A Weekend In Nida and The Curonian Spit, Lithuania
Finally, I was there, standing on the top of the Parnidis Dune, watching the waters of the Curonian Lagoon, the forested Curonian Spit all the way to Russia, and the Baltic Sea all at the same time.
When preparing for my trip to the Baltic States, I already felt that Nida and the Curonian Spit would be special. It would be a highlight, for sure! And the spit did not disappoint.
Scrambling over massive sand dunes is a sure way to make you feel like a happy kid again but already finding yourself in the pretty resort village of Nida just feels good. It’s pretty and picturesque, the houses are colorful. It’s lively and really peaceful at the same time. For an Introvert traveler, it sounds like paradise.
For a nature lover and exploration junkie, it also sounds like paradise when you know that giant sand dunes and endless beaches are just a short walk away, through a nice conifer forest.
The whole place is big enough to allow for nice long walks but small enough for you to explore most of it in a day, which makes it very convenient to include in an itinerary in the Baltic States.
GPS (Entrance of the Parnidis Dune): 55°17’44.55″N, 20°59’40.43″E
How to go: Bus to Klaipeda, then ferry to the Curonian Spit and bus to Nida. There are all-inclusive tickets.
Entrance fee: Free
Duration of visit: At least half a day to walk around, a whole day if you take time to enjoy the beach, etc.
Best season: Spring and summer
The Curonian Spit – Contents
- A Weekend In Nida and The Curonian Spit, Lithuania
- [Quick Info]
- The Curonian Spit, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- [Travel Video] The Curonian Spit
- What Itinerary did I follow?
- Last Thoughts on Nida & The Curonian Spit
The Curonian Spit, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
What are we talking about exactly?
The Curonian Spit is a thin strip of land running along the shores of Lithuania and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The spit separates the calm waters of the Curonian Lagoon from the turbulent waves of the Baltic Sea. Its major attraction is massive sand dunes, actually more present on the Russian side but more easily and frequently visited on the Lithuanian side.
The spit may appear today as an endless wilderness with sand dunes and forests, but it wasn’t always the case! The landscape of the Curonian Spit has been deeply modified by human activity in the past. As a matter of fact, it is as a “cultural landscape” that UNESCO added the spit to the World Heritage Sites list in 2000.
5000 years ago, the sea started to deposit a thick layer of sand on a string of moraine islands (accumulation of debris deposited by glaciers) to form the Curonian Spit and the Great Dune Ridge. The vegetation soon took over the land and a thick forest grew on the spit.
Humans have been present on the spit since the prehistoric ages. But in the 17th and 18th centuries, shipbuilding was big and the Curonian Spit’s forests were devastated. The dunes soon started to shift towards the Curonian Lagoon, burying a number of villages and settlements!
In the 19th century, massive reforestation campaigns finally stabilized the dunes and led to the landscape we know today.
The Curonian Spit Travel Video
What Itinerary did I follow?
From the peaceful resort village of Nida, it is easy to spend a day exploring the sand dunes and walk across the spit all the way to the endless beach on the Baltic Sea.
If you have explored the virtual tour above and watched the video, you should have an idea of what my itinerary looked like. It was a kind of loop from and back to Nida, including the dunes, the beach on the Baltic Sea, the Russian border, and the Curonian Lagoon. If you are a map person, you can check out the one at the bottom of this page!
VIRTUAL TOUR – Curonian Spit
Go for a big loop in the Curonian Spit, between the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea, and explore the sand dune (12 panoramas).
Click Here to View The Virtual Tour
The virtual tour opens in a lightbox. Use your mouse to move around the 360° panoramas.
1. Nida to the Parnidis Dune
From Nida, there is a pretty little path you can follow through the woods, that will take you to the foot of the Parnidis sand dune. Simply take the stairs up the sand dune for a magical view of the Curonian Lagoon. The light is particularly beautiful in the morning if it is sunny.
Then climb further up to the top of the sand dune – you will come across the Sundial, a major landmark in the park.
From there, a viewpoint will offer you the best view of the dunes. You will be able to see both the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea at the same time, showing how thin the spit is. In the distance can easily be seen Kaliningrad (Russia).
2. Road to the beach
From there, you can follow a small road going down into the woods. This will first take you to the campground and eventually lead you to the beach.
After the campground, cross the road leading to Russia and you will find the path to the beach. I was surprised to find out that it’s actually a nudist beach! But everybody is welcome, naked or not.
3. The beach and weird Russian border
As you arrive at the windy beach, you just can’t stop smiling at the vast spaces in front of you and breathing deeply all this fresh air coming from the sea.
The beach looks really endless, bordered by smaller sand dunes covered with long grass dancing in the wind.
If you walk south, you will eventually reach a few small signs materializing the end of Lithuania, and the beginning of Russia!
This is not the exact border but actually the beginning of a no man’s land protecting the actual border. But a Russian watchtower can be seen in the distance and I am sure there is a guard up there making sure that no stupid tourist crosses the line!
Since it’s not possible to go further, just walk back to where you came from.
4. Crossing the dunes back to the Curonian Lagoon and closing the loop
On my way to the beach, I followed the classic path on the top of the dune, overlooking the whole landscape. But there was this little frustration of not having been in the sand dunes for a real immersion in the landscape.
