Having been walled off from the world, much like the rest of the Soviet Union at the time, Lithuania hasn’t had as much time to develop as a prominent tourist destination. All this makes it even more admirable that it’s been able to turn the situation around rather quickly, starting in the 1990s, and spawning one of the most sought after resorts and its gorgeous Palanga Beach.
While Western European countries have had plenty of time and experience developing their beaches and attracting tourists from all over the world, Lithuania had to rely on a steady influx of local tourists. Mind you, ‘local tourists’ from the entire Soviet Union was no laughing matter. Today, however, they’ve opened up to the rest of the world and they’re garnering more and more attention from people who would’ve otherwise spent their summer vacation in the Mediterranean without batting an eye. The stigmas of the Baltic Sea calling it out as a grayish, freezing nightmare are slowly receding as more and more people return to their homes with words of utmost praise for it.
The largest resort town in Lithuania, Palanga should be your next destination if you’d like to put Baltic to the test. This ultimate guide will inform you about everything you need to know about Palanga resort town and soon-to-be world renowned Palanga Beach. As you’ll soon find out, not only is this beach able to hold its own against even the most memorable places on the Mediterranean but also against those ubiquitous tropic islands that we keep hearing so much about these days.
Getting to Palanga
One common misconception about destinations in the Baltic is that they’re poorly connected with lacking infrastructure.
The truth could not be further away from that, especially considering that the town of Palanga has an airport to call its own! Flights from Riga, Copenhagen, Oslo, Dortmund, and Minsk arrive regularly, with an occasional plane arriving even from London and Moscow, mostly during high season. From the airport, getting to Palanga and subsequently, its beach is a trivial matter. There are buses frequenting the Palanga – Airport route, or you could rent a car and get around by yourself. Considering it’s just a 10-minute drive, taxi is also an option and one that shouldn’t hurt your budget more than $15.
Even if you don’t necessarily plan on flying into Palanga directly, but choose the capital Vilnius instead, you’ll still be able to get to this breathtaking resort town quickly and with as little hassle as possible. Trains run to the nearby cities of Klaipėda and Kretinga. The former is just 25 kilometers (15 miles) away from Palanga and there are buses that connect all of these towns, and quite commonly so. Vilnius is almost 300 kilometers (186 miles) far from Palanga, but there are numerous options for you to get there, the cheapest one being a bus. It costs about $20 and takes 7 hours to get there. Alternatively, you could catch a flight to Palanga Airport from Vilnius. If you go to Kretinga by train, it’s the closest you’ll get to Palanga with barely 7 miles to cover by bus (with a fare that’s just a tiny bit over a $1).
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Where to Stay in Palanga?
Much like there’s plenty of choice in transport, there’s also a lot of excellent beddings to pick from. Regardless of how much you’ve planned on spending this summer, Palanga will have a place for you.
There’s no better place to be than in the very center of Palanga, right where all the amenities are. Hotel Vandenis is located just 400 meters from the beach, and with prices that are more than accessible, offers all the comfort you’ll need.
Address: Birutės al. 47, Palanga
Phone: +370 460 53530
Website: Hotel Vandenis
Spa and hotel in one, Gradiali Palanga and the people there will make your entire stay that much more relaxed. Right in the heart of a lush pine forest, it provides all the benefits for your health while being located just 500 meters from the sea.
Address: Vanagupes g. 15, Palanga
Phone: +370 460 31888
Website: Gradiali Palanga
Guest House Astuoni
Right next to the Botanic Gardens of Palanga, Guest House Astuoni is a comfortable, modern home that is definitely on the more luxurious side when it comes to both prices and service. Naturally, you won’t be that much farther from the beach when compared to other hotels.
Address: Birutes alley 48, Palanga
Phone: +370 460 48888,
Website: Guest House Astuoni
After going over all the necessities of your journey, we can now focus on the main course of Palanga – its beach.
This incredibly enticing stretch of warm sand covers 18 kilometers (11 miles) in length and is 300 meters wide at best. Protruding from what is often considered to be the center of the beach is Palanga Pier, indisputably one of the best places to be during sunset. However, it’s not that great being here when everyone arrives for a day at the beach, especially considering that most people like to gravitate towards the pier, forming almost unbearable crowds the closer you get to it. Staying away from the pier usually means you’ll have more sand to yourselves and definitely more peace and quiet in nature.
Speaking of nature, the beach at Palanga is well-known for its sand dunes with an occasional shrub protruding from them. Beyond sand dunes, as if standing guard while beachgoers are having fun, rise pine trees for as far as the eye can see. Palanga really is a feast of different natural features that congregate to create the most spectacular seaside experience.
Now for the most important part – the water. As we’ve already mentioned, there are prejudices about the Baltic Sea that we’ll try and expel. While undoubtedly harsh and icy in winter, the waters of Baltic washing the shores of Palanga are just as warm as any of the Spanish beach towns would have it. In June for example, you can expect to encounter an amazing 15°C (59°F) average sea temperature. In July, it gets even better, often reaching 18°C. Having said that, we have to conclude that visiting Palanga is a perfect choice, with its forests, sand dunes, fines sands, and mild waters, it’s hard to say no to it. The only downside is that it can sometimes get overcrowded by people of neighboring countries, as they’ve always held Palanga in high regard.
Top Things to do in Palanga
If for any reason, you decide to abandon the beach and check out the resort town, you’ll be surprised at how lively and modern it is.
When you’re done with the stroll of Palanga Pier at dusk, head along the Basanavicius Street. This is where all the bars, restaurants, nightclubs, souvenir shops and other fun places are. You can then head out in the direction of Botanical Garden where Amber Museum is. Amber trade was prevalent in this region and Palanga sits on what was once known as the Amber Road, a trade route extending from the Baltic all the way to the Mediterranean. Make Birute Hill your final destination, and you’ll discover quite an interesting site – a forested sand dune!
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What a wonderful destination in the Baltic region Palanga is. While it would be incorrect to urge you to visit it before it becomes ‘discovered’ and overcrowded (since it already is), it’s a still place of such exquisite beauty and low prices that at least a short stop here is a must!