I wanted to visit Latvia since I learned about its strategic war location in high school. I figured as the heart of Europe, it would have a diverse culture with even more diverse architecture. It wasn’t a wrong assumption and Riga’s role as the European Capital of Culture this year is proof. What I didn’t realize is that it’s home to great adventures in Sigulda, including bobsledding, rock climbing, bungee jumping, and a Tarzan park, and the town of Jurmala is an extremely popular beach destination. With therapeutic thermal waters, peat mud, pine forests, healthy maritime climate, dunes, and beaches covering 32.8 kilometres, Jurmala is the largest resort city in the Baltic States. Since it’s too cold for swimming , I wasn’t exactly looking to get in the water but seeing the Baltic Sea was on my list this year so I made the short drive from Riga to Jurmala to check another item off of my 2014 list. What I found was more than a check mark; it was magnificent!
A wide, sandy, well-maintained beach spread out before my eyes with historic wooden architecture in the backdrop. Although not out in the winter, the beach is filled with volleyball courts and loads of water-front hotels. It reminded me of Virginia Beach yet it’s in the middle of the Baltics.
The beach is covered in white quartz sand and “The Blue Flag”, which is a sign of a high quality, safe, and well-equipped beach. With free WiFi coverage and soft, rolling waves, I could have stayed there all day even though it was too cold to swim. Seeing the Baltic Sea was on this year’s list but next year I will need to add, “Swim in the Baltic Sea” to ensure that I return.
I’d never considered Latvia as a beach destination but I’m learning that it has way more to offer than just a strategic location.