Palanga - Klaipėda - Gargždai (~45 km)

Palanga delights its tourists IMG_6072not only with the immense variety of accommodation and catering services, but also with a wide range of activities and interesting places too see. Step into the famous J.Basanavičius street, the historical part of the city, and you’ll get dizzy with excitement. There are enough things to catch everyone’s attention: watch out for the street artists and musicians, souvenirs and gourmet food stalls and a variety of funfair amusements. In the summer it’s hard to cycle your way through legions of people in this street and it’s better to explore and admire its old traditional architecture buildings on foot. During other seasons, however, the street recovers its calmness and you’re free to enjoy the ride.

Flooded by crowds of people, the street of J.Basanavičius leads to the Palanga Bridge, which extends almost half a kilometre into the foamy Baltic Sea. A pier was built here in the end of the 19th century, where the passenger and cargo ships berthed, but very soon it was buried under the sand. Nowadays, the bridge serves as a place where the locals and holidaymakers like to stroll or arrange dates.IMG_6105 Almost always you will see some fishermen on the bridge.

The mysterious roars of waves, the calls of seagulls, the mild breeze, smoothing one’s skin, and the indolent sun indulging in the sea… Could you imagine an evening that could be more romantic than that?

Many people associate Palanga with amber, the so-called gold of Lithuania, and the Baltic coast has been famous for it since the Bronze Age. Even now the waves throw ashore its  small pieces, so don’t be surprised to see people rummaging the sands after a stormy night: they gather amber.

The best place to get information about the Baltic treasures is the Amber Museum in Palanga (Vytautas street 17, Palanga. Open: Septemper – May Thuesday – Saturday 11 am – 5 pm, Sunday and public holiday eve 11 am – 4 pm; June – August Thuesday – Saturday 10 am – 20 pm, Sunday and public holiday eve 10 am- 7 pm), which can boast as having the most unique and impressive collection of amber and fossilized inclusions in the world. The museum is set in the neo-renaissance palace, which belonged to the ducal family Tiškevičiai, and is surrounded by Palanga Botanical Park, one of the moBasanavičiaus_gatvė_en_Palanga_2st enchanting parks in Lithuania. Don’t miss the chance to walk or ride its delightful paths, admire the cultivated gardens, see the sculpture by Robertas Antinis, inspired by the popular Lithuanian folk tale “Eglė the queen of the serpents”, visit the mysterious Lurdas, and climb up the legendary Birutė hill – the highest sand dune in Palanga – to admire the breath-taking view of the sea.

Just a stone’s throw away there are amber manufacturing workshops – exhibition, open to visitors (Vytautas street 21/5. Darius ir S. Girėnas street 27, Palanga. Open: summer season Mon-Sun 10 am – 8 pm, other seasons 11 am – 3 pm). Here you’ll witness how a piece of amber becomes an intricate piece of jewellery, or maybe you’ll even get a chance to make one with your own hands.

In Palanga there are numerous places worth seeing: Palanga Sculpture Park, the Memorial Homestead of Jonas Šliūpas, the first burgomaster of Palanga and well known public figure (Vytautas street 23A, Palanga), Savickas Art Gallery (S.Darius ir S.Girėnas street 13), etc. Pop in Antanas Mončius House – Museum to see the colourful masks, queer formed whistles and intriguing sculptures that may be touched by visitors (S.Daukantas street 16, Palanga. Open: 16th September – 1st May Tuesday 12 am – 5 pm, Wednesday-Sunday 10 am – 5 pm: 2nd May – 15th September Tuesday 12 am – 5 pm, Wednesday-Sunday 2 am – 9 pm).parkas

Having explored Palanga, it’s time to head to Klaipėda. An extremely delightful bike path runs through the most picturesque parts of the Seaside Regional Park with its unique protected landscape. Often the path sneaks its way almost to the shoreline, so you’ll have lots of possibilities to refresh uourself in the vitalizing waves of the Baltic Sea.

In just a blink of eye you’ll leave behind those 10 km and reach Šaipiai. Carry on for a few kilometres and then turn away to visit Plocio Lake. Don’t forget to take your binoculars with you: the bird-watching station awaits you to reveal the secrets of the lives of birds. This is the area of nature reserve, where cars are forbidden, so you’ll be able to enjoy the calm and undisturbed peace of the wild nature. Halfway to Klaipėda, stop to recover your strenght in Karklė – old fishermen village. Visit the old village cemetery and see the remnants of authentic old tombstones called “krikštai”, which are typical only for the seaside region.

IMG_6066Just outside Karklė, you’ll discover one of the most impressive sights of this trip – Dutchman’s cap (“Olando kepurė”. 10-15 thousand year ago the sliding glaciers formed here the morainic ridge; its peak, called the Dutchman’s cap, is as high as 24 metres. Climb up to enjoy the adorable sea view: only 8000 year ago this was the area of dazzling antique Littorina Sea. Stroll along the ecological – educational “Littorina” path, the former bottom of the sea! The seashore at Nemirseta is extremely gorgeous.

The path leads through the charming pine forests to Giruliai and the beautiful city of Klaipėda. If you have some time, don’t miss the shance to look around the old city of Klaipėda, which has kept its specific spirit of the Minor Lithuania, and listen to the exciting buzz of its harbour.

To get to the town Gargždai, which is located 26 kilometres away from the city, you’ll need to drive across the entire Klaipėda. Don’t be afraid to lose your way while alternating between the bike paths and car roads – the route is clearly marked.

The bike path leads up to the village of Šernai, and from there you’ll have to “taste” a slightly less fancy road, so it’s advisable not to choose a bike with very narrow tires. From Šernai to Baičiai follow the gravel path for 5 km and then continue along the paved regional road for the remaining 7 km to Gargždai.

Gargždai is a very cosy town. In its centre, look around the Market Square and St. Archangel Michael’s Church with its three-centuries-old churchyard, decorated with an authentic 19th century bell-tower and a chapel in the neo-classical style. Gargždai has kept its street pattern, formed in the 15-16th centuries, and the parish and Jew cemetery of the 19th century. On a delightful bend of the River Minija and its steep slopes, you can hear the rustle of a hundred-year-old English-style park. Also visit Gargždai Regional Museum (Sodas street 5, Gargždai), where you can always find some interesting exhibition on display. It is open Tuesday-Friday 9 am – 6 pm, Saturday 11 am – 6 pm.