The city has historic sights but isn't pretty-pretty like Vilnius Old Town, and draws mostly local tourism. The big attraction is the Curonian Spit, a remarkable 99 km peninsula of sand dunes - Smiltynė at its north tip is part of the city and is reached by a five-minute ferry ride from downtown. Facilities in the northern third of the spit are therefore described on this page, while those in the centre are described on the Nida page. Its south is part of Kaliningrad Oblast, an exclave of Russia.
Klaipėda is at the mouth of the River Danė, which flows into the Curonian Lagoon, the freshwater lake enclosed by the Curonian Spit; the lagoon here discharges into the Baltic. Its harbour is ice-free, a valuable site on this cold sea, so it's been fought over many times. The castle was built by the Teutonic Knights in 1253 and for much of its history the city was part of Prussia. German-speaking people called it "Memel" for the larger river feeding the lagoon further south, nowadays the border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Timber export has long been the port's main trade, along with other agricultural produce such as wool. After the First World War Memel and its hinterland were declared a "Free City" similar to Gdańsk / Danzig, but newly-independent Lithuania annexed it in 1923. Nazi Germany grabbed it in 1939: after the Second World War it reverted to the far-from-independent Lithuanian SSR, a communist satellite state of the USSR. That grey empire broke up in 1990 and Klaipėda like other Baltic cities developed modern western industries.
- 1 Tourist Information Centre (Klaipėdos turizmo ir kultūros informacijos centras), Turgaus gatvė 7 (200 m northeast of the castle). M-F 09:00–18:00.
- 1 Klaipėda railway station (in the north of town). The original Prussian yellow-brick station was built in 1881. Most station facilities are now in the adjacent red-brick building of 1983, with its distinctive helmeted tower like a lanky sentry. It has left luggage lockers, toilets and a snack bar.
- Vilnius – Trains run every couple of hours and take 4½ hr and are €25 (2023). They go via Kaišiadorys, Jonava, Kėdainiai, Radviliškis, Šiauliai, Telšiai, Plungė and Kretinga.
- Kaunas – There are no direct trains, but you have to change in Vilnius or Šiauliai, for a 5-hr journey.
- Šilutė – 4 local trains per day, taking 1 hr.
- 2 Klaipėda Bus Station (Klaipėdos autobusų stotis), Butkų Juzės g 9 (just outside the railway station). It's fairly clean and modern, with cafes and a waiting area.
Buses run from Palanga, Vilnius, Kaunas and Riga airports as above. Vlasava, Kautra and Toks buses run hourly from Vilnius town via Kryžkalnis to Klaipėda (4 hr), where they take a 20–min break then continue north to Palanga town, the airport and Šventoji. They also run hourly from Kaunas (3 hr); some start from Druskininkai and Alytus.
From Vilnius and Kaunas follow A1 northwest. It's a fast dual carriageway.
From Riga follow A8 / A12 to Šiauliai then A11 west.
- 3 Klaipėda Airfield (KLJ IATA) (7 km east of Klaipėda, near the A1/E85 highway). A privately run airport focusing on sports aviation and charter services.
Nearby international airports:
- Palanga Airport (PLQ IATA), Palanga – The closest airport, 36 km north. It has limited seasonal destinations, which include London Stansted and Dublin by Ryanair, Oslo by Norwegian, Riga by Air Baltic, and Copenhagen by Scandinavian. Bus 31 runs between airport, Palanga town and Klaipėda bus / railway station every 30 min.
- Kaunas Airport (KUN IATA), Kaunas – Linked by the direct Ollex bus four times a day, taking 2½ hr to Klaipėda via Kryžkalnis highway interchange.
- Vilnius Airport (VNO IATA), Vilnius – Far more flights than Kaunus. Ollex bus runs from the airport (4 hr, 5 per day, €25) via the outskirts of Kaunas. Toks bus between Vilnius city and Klaipėda also runs via Vilnius airport.
- Riga Airport (RIX IATA), Riga – Linked by direct Ollex bus every couple of hours, taking 4½ hr (€30).
