Stretching from 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 separating the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon. The northern part of the peninsula (52 km) belongs to Lithuania, while the southern part 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.
The entire spit was part of Germany from around the 13th century until World War I. Fishing was the major occupation of the spit's inhabitants in the Middle Ages. Since the start of the 20th century, tourism has flourished in the area.
The Curonian Spit contains the largest drifting sand dunes in Europe, the highest of which rises up to around 60 meters. About 70% of the land is covered with forests.
Flora and fauna
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 boardwalks 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. It is a magnificent sight to step into a forest of trees that look like over-sized bonsai.
Efa's dune is the name of the highest dune on the peninsula.
From Kaliningrad. There is a direct bus from the city centre to the spit. The journey costs less than 120 rubles and takes about two hours. It can be possibly difficult to reach by public transportation, since buses run only occasionally during the day and are often packed.
A car and a motorbike entering Neringa municipality that contains most of the spit is charged an ecological fee (20 EUR in summer and 5 EUR during the rest of the year on Lithuania side, 300 RUB on Russia side). Campers are charged more.
Also please note that 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. In many ways, the spit is not a good route between Kaliningrad city and Klaipeda, because of the toll, the border crossing, and the ferry needed at the north end.
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 the 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 Russian part of the split.
The Curonian Spit is a popular summer holiday resort and a range of outdoor activities is available. Beaches of Nida, Juodkrantė and Smiltynė have been awarded with the Blue Flag while 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.
You are not allowed to use the route to enter Russia from Lithuania on foot, but you are allowed to cross on any vehicle (including bike, motorcycle, car, bus, etc.) without stopping. There are watchtowers covering the border area.