With cycling infrastructure rapidly expanding in Lithuania, travelers may be surprised by a unique blend of the country’s culture, history, and nature found in its trails. With routes that lie at the Lithuanian seaside, cyclists have an opportunity to discover the East Prussian influence and get immersed into undisturbed nature.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, cycling tourism has continued to be a popular choice for travelers, and Germany is one of the biggest trendsetters in this regard. According to The German Cyclists’ Association ADFC, more than 50% of Germans have opted for cycle tourism since the pandemic started.
Cyclists may be inclined to choose Lithuania as their next destination as the country has spurred the development of quality routes and plans a 20% expansion of the cycling lane network by 2024. Its cycling paths provide an opportunity to escape the increasing tension of life by escaping crowds and finding peace in tranquil nature. German travelers interested in Lithuania’s historical connection with their country and unspoiled nature can discover how these aspects combine in the three following cycling routes.
Seeking German Cultural Icons Throughout the Curonian Lagoon
One of these routes takes cyclists through the fishing villages in the so-called “‘Lithuanian Sahara.” The path winds along the Curonian Spit, a 98 km long peninsula that showcases views of the prehistoric sand dunes and flocks of wild birds. The landscape of the “Dead Dunes” is, contrary to its name, full of life — the Nagliai Nature Reserve is an environmentally sensitive area that is home to a variety of rare and vulnerable flora.
The path continuously takes the cyclists through the fragrant pine tree forests, bordered by the Curonian Lagoon on one side and the Baltic Sea on the other. It is also dotted by the cozy villages of Nida, Preila, Pervalka, Juodkrantė, and Smiltynė, all retaining traces of German heritage.
For instance, Nida, one of the most iconic locations, is the laid-back yet luxurious seaside town of Lithuania. Although it is flocked by Lithuanian residents from all over the country during the summer months, the town still offers empty beaches, stunning nature, and popular restaurants (some of which relocate from Vilnius, the capital, for the summer).
From Klaipėda to Prussian-Influenced Seaside Settlements
This 39 km route takes travelers from Klaipėda, the biggest port city in Lithuania, to the seaside villages of Priekulė, Dreverna, and Svencelė. The trail is flat, wide enough, and has many rest spots in verdant forests to make it an attractive route for families. The pine trees that embrace the dunes provide spectacular views and refreshing air to clear the minds of travelers.
Klaipėda, the starting point, has evolved into a bustling, modern port city that offers as much active entertainment as the capital. It is filled with gourmet restaurants like the cozy Monai or the ship-based Meridianas, lively bars, cultural venues, therefore travelers can experience both the urban entertainment and the allure of the nature surrounding the city.
Prussian roots are highly evident along the path: they are reflected in the timber frame architecture, castle ruins, and small, cobblestoned courtyards found in the old town of Klaipėda or the German engravings on the exterior of Priekulė’s buildings.
In addition, Svencelė — a Lithuanian water sports capital in its own right — presents ideal conditions for kitesurfing, while Dreverna tempts travelers with an observation tower that provides a birds-eye view of the river, which melts into the lagoon, and highlights the grandeur of the unique nature.
A Challenging Route Towards Famous German Residences
For those up for a challenge during their travels, Lithuania also offers 47 km of vibrant adventure via the Ventė–Mingė–Šilutė–Rusnė–Uostadvaris cycling route.
Long stretches of forest trails might require strenuous exercise, but at the same time, they present a chance to admire nature along the Nemunas River Delta with its intertwined system of bogs, swamps, rivers, and lakes. Home to many rare species of birds, including ruffs and penduline tits, it is one of the few undisturbed ecosystems in the world. Inhaling the invigorating salty sea air along the way will be a fair reward for all the hard work.
This region of Lithuania is known as Lithuania Minor, which historically was a part of East Prussia. Its ancestry is felt in the typical farmhouses, as most were rebuilt after the Second World War. Many such establishments, like the Rusnė Villa, suggest trying out traditional lunch enjoyed by both Prussians and Lithuanians throughout history — fish soup and vofeliai (waffles).
Foregoing traditional travel plans for an active vacation can be done in many different ways, and those looking for even more cycling ideas may check here.