- 4 Port of Klaipėda (Klaipėdos jūrų uostas).
- See also: Baltic Sea Ferries
- 5 TT-Line, Minijos gatve 180, ☏ . Ferry lines from Trelleborg and Karlshamn, Sweden and Travemünde and Rostock, Germany.
- 6 DFDS, Baltijos prospekt 40, ☏ . Ferry lines from Karlshamn, Sweden and Kiel, Germany.
See below for the ferries across the channel from Smiltynė on Curonian Spit. With the right documentation it's possible to drive up the Curonian Spit from Kaliningrad Oblast in Russia, crossing the border near Nida, and on north up Highway 167 to the ferry terminal. Bicycles are also permitted across that border but not pedestrians, and there is no public transport across.
The city stretches north-south along the coast, so many routes are from the university quarter to the bus and railway station then south along H Manto gatvė across the bridge into Old Town, continuing down Tiltų g towards Acropolis shopping centre. For example Bus 8 runs every 5-10 min down this spine along Taikos Prospekt. Bus 9 runs every 10 min closer to shore, passing by Old ferry terminal, the castle and south to New ferry terminal and the shipping port. For routes and timetables see Klaipėda Transport website.
A single paper ticket costs €0.80 from a kiosk and €1 from the bus driver. Validate your ticket immediately on boarding.
Further out, Bus N1 runs down the spit every two hours, connecting with the ferries at Smiltynė old ferry terminal. It carries bikes and goes to Juodkrantė and Nida, taking 65 min.
Klaipėda scrapped its trams in 1967. There is interest in restoring them, but the cost looks prohibitive.
The easiest way to call a taxi is with the eTAKSI app for smartphones, or call +370 633 44 553.
In 2023 flagfall is €1 then €0.80/km, so a ride from the bus / railway station to Old Town might be €3.40.
Two ferries routes exist between Klaipėda and Smiltynė on Curonian Spit, foot passengers as well as vehicles.
For foot passengers:
- 7 Klaipėda Old Ferry Terminal (Klaipėdos senoji perkėla / kruizinių laivų terminalas). Daily 07:00-23:00, every 30 min. This is where foot passengers bord towards Smiltynė's Old Ferry Terminal. The ferry takes 5 min. Adult single fare is €1.50 (2023); under-7s, bicycles and suitcases free.
- 8 Smiltynė Old Terminal (Smiltynė Senoji perkėla). Within walking distance of the Sea Museum, and the stop for Bus N1 to Jaodkrantė and Nida.
For vehicles (mostly, but also foot passengers):
- 9 Klaipėda New Ferry Terminal (Klaipėdos naujoji perkėla) (2 km south of the old ferry terminal). Daily 07:00-22:00, every 20 min; 22:00-07:00 hourly. Here is the car ferry to Smiltynė New Terminal. Foot passengers are also carried, same fares as above. Motorbike €6.80, car €20.50.
- 10 Smiltynė New Ferry Terminal (Smiltynė naujoji perkėla).
There is an ecological fee of €5 for cars and motorbikes, and €15/20 (off-/high-season) for campers for entering entering Neringa municipality, which contains most of the Curonian Spit on the Lithuanian side.
Ferries no longer sail direct from Klaipėda to Jaodkrantė or Nida.
Bikes are a good way to explore the Curonian Spit.
- 11 Du ratai, Naujoji Uosto g. 3 (near the Klaipėda old ferry terminal). Daily 09:00–18:00. Bicycle rental. See also VeloRent.lt
- 1 Klaipėda Castle, Priešpilio g 2, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00. Only a single bastion remains of this moated castle, built in 1253 by the Livonian Order of Teutonic Knights; its wooden predecessor on the opposite river bank has long disappeared. For the next 500 years rival powers queued up to smash it down then build it up again, with the last reconstruction in 1763. Thereafter even the Prussians couldn't think of a military role for it, so it fell derelict and its masonry was stripped. It now houses a museum exhibiting the troubled story of the castle and the city. Adult €4.40, combi €6.
