Palanga at a glance
Because this former fishing village is Lithuania’s favourite beach getaway.
Away from the tourist hordes, pier and dune-backed beach, the Botanical Gardens south of town also contain an Orangery and the Amber Museum.
You probably didn’t know
Following an anti-Russian uprising in 1863, Lithuanian publications in Latin script were banned and Palanga became a hub of clandestine literature and book smuggling.
Experiencing Lithuania: An Unconventional Travel Guide (Columbia J Warren, 2013).
- Population 18,000
- Annual visitor numbers: 220,000 (2014)
- January mean temperature: -5°C
- August mean temperature: 18°C
Things to do in Palanga
The first and still best fish restaurant in Palanga is Zuvine, a fairly formal place serving the catch from both the Baltic Sea and the nearby Curonian Lagoon, with a seasonally changing menu. It also does snails, an oddity in Palanga.
Near the main square but tucked away and thus ideal for a romantic post-beach lunch à deux, the year-round Muza Café relies as much on local custom as the tourist trade. Changing daily specials including salads, soups and pastas ensure a regularly returning clientele.
Named for the renowned Russian architect, Nikolai Chagin, who lived in Palanga in the late 19th century, Chagino serves up Russian classics such as borsch, solyanka and blinis.
Just off the main pedestrianised strip of Basanaviciausis 1925, an inexpensive but tasty spot for traditional (grated-potato pancakes) and not-so-traditional dishes (salmon-and-grapefruit salad?). In good weather you can eat in the pleasant courtyard and admire the building – constructed in 1925, of course.
Run by former NBA basketball star Arvydas Sabonis and his wife Ingrida, an ex-Miss Lithuania, the hotel/restaurant Pusu paunksneje brings top international standards to Palanga. A steak dish called ‘In the Shade of the Pines’ is a must for carnivores with deep pockets.
On the ground level of the Taurus hotel, Feliksas is a bistro with a perpetually busy streetside terrace. It serves international cuisine from carpaccio to stroganoff to burgers, and is a great place for a casual lunch.
Based in the inland city of Kaunas during the winter, every summer the Mojo Lounge relocates to Palanga to occupy a chic terrace overlooking the Baltic to become the liveliest cocktail bar and nightspot in town. DJs from across Lithuania keep the party going.
Mainstream house and party tunes bring a lively crowd to long-established Club Exit, just in from the beach, where cocktails are the drink of choice.
The Palanga Guild of Amber Masters
Amber has always been big business on the Baltic coast, although these days only one of what used to be many workshops survives: the Palanga Guild of Amber Masters is both a boutique and a still-working craft studio where exquisite pieces are fashioned. Find it at 21 Vytauto Street.
As well as fruit and vegetables Palanga Market also incorporates a flea market for retro toys and vintage clothing.
Families come to Palanga for one reason, and one reason only: the beach. Dune-lined, sandy and equipped with a long pier, it stretches for nearly 20km, up towards the border with Latvia. Rides and amusement arcades on the adjoining main drag of Basanaviciaus keep the kids entertained if the sun gets too hot.
The Amber Museum
Palanga’s only real must-see is its Amber Museum, whose collection is just as impressive as the mansion that houses it, a neo-classical pile built by Count Tyszkiewicz in the 19th century. As for the amber, you’ll find around 25,000 pieces, more than 10,000 with insects and pieces of plant trapped inside them.
The Botanical Gardens
Surrounding the Amber Museum, Edouard André’s Botanical Gardens were laid out in the 1890s. André and his son René brought trees and plants, some 250 in all, from across Europe. There’s also a rose garden easily accessed from the Amber Museum by an elegant staircase.
The Dog Museum
One of the town’s more unusual attractions is its Dog Museum. The curators, Vytautus Kusas and his wife Vida, met at a local pedigree show and a simple gift of a ceramic canine to his future bride sealed their fate and started this collection. You’ll find dogs in every form: as biscuits, clocks, flowerpots, toothbrushes, even condoms.
Events to look out for:
- Independence Day (February)
- Summer of Brass (June-Sept)
- I Love Palanga (June)
- Mindaugas Day (July)
- Sacred Music Festival (July-Aug)
- Birute Park Day (September)
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