The Curonian Spit and Smiltynė village

Type: cognitive-nature
Length – 7 km
Duration – 2 h
For those who:
– enjoy long walks on the beach
– are interested in natural history of marine ecosystem
– are interested in dolphin and sea lion shows

We recommend starting the walking tour at the Old Ferry Terminal (lith. “Senoji perkėla”), Danės str. 1. It is a short walk of around 10 minutes from the Old Town.
Take the ferry across Curonian Lagoon to the Curonian Spit (find the schedules and prices here). The ferry trip across the lagoon will take 5–7 minutes.*

Smiltynė village (1) is a part of Klaipėda city. It is stretched for 1.5 km along the side of the Curonian Lagoon. Until the 20th century, Smiltynė was the name of the tavern. The recreational relevance of the area started increasing at the end of the 19th century when in 1900 the city of Klaipėda bought a part of tavern lands.

Two groups of summer houses and the Kurhaus (cultural house with a restaurant) were built here in 1901. Until the end of 1930, from 10 to 15 traditional houses were designed and built-in Smiltynė (you can see some of the original summer houses on your right) with a beautiful promenade, surrounded by summer cafes and restaurants.

After leaving the ferry, turn to the left and pass by the café (on your right). Follow the road to the Kurhaus (2) (lith. “Smiltynės kurhauzas”).
The Kurhaus was funded by and established as an initiative of Klaipėda merchant association in 1899–1901. It is a typical Swiss-style two-story building with an attic. Its exterior is decorated in Art Nouveau style, which was popular in 19–20th century Klaipėda. In 1936 the Kurhaus not only had 50 rooms, a restaurant, and a romantic promenade in its premises, but also a small outside concert hall with several pavilions. For some time in 20’s you could even find a casino here, which was later closed because of community complaints. After WWII the Kurhaus was turned into a residence. Later the building functioned as a hotel, now it is private property.

Leave the Kurhaus on your left and follow the pathway to the beach (cafe “Nerija” should be on your right). The walk through the peaceful forest should take around 10–15 minutes. Upon reaching the beach in front you will see a big sand dune – so-called protective dune ridge (3).

The Smiltynė protective dune ridge (Spit) is a long, narrow, naturally-formed hill range, formed entirely from sand. Its main role is to control beach erosion and the movements of sand dunes towards the shore. The Spit is 98 km long and lies on the shores along the entire Curonian Spit since its design in 1881–1904. Behind the ridge, you will finally see the beautiful white sand beach and the Baltic Sea.

Go towards the Southern Pier (4) (lith. “Pietinis molas”), which you can see in the distance on your right. You should reach the pier in about 20 minutes.**

The Southern Pier, together with the pier on the other side – Northern Pier, make the Sea Gates (Jūros Vartai) of the city harbor. It was built for protective reasons – piers secure the fairway (navigable channel in the harbor area) from big sea waves, drifting ice and sediments.
They also direct the current of Danė river into the Baltic Sea. The length of the Southern Pier is 1277 m (Northern Pier is a little bit shorter – 1158 m). The piers are constructed on piles, the part above water is made out of stones.

Leave the pier and turn towards the harbor (the city).

After walking for around 200 m, you will reach Lithuanian Sea Museum and Dolphinarium (5).

Lithuanian Sea Museum is situated in a former Nerija military fort, which was built in the period from 1865 to 1871. However, the rapid development of naval forces resulted in fort becoming dispensable and unnecessary for the harbor defense at the end of 19th century. The fort then was given to the authorities of the Klaipėda city. As years passed by, the fort was used for a number of different purposes – it has functioned as a warehouse, residence for laborers, school for local children, division of Technical College for sailors and sea scouts. Finally, in 1975–1979 the fort was renovated and became the property of Lithuanian Sea Museum (architects P. Lapė, L. Šliogerienė, V. Šliogeris, constructor T. Tubis). The Dolphinarium was built in 1994 and renovated in 2010. You can find more information on the Sea Museum and Dolphinarium at http://muziejus.lt/en.

By the side of the lagoon in front of the Museum, you will see a monument called “Albatross” (6). The sculpture illustrates the bird, so familiar and dear to all the sailors – the monument is dedicated to the ones who never came back.

Go alongside the lagoon – on your left you will see the harbor area, always busy with ships and cranes. Around 400 m away from the Sea Museum you will see Ethnographic Fisherman’s Farmstead (7).

It is a part of the Sea Museum exhibition, illustrating the life of local fishermen in the 19th century. A little further you will also see an exhibition of old fishing vessels (8). Some of the ships are open to the public.

The whole area of the Museum and its outside exhibitions are called “Kopgalis” (9) (meaning – the end of the dune).

Leave the ships behind and follow the same road towards the Old Ferry Terminal, where the ferry will take you back to the city center.

Upon reaching the shore, on your left you will see a stone monument (10). Each year the names of the winners of a famous and long-lasting running competition “Amber nautical mile” (lith. „Gintarinė jūrmylė“) are carved into stone.

The best place to cool down in summer or get warm in winter is to visit a café right here at the Old Ferry Terminal. We recommend you finish the walking tour by enjoying the peaceful moment and watching the ships sail by.

Notes:
* In autumn/winter the cafés / supermarkets in Smiltynė are usually closed, thus we recommend to take some hot beverages and snacks for the trip.
** In summer be careful while walking on the beach – the beach towards Southern Pier is part of a women nudist beach. You can go around that part by taking a sidewalk just beside the protective dune ridge.