- 2 Black Ghost (Juodasis Vaiduoklis). A creepy bronze sculpture by the footbridge spanning the outlet of the castle moat, next to Old Port Hotel. It is a hollow, cowled wraith dragging himself from the water and supposedly terrifying to children, but probably more so to any drunk who's dropped his keys and is scrabbling along the wharf in search.
- 3 Theatre Square (Teatro aikštė). The cobbled plaza at the heart of Old Town. This district is on a grid pattern as it had to be rebuilt after an extensive fire in 1854: look for quirky little statues here and there. The larger statue in the square is "Ännchen von Tharau" (Anna Neander 1615–1689), whose marriage was commemorated in a uxorious poem by Simon Dach, later set to music.
- 4 History Museum of Lithuania Minor (Mažosios Lietuvos istorijos muziejus), Didžioji Vandens g 2, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00. Lithuania Minor is the strip of territory that became Prussianised as Memel. Limited signage in English. Adult €4.40, combi €6.
- 5 Blacksmith's Museum (Kalvystės muziejus), Šaltkalvių g 2, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00. This is the former workshop of Gustav Katzke (1868–1944) and exhibits 19th / early 20th century blacksmiths' equipment, and ironwork such as cemetery crosses and ornamental park railings. Adult €4.40, combi €6.
- 6 Ship Museum Sūduvis, Danės g (north riverbank). W-Su 11:00-17:00. Sūduvis was a West German minesweeper, in service from 1958. It was handed over to Lithuania in 1999 and retired in 2021. Adult €5, conc or child €2.50.
- 7 Meridianas. A three-masted barquentine or schooner, a sailing ship built in Finland in 1948 and used as a training vessel. It retired in 1968 and was moored here, becoming a symbol of the city. It's now a seafood restaurant and events venue, see Eat.
- 8 Museum of Clocks (Laikrodžių muziejus), Liepų g 12, ☏ . Tu-Sa 12:00-18:00, Su 12:00-17:00. Lots and lots of clocks, watches and other timepieces.
- 9 Pranas Domšaitis Gallery, Liepų g 33, ☏ . Tu-Sa 12:00-18:00, Su 12:00-17:00. Permanent exhibition of Memel artists, notably Franz Karl Wilhelm Domscheit (1880-1965). He was a farmer until age 27 then talent-spotted and sponsored through art school in Königsberg. His successful career halted in 1937 when the Nazis condemned his "degenerate art" - thereafter he used the Lithuanian name Pranas Domšaitis and played safe.
- 10 Orthodox Church of All Russian Saints (Klaipėdos Visų Rusų Šventųjų parapija), Liepų g 48A. has a modest exterior but is richly decorated within.
This untied bootlace of the Baltic stretches for 99 km from Zelenogradsk in Russia. Its north tip is Smiltynė, the beach resort of Klaipėda, reached by a short ferry ride from downtown (see Get Around).
- 11 South Pier. The 19th century breakwater at the very tip of the spit, reached by a paved track.
- 12 Lithuanian Sea Museum (Lietuvos jūrų muziejus), Smiltynės g 3, ☏ . Tu-Su 10:30-18:00. Displays of marine life plus maritime history. You pay as much again for the dolphin shows in the Dolphinarium. Adult €13, conc or child €6.50.
- 13 Ethnographic Museum (Etnografinė pajūrio žvejo sodyba), Smiltynės g, ☏ . W-Su 10:30-17:00. This annex of the Sea Museum is a Skansen-type outdoor museum of fishermen's cottages and equipment. Free.
- Smiltynė Kurhaus (500 m south of the old ferry terminal). An elegant Jugendstil mansion. In 2023, it was closed for conversion into apartments.
- 14 Alksnynė Bunkers. The most substantial of the Second World War fortifications dotted along the spit. This group of overgrown ruins was Schweinsrücken artillery battery.
- See Nida for the middle section of the spit.
- See Kaliningrad Oblast for the southern section in Russia.
