Earth : Europe : Baltic states : Latvia : Riga region : Jūrmala
Jurmala, the pearl of Latvia, is the largest resort town in the Baltic. No other place has beaches with tens of kilometres of such white, fine sand. Nowhere else do the pines on the dunes murmur so restfully. And the air is full of ozone and sea freshness. Right behind the dunes are the wooden houses so characteristic of Jurmala, with their finely divided window, verandas and rooftop structures. Beside them are contemporary buildings, blending admirably into the landscape.
Jurmala is a city on the crest of a wave. A wave of achievement, of hope, of love and success. The waves in the Gulf of Riga, with their white crest, are calm and inviting only in the summer. In the autumn storms, they grow harsh and impose their own rhythm. Just as varied as the sea is life in the different parts of the town along its whole 33 km length, between the Lielupe, one of Latvia's major rivers, and the Gulf of Riga. At the narrowest spot, a distance of only 300 metres separates the river from the sea.
The town has many hotels and guest houses, catering for widest range of tastes. There are pools with seawater and mineral water. Tennis courts and yacht clubs. Jurmala offers diverse cultural, recreation and sporting activities. Favourites are the traditional festivities — The Jomas street Festival, and the Fishermen's Festival, both held in the middle of summer, in July. For unforgetable moments, take a summer ferry trip down the River Lielupe. The town's history, along with people well known in Latvia and the world, is seen in six museums, including one of Latvia's few open-air museums. By walking the nature trails, you can acquaint yourself at leisure with the outstanding relief, flora and fauna.
Jurmala is beautiful and interesting at any season of the year, but most visitors arrive in the summer months, from June to August. The town is gradually developing into a venue for conferences and meetings, where guests arrive throughout the year.
Certainly, every tourist and visitor is welcome, assured of a hospitable reception in Jurmala. Every moment in Jurmala provides energy and joy of life to last a long time, and all who come will long to return again and again.
From Riga Airport a good option is to take a taxi to Imanta suburban rail station, a 5 km not too expensive ride from the airport, and continue by suburban rail from there (15 min). A direct taxi ride between Jurmala and the airport should not cost over 15 lats.
Being located in the Riga commuter belt, Jūrmala is served by suburban trains on the Riga - Tukums route (with intermediate termini in Dubulti and Sloka), mostly leaving every 30 min from Riga Central Station (< 1 lat). Jūrmala has several stations, but Majori is the most central and takes about 30 min to reach.
A fee is charged for entering the Jūrmala area by car. Entry is monitored with cameras and vehicles entering the area without a valid ticket will be fined LVL 50.
There are also various slightly touristy riverboats leaving along the Daugava shore in Riga for a price of 5 or 10 lats per person departing around 11:00-12:30, with a journey time of 2-2.5 hours downstream. The ride back upstream seemed a bit cheaper with some companies.
The city is characterized by its wood architecture with gingerbread accents, cottage-style buildings, and resorts. Wood architecture is its most outstanding feature. Only Lielupe, Pumpuri, Melluži, Vaivari and Sloka have saved their wood train station buildings. Dzintari Concert Hall was built on the site of the once-famous Eidenburg amphitheater where the Eidenburg resort was opened in 1897. Now it is the most popular concert venue where international stars often perform.
The most notable recreation area was Horn Gardens Horn Gardens was home to the first movie showing in Jūrmala and the first Latvian symphonic music performance. Majori Hotel was built next to Horn Gardens. Another historical building in Jūrmala is Emīlija Rācene's Swimming Facility. It was built from 1911 to 1916 and was used as a medical institution. The sanatorium Marienbāde built in 1870 is located on the border of Dubulti and Majori was once an expansive health and rest centre, but has experienced several fires.
Jūrmala is also the home to Latvia's only riding therapy center, the National Rehabilation Center "Vaivari". Riding was popular pastime in Jūrmala during the late 19th century, and people rode through the streets as well as on the beach. Later, riding on the beach was prohibited. Jūrmala Ethnographic Open—Air Museum, houses examples of life as it once was in the fishing villages along the coast. Characteristic 19th century coastal fishing homestead includes the family home, barn, fish smoke house, sauna and other buildings. A rope—making workshop can be visited as well.
The beaches in Jurmala are amazing, with breathtaking views of the bay as well as pine forests along the coastline. It is most famous for the amber production in result of the unique landscape. There are several world renowned spas in Jurmala.
If you prefer less crowd and even whiter and softer sandy beach, go to the Western Latvian city Liepaja, which has much more than just a beach, including the former secret military town of Karosta with scenic fortresses on the seashore, as well as a lovely city center and seaside park.