How to Visit the Curonian Spit and Nida

October 16th 2023 in Travel
How to Visit the Curonian Spit and Nida

Tour to the Curonian Spit and Nida

The Curonian Spit is a unique natural formation stretching 98 kilometres in a thin, curved shape. It separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea, with its southern part in the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia and its northern part in the southwestern Klaipėda County of Lithuania. The Curonian Spit has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is jointly protected by Lithuania and Russia.

Getting to the Curonian Spit

The Curonian Spit is a 100km-long peninsula that boasts the Curonian Spit National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its unique ecosystem and natural beauty. The peninsula is divided into the Russian and Lithuanian sides by a border in the middle. If you plan to visit the Lithuanian side, which is not connected to the mainland, you'll need to take a ferry.

Passenger ferries depart from Klaipeda to the Curonian Spit and leave just north of the city centre. These ferries will take you to Smiltyne and operate regularly. You can find the ferry schedule online or ask for assistance at a tourist information centre.

If you're travelling by car, you'll need to take the New Ferry, which leaves from Nemuno Str. Eight is located a bit further south. You can find more information on the schedule and location of the ferry terminal by clicking here.

Getting around the Curonian Spit

You can quickly drive anywhere on the Curonian Spit if you have a car. However, please note that you must pay a fee to enter the Curonian Spit National Park. If you plan to visit during summer, expect help finding parking spots. For this reason, we advise you to leave Klaipeda early in the morning to make the most of your day.

If you prefer public transportation, we recommend you inquire about the bus timetable at the tourist information centre or look it up online. Buses regularly depart from Smiltye and can take you to Nida. Alternatively, you can take a bus from the central bus terminal in Klaipeda, which will take a ferry and then go straight to Nida.

Upon arriving at Smiltyne, you can take the passenger ferry, which connects with the bus service. However, we suggest arriving a little earlier to explore Smiltyne before heading south.

Things to do on the Curonian Spit

The Curonian Spit boasts five settlements, with Smiltyne, Judokrante, and Nida being the most prominent and visited ones. If you're a first-time visitor to the area, it's best to begin your exploration with Nida, which offers a plethora of sights and landmarks worth seeing. After that, if you still have time and energy, you can head to Judokrante or Smiltyne. Alternatively, briefly stop at Smiltyne at the start of your trip to catch a glimpse of the beach while waiting for the bus to Nida.

Things to do in Nida

Parnidis Dune

Parnidis Dune is the main attraction in Nida and on the Curonian Spit. It should be at the top of your list of places to visit. The dune measures 52 meters in height, making it one of the highest on the Curonian Spit. The view from the top is breathtaking, and it is worth the climb. The dune is also a wandering dune, which moves a few centimetres every year. Over the past centuries, the wandering dunes on the Curonian Spit have swallowed up several villages. Some people believe that Parnidis Dune got its name because it translates to “going through Nida” and has travelled through the village multiple times.

To reach the top of the dune, follow the path south along the Curonian Lagoon, and you will eventually come across wooden staircases on your right. Climb the stairs to reach the sundial at the top of the dune, where you can enjoy magnificent views of the endless sands stretching out in front of you, the lagoon on your left and the Baltic Sea on your right.

Always stay on the designated paths, as the dunes on the Curonian Spit get smaller yearly, and your footsteps can contribute to the erosion if you’re not careful.

Go for a walk around Nida

Exploring the village of Nida is a must-do activity. A leisurely walk around the village will allow you to observe the traditional and colourful houses, a sight to behold. We enjoyed strolling along the walkway that runs along the lagoon, where we were treated to the calming sound of the water. If you visit during the summer, you can rent a bike to explore the area further or even a boat to venture out onto the lagoon. Unfortunately, we visited during winter, so these were not options for us, but we would certainly try them if we ever returned during the summer.

Visit the Thomas Mann Museum

A German writer, Thomas Mann, had a summer house in Nida that is now open for visitors. You can explore his house and learn more about his works and family history. As a German, I had the opportunity to read some of his works during my school days. However, I was amazed to learn about his intriguing family history. If you're interested in learning more about him, you should plan a visit to this museum. Additionally, the house's interior and exterior are stunning, and the view from the top is breathtaking.

Curonian Spit History Museum

If you're interested in learning more about the history of the Curonian Spit, I recommend visiting this museum. Despite being small, it's packed with a lot of valuable information. Moreover, you can view replicas of traditional fishing boats used in the area. Interestingly, the museum was initially opened by the Soviets inside an out-of-service Evangelic Lutheran Church. Later, it was relocated to the current building where it stands today.

Nida Ethnographic Cemetery

Visiting a cemetery may seem unusual, but it's worth it. In this cemetery, you can find traditional wooden tombstones typical of the Curonian Spit. These tombstones resemble trees with birds on both sides and are rooted in pagan beliefs. Nowadays, people also use crosses, but it's worth visiting the cemetery to take a closer look at the traditional tombstones.

Nida Fisherman’s Ethnographic Homestead

Unfortunately, when we visited the museum, it was under renovation. However, this is good news because it will be ready when you come! The Fisherman’s Homestead is a reconstruction of a typical fisherman’s house found on the Curonian Spit. Here, visitors can learn about traditional life in the area. Even if you cannot go inside, it is still worth visiting as the outside is colourful and attractive.