- Beaches – The west coast of the Curonian Spit is sandy throughout its length, backed by forest and sandhills. Smiltynė, the north tip just across the channel from downtown, is obviously the busiest. Giruliai and Melnragė beaches are north of town.
- 1 Dramatic Theatre of Klaipeda (Klaipėdos dramos teatras) (on Theatre Square). It often has international productions in their original language.
- 2 Malūno Park (500 m east of Old Town). The main green space within the city.
- 3 Central stadium of Klaipėda (Football), Sportininkų g 46 (north end of the city). FK Neptūnas play soccer in 1 Lyga, the second tier. This is their home ground, capacity 1000; the playing season is March-Nov. Other city clubs have folded — best known were Atlantas, busted in 2020 for match-fixing.
- FK Banga play in A Lyga the top tier. They're based 15 km east in Gargždai.
- Music Spring Festival – The next is probably on 30 March 2024, tbc.
- Sea Festival – The next is probably on 19-21 June 2024, tbc.
- Klaipėda Castle Jazz Festival is probably next on 20 June 2024, tbc.
- Parbėg laivelis Folklore Festival is held in July in odd-numbered years, but didn't happen in 2023.
Amber is a traditional Baltic giftware, the semi-precious fossil of long-drowned pine resin.
- Kiras, Tiltų g 16 (Old Town). M-F 10:00-19:00, Sa 10:00-13:00. A small shopping centre.
- 1 Akropolis, Taikos Prospekt 61 (2 km south of Old Town). Daily 08:00-22:00. The city's main mall. It has a cinema, skating rink, shops, two supermarkets, gym, restaurants, fast food and a post office.
- Cheap lunch: restaurants and bars usually serve an inexpensive two-course menu-of-the-day from 11:30 to 14:00.
- Local specialty is cheese fingers - lots of places serve these as a snack or starter.
- Hap's Kebabs within the bus station is open daily 10:00-21:45.
- Samurai, Herkus Manto g 1, ☏ . Su-Th 11:30-21:00, F Sa 11:30-22:00. Inexpensive ramen and other Japanese dishes.
- Cancan Pizza, Taikos pr 61 (within Akropolis shopping center), ☏ . Daily 10:00-22:00. Cheap and cheerful pizzeria by the ice rink.
- Friedrich's Passage is an Old Town alley lined with eating places. Its south end opens onto Tiltų, its north onto Šaltkalvių by the Blacksmith's Museum.
- Storas Katinas (Fat Cat Pub), Žvejų g 21 (within National Hotel), ☏ . M-Th 11:00-00:00, F Sa 11:00-01:00, Su 11:00-23:00. Inexpensive Old Town restaurant, the seafood is best.
- Senamiestis, Kepėjų g 13, ☏ . M-F 10:00-23:00, Sa 11:00-00:00, Su 11:00-23:00. Trad Old Town restaurant, as the name indicates.
- Stora Antis, Tiltų g 6, ☏ . Tu F Sa 17:00-23:00. Charming basement restaurant in an old town block of 1856, good Baltic cuisine.
- Senoji Hansa, Teatro g 3, ☏ . M-Th 10:00-23:00, F Sa 11:00-01:00, Su 11:00-23:00,. Trad restaurant on Theatre Square, indifferent quality.
- Etno Dvaras (formerly DOMA), Sukilėlių 8 (south side of Theatre Square), ☏ . Daily 11:00-21:30. Chain restaurant, great place to enjoy trad Lithuanian cuisine.
- Meridianas, Kurpių g, ☏ . M-Th 11:00-22:00, F Sa 12:00-00:00, Su 12:00-00:00. Upscale seafood restaurant aboard the sailing ship on south riverbank.
- Brewery: Švyturys ("lighthouse") is at Kūlių Vartų g 7 in Old Town and offers tours. Their gastropub is open M-Th 16:00-00:00, F 16:00-02:00, Sa 13:00-02:00, Su 13:00-23:00.
