The Curonian Spit is a 98-kilometre long narrow sandy peninsula at the Baltic Sea, enclosing the Curonian Lagoon. It is a bi-national UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by Lithuania and Russia. The town of Neringa is on the Spit.
Stretching from the Sambian peninsula in the south to the Lithuanian port city of Klaipėda in the north, the Curonian Spit is a narrow (400 meters wide at its narrowest point and 4 km wide at its widest) peninsula. The northern part belongs to Lithuania, while the southern park is in Kaliningrad Oblast in Russia. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000 and has the status of national park in both countries.
Curonia was conquered by the Teutonic Order in the 13th century, and remained under German rule until World War I. While fishing was the major occupation of the Spit's inhabitants in the Middle Ages, tourism has flourished in the area since the start of the 20th century.
The Curonian Spit contains the largest drifting sand dunes in Europe. The highest of them rise up to 60 meters. The area is generally covered with forests, that constitute about 70 percent of land.
Flora and fauna
Russian part. For flora and fauna, head down to the Curonian Lagoon, where the highest sand dunes in Europe are located. In order to protect the sand dunes, wooden broad walks have been built above them to enable visitors to marvel at the desert-like scenery without causing damage. You may spot some wildlife. Along the way, it is worthwhile to find the 'Dancing Forest' or 'The Drunkards' Forest', where tree trunks are curled and twisted from their roots and "Efa's dune". It is a magnificent sight to step into a forest of trees that look like over-sized bonsai.
From Kaliningrad. The direct bus from the city centre to the spit. The journey costs less than 120 rubles and takes about two hours. Possibly difficult to reach by public transportation, since buses from Zelenogradsk run only occasionally during the day and are often packed when they do run.
Fees and permits
A car or a motorbike entering Neringa municipality that contains most of the spit on the Lithuanian side is charged an ecological fee of €5, and campers are charged €15 (2017 rates).
Entering some of the nature reserves is either limited or prohibited.
There is a single road running through the whole length of the spit and it is easy to access any part of the spit with a car or motorbike. Bus services also exist. However, as the spit is divided by the border, traveling the whole length of the spit may require a visa and may be a bit time consuming.
The Lithuanian part of the spit has a bicycle path from the northern tip of the peninsula to the town of Nida near the Russian border, so a more environmentally friendly way of travelling is also possible.
The Curonian Spit offers some of Europe's finest landscapes as well as cozy towns and villages. Two of the most impressive ranges of dunes are the Grey Dunes (or the Dead Dunes) north of the village of Pervalka and the range of dunes starting with Parnidžio dune just south of Nida and stretching into the Russia.
The Curonian Spit is a popular summer holiday resort and a range of outdoor activities is available. The beaches of Nida, Juodkrantė and Smiltynė have been awarded the Blue Flag while the Corunian Lagoon presents opportunities to enjoy fishing or sailing.
For those more interested in culture there are several museums (including the Lithuanian Maritime Museum in the old fortress at the northern tip of the peninsula). The town of Juodkrantė has a rather interesting open air exposition (Hill of Witches) of wooden sculptures depicting mythological creatures. In the town of Nida there is a museum about the German writer Thomas Mann, who used to summer here.
- Smoked fish
- Amber souvenirs