Accommodation: Our cycling holiday in the Curonian Lagoon includes a renovated mill in Klaipeda, and characterful hotels in Vente and on the Curonian Spit in Nida and Joudkrante.
Cycling mileage: 5 days of cycling 16 - 26 miles (26 - 42 km) per day and 1 day of optional cycling. Bike hire is included.
Grade out of 5 based on distance and elevation: 1.
Terrain: Pretty flat with the occasional dune.
Traffic free: 70 %; very low traffic on the rest.
This is a truly fascinating tour that explores the World Heritage listed Curonian Spit in Lithuania. Blessed with stunning sandy beaches, remarkable dunes and a timeless landscape of pine forests and traditional fishing villages, this unique area also includes the first official cycle route in the country. The spit is a loved holiday destination and as such features some delightful small towns and characterful hotels. Crossing the lagoon that separates the spit from mainland Lithuania, the tour includes the historic town of Klaipeda with its Old Town charm and the traditional seaside resort of Palanga. Alongside this, you will experience traditional Lithuanian country life as you pedal through meadows, villages, forests and deltas, often protected because of their unspoilt nature, and their unique birdlife and location. The cafes, restaurants and hotels you will visit offer traditional dishes and good service and facilities.
The cycling is wonderfully flat, very scenic and has little traffic. With its relaxed itinerary, the tour is very suitable for families.
Lithuania: As Lithuania is not well known to many outside the Baltics, we think its worth a word or two putting it on your map of places to visit, which we did in 2012. Occupied by the Russians until as recently as 1990 and with a history of foreign occupation , it's perhaps surprising to learn that The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest country in Europe in the 14th Century. The people are fiercely independent and since 1990. their rich culture has blossomed once again. Many of their towns, small and large, boast outstanding architecture in their historic quarters and along with the benefit of funding from Europe, they have a thoroughy modern intrastructure with good hotels. In developing and renovating their cities, businesses and buildings, they have remarkable skill in retaining the traditional with a blend of the stylish and modern. . Traditional cooking and values of service are prominent. Much of the landscape remains rural and unspoilt if not relentlessly flat, which has little appeal unless you like gentle cycling! It is not over run with tourists - yet, it has hot but short summers and until they get the Euro- expected January 2014, the litas represents excellent value. So 2013 is the year to experience this special country and especially the unique Curonian Lagoon.
Additional nights in Klaipeda £32 per person per night.
7 evening meals (3 courses) £95 per person.
Book an electric bike £85.
Day 1: Klaipeda.
Arrive at Palanga airport and we will transfer you the short distance to Klaipeda. Check into your hotel - a renovated mill located right on the waterfront and in the heart of the Old Town. Take a stroll through this historic seaside town that dates from the 13th Century, was known as Memel for many years and has a fascinating old town quarter. Nowadays, its a bustling, modern place with a great selection of cafes and restaurants and many annual festivals focusing on jazz, folklore and the sea The leisure options on offer range from history tours to watersports. Enjoy!
Day 2: Circular ride from Klaipeda. 16 miles (25 km).
Your host will meet you this morning, organise your bicycles and run through your itinerary. Then you are off to cycle to the resort town of Palanga, an idyllic route that leads north through the Giruliani Forest and the seaside Regional Park. En route you will pass Plaze lake and the Dutchman's Cap - a coastal cliff and have many opportunities to detour to the seashore should you wish. Arriving in Palanga, you can visit the Botanic Park and the remarkable Amber Museum housed in a former palace, relax on the miles of sandy white beach, stroll along the 470metre pier and delight in the charming cafes and restaurants of J. Basanavicius pedestrian street. We will transfer you back to Klaipeda for your second night there.
Day 3: Klaipeda to Vente. 19 miles (30 km).
Start the day with a short transfer to the small town of Priekule which for most of its history has been a part of East Prussia. Cycling south from here on country roads you pedal through a peaceful land of meadows and forests with a bird ringing station and an ornithological muesum along the way. Stop at the 19th Century lighthouse for glimpses of the glistening Curonian Spit sand dunes and cross the King Vilhelm Canal, built to link the Minija River with the Curonian Lagoon. On reaching Vente Cape, check into your small and quiet lagoon side hotel and relax.
Day 4: Vente to Nida. 26 miles (41 km).
This morning you ride on tiny lanes and bridlepaths to Lithuania's only island - Rusne Island on the Russian border and located in the Nemunas River Delta Regional Park. The village of Rusne is full of rural charm and its museum houses a traditional fisherman's smallholding. En route you take in the town of Silute, once a notable fish market with an old market square and harbour and plenty of cafes and restaurants. Stop at the old lighthouse in Uostadvaris harbour and then sit back as you cross the lagoon by ferry to arrive in Nida, the largest settlement on the Curonian spit. Your hotel lies at the heart of this former fishing village.
Day 5: Nida. Optional 6 miles (10 km).
Nida is one of the most beautiful resorts in Lithuania blessed with the Curonian Lagoon one side and the fine sandy beaches of the Baltic coast on the other. Famous for its amber - trawled from the sea bed and its impressive sand dunes, there is plenty to do here. Visit the Fisherman's House, the Amber Gallery and the summer home of the famous writer Thomas Mann; relax on the beach, cruise in a traditional sailing boat, canoe to see the Dead Dunes and take your pick of the cafes and restaurants.
Day 6: Nida to Juodkrante. 22 miles (35 km).
Pedal through the timelesss landscape of the spit today on the peaceful seaside bike path. Often in pine forests with the coast always nearby, the bike path gives you one or two dunes to scale - the only slopes of the tour! Stop at the Dead Dunes and spot the colonies of grey herons and cormorants. Juodkrante is also a forming fishing village with the waters of the lagoon lapping along its shoreline providing a truly charming location for an overnight stay. Your hotel nestles in the heart of the village.
Day 7: Juodkrante to Klaipeda. 16 miles (25 km).
As you leave Juodkrante, visit the Hill of Witches housing a hundred fanciful and folksy wooden sculptures scattered along a forest path. Your route then continues along the Lithuanian Seaside Cycle path to Klaipeda. Stop enroute at golden sandy beaches and saunter through the forests to reach Smiltyne where you take the ferry back to the Old Town of Klaipeda. Your host will meet you in the evening to bid you farewell.
Day 8: Depart Klaipeda.
Enjoy a final stroll through this fascinating town before we transfer you to Palange airport for your departure.
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