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🌲🌲🌲 Lush Lithuania! 🇱🇹 Klaipeda Old Town & Palanga Forest Palace

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

Why lush? Because - it’s Green! Green! Green!

… everywhere you look at here in Baltic Lithuania, you see lime-green trees, shrubs, carpets of grass and a beautiful verdant forest next to one of their main cities Klaipeda, and nearby Palanga forest!

We walked along Klaipeda’s beautiful traditional old town, beginning at the theatre 🎭 square to see theÄnnchen Von Tharau’: a statue commemorating a Lithuanian folk ballad written by Klaipeda-born poet Simon Dach. As we passed by the wooden-framed houses of Old town, you could see colorful market stalls selling handicrafts and amber jewelry before we proceed to our trip to Palanga!

The Palanga botanical gardens and it’s adjoining Amber museum, were very interesting - detailing the process of Amber (millions of years old petrified plant RESIN - sometimes encrusting ancient insects 🐞 a la Jurassic park)! The museum was actually housed in a 19th century Tiškevičiai Palace - the museum’s exhibits also relate where this famous ‘Baltic Gold’ can be found, its uses, and its characteristic inclusions.

* Beautiful Baltic Amber museum!

Afterwards, we explored Palanga’s promenade, which ends by Baltic Sea and it’s full of local cafés, bars, and traditional Lithuanian restaurants next to an elegant 19-century Neo-Gothic church, before returning tonight floating hotel! 🚢

And of course, la otra sirenita, la de Lithuania 🇱🇹

😉 Gracias tío, por recordarme.

Best Places to Visit in Lithuania 🇱🇹

The first stop on the Baltic trio has a whole load of must-sees and must-do sites up its sleeve.

Forged by long alliances with Poland to the west, conflicts with Russia and Sweden and the Teutonic Knights, and shaped by Slavic builders and Orthodox faiths to name just some of the influences, it’s hardly surprising that Lithuania has so many interesting places for the budding traveler.

1. Vilnius

The historic capital of the Grand Duchy is a veritable treasure trove of medieval wonders and gorgeous Gothic come Russo-flavoured Baroque architecture.

In the Old Town, cobbled roadways weave under the buttresses of the beautiful St Anne’s Church, over café-spattered plazas and under the soaring Gediminas Keep and Upper Castle citadel dating from the 13th century.

Meanwhile, the new town’s blocks pulse with beer bars and sleepless rock clubs, and Europe’s boho district extraordinaire – the self-proclaimed Republic of Uzupis – beckons on the edge of town, a place of shabby-chic, graffiti-strewn streets and more drinking joints than you can shake a cepelinai potato dumpling at!

2. Kaunas

Jutting out over the confluences of the Nemunas and Neris rivers right in the heartlands of central Lithuania, the second-city of Kaunas proudly stakes its claim as the country’s alternative hub and partying capital.

Thousands of students drive the nightlife, which bubbles up on the tree-shaded boulevard of Laisves Aleja and between the countless craft bars and underground drinkeries of the historic centre, while daytime means seeking out the crumbling bulwarks of the red-brick Kaunas Castle and wandering the enchanting cobblestone alleys of the Old Town – Kaunas’ prettiest district and the home of charming medieval merchant guilds and one gorgeous city hall.

Then there’s the exhibitions dedicated to M. K. Ciurlionis (arguably Lithuania’s best-known artist), which simply shouldn’t be missed!

3. Kernave

UNESCO-attested Kernave is steeped in a history and heritage that goes back further than many of the other towns in Lithuania.

It’s hailed as one of the first ever medieval capitals of the Grand Duchy, and it’s thought that the golden age boom happened here in the 13th and 14th centuries, before the onslaught of the Teutonic Order came and razed the fortifications and keeps.

Today, travelers who make their way to the archaeological reserves lining the meanders of the Neris River can spy out mounds (literally!) of relics, now clad in earth but concealing layer upon layer of bulwarks and burial sites, throne rooms and more, and tracing back to the late Palaeolithic Period no less!

4. Klaipeda

* Lithuania’s little mermaid 🧜‍♀️ photo by Ricky.

Erstwhile Memel was once one of the strongholds of Teutonic rule in the Baltic, later becoming a thriving port and trading town of the Duchy of Prussia, and then the northernmost city in the German Empire of the late 19th century.

