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Curonian Spit

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Dec 15, 2021

The Curonian Spit is a 98-km 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.

Curonian Spit in Kaliningrad Oblast: dunes, forest, and sea

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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 m 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.

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.

Most visitors get into the spit either by taking a ferry from Klaipėda to Smiltynė, or taking a bus from Zelenogradsk.

From Klaipėda

Take a ferry to Smiltynė. The old ferry terminal nearer to the city centre is for passengers and bikes only, and the new ferry terminal is for cars. Fare is €1 for round-trip ticket per passenger. After getting off the ferry, there is an hourly bus connection to the villages until Nida, and a daily bus 239 which runs all the way along the spit to Zelenogradsk and Kaliningrad.

There are also long-distance buses which the bus itself travel on the ferry, from the city centre of Klaipėda to Nida.

From Zelenogradsk

Take any bus to Morskoye (Морское) or Klaipėda. These buses include 210 (Zelenogradsk — Morskoye), 239 (Kaliningrad international bus station — Smiltynė old ferry terminal), 384 (Kaliningrad — Klaipėda), 593 (Kaliningrad — Klaipėda) and 596 (Otradnoye — Morskoye). Fare depends on the distance travelled.

From Kaliningrad

Bus 593 from the city centre to the spit. The journey costs less than RUB120 and takes about two hours. As departures are few, it is advisable to take a train or bus to Zelenogradsk first and continue by any bus there.

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