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Palanga

Palanga

We spent three days in June 2010 at the Lithuanian Resort Town of Palanga in the North of Lithuania. We had heard so much about Palanga and looked forward to having a chance to visit. We found Palanga to be a very pleasant coastal resort community with much to offer those looking for a weekend away while visiting Vilnius.

Travel From Vilnius To Palanga

One of the factors that was troubling for us was the issue of transportation. What is the best way to travel from Vilnius to Palanga? Since there is no direct train from Vilnius to Palanga, the choices seemed to be:

Option #1 Fly to Palanga
Option #2 Bus to Palanga
Option #3 Train to Klaipeda and Bus to Palanga
Option #4 Rent a car and drive to Palanga
None of these options seemed attractive to us. However, we hit upon a different option that few people seemed to consider :

Option #5 Train to Kretinga, taxi to Palanga

Kretinga is the train stop just before Klaipeda. Kretinga is only 12 KM from Palanga, while Klaipeda is 25 KM. I am not sure why you would want to disembark in Klaipeda, perhaps there are more buses from Klaipeda to Palanga. To be sure, there is no other reason to go to Kretinga, which is little more than a village, while Klaipeda is Lithuania's only major harbor and one its largest cities.

We sent an email to the Palanga tourist office  and received a quick response with the phone number of a local taxi company in Kretinga. With a phone call, the taxi arrived in under 5 minutes.

The train from Vilnius to Kretinga took about 4.5 hours and cost 50 Lta per person. A taxi ride from Kretinga to Palanga took about 10 minutes and cost about 30 Lta. A cheaper solution is the frequent buses from Kretinga train station to Palanga. But having a small child with us, we prefered to get a taxi.

CAUTION: Palanga taxis seem to be among the most expensive in Lithuania. Our return taxi ride from Palanga was more expensive than taxis in either Vilnius or Kretinga. The Palanga taxi charged us Lta 3/km (twice the standard price in Vilnius) and our return trip from Palanga to Kretinga cost us 46lta. Recommendation: Ask about the taxi fares before calling the taxi or consider calling the Kretinga taxi company to arrange a pickup in Palanga.

Our Impressions Of Palanga
Palanga is a pretty little coastal town. Palanga offers the combination of tree lined streets, wooded walks, a pier which extends into the sea and a pretty beach to sunbathe upon. Palanga also has an active, pedestrian street called J. Basanaviciaus. J. Basanaviciaus is the center of activity for the town, so you will want to stay in an apartment or hotel with easy access to that street. On J. Basanaviciaus you will find restaurants, bars, cafes, kiosks selling tourist items, amusement rides and a host of other activities. One restaurant we particularly enjoyed was called DaCuba. Although the food is not really Cuban or anything similar, the food was well prepared and enjoyable. The outdoor setting was fun, with Cabanas (sort of covered sofas) at many of the tables, fountains and a play area for the children. DaCuba was so much fun, we went there twice.

Along with lots of greenery, Palanga has lots of mosquitoes. We were constantly swatting them away. If you have a problem with mosquitoes, Palanga may not be the place for you.

Hotel Palanga
We had heard much about the Hotel Palanga as possibly the best in Palanga or even Lithuania and were really looking forward to our stay. The Hotel Palanga was a fine hotel, but it was not special. The spa/swimming area, while well maintained is small and windowless located in the basement of the building. The restaurant was expensive and the food not remarkable. The dish we enjoyed most was a seafood salad. However, we ordered a salmon flambe which was fun to watch being prepared, but was completely tasteless. Breakfast had a good variety of standard
breakfast buffet items. Again, nothing special. The hotel is located about a 10 minute walk from the restaurants of J. Basanaviciaus, with little around it.

We got a superior room, which seemed like a normal room size though it did have a nice enclosed balcony area. We had requested a quiet room, but our room was extremely noisy, which was surprising as the hotel is a spa and is all about relaxation.

The hotel lacks the "wow factor" often found in 5 star hotel.Pricing in the "off season" is reasonable for what it offers. But peak season pricing is extremely expensive and there is a 5 night minimum stay requirement. It is an OK hotel, but in our opinion not remarkable and certainly not worth the peak season pricing or minimum stay requirements.

If you are looking for a Lithuanian spa hotel simply for relaxation, a better option may be to go to one of the many spa hotels in Druskininkai or the Le Meridien Hotel on the outskirts of Vilnius.

In summary, we enjoyed Palanga. The combination of greenery, sea and the pretty pedestrian street J Basanaviciaus offered much to do to keep us entertained over a 3 day weekend.