- Irish Nesė Pub (formerly Relax), Turgaus g 1, ☏ . W Th Su 17:00-01:00, F Sa 17:00-03:00. Decent place for a drink, but give the food a miss.
- Leika, Tomo g 7, ☏ . M-Th 17:00-01:00, F-Su 17:00-05:00. Relaxing Old Town late spot.
- Herkus Kantas, Naujoji Uosto g 3, ☏ . Th 17:00-00:00, F Sa 17:00-01:00. Lively small bar on the north riverbank.
- Kurpiai, Kurpių g 1a, ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-00:00, F Sa 12:00-01:00. Bar and jazz club, limited food.
- Faksas, Žvejų g 2, ☏ . Su-Th 18:00-01:00, F Sa 18:00-04:00. Bar with loud rock music, some food.
- Klaipėda Hostel, Butkų Juzės g 7 (south flank of bus station), ☏ . Cozy convenient hostel. Dorm €20.
- 1 Kubu, Vilties g 2 (on Lietuvininkų Square), ☏ . Pleasant budget guesthouse. They also have apartment lofts but no longer operate as a hostel. B&B double €40.
- 2 Aribe, Bangų g 17a, ☏ . Very basic but central place. B&B double €50.
- 3 Promenada, Šaulių g 41, ☏ . Simple friendly place near bus and railway stations. B&B double €50.
- 4 Preliudija, Kepėjų g 7, ☏ . Clean friendly small hotel in centre. B&B double €50.
- 5 Pajūrio kempingas, Šlaito g 3 (Giruliai beach 7 km from city centre), ☏ . Campsite open year round for tents and tourers, plus cabins. Some noise at night from trains. Tent €7.
- 6 Mercure, Šaulių g 28, ☏ . Comfy well-run Accor chain hotel 500 m south of railway station. B&B double €80.
- 7 Amberton Hotel (formerly Klaipėda Hotel), Naujojo Sodo g 1A, ☏ . "K-Tower" high-rise, you may wait a long time for the elevator. Comfy enough but the heating only works if the key card is in. There's a gym with swimming pool, casino, two restaurants and two bars at ground level, plus sky-bars on the 12th and 20th floors. B&B double €90.
- 8 Ararat, Liepų g 48A, ☏ . Very comfy place with apartment rooms. B&B double €90.
- 9 Euterpe, Daržų g 9 (corner of Aukštoji g), ☏ . Friendly central place, parking available. It's named for the Grecian muse of music - a Renaissance-era tile dedicated to Euterpe was unearthed in the courtyard. B&B double €100.
- 10 National Hotel, Žvejų g 21 (corner of Teatro g), ☏ . Decent enough central place, they need better curtains against the early summer sunrise. B&B double €100.
- 11 Bohema (formerly Lūgnė), Galinio Pylimo g 16, ☏ . Simple friendly hotel, some rooms cramped. B&B double €60.
- 12 Memel Hotel, Bangų g 4, ☏ . Pleasant 50-room hotel in a 19th century building. Central but peaceful and clean, with secure car parking. B&B double €85.
- 13 , Herkus Manto g 23, ☏ . Tatty hotel, service hit-and-miss, limited parking. B&B double €80.
- 14 Old Mill Hotel, Žvejų g 22, ☏ . In two renovated fishermen's houses, separated by castle dock outlet. Pleasant place but food indifferent and no on-site parking. B&B double €90.
- 15 Aurora Hotel, Nemuno gatve 51 (Next to the DFDS ferry terminal), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. EUR 60 and up.
Klaipeda is a safe place but like anywhere you have to use common sense. Try to walk with a confident air and not look lost.
As of Aug 2023, Klaipėda and its approach highways have 4G from all three national carriers, with 5G in city centre.
- Nida on the Curonian Spit is reached by ferry to Smiltynė then by road. To go further south down the spit you need the relevant documentation to enter the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast.
- Palanga is a lively beach resort north towards the border with Latvia.
- Vilnius is Lithuanian's charming capital, with a well-preserved baroque centre.