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The Curonian Spit, Lithuania: an ‘escape-the-crowds’ holiday.
If you look at the Curonian Spit on the map it is difficult to imagine how this fragile strip of land continues to cling to Russian Kaliningrad at its southern end and the Lithuanian mainland to the north. Indeed this unique stretch of sandy land (shared by Lithuania and Kaliningrad) is barely over a metre wide and just under 100km long and divides the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea.
A UNESCO World Heritage site from 2000, it is an area of spectacular natural beauty with pine forests where you can glimpse elk, wild boar and deer, sand dunes up to 70 meters high,and picturesque fishing villages. The never-ending sandy beaches at the Lithuanian end have Blue Flag status but even in summer, parts of the Spit remain a quiet haven, and you have a choice of paddling lagoon-side or in the Baltic Sea.
A single main road runs between the dunes to the Russian border, reports The Mail, but a favourite way of getting about is by bicycle on the lagoon-side cycle tracks, and there are plenty of bikes for hire.
The four main settlements of Juodkrante, Pervalka, Preila and Nida, collectively known as Neringa, are also lagoon-side and are full of traditional attractive wooden houses and places to eat. Smoked fish is a speciality. The spit is famous for its amber, and Nida is a great place to buy some beautiful amber jewellery.
For flight information, check Baltic Air (www.airbaltic.com) and Ryan Air has flights to Kaunas.