum covers everything from the first civilizations up to today, including a fascinating exhibition about those times when the city was bilingual. Take a look at the newspaper clippings showing advertisement both in Lithuanian and in German.
In this museum, you can also find traditional items from daily life at the turn of the 20th century. Enjoy the various pieces of clothing and furniture. Oh, and don’t miss the old postcards to get an idea of how Klaipeda looked back then!If you only have one day in Klaipeda, make this museum a priority. We found it to be the most exhaustive exhibition about the region.
#3 Walk along Klaipeda Harbour
While in Klaipeda, make sure to take a walk along the waterfront. You can start downtown, at the big sailing ship called Meridianas. From here, keep walking until you reach the harbour.
With its protected location behind the Curonian Spit, Klaipeda had one of the few ice-free harbours in Northern Europe. The port of Klaipeda helped the town grow quickly, and today, you cannot just find freighters here but also ferries connecting to cities across the Baltic Sea.
While walking past the fishing boats docked at the harbour, look out for the statue of the Klaipeda Black Ghost. Even though this hooded figure looks more creepy than anything else, legend says that he once saved the inhabitants of the city by warning them about an upcoming famine.
#4 Explore the Castle Museum and the Museum 39/45
From the harbour, you can quickly get to the Castle Museum and the Museum 39/45. Buy your tickets from the Museum 39/45 and then explore the exhibitions in the castle ruins.
As the name of the museum suggests, it deals with one of the most tragic times in the history of Klaipeda – WWII. I especially loved the part of the exhibition where you can find artefacts buried under a layer of sand. Wipe away the sand to reveal more of Klaipeda’s history.
After you finish, go back outside and then into the Castle Museum. Here, you can see the remains of the castle in more detail, with various artefacts from the history of Klaipeda.
#5 Visit the Blacksmith Museum
Did you know that from the 19th century on, blacksmiths from Klaipeda became so famous that they crafted crosses and fences for cemeteries all over the country? One of those blacksmiths was Gustav Katzke.
You can visit his workshop and see some of his handicrafts in the Blacksmith Museum.
I especially loved the collection of crosses on the upper floor and outside in the courtyard. Only a few crosses could be saved before the Soviet regime bulldozed the Old Cemetery. But from seeing those, you can imagine how beautiful the graveyard must have looked and also how good Katzke was at his craft.
#6 See the Mary Queen of Peace Church
Did you know that the only church constructed in the Baltics during the period of the Soviet Union stands in Klaipeda?
No, this is not the most elaborately decorated church in the world. But we highly recommend you come here for this extraordinary Soviet style that you cannot find anywhere else. The church tower is 46.5 metres high, which makes it one of the highest points in town.
#7 Join a brewery tour
On our way back from the Mary Queen of Peace Church, we needed a break and decided to stop by the Svyturys Brewery. This brewery has been producing beer since the 18th century, and even though we both don’t like beer much, we were glad we took our break here.
First, because the snacks they serve are delicious. And second, because they also have lots of non-alcoholic drinks on the menu.
If you like beer more than us, you could join one of the brewery tours. Ask at the bar or the tourist information for more details. We didn’t have enough time in Klaipeda to go on one, but if we come back, this is one of the items on our list.
#8 Visit the Curonian Spit
While you can find many things to see in Klaipeda itself, you shouldn’t leave the region without having visited the Curonian Spit National Park. This area is especially beautiful on a hot summer day when you can relax by the beach, but it’s excellent at any time of the year. We went in winter and loved it.
On the Curonian Spit, take a bus to go south to Nida, where you can find the Parnidis Dune. This dune is one of the best sights on the whole spit, with a height of more than 50 metres and a sandy landscape as far as the eye can see. Also, from up here, you can see both beaches of the peninsula – the one facing the lagoon and the one facing the Baltic Sea.
When to go
You can enjoy Klaipeda at any time of the year. We visited in February, which was terrific. During our stay, we only saw two other tourists. Plus, accommodations were cheap, and we got to rent an AirBNB very close to the Old Town.
The disadvantage of going to Klaipeda in winter is that you won’t be able to lie at the beach. You might not even be able to walk at the beach if the wind is strong enough. Dress up and make sure to bring a raincoat!
If you come in summer, you will meet lots of other tourists. Then again, coming in summer also means that your chances of having good weather are higher. Or you could come in spring or autumn and experience the best of both worlds—better weather than in winter but fewer tourists than in summer.
Getting to Klaipeda
You have many options for getting to Klaipeda. We took a train from Vilnius, which takes about four hours. The trains depart regularly, and we recommend that you check the timetable online. When we came, we stopped in Siauliai to see the Hill of Crosses. You can find luggage storage at the train station in Siauliai, so this is an excellent way of breaking up the trip.
You can also get to Klaipeda by bus. The busses take about as long as the trains and once again, you can check the timetable online. Busses are a perfect option if you’re coming from Kaunas or Riga.
Last, you can (almost) fly to Klaipeda. The closest airport is located in Palanga, just a short distance away from Klaipeda.
Klaipeda is small enough that you can walk pretty much everywhere.
If you want to visit the Curonian Spit, you need to take a boat. Ask at the tourist information downtown about the ferry schedule. Passenger ferries leave north of the harbour. You can quickly get here on foot.
If you want to get around town and are tired of walking, you can find busses that take you around. We never felt the need to hop on one, but you could ask for more information at the tourist information.
We hope you now have an overview of what to see in Klaipeda. Don’t make the mistake of skipping this stunning town when visiting Lithuania! Also, while you’re here, make sure to eat some Lithuanian food. You’re so close to the sea that you can get fantastic herring.
It might not be obvious, but Lithuania is a great place for eating out and trying lots of delicious food. We recommend the Etno Dvaras restaurant for a taste of traditional dishes. Also, make sure to check out our comprehensive guide to Lithuanian food.
Last, if you like this post or if you have anything to add, please leave us a comment. Which tourist attraction is your favourite? Do you love the Old Town as much as we do? We love to hear from our readers!
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