Jurmala – a unique resort on the Gulf of Riga

Jūrmala

Jurmala is the largest resort with a population of 50,000 people and is situated on the shore of the Gulf of Riga, 25 km from Riga. Once the favorite place of the party elite and the Latvian beau monde, today it is a quiet family resort with the cleanest air, filled with the scents of sea and pine needles, nice sandy beaches and measured rhythm of life in Baltic style.

In recent years, due to strained relations between Russia and Latvia, the flow of Russian-speaking tourists in this part of the Riga coastline has significantly thinned. From Jurmala left music and comedy festivals, not bad PR for the resort and supplied its budget impressive sums, and the local billboards began to appear more and more ads for property sales. And yet, Jurmala lives: from one tourist season to another, sinking into hibernation for a few months, but each summer steadily opening its beaches for compatriots and visitors from other European countries.

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Video: Jurmala

Geography and Climate

The modern resort appeared as a result of association of several fishing villages, stretching along the Riga seashore for about three dozen kilometers. It is not far from the capital of the republic, so the citizens of Riga are often guests on local beaches. Originally, the conditional boundaries of this picturesque piece of Latvia was the Gulf of Riga on one side and the Lielupe River on the other, but over time, some parts of Jurmala “overstepped” the limits of the river bed.

Jurmala is a resort with a typical maritime climate. Summers are warm but not hot (the average temperature in July is +23°C), and during the winter days the temperature rarely falls below 0°C. At the same time, night frosts may fall. And night frosts are common in this part of the country.

As for the weather, it shows its unstable character several times a day: the sunny hours may abruptly change into overcast and vice versa – the sea wind often disperses the gloomy clouds. The beach season in Jurmala is short: usually the first holidaymakers appear on the shore of the Gulf of Riga only in mid-June, and by the second half of August local beaches are quiet and desolate.

Districts of Jurmala

Native residents divide Jurmala into 26 districts – by the number of incorporated areas. However, not every district can boast a number of attractions, so most of them the average holidaymaker usually does not look.

The list of the most interesting places in Jurmala, from the point of view of tourists, for several decades heads the Majori neighborhood, whose landscapes often glimpsed in advertising brochures. The history of the resort began with Majori, which is reminded by the preserved old buildings, as well as the main pedestrian zone of the resort and one of its oldest streets – Jomas.

Tourists in Mājori are always in touch at any time of the day or night: some are relaxing on the local beach, others are tasting the seasonal goods at the fruit and vegetable market and strolling through the cozy streets in search of interesting architectural monuments, while others are taking pictures against the main business cards of Jurmala – the tortoise and the globe sculptures. There was a time when Latvia’s creative elite came here: poets Rainis and Aspazija, film director Rusteikis, children’s book illustrator Kronenberg, and others. Today the presence at the resort of the famous personalities of the last century are only reminded by the monuments and museums of their works. By the way, it was on the territory of Majori once built the oldest sanatorium of the resort “Marienbad”.

Dubulti – the administrative center and spa neighborhood, made famous by the fact that one of its streets was the summer house of Barclay de Tolly, the hero of the War of 1812. The first holiday-makers on the beaches of Dubulta appeared just after the war with Napoleon: mostly they were Russian high military ranks, who came to the sea to restore forces after the battles. The author of the legendary “Oblomov”, Ivan Goncharov, loved to walk along the local streets. Well, in the 20th century in this part of Jurmala you can easily come across Valentin Kataev, Konstantin Simonov, Vasily Shukshin, Yevgeny Evtushenko and other Soviet writers.

Dubulti can be attributed to the most diverse places of the resort. There are quiet lanes covered with decorative bushes and country houses in the Art Nouveau style, and faceless heritage of the Soviet past in the form of typical high-rise buildings and decaying carcasses of industrial enterprises, and office buildings, from behind which unremarkable Orthodox chapels peek out. You can reflect on the eternal at Yaoundubulta cemetery, which, oddly enough, is located not in the district of the same name, but on the territory of Dubulta. The largest necropolis in Jurmala is also notable for the fact that on its grounds there is a memorial glorifying the “feat” of Latvians who served in the SS military units and died at the hands of the “Soviet aggressor.

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One of the most aristocratic and fashionable districts of Jurmala – Dzintari – in recent years is slightly depressed. Because of political differences between the governments of the two countries, the main showplace of the republic, one after another, left the festival “The Voice of KiVIN” and “New Wave”. Tourists, of course, still come here, but more just to stroll along the main avenue and appreciate the flavor of dacha cottages in Art Nouveau style.

