Best Beaches in Europe – 9 Reasons to Consider Latvia’s Beaches

categories: europe travel

If you are looking for the best beaches in Europe, the Greek islands, Spain and France are probably the first places that come to your mind. But Nordic Europe has something spectacular and far less crowded to offer. Some of the best beaches in Europe, for nature lovers, are actually the beaches in Latvia.

Western coast of the Gulf of Riga

As in the case of many destinations these days, travel to Latvia is mostly associated with its gorgeous capital city Riga. Yet, look behind the scenes and you will discover something surprising. The Telegraph had a recent article with 25 amazing things you probably didn’t know about Latvia. One of those things was the sandy beaches in Latvia.

Read on and find out 9 reasons why beaches in Latvia are hidden gems that you will want to visit right now.

Riga Bay Eastern Coast

#1 Pristine Nature & Diversity

The Latvian coastline is more than 500 km (300 miles) long. Most of it is vast and secluded white sand beaches that are nothing less than spectacular. 

For thousands of years the open Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga has formed a unique coastline here, and this process is still ongoing. You will rarely see the same coastline when visiting Latvia again and again. The wind, autumn storms, and in some places also people keep changing its scenery. Yet, it still remains pristine and not overdeveloped.

You will find white-sand beaches stretching along the open Baltic Sea on the wild western coast.

Kaltene stony beach

Secluded sandy beaches are also predominant along the Gulf of Riga. In some sections you will see dramatic scenery with stony beaches covered with bigger or smaller stones and pebbles.

Paviosta Grey Dune

Some beaches in Latvia have unique protected wetlands and raised bogs stretching into the coast. You will find flat areas, hilly dunes, and steep sea coasts in Latvia.

#2 Beaches In Latvia Are Truly Secluded

There are public beaches that get busy during hot summer days. These are the ones in Jurmala – the resort city near Riga and the beaches in Riga (yes there are great beaches even in our capital city). Also, the beaches in other bigger cities like Liepaja and Ventspils and in the coastal villages near Riga are busier than an average beach in Latvia.

But, most of the beaches in Latvia are tranquil and secluded. The coastline is only occasionally interrupted by small towns and fishermen villages. You will find peace and a connection with nature here.

Raised bog streching into the beach

#3 Easily Reachable

Latvia is not a big country. It is a third bigger than Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Denmark, a little smaller than Ireland, and twice as big as Belgium.

You can reach any point in Latvia from Riga within one day. And from most beaches in Latvia, you can still get back the same day. I highly recommend not to rush and take your time while you are in Latvia.

Take a bus, rent a car or find a guide and in an hour, two or maximum three (e.g. to Liepaja city) you will get to places where you will have a hard time believing that you are still in Nordic Europe and it is the Baltic Sea out there.

#4 It’s Green Out There

Latvia topped the Global Environmental Index in 2012. Hence you may guess it is a green country. More than 50% of Latvia is covered by forests. The coastal area is green too. The whole Latvian coastline is protected. The building of houses etc. is allowed only in villages, towns, and cities. That is both to protect vulnerable habitats from people and people from the sea.

Nature Park Piejura

You will have to cross lush pine forests to get to the beach in Latvia most of the time. In many places, the pines reach impressive sizes and are close to 200 years old. You will not see tall concrete buildings or private beaches on the Latvian coastline. All beaches in Latvia are publicly accessible.

Even in the big cities like Riga, Liepaja, and Jurmala, there is always a “protected belt” of forest that separates the beach from the houses. Sometimes it is hard to say that you are still in the city, as the forested areas are vast.

Many protected areas of international, European Union, or local importance are in the coastal zone. Visit the famous Kemeri National Park very close to Riga or go to the amazing and wild Slitere National Park in the North-West.

During the Soviet times, the western coast of Latvia was a military zone. Development was restricted there. This allowed nature to flourish for fifty years, resulting in amazing pristine coastal areas that you can still enjoy today.

If you are a bird-watcher, go to Kemeri National Park close to Riga or to the remote Nature Park “Pepe” in the far South-West of Latvia. Latvia is on the spring and autumn migration route of many bird species. You can spot many rare bird species on the beaches in Latvia.

Remote fishermen village in the Western coast of Latvia

#5 Cozy Fishermen Villages

While going to the beaches in Latvia, you should and will certainly stop in many fishermen villages on your way. The coastal zone holds deep fishing traditions.

The most popular fishermen villages close to Riga are Lapmezciems, Ragaciems, and Klapkalnciems on the western coast of the Gulf of Riga. Sauklrasti, Tuja, and Salacgriva towns and many smaller villages on the eastern coast of the Gulf are popular places for locals. All these can get a bit busy on hot summer weekends, but they are mostly quiet if you go there on working days or off-season.

Should you decide to go to more distant beaches in Latvia the places like Pavilosta and Jurkalne are the must-visit ones. They are on the western coast of Latvia. Pavilosta is a cozy enjoyable fishermen village. Jurkalne has the steepest coast in Latvia and the views here are amazing.

Fishing boats in Kolka village

In Slitere National Park, you will find Kolka village with the famous Kolka Cape there. This is a unique place, where the “two seas” meet. From this point, you will see the open Baltic Sea (or “The Big Sea” as locals call it) on the West and the Gulf of Riga (or “The Small Sea”) on the East.