It is easy to cross the dunes until reaching the Curonian Lagoon again. It is then possible to walk along the shore, on the tiny beaches that exist between the sand dunes and the lagoon. At some point, you will be back in Nida – and the loop will be closed!
TRAVEL MAP – Curonian Spit
Visualize on the map the precise locations of panoramas in the virtual tour and places of interest to help you prepare for your trip to Nida and the Curonian Spit.
The map opens in a lightbox. Zoom in to explore!
Last Thoughts on Nida & The Curonian Spit
You probably have realized by now that I loved my stay in Nida! Very easy to include in any itinerary in the Baltic States, it’s a great opportunity to spend a couple of days far from big cities with great nature to explore around.
I believe the Curonian Spit belongs to the club of the greatest landscapes of Europe and should be at the top of your list if you plan to travel to the region.
Very cool! I had never heard of The Curonian Spit before! I visited Lithuania a couple of years ago, but only to Vilnius. We absolutely loved the city, the food and the people and it definitely left me wanderlusting to see more of the country and Baltic States! This is a great itinerary, thanks for the post!
Hey Erica, thanks for the comment! It’s true that many people don’t go beyong Vilnius and it’s really too bad, Lithuania has a lot to offer.
This looks like a lovely place to explore! That is crazy that there is just a sign at the no-man’s land!!
Hey Marta, yes this border sign is quite puzzling!
Truely an explorational trip. Looks great but I’d not heard of this area either. The pics of the dunes are wonderful.
Thank you Ian, I’m happy you discovered something new 🙂
Sherrie Fabrizi Allbritten
I love learning about new places. This was really interesting. Your video is awesome. Major climb up those stairs! Interesting border sign too. Great article!
Thank you! It’s cool you go to know a new place with this article 🙂
Yes please! This sounds like such an interesting place. I do plan to visit Lithuania at some point, so I will add this to the list of places not to miss.
Thanks for the comment! I’m happy I could contribute to your Lithuania itinerary 🙂
First of all I am learning about Lithuania so please excuse me as I know nothing about the area and thank you for sharing about Nida and the Curonian Spit. I love that nature set up a barrier. It always amazes me what you will find in the most unusual places. I expected the coast of Lithuania to be rocky not sandy. I bet that water was freezing though. How totally bizarre is that border between Russia and Lithuania at the beach in Nida. I am adding the beach and dunes and the Spit on my Lithuania Bucket list!
Thank you Eric, the Curonian Spit is definitely a very special and unusual place to explore! It’s worth the trip!
I love those beach shots of the Curonian Spit. I’d never heard of it, but you are right it is quite stunning. Definitely a new destination for my list
Thank you Fiona, glad you enjoyed it!
Jenn and Ed Coleman
I have been following travel heavily for the last couple of years so it’s great when something surprises me. Nida looks tropical and lovely, it’s hard to imagine that it is ten degrees below the arctic circle. I imagine that when summer comes they take full advantage of it. The days must last forever. Your pictures are beautiful.
Thank you! It is not a common landscape for sure!
I must admit that endless sand dunes are not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Lithuania. I can see why you were drawn to the Curonian Spit, this stretch of Baltic Coast is gorgeous!
Thanks for your comment Brianna, it’s always nice to find unusual places to discover!
You are right about this being appealing to the people who love walks. The trek here would be so refreshing and interesting. Nida, besides being your starting point seems like a quaint and interesting place that I would love to explore.
Hi Ami, many people go to Nida for the sand dunes but the village itself is really pleasant and colorful too!
Looks like a beautiful and interesting place to visit. We use the UNESCO World Heritage sites list more often than a guide book!. And I love sand dunes, although not walking through then too much.
Thanks Yasha! The boardwalk offers awesome views already, this UNESCO site is definitely worth the trip!
I have never heard of Nida and The Curonian Spit.
BTW I love the time-lapse in the video of driving and getting on the ferry etc…
That beach is absolutely stunning. Very interesting history behind, The Curonian Spit being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Thank you Christopher, the Curonian Spit definitely is a hidden gem!
Woah, The Curonian Spit sounds pretty cool. I had no idea that this place even existed. In fact, I am a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I didn’t even realize there was a small piece of Russia wedge between Lithuania and Poland.
I have heard great things about Lithuania, but I had never really thought of it as a beach vacation. How was the Baltic Sea? Did you take a dip? I imagine the water must be freezing that far north!
Glad you didn’t test the temperament of those Russian guards!
Thanks for the comment Nick! For sure Kaliningrad is a tricky little piece of geography. Lithuania is really worth exploring, but I would never be able to swim in the Baltic Sea haha! Way too cold for me and the waves were pretty strong too.
Even though the forests were devastated over time it sounds amazing. What a wonderful place to visit, especially if, like me, you’ve never seen a dune! Nida sounds lovely, but the border would be a bit freaky. I’d love to see the Curonian Lagoon, and just explore that entire region.
Hey Carol, Nida was definitely a highlight in all 3 Baltic States. I totally love sand dunes and I know I am never disappointed when there are dunes around! The border was very surprising and we had fun taking pics there!
Never heard of this , but it is very pretty. Never knew Lithuania as a beach spot. That is new to me.
Thanks for the comment Holly, Lithuania really is a forgotten destination that has a lot to offer!