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Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area, Recreation Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Once the frequented summer getaway for Soviet Union leaders Brezhnev and Khrushchev, Jurmala's popularity stems from its approximately 20 miles of white sand that's perfect for sunbathing, splashing, and lounging around. One TripAdvisor user writes: "Jurmala beach is the ideal place for the families. The coastal water is very shallow, that is why it is safe for children to paddle and build sand castles, while parents are sunbathing."

But, there is more than just beach activities here. Kemeri, on the eastern end, has a boggy national park that teems with native wildlife and migratory birds. And as one IgoUgo.com user reveals: "Nature lovers may enjoy the Lielupe River, running south of the town. Bicycles and paddle boats can be rented cheaply for exploring the river."

Don't just limit yourself to the water -- this tiny resort town is also an architectural delight to behold. You'll find old wooden houses next to funky Art Nouveau townhouses near modern resorts. Originally named Rigas Jurmala (or literally Riga Beach), you can travel to this summer resort destination in about 30 to 40 minutes by bus or train from the downtown area. Buses and trains leave Riga's central train station frequently and cost about 0.95 to 1.35 LVL (or less than $3 USD) each way. For more information, check out Jurmala's website.

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#0 Old City Riga (Vecriga)

It's hard to believe that most of what you're seeing when walking the cobblestone streets of Old City Riga is relatively new. Much of this historic urban center was destroyed during 20th-century wars; since then, the city has recovered and rebuilt some of its oldest structures. Cars are not allowed, so you can leisurely stroll the narrow avenues and grand squares much like 19th-century Latvians did. Be sure to sample some of the traditional Latvian fare -- restaurants here are renowned for their quality, plus they're affordable compared to other major European cities. Plus, other top things to do, like St. Peter's Church and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia pepper this area, so you are bound to spend some time enjoying the sights.

There are tours  -- including a free one -- that will narrate the buildings' historical significance, but as one TripAdvisor user suggests, the best way to experience the neighborhood is to pick up a map “from the tourist information site in the center and walk through the old town" on your own. While exploring, look out for the Town Hall Square (Ratslaukums) with the impressive House of Blackheads andandand the Swedish Gate along the remains of the ancient city walls.

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