In almost any fishing village, you can buy traditional smoked fish. In some places, you can even learn how this food is being made. The most popular smoke fish is flatfish called “bute” here. It is really yummy and goes very well with beer, which is also great in Latvia.

#6 Activities Outdoors

Beaches in Latvia are great for different outdoor activities.

Slitere National Park

Hiking

Hiking along the Baltic Sea coast is an amazing thing to do while you are in Latvia. Hiking can be arranged as day hikes of any distance and duration from Riga or from any other coastal city, town, or village.

Very passionate hikers can choose to challenge the unique long-distance hiking trail along the Baltic Sea: The Baltic Sea Path (or “Jūrtaka” in Latvian). On this trail, you will see the best beaches in Latvia and hence also some of the best beaches in Europe.

Vidzeme Stony Beach – The eastern coast of the Gulf of Riga

Catching The Sun

If you think beaches in Latvia cannot compete with the best beaches in Europe for getting a suntan, think twice.

The weather in Nordic Europe is, of course, overall unpredictable. Yet, in a summer like this year’s, the sun started shining in May and it is still 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees F) outside while I am writing this post at the end of September. It is colder now In Greece. I checked.

This was the longest summer in the recorded history of Latvia. The climate is obviously changing, and beaches in Latvia are getting more attractive for lovers of warm weather.

Even if your planned beach day gets a bit spoiled by some clouds and rain, you can always do something else like hiking. Hiking is, of course, much nicer when the day is not as hot.

Kitesurfing Liepaja city beach

Watersports

The beaches in Latvia also offer things to do for water sports lovers.

The fishermen village Pavilosta on the very west of Latvia is the place where all the local windsurfers and kite surfers go.

SUP in The Gulf of Riga

On calm days you can also try standup paddleboarding in the Baltic Sea in many places.

Sea kayaking in the Gulf of Riga

If you are a passionate kayaker, sea kayaking is also an option here. Yet be careful, check the weather forecast, and/or find a guide. The Baltic Sea is cunning and does not forgive mistakes.

Sailing is also very popular in Latvia and there are many small ports for sailboats to stop.

Beach in the Western coast of the Gulf of Riga

Swimming

Finally, you CAN also swim in the Baltic Sea and in the Gulf of Riga. Yet, be ready for water temperatures that may vary greatly. On a hot summer day, it may reach 23-25 degrees C (73–77 degrees F), yet this is rare. More often you will get 17–20 degrees C (63 – 68 degrees F) or even less if the wind is from the shore. On hot summer days, it is, however, even nicer to have a refreshing swim. Be careful though. Don’t go swimming alone if it is stormy. Also don’t swim too far from the shore, especially in the open Baltic Sea. There are occasional rip currents.

Sailing in Lielupe River delta

#7 Some Of The Best Beaches In Europe

Beaches in Latvia are the most diverse among all three Baltic States. Some can be definitely called the best beaches in Europe. Yet, being in Nordic Europe, they have been greatly overlooked so far. In a way, it makes me both sad and glad at the same time. Sad, because so many travelers don’t even know they exist. Glad, because they have remained secluded hidden gems.

Steep Balltic Sea coast in Western Latvia

#8 Latvia is Still Affordable

Latvia is still very affordable compared to most other travel destinations in Western, Southern, and Northern Europe. You will pay about 40% less compared to Scandinavia. Consider this when planning your trip to Europe or looking for the best beaches in Europe.

Frozen Gulf of Riga in the City of Jurmala

#9 Great In All Seasons

Latvia is often considered a travel destination only for summer months, I would like to break this prejudice here. Beaches in Latvia are gorgeous in every season.

The frozen Gulf of Riga is stunning in the winter.

It is not rare to meet seals on the ice. Don’t disturb them. If you meet a seal’s baby, in particular, leave it alone. People often think seal pups are abandoned and bring them to the zoo, making orphans out of pups that were not orphans before they interfered.

You can also choose to go cross-country skiing on the beach. The flat terrain is great for this activity in the winter.

Add a Latvian Sauna Ritual to warm you up after hiking or skiing on the beach, and you have a perfect winter holiday.

9 Reasons to Consider Latvia's Beaches #travel #latvia #beaches 9 Reasons to Consider Latvia's Beaches #travel #latvia #beaches

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by Rolands Ratfelders

Rolands is a professional travel content creator, entrepreneur, biologist, nature conservation and ecotourism consultant. He's an off-the-beaten-path traveler and also an actor and photographer. Check out his escape travel stories and travel tips at www.escaperies.com.

6 Responses to “Best Beaches in Europe – 9 Reasons to Consider Latvia’s Beaches”

Rammy

Says:

Nice to see wonderful snapshot of Latvia beaches.

Thank you for sharing with us.

Ana

Says:

Best beaches in Europe are definitely in Portugal

Chris Christensen

Says:

haven’t been… yet

Rolands

Says:

Portugal with its Fishermen trail is awesome. Yet Latvia can “compete” with it on this point for sure 😉 Check out our new long-distance coastal hiking trail “Jūrtaka” (“Sea Path”)! We are a Northern Europe destination which is, for sure, different.

William

Says:

Wow!!! Amazing writing. Excellent beaches in Europe… Thanks for sharing…

nishi

Says:

Wow amazing beaches i Europe really interesting beach to explore.

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