Summer is the time when many Latvians exchange their plastic sun beds and artificial UV rays for real ones, and head out to find their own place in the sun, on one of Latvia’s many beaches.
If you’re here to catch some sea and surf, perhaps the easiest option is Jurmala, Riga’s closest beach area, with plenty of spots to choose from. For the more adventurous, why not venture out and explore some of Latvia’s other, lesser explored beaches?
After all, you’ve got over 531 kilometres of seashore and sand to choose from! Below you will find our guide to Latvia’s best beaches.
The word Jurmala literally means “sea coast,” and is the collective name for a stretch of towns located not far from Riga’s city centre. The most popular destination for beachgoers is Majori, but you can also alight the train at Lielupe, Bulduri, Dzintari, or Dubulti, and from any of those stops the beach is just a short walk north.
There’s much more to do in Jurmala than just sun tan. If you get off the train in Majori, the Jurmala Tourist Information board is just within eyesight. Why not stop off here and learn about the area’s many museums – both indoor and outdoor ethnographic ones – nature trails, spa centers, and other fun activities that you can take part in. A walk down Majori’s pedestrian street, Jomas iela, will offer you plenty of places to eat, drink or just relax in the sun.
Take the Boat!
If the overcrowded trains in the height of summer are not quite your idea of relaxation, another option is to take the boat out to Majori. Enjoy a relaxing 90-minute ride on the Daugava River to Jurmala’s main town, Majori, which is strategically located between the sea and the Lielupe River, where your boat will arrive.
The boat leaves at 11:00 from in front of the Liela Kristaps (Great Kristap) statue in Riga, and arrives in Majori at 13.30. If you buy a return ticket, then you’ll have just enough time to head to the beach and grab a quick bite before catching the 16:00 boat back to Riga. Or, stay as long as you like and take the train or a minibus back.
If you’re looking for a more peaceful and relaxing spot to take in the rays, head north to Riga’s ‘other sea coast’. Train fares are just as cheap, and the trains just as crowded, but the beaches are certainly less so. You can get off at nearly any stop from Lilaste onward, and the sea won’t be but a hop, skip and jump away from the train station.
If you alight in Saulkrasti, in addition to the beach there are plenty of nature trails, for example the sunset trail, which stretches over three kilometres from the White Dune to the Sun Bridge. This will take you through the forest but never too far from the nearby sea to steal a glimpse of the late northern sunset. For other museums and attractions, visit the friendly tourist information centre at 10 Ainazu iela (Mon.-Thurs. 9-18, Fri. 9-16, Sat. 9-15, closed Sun.).
THE BALTIC SEA: LIEPAJA AND VENTSPILS
If the Gulf of Riga is too tame for your taste, you can head out by car or bus to Latvia’s major seacoast cities: Liepaja, Ventspils, and Pavilosta. If you want to get there even quicker, Air Baltic offers flights from Riga to Liepaja to a very cheap price. There is plenty to do in each of these cities, and the beaches boast impressively massive sand dunes, and wide stretches of white, smooth sand.
For the adventure seekers looking for a bit more action, the small town of Jurkalne (which literally translates as “sea mountain”), located between Pavilosta and Ventspils, is apparently the best place for paragliding. The subtle combination of strong winds and high sand dunes (which is a relative term for flat Latvia), make this the perfect place for “flying.”
Each of these Baltic seacoast cities offer much more in the way of tourist attractions than simply their gorgeous white sand beaches, which is good news, since summer in Latvia does not always guarantee beach weather. Perhaps the most unusual attraction in these parts is the Karosta Military City, located just outside of Liepaja. If the bad weather is not enough punishment for you, you can seek refuge in a Soviet prison here – a reality show that you will most certainly want to escape before the night is through (see www.karostascietums.lv).