Today, Klaipeda bursts with relics of this 800-year-long history, all the while combining them with the more modern edge and nightlife scene expected of the touristic gateway to the Curonian Spit (Lithuania’s most famous coastal stretch). That means travelers can weave between curious sculptures and cobbled squares in the Old Town, hit Lithuanian taverns to sip the locally-brewed beer and case out the bulwarks of Klaipeda Castle all in the same day, and that’s not even mentioning the medieval docksides, the cannong-dotted Prussian bastions and the German-styled beer halls of the main square!

5. Neringa

A patchwork of verdant pine forests and flat grasslands, undulating dunes and sandy beaches that curves its way along the Baltic Coast where Lithuania arches towards its long-time Polish compadre in European history and the curious Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, Neringa is one of the most coveted destinations in the country for sure.

Encompassing the whole Lithuanian length of the Curonian Spit, the area offers prime biking and hiking, windsurfing and fishing on the waters of the Curonian Lagoon, the sun-kissed resort strips of Nida and the earthy cottages that makeup age-old towns like Pervalka.

Then there’s Thomas Mann’s charming cottage to see, and the various artist workshops and galleries that sprouted here with the German exodus out of Konigsberg in the 1800s.

6. Palanga

Palanga has become a byword for summertime hedonism amongst Lithuanians right across the country, and today this one’s high-season electro and chart parties rage from June to August on the Jonas Basanavicius boulevard and amidst the countless bars and al fresco cocktail joints that line its fringes.

The beach is another magnet during the dog days, offering perhaps Lithuania’s most accessible and sunbather-friendly stretch of golden Baltic sand.

But it’s not all late nights and lazy afternoons in Palanga either.

There’s the picturesque neo-Renaissances charm of the Tiskeviciai Palace to see too, along with the interesting Amber Museum, and the nature reserves of the Curonian Spit nearby!

7. Dzukija National Park

Lithuania’s largest national park covers a whopping 550 square kilometers of land, and makes its home on the edge of the Belarusian border in the extreme south-east of the country.

It’s adorned with great swathes of pine forests and riparian wetlands, all of which come cut through by the meandering channels of the Nemunas River.

Inland dunes are an interesting feature too, rising and dropping to sandy peaks and troughs and playing host to a kaleidoscope of different grasses and rock strata.

Boardwalk treks delve deep into the woods for those donning the hiking boots, while mushrooms bloom in the undergrowth and traditional waxwork crafting abounds in the rural villages.

8. Trakai

Trakai is a fantastical fragmentation of islets and grassy hills, shimmering waters and rolling meadows.

It makes its home just a little to the west of the capital at Vilnius and draws crowds of travelers and locals right throughout the year.

Many come to wonder at the Lord of the Rings-style castle that forms the heart of the Trakai Historical National Park; a sprouting of red-brick keeps and turrets that mirrors perfectly against the lake waters all around.

Others come for the summertime recreation that clusters around the banks of the trio of large lakes: Akmena, Galve, Skaistis.

Then there’s the curious multicultural remainders of the Karaim community – a unique Turkic tribe that still uses the pretty timber Trakai Kenesa synagogue that’s seen on-site.

9. Anyksciai

Sat midway between Kaunas and the Latvian border in the east, the indelibly green town of Anyksciai offers a natural getaway balanced with some truly handsome religious architecture.

Check out the soaring Gothic spires of the red-brick Basilica of Apostle Evangelist St Matthew that dominate the banks of the meandering Sventoji here.

With a history going back more than 500 years, this striking construction now touts the tallest church towers in all of Lithuania and some bright stained-glass works by the revered artist Anorte Mackelaite.

After that, be sure to dust off the walking boots (if summer) or wax down the skis (if winter), because Anyksciai has also got the humble ski resort of Kalitos Kalnas and endless arrays of hiking trails on its peripheries.

10. Druskininkai

Moneyed, manicured Druskininkai is the prime spa town in all of Lithuania.

It was famed as far back as the 1600s, under the Grand Duke Stanislaw August Poniatowski, and then rose to prominence in the 19th century with the patronage of one tsar Nicholas I of Russia no less.

The city continues to go from strength to strength, and today its gilded mansions and spa facilities ooze with the chatter of well-to-do Muscovites and city livers.

But mineral-packed waters and healing powers aside, the spot also hails in as the onetime home of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (and there’s a fine museum chronicling the artist’s life), and the spot of the all-new Forest Museum – an immersive exhibition that takes visitors on a haunting journey through Lithuanian folklore and witchery (🧙🏻Cachirulo-time again niños)!

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