Kurshskaya Kosa National Park, Kaliningrad region – review
It’s a wonderful natural place. But I expected more. Our 1 day trip.
I will continue a small series of reviews of places in the Kaliningrad region.
I went there with my husband on May holidays. For me, before the trip, the main thing to see was Kaliningrad itself. However, to my surprise, I turned out to be much more charmed by the resort towns in Zelenograd and, especially, Svetlogorsk.
My husband convinced me to go to the Curonian Spit. For some reason, I never thought about it, although it is a popular tourist spot. The thing is that in the Kaliningrad region, I was most interested in visiting the local old architecture. And about the nature, I somehow did not think.
Meanwhile, when talking to the locals, I realized that many people appreciate the local nature.
WHAT IS THE CURONIAN SPIT?
It’s a long strip of land in the middle of the sea. More precisely, it divides the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea. The spit begins near Zelenograd. Therefore, a trip here is convenient to combine with a tour of the resort town. For example, to stop in Zelenogradsk for a couple of days, and inspect it and the spit.
The Curonian Spit is included in the UNESCO list. Probably already therefore, at least for a tick, it is necessary to see this place.
I admit, it’s really interesting to feel yourself on a sandy strip completely surrounded by the sea.
It’s also interesting that it extends to Lithuania, so it ends in the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda. So you can’t drive all the way to the end. Unless, of course, you have a Schengen somewhere.
HOW TO GET HERE?
By car. We rented a car, and drove from Kaliningrad. The distance is about 40 km, covered in less than an hour.
You have to pay to enter the park: 300 rubles per person, plus car fee of 150 rubles. That is, to drive together, we paid 750 rubles. Who knows, but to me it seems a bit expensive to enter a natural site.
WHAT IS ON THE CURONIAN SPIT?
The spit itself is sandy, so there are sand dunes. At the same time, most of it is covered with greenery, forest. In general, it is a very beautiful place.
Surprisingly, there are even settlements here. These are villages: Lesnoy, Rybachy and Morskoye.
WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO SEE?
I will go through our route exclusively. We tried to visit the main tourist spots. There as it happened, that’s how it happened.
1. The sea.
This was our first trip to the sea in the Kaliningrad region. The Curonian Spit is a long one. Sooner or later you get bored with the trip and then you can go for a walk on the seashore, have a coffee or a snack.
And you have a chance to breathe in clean air, to pick up pebbles or even to find a piece of amber (amber, is it you?)).
Surprisingly, there are lakes right on the spit. The largest is the lake Seagull. It is hard to miss it. You will see it on the way to Rybachy village. The lake is shallow. At the same time its length is almost 1500 meters. This is a very nice place. Here you can see swans for sure and take great pictures from the observation deck.
3. Where to eat lunch?
I highly recommend a place to stop and have a meal. There is a great fish restaurant “Fichhoff” in Rybachy village.
But I forgot to take pictures of the dishes in their original form, and I don’t want to expose the leftovers . There are only few pictures, which I want to share.
Here is a picture of fish soup and tincture + pie with fish stuffing (really delicious). I also ordered pike-perch with baked potatoes and my husband beef cutlet with side dish (I don’t remember the exact name of the dish). The prices here are not really low, but it is worth it. It is very delicious and beautifully decorated.
There is also a fish store in the first hall.
4. In the village of Rybatsky we decided at the same time to look at the local lighthouse. I did not expect it to be quite tiny.
Probably no taller than 5 meters.
5. Our destination (where my husband wanted to take me) was the Dancing Forest Ecological Trail. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?
We thought so too. So we were looking forward to seeing it I thought there would be something truly extraordinary there.
And so, finally, we get to our destination.
The bottom line is that in this section, for mysterious reasons, the tree trunks are curved. More precisely, even twisted. The length of the trail is not long – 800 meters. Before reaching the trail, we had to walk through the forest through the repair area (trenched earth, which will probably be used to lay concrete slabs).
What do we see? A road through a coniferous forest.
And here are the “dancing” trees.
I was expecting to see a whole forest of twisted trees. In fact, it turned out to be the occasional curved tree. Some are straight up strongly twisted, others are slightly twisted.
All in all, of course, it’s nice to walk through a coniferous forest, but nothing out of the ordinary was found there.
6. The last destination for us was the dunes: the Efa Heights ecological trail.
We arrived here towards evening, closer to sunset. So we enjoyed a beautiful view of the evening sun. and the sand mounds.
