The Top Things to Do and See in Klaipeda

Klaipeda | © Elizabeth Georgian
Klaipeda | © Elizabeth Georgian
Photo of Mark Nayler
4 August 2021

The city of Klaipeda is a cosy port and gateway to the Curonian Spit in Lithuania. In the summer months, cruise ships dock here and tourists fill the quaint old town. Formerly an important trading post with Germany, the town is dotted with beautiful half-timbered houses that are relics from the past. Klaipeda is a great stop over for a relaxing weekend or a short stay before or after an active trip to the Curonian Spit.

Visit the Lithuanian Sea Museum

Museum
Map View

The Lithuanian Sea Museum is situated at the northernmost tip of the Curonian Spit, across the water from central Klaipeda. Its key attraction is a dolphinarium, where you can see shows starring Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, Baltic seals and Steller sea lions – the shows are held in an annexed building and require separate tickets. In the main building, underwater walkways pass through tanks of psychedelic coral, brightly-coloured fish and spooky-looking crustaceans. There’s a small on-site cafe for refreshments.

Friedrich Passage

Historical Landmark
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Friedrich passage, Klaipeda
© Imagebroker / Alamy Stock Photo
Located in downtown Klaipeda, Friedrich Passage was first created in 1692 and was given its own coat of arms. Visitors to Friedrich Passage will find courtyards housing restaurants, little shops and cafes. Visiting Friedrich Passage is a nice way to spend a few hours, particularly when the weather is dreary – as you can pop into the shops and cafes, or duck under overhangs to wait out the rain.

Walk along the river in Dane Park

Park
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There’s plenty to see on a stroll through Klaipeda’s riverside Dane Park, including old-school fishing boats, a bronze sculpture of a fisherman and the padlock-laden Tree of Love. Cross the bridge just past the fisherman and you’ll come to another of the city’s best-known sculptures – a swooning mermaid on a bench. According to local legend, she’s mourning a young man killed with arrows by his enemies. Dane Park also has several outdoor cafes and a kids’ playground.

Black Ghost Statue (Juodasis Vaiduoklis)

Architectural Landmark
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The Black Ghost is a rather creepy sculpture, which looks a bit like a dementor from Harry Potter. The statue is located near the picturesque Memel Hotel and the figure appears to be climbing out of the Dane River. It was sculpted by two Lithuanian artists, Svajunas Jurkus and Sergejus Plotnikovas, and the 2.4m (7.8ft) tall statue is made entirely of bronze. The Black Ghost sculpture commemorates a legend from 1595 that described a black ghost lurking in this location.

Savour drinks and snacks aboard Meridianas ship

Restaurant, Lithuanian, $$$
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Now moored on Dane Park’s riverbank, the Medirianas ship was built in 1948 and served as a training vessel for 20 years. Since 1971, it’s been a floating, fine-dining restaurant, specializing in grilled meat and locally caught seafood and fish. For an early-evening aperitif, take a seat out on the deck and order a bottle of Lithuanian wine, accompanied by a sharing board of cheeses, chicken liver pate, Parma ham, capers and grapes.

Memel Castle ruins

Museum, Ruins
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In a former artillery chamber underneath the only remaining bastion of Klaipeda’s 13th-century castle – the rest of which was demolished in the 18th century – you can visit an archaeological site and museum documenting 700 years of the city’s history. The permanent collection ranges from the 13th to the 20th centuries and features jewellery, pottery, tools, ceramics and weapons. A separate space is given to the fixed 39/45 exhibition, which focuses on Klaipeda during World War II.

Sculpture Park

Cemetery, Church, Park
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A bronze sculpture at the USSR Soldier Memorial, dedicated to those slain during WWII. In Klaipeda, Lithuania.
© James Talalay / Alamy Stock Photo
The Sculpture Park in Klaipeda is built on the former site of a cemetery from the 1800s, which was destroyed during Soviet occupation. To commemorate the former cemetery, more than 100 sculptures and memorials were installed. Additionally, the park houses a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church that was a former chapel. It’s free to visit the Sculpture Park.

Smiltyne

Museum
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Connected to Klaipeda’s port by a 10-minute ferry ride, Smiltyne is the Curonian’s Spit’s northernmost region. Its Baltic Sea coastline is home to one of Lithuania’s best beaches – a 2.5km (1.5mi) stretch of fine sand and dunes lapped by turquoise waters. Smiltyne’s other draws include pine forests criss-crossed with hiking and cycling trails, a 19th-century fortress that now hosts the Lithuanian Sea Museum and a reconstruction of a 19th-century fisherman’s farmstead.

Eat at Monai

Restaurant, Northern European, $$$
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Monai’s chefs perform in a shiny show-kitchen, separated from the dining room by a floor-to-ceiling glass wall. They produce some of the most artfully presented cuisine in Klaipeda, with dishes such as tuna tartar and duck dumplings displaying creative flair as well as respect for ingredients. Weekends are all about hangover-busting brunches of pancakes, bacon and eggs, accompanied by perfectly balanced mimosas. Booking a few days ahead is recommended, as everyone wants a table here.

Lose yourself in time at the Museum of Clocks

Museum
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Klaipeda, Lithuania (Memel) - 06/14/2019: Clock and watch museum. Inscription in Lithuanian: Clocks Museum
© Boris Zamanskiy / Alamy Stock Photo
Housed in a country villa dating from 1820, Klaipeda’s Museum of Clocks takes a detailed look at the ingenuity with which humans have measured time over the centuries. Learn all about sundials, hourglasses, fire and water clocks on the ground floor, before moving upstairs to explore a collection of timepieces from the Renaissance through to the present day. Also check out Sundial Park, a tranquil space behind the main building with several working sundials.

Elizabeth Georgian contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on August 4, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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