Because of the importance of water, the first permanent settlements were situated near water sources and would often turn into cities as time went by. The emergence of water transport as one of the key forms of transportation allowed to prosper for those settlements which were situated close to waterways suitable for navigation.
Birštonas has never been an important trade location or a large riverside city; however, it can be assumed that its establishment and development as a resort was greatly encouraged by convenient water and land connections with Kaunas. Transport conditions were improved even more by the emergence of steamboats, as already in the early XX century the first steamboat commuter between Birštonas and Alytus was introduced.
During the independence period in the early 20s there were three regular steamboats passing through the resort. Once train connections with Alytus were built, Birštonas became the main steamboat station; however, due to city's seasonality and increasing competition from buses, steamboats were pushed to the side and became a recreational means of communication during the season. In the Soviet period, recreational shipping between Kaunas and Birštonas was also developed, communication by high-speed ships emerged.
Although shipping traffic in Birštonas pier has decreased significantly, the pier still remains a symbol of historically close relationship of the resort with the river.
Paulius Tautvydas Laurinaitis