True, we messed up. On arrival at the place, for some reason, went in one direction (that’s where everyone went), and we had to go to the other side of the spit. It was from the right side of the spit, apparently, the most beautiful views of the sandbars. However, I do not get upset strongly. Well, mounds and mounds. Nothing special, but we watched the sunset.
WHICH I DID NOT LIKE.
I think that as a park, the Curonian Spit is insufficiently equipped with different facilities. Yes, elementary toilets. People go there, at least for a day, pay not the smallest money to enter. Well, you could try harder for tourists. There are street toilets near the main attractions. These are places I only go when I really need to, it’s so dirty and “fragrant. Near the Path of Eph was a normal stationary toilet, but private, already closed to our arrival, and attention, whether 60 or 70 rubles per visit! All for the people))
Well, the natural place itself, in my opinion, overrated. Well, yes, it’s curious to be on the trail. Well, yes, nice nature. But no more. Maybe I do not understand what? However, my husband had the same impression.
I advise to visit, if you have time. But I’ll give it “B”, I guess.
Curonian Spit – places of interest 2022. Guide with descriptions and photos ️
The Curonian Spit is a nature reserve, which has no analogues anywhere in the world. Just imagine: you drive along a narrow strip of land, located in the middle of big water. On one side it is washed by the Baltic Sea, on the other side – by the Curonian bay, which visually does not differ from the sea. Life boils on this sandy strip, rare animals and birds breed on the Curonian Spit, new paths appear. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Curonian Spit: what is it and where did it come from?
Curonian Spit, 20th century, © ok.ru
The Curonian Spit is 98 km long and varies in width from 400 m to 3.8 km. The Spit is sandwiched between the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda and the Russian city of Zelenogradsk. The state border between the countries passes through the center of the natural site: at the 49th kilometer of the highway, if you count from Zelenogradsk. The area where the Curonian Spit is located, formerly belonged to East Prussia, and is now considered the westernmost region of Russia, belonging to the Kaliningrad Oblast.
Look at the Curonian Spit from above (video):
History of origins
No one knows exactly how the Curonian Spit was formed. The most plausible version says that the strip of land appeared during the Paleolithic because of a cataclysm in the Atlantic Ocean. An unknown island went under the water and provoked a powerful tsunami, which redrew the coast of the British Isles and reached the Baltic. Thus two spits, the Baltic and the Curonian, rose above the water surface.
It is known, that in 10-11 centuries Vikings lived there, later the Spit passed to the Teutonic Knights. In the 18th century it belonged to the East Prussia. Trees at that time were cut down with impunity, the dunes began to “float”, hiding under the sand entire castles and settlements. The Germans thought about this and decided to strengthen the spit to save the remnants of former glory. Thus appeared the coniferous thickets, which are now carefully guarded.
Weather and climate ️
Curonian Spit during a storm, 1930. © ok.ru
The climate is something between maritime and continental. The weather is mild but variable. Strong winds from the sea blow the Curonian Spit in winter. The season from October till February is characterized by a great amount of precipitations; sometimes the snow cover is established. Tourists are recommended to visit from April till September: the Curonian Spit is especially beautiful in summer, it’s worth seeing and having a swim. There is almost no heat, so the sea is quite cool even in July.
Flora and fauna of the Curonian Spit
Be careful on the roads, wild animals can run out!
The spit preserves a great variety of natural zones. There are swamps, birch groves, thick pine forests, giant thuas, endless fields of lichens. Vegetation is plentiful, so in autumn the Curonian Spit blooms in hundreds of different colors. Wild boars, roe deer, foxes, hares hide from tourists in forests, and migratory birds stay for rest. To allow anyone to explore in detail the unusual nature of the spit, the park paved several hiking trails.
The main “pearl” in the description of the Curonian Spit – snow-white sand dunes, from 300 to 1000 m wide. The height of the biggest dune is 64 m. The unique beauty of the Curonian Spit convinced the international community to inscribe it on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. Together with the Baltic and Heli Spit it forms a unique natural complex.
The main problem of all tours – huge crowds of tourists. It feels like you come to see the people, not the sights.
What to see: 10 main points on the map of the Curonian Spit
And now about the most important thing – what to see on the Curonian Spit? Those who visit the national park for the first time are offered a whole set of must see sights of the spit. What exactly you will see during the trip depends on the organizer. We recommend booking individual excursions: the guide will adjust to your group and show you the things that interest you. With the guide you can always negotiate and see a little more than planned. And now let’s get acquainted with the main points of the reserve, which we marked on the map with the sights of the Curonian Spit.
