Nida, once a small fishing village, is now a popular vacation spot in Lithuania. Located on the Curonian Spit, that curved bar of land separated by a lagoon from the mainland, it draws visitors with its colorful houses festooned in flowers, quaint seaside spots for relaxation, and pale, shifting sand dunes that brightly reflect the summer sun. While people visit the Curonian Spit often specifically with the intention to end up in Nida, the entire length of the spit offers lookouts, beaches, and options to learn about and enjoy the natural environment of this World Heritage-protected stretch of land.
Lithuanian smoked fish is a treat when you visit Nida or the Curonian Spit. Look for signs for the fish advertising “zuvys,” and choose from a variety of freshwater and saltwater fish. For example, several small shops can be found in Juodkrante, another picturesque village along the spit. Smoked fish is best eaten with the fingers—picnic on the beach or find a bench under the shade of the trees.
One of the most spectacular aspects of Nida’s landscape it its dunes. The white sand reflects the sun with a dazzling effect, and plant life that has made its home there sway lazily in the sea breeze. A climb to the top will reward you a view of the surrounding land and the lagoon. While the dunes are extremely popular, you can still find pockets of privacy that will allow you to take in nature without being distracted by other tourists. At the top, you will also find a giant sundial, erected there and carved with symbols as a nod to Lithuania’s pagan past.
The Border with Russia
Lithuania borders Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast. With Nida being the westernmost outpost on the Lithuanian side, if you drive further you’ll encounter the border with Russia. Entering Russia requires planning, including securing visas, so if you see the border check point, you’ll want to turn around to stay in the European/Lithuanian side of the spit.
The Baltic Sea is a northern sea, so even in the summer it can feel cold. However, that doesn’t stop people from enjoying the white sand beaches (or even, for those who have already conditioned themselves, a swim) of the Curonian spit. These clean expanses offer beautiful views (particularly at sunset). If you take the ferry directly from Klaipeda, you have easy access to one of the most popular beaches, accessible through a pleasant walk along wooded trails. Choose from family, nude, and women’s-only sections, and be sure to bring your own sunshade because, unless you choose to rest under the trees away from the water, no shade is otherwise provided.
Visitors to the Curonian Spit may be impressed with the level of cleanliness of the natural environment—even where people gather or stop to rest after a bike ride. The spit is important culturally and a haven to many species of plants and animals, and therefore Lithuanians take care of this special stretch of land. Furthermore, it’s initiated a reduction in plastic waste in response to global environmental concerns about single-use plastics. Visitors are also expected to clean up after themselves and dispose of their trash properly so that everyone can enjoy the same level of pristine beauty that the spit reflects despite its popularity with summer vacationers.
Getting to the Nida and the Curonian Spit
Many people make their base Klaipeda so that they can take the ferry over to the Curonian Spit. Ferries will take car traffic, foot traffic, and bike traffic. While it’s possible to take a bus to Nida from Klaipeda, car is by far the most convenient way to get there. The ferry service outside of town takes visitors using vehicles, while the ferry service directly from Klaipeda takes pedestrians and cyclists across to the spit.
Since it’s located on the westernmost part of the spit, travelers must journey its entire length to reach Nida from where the ferry docks. Unfortunately, in the high season, parking can be difficult to find. If you plan to overnight in Nida, it would be wise to check if your accommodations come with parking.