The ancient fishing village of NIDA, has been the main focus for tourism on the spit ever since the mid-nineteenth century, when the first German visitors were drawn here by the promise of unspoilt seaside rusticity. The Germans were quick to rediscover the place in the early 1990s. and it’s now Lithuanians and outsiders. Despite some ugly Soviet architecture at its heart, it still possesses an impressive stock of traditional timber houses, many of their reed thatched roofs sporting the wooden, horse-head crosspieces characteristic of Curonian homes.

Some of the prettiest of Nida’s houses are to be found just south of the main square, along narrow streets like Lotmiškio and Naglių. Here you’ll find neat lines of wooden fishermen’s houses, attractively painted in a variety of maroons, yellows and blues, their tidy, picket-fenced gardens packed with flowers and fruit trees. One of the best examples, at Naglių 4, is now the Fishermen’s Ethnographic Homestead, a plain, wooden structure laid end-on to the road. The reconstructed interior provides a fascinating insight into the domestic life of Curonian fishermen in the nineteenth century. Oblong dwellings such as this were designed to accommodate two households, one at each end, each with their own kitchen, sitting room and bedroom. Curonian families were very much in colour-coordinated interiors if the furnishings on display here are anything to go by – wooden chests, wardrobes and bedsteads are painted the same bright blue as many of the house exteriors. Walls were left bare except for uplifting religious mottoes, neatly embroidered and framed.

The Dunes

The highlights of any trip to Nida are the dunes, which begin just south of the village. From the southern end of Naglių a shore path runs to a flight of wooden steps that forges up past wild raspberry bushes onto the shoulder of the fifty-metre-high Parnidis Dune, one of the bigges that Neringa has to offer. The summit is marked by a modern sundial in the form of an imposing obelisk decorated with rune-like inscriptions. Blown off its pedestal by a gale in 1999, it was been only partially reconstructed, and now looks like the mysterious remnant of some ancient civilization.

From the summit extends a rippling sandscape of semolina-coloured dunes, their flanks mottled with patches of grey-green moss and purplish thistle flowers. The eastern, lagoon-facing sides of the dunes are roped off in order to prevent subsidence, althought you can strike out southwards for about 1.5km before coming up against the boundary of a strict nature reserve – a glorious pale-sand wilderness into which you are not permitted to venture, stretching as far as the Russian border some 2km beyond.

You can walk west from the sundial – or indeed take any of the paths leading weswards from Nida – to reach the beach on the spit’s far shore, where you’ll find a handful of food and drink shacks. It‘s glorious place for a stroll even on badweather days, when gunmetal seas roll in under glowering skies. Running parallel to the strand and handy for exploring the woods just behind the beach is a north-south foot- and cycle-path.