Dancing forest on the Curonian Spit
Dancing forest, information board
This is probably the most mystical local landmark of the Curonian Spit. It represents a small grove, where the pines at the base are twisted, branched and curved in different directions. Trunks take such unusual forms that it seems as if the trees are dancing, so the grove is called “The dancing forest on the Curonian Spit. The reasons for this anomaly are unknown. Some scientists say that strong centuries-old winds have tried, others blame geomagnetic activity, while others hint at extraterrestrial intervention. Either theory only underscores the strangeness of the place.
2. Dune Efa, Curonian Spit ⛰️
View from the observation deck of the dune Efa
Height of Efa is one of the most moving and highest dunes on the Curonian Spit . It reaches a height of 64 meters above sea level, and its length is 2.8 km. This part of the spit is named after the German scientist Franz Eph, who studied shifting dunes in this area.
It is strictly forbidden to walk on the natural structure. Dune Efa on the Curonian Spit is covered with sand, which the wind has been bringing here for years, and any careless step can collapse this structure. To prevent tourists from spoiling the landmark of the Curonian Spit, Kaliningrad region, it is suggested to view it from viewing platforms. They offer a wonderful view of the bay and mini-desert.
3. Beaches of the Curonian Spit ️
Curonian Spit Beach
You can swim on the Curonian Spit, but not everyone is ready for such experiments. It is definitely not worth going here for hours and hours of swimming: even in the season the water temperature rarely rises above 19-20C. But the cool sea is great for refreshment in hot weather, and the sandy beaches are pleasant to sunbathe.
From the sea side the coast of the Curonian Spit is a solid beach strip with the length of 46 km. You can swim wherever you can get down to the water. The beaches look wild and very atmospheric, sun loungers and umbrellas would be unnecessary. On the bay side there are equipped beaches. The sand is the same white, the water is slightly warmer, and there are almost no waves. But you can approach the beach area only in one of the three settlements:
- Lesnoy. Equipped beach, there is a promenade and cafeteria. You can rent a boat, sports equipment and fishing rods. Nearby are many stores, there is a camping site for recreation.
- Fishing. Entrance to the water is smooth – for 10-15 meters from the shore the water barely reaches the knees, then the depth increases. There is a wooden deck to the water, there are no deck chairs or umbrellas.
- Morskoe. A non-populated beach 6 km from the Lithuanian border. The water is warm, warms up to +27 degrees in the summer. The shallow depth is maintained throughout 4 meters from the shore.
Keep in mind: if you go to the Curonian Spit with a group tour, because of the limited time you will be offered to swim in the area of “Efa Height”. The beach there is very beautiful, but wild. If you book an individual tour on the Curonian Spit, the guide can take you to any equipped beach, if the wild one doesn’t suit you. For example, to the village Lesnoy.
4. Muller height, Curonian Spit
View from Muller height, Curonian Spit © wikimedia.org
The highest point of the oldest part of the Curonian Spit is Muller Height . This is the top of the three-headed dune Bolotnaya, on the slope of which there is a hiking route. You can walk along a wooden planking, which turns into stairs with railings. It gently climbs to a height of 44 meters, and on both sides of the path there are a hundred-year-old fir trees and mountain pines. At the end of the trail tourists expect an observation deck, opening a panoramic view of the vast sea, bay and lake Chayka.
5. Rybachy village
Guest house Ostermaer, former Pastor’s house © Booking.com
Until 1946 the settlement of Rybachy was called Rossitten. At first the main task of the settlement was to provide a knight’s castle, from which raids on the Lithuanian lands took place. The castle has collapsed, but old German houses, a medieval cemetery and two of the main attractions of Rybachy settlement remind us of the past. These are:
- Lutheran Church. It is completely opposite to the huge Gothic cathedrals: compact, cozy and well-proportioned. The church was built in 1873 according to the design of architect Stuhler, who also worked on the Rosgarten and Royal Gates in Kaliningrad.
- Pastor’s House. Right opposite the church stands the parsonage, named after the first pastor – Ostermaer. Now it is a mini-hotel. Look at the options of accommodation can be found on the official website booking.com
The village is simply pleasant to walk around, looking at the old houses surrounded by flowers and greenery. Before you go for a walk, buy smoked fish from a local store: it’s the freshest and incredibly tasty here.