One part of Lithuania which had been on my wish list for a visit for 20+ years was Nida and the Kuršių nerija (Curonian Spit).
It is a 5 minute crossing by ferry from Klaipėda to Smiltynė on the other side of the Curonian Lagoon. Then I drove south heading for Nida, a 47 km trip along the Curonian Spit. It is just a long (98km), narrow sand dune, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its southern part is across the border in Russia. Nida is 4km from the border.
It was a very relaxing place to spend half a day. Sun. Sea. Sand. Lunch.
One highlight among many was climbing the Parnidis dune, which rises to 52m above sea level. They’ve build a walkway and steps so that you can get to the top without disturbing the very fragile environment.
Nida is a laid back fishing village turned into a summer resort, but largely undeveloped.
During the Soviet era the Spit was virtually off limits to ordinary citizens. After some Lithuanians escaped to Gotland in an inflatable dinghy, you needed permission from the KGB to pay a visit.
It is not easy to express how beautiful the Curonian Spit is. Pine trees. Sand dunes. Sea. Sun. It was like some kind of fantasy driving through it for mile after mile.
The ferry cost me €12.30 return (1 car with 1 passenger) and you pay on the Klaipėda side.
The ferries run every 20 minutes during the day, but it is a 24 hour service with hourly crossings during the night. You also have to pay €5 to take your car into the Kuršių nerijos nacionalinis parkas (the national park which takes up much of the Lithuanian side).
The regulations about crossing the border into the Russian side should be checked carefully if that is part of your plan. My brief homework on the subject revealed very quickly that obtaining a visa would be a tiresome and expensive project.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2018 🇱🇹