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Curonian Spit (Куршская коса)

Image of Curonian Spit

 

Location: Kaliningrad Oblast   Map

UNESCO World Heritage Site

 

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Transportation

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

Interesting information and useful tips

 

 

 

Description of Curonian Spit

Curonian Spit is a narrow stretch of land on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Much of this land is covered by sandy dunes, pine forests and small fishermen villages. Curonian Spit National Park sits on the shores of the Baltic Sea on its western side and Curonian Lagoon on the eastern side on the border between Lithuania and Kaliningrad Russian Federation. This sand bar reached a length of 98 km in length and in width it reaches 3.8 km, although in its most narrowest parts it measures just 400 meters. Much of the protected reserve is covered by coniferous pine forests, sand dunes and birches. In 2000 Curonian Spit was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Park covers a total area of 7890 hectares. In addition to picturesque nature, beautiful Baltic Sea, Curonian Spit was also inhabited by people by centuries. The only way to make a living here is by fishing. Hence national park also contains traditional fishermen villages including Lesnoe (Forest in Russian), Rybachiy (Fisherman) and Morskoe (Marine).

 

Curonian Spit is a narrow stretch of land formed about 3rd millennium BC by the glacial deposits that protect Curonian Lagoon. Although local legends claim that it was giantess Neringa that was playing on a shores of a Baltic Sea. A patchwork of sand dunes, pine forests and meadows covered by a carpet of flowers  is easily accessed by numerous trails. Human impact on the region was brief, but devastating. Deforestation quickly decreased soil stability. Alarmed by impeding disaster that could easily swallow up local fishermen's villages, Prussian government put a stop to any ecological destruction in 1825. Since then the Spit was preserved and nature quickly recovered.

 

 

 

Curonian Spit despite its modest size plays an important role in the migration route of birds that come here from Finland, Karelia region (Russia) and the Baltic states on their way to southern Europe and Africa. This route probably formed because for most of human history and development, Curonian Spit was never inhabited by any significant amount of people. Thus it became a high density of migratory birds flow in spring and autumn periods.

 

The climate in the region of a Curonian Spit is variable throughout a year. It has mild winters, moderately warm summer, warm autumn and cool spring. The landscapes of the Curonian Spit has an extraordinary beauty and aesthetic effect on the person and provide a unique facility for the development of eco-tourism and recreation.

The special significance of the Curonian Spit is manifested in a rare combination of natural and cultural heritage. Here there is a high level of presence of artifacts of human presence from various chronological periods. Curonian Spit is also famous for numerous well preserved historical fishing villages.

 

History
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.

Landscape
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
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.

 

 

 

 


 

Transportation

Get in
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 120 rubles 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.

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 €20, and campers are charged €30 (2018 rates). A car entering the Russian part is charged 300 rubles.

Entering some of the nature reserves, including the border zone, is either limited or prohibited.

 

Get around
There is a single road running through the whole length of the spit. It is possible to travel on it by car, bicycle or bus. However, travelling on foot across the border is strictly prohibited.

Visiting the Curonian Spit on car requires the correct documentation and insurance in order to bring the car from Russia into the EU, or vice versa, so using a bicycle may be the easiest option. Using bus is also possible, but require working around the schedule as there are only 2 to 3 buses per day which run along the whole length (most buses only run south of Morskoye or north of Nida).

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.

 

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Lodging
There are guesthouses in the settlements along the spit.

 

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

 

 

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

 

 

Interesting information and useful tips

 

 

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