Known as Memel for much of its ancient and politically charged history, this quaint harbour town was part of Prussia and Germany until 1923, when it was taken over by neighbouring Lithuania and renamed Klaipëda, presumably after its boggy terrain (klaidyti=obstruct and peda=foot). Over the centuries, Klaipėda enjoyed prolonged periods of economic prosperity spurred on by grain and timber production. Captured by the Soviet Red Army in 1945 for its obvious value as a seaport, the city soon became the foremost maritime port in the Eastern Baltic. Today Klaipėda once again belongs to Lithuania, but retains its status as the Baltic's finest port, along with many of the more charming examples of the timber-frame or Fachwerk-style buildings that it became famous for in the 18th century. Thankfully, the boggy terrain is long gone.Find Cruises Sailing to This Port
Klaipėda is a candy store for architecture buffs, and one of the city's most elegant buildings is a rare Prussian-era, Neo-gothic post office known as the Old Post. Designed by H. Schoede in 1893, it features a symmetrical interior with brilliant frescos of birds carrying letters as well as a picturesque tower with a 48-bell carillon, the biggest musical instrument in all of Lithuania.
Water sports, naturally, are among the favourite leisure pursuits in this town, with kayaking, sailing and fishing at the top of the list. One of the best spots to partake in these sports is the Curonian Lagoon, a protected area with drifting dunes and magnificent views. Or if you want to combine sightseeing with a little leg-stretching, renting bikes is a great way to explore the city.
Klaipėda cuisine is a blend of English, Dutch, German, Prussian, and even French (who ruled the region briefly in the 1920s). For a taste of “exotic Lithuanian food,” try the cepelinas, vėdarai, and other forms of potato pancakes and dumplings. Theatre Square, with its lovely Old Town atmosphere, is your best bet for good traditional Lithuanian fare.
Akropolis, as the name suggests, is the biggest shopping centre in the city. So big, in fact, that it even contains a skating rink. (Trust us, that's big!) For a more boutiquey shopping experience, start at Lietuvninku Square and stroll along H. Manto Street up to the old market. You'll find everything from hip and trendy emporiums to locally made handicrafts along the way.
The basic unit of local currency is the Lithuanian litas (LTL).
|Average Precip.||2 in||5.08 cm|
Learn more about this port city with these tourist information guides.