Jurmala means seaside in Latvian language. How self-explanatory, right? Anyone who is in Riga or in any other part of Latvia should make time to go to Jurmala. It is only 30 minutes away from Riga and a perfect destination to get to know the Latvian local style of vacationing.
Lucky me… the weather was gorgeous and I spent a lovely day walking at the long long long beach and feeling the fresh sea breeze on my face. I was there in beginning of May which was still low season and the streets and the beach were quite empty. As I saw pictures taken in high season during summer months, I couldn’t believe it was Jurmala.
Things to do in Jurmala
Well, obviously the blue flag beach is the top highlight of Jurmala. The 26 km long gold sandy beach is the perfect place to do whatever you imagine is cool to do at the beach.
Walking, jogging, playing beach volleyball, football, Frisbee, sunbathing, swimming, kite surfing, windsurfing, water bicycling, sailing, water-skiing, building sand castles, uhhmm… what else… observing sea birds, recording the sound of the waves, collecting shells (maybe even amber pieces), well… use your imagination… the options are endless…
From Majori to Bulduri it is approx. 4 km. which is perfect to take a long slow walk at the beach.
Former Bath House
It must have been a glorious spa centre back in 1916. Imagine taking a bath with the warmed-up sea water. Such a shame that this beautiful historic piece of wooden architecture in Art Nouveau style is not in use anymore. The time I was there (May 2016) the building was for sale! Admittedly I had a short day dream what I would do if I owned this historic building, but then I had to pause it as it came to the part where I had to pay for it.
The heart of Jurmala beats in this 1 km long pedestrian street between Majori and Dzintari. Beautiful wooden houses on the left and right side decorate Jomas Street (Jomas iela) and it is the place to look for a restaurant, cafe or a souvenir shop in Jurmala. Jonas street is super close to the beach and thanks to it the beach is still free of shops and bistros, and can stay as a pristine sandy beach.
They are everywhere and you won’t get tired of it. I don’t want to sound like an old lady who finds everything in old times better but the architecture back than was definitely better. It had style. It was aesthetic. The buildings of today are designed for pure efficiency, it lacks arts and aesthetic. It is all about cheap materials like glass and cement. Think about what we have inherited from the previous civilisations and generations (marble colosseums, architectural genius pyramids, etc.) and what kind of architecture we will leave behind us. Probably nothing but steal beams, because glass and cement will just disappear with wind erosion within one hundred years or so.
What was I saying? Yeah… I was telling you about the beautiful wooden houses… Jurmala has 414 officially registered historical wooden buildings, mostly built by Baltic German and Latvian architects. Each of them are an art piece to look at. It broke my hearth though to see some of them abandoned and left alone to break down one day.
Another thing I observed in the residential areas of Jurmala was that they’re building some luxury apartments which obviously only the upper class of Latvia can afford. Maybe they even leave the old wooden buildings abandoned on purpose so that they can buy and destroy them for cheap and build brand new apartments to sell and rent for a lot of money. I hope the locals of Jurmala are not paying a high price for this change happening in their town. Luckily there are still wooden villas well preserved and they look absolutely fabulous.
Near the train station in Majori, actually where the walking tour in Jurmala starts and ends, the first historical building you see is the once glorious Hotel Majori. The hotel with 100 rooms, park and fountains was built in 1925. Like many other historical buildings in Jurmala, also Hotel Majori is today abandoned.
- Dzintari Concert Hall
- Dzintaru Mezapark (observation tower)
- House of Aspazija
- Orthodox church of St. Vladimir in Dubulti
- Botanical garden and summer cottage of Kristaps Morbergs
- Jurmala Globe
- Giant Turtle Statue are other highlights you will come along in Jurmala.
How to go to Jurmala?
The train ride from Riga’s Central Station takes only 30 minutes and costs only 2,73€ return.
Train from Riga to Jurmala (Majori) departs every 30 minutes. Check the schedule in the homepage of Latvia Railway.
I got off in Majori, took a walk at the beach till Dzintari and walked back the road through the residential area.
For more insights I recommend Lonely Planet's Travel Guide for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which include chapters for Riga, Jurmala and Sigulda.
For price worthy accommodation check Booking.com or Agoda.com.
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