Kemeri, once titled as one of the best balneotherapy resorts of the Soviet Union, today is more like a ghost town. Healing sulfurous springs, sapropel and healing peat mud, found in these territories in the 18th century, attracted to the resort first the Latvian nobility, and then foreign tourists. Today most of the balneological centers built “under the Soviets” are out of operation, and their “skeletons” mysteriously tower over the resort landscape. The main part of the modern Kemeri occupies a park, which clearly benefited the neighborhood and smoothed the overall depressing impression of abandonment. Here you can simply wander through the alleys and openwork bridges across the canals, or search for the resort’s famous mineral springs.

The most beautiful (and expensive) wooden dachas are in Bulduri. And there is also a functioning resort-rehabilitation center “Belorussia”, preserved since the Soviet times, the water park “Livu”, yacht club, as well as the famous Bulduri horticultural school – one of the oldest educational institutions in the region.

Pumpuri area began to develop as a resort only during the Union era, until the First World War, remaining an unremarkable village. If you find yourself wandering around the area, you might want to check out the quaint architecture of the old cottages that line the streets, and take a stroll along the slightly grassy beach dunes.

Another place for the lovers of leisurely promenades is the neighborhood Melluzhi. In the 19th century this part of Jurmala could be called a cultural center of the resort – the settlement even had its own stage, where local musical groups performed. Today, no one sings on its wooden stage, so the stage is often a kind of reminder of the area’s past and a landmark for tourists.

Beaches in Jurmala

All beaches in Jurmala are absolutely free, which is quite exceptional for a European resort. The cleanliness of the coastal area is carefully monitored, so there is virtually no litter. The most popular holiday destinations include the Bulduri, Dzintari, Majori and Jaunkemeri areas, whose coastline meets high quality standards and is ideal for bathing. From time to time, some of Jurmala’s beaches win the prestigious Blue Flag award, which is excellent advertising and a sort of enticement to holidaymakers.

A typical feature of Riga sea front is white quartz sand, cool water and shallow descent to the sea, which has become an object of jokes: often, in order to swim in the bay, one has to wade through shallow water for about 5 minutes. But this feature really pleases holidaymakers with children. Swimming places at the main resort of Latvia is almost always equipped with cabins for changing, and the umbrella and sun lounger is easy to rent.

Beach infrastructure is better developed in Majori, where you can rent the necessary sports equipment and play volleyball. Maybe that’s why there are always lots of holidaymakers here. But in Bulduri and Dubulti it is already quieter. The largest offer for renting sports equipment (quad bikes, bicycles) can be found on the beaches of Jaunkemeri and for kiteboarding and windsurfing is better off in Pumpuri. To rent a yacht or go water-skiing, look for yacht clubs, located on the shores of Lielupe. For nude photo sessions, check out the nudist beach at the mouth of the river.

Entertainment and Attractions

The main sights of Jurmala are numerous 19th century wooden houses, most notable of which is the dacha complex of Kristaps and Augusta Morbergs. The iron-clad, turquoise neo-gothic building with turrets and veranda is a bit like a fairy tale castle. Today the building belongs to the University of Latvia, but tourists are still allowed in. Moreover, if you are looking for an entourage place to get married, the complex will be glad to rent it to you. Another iconic place of the resort is the Dzintari Concert Hall, which once played host to the run-of-the-mill Anschlag artists and Comedy Club residents, but today is mostly empty or rents out its pavilions to local musicians and children’s theaters.

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You can get acquainted with the history of Jurmala in the City Museum, which is notable for its collection of retro swimwear and unusual finds from the seabed. An interesting exposition on the life of Latvian fishermen who lived around the resort at the beginning of the 20th century can be found in the Open-Air Museum in Jurmala. Try to come here during the beach season, because during summer time on Thursdays from 12:00 to 15:00 the museum holds fish days, when visitors are treated to smoked fish and invited to participate in master class on mending nets. Those who come to the resort with children will be interested to appreciate the rope courses and merry-go-rounds of “Dzintari” forest park.

To find out where Jurmala sanatoriums draw their healing wealth, you can book an excursion to Ķemeri National Park. There are a lot of interesting routes through this huge swampy area of the forest, from the Barefoot Path to the meditation labyrinths. And, of course, here you will be shown the legendary sulfurous springs, as well as lakes, where the main medicine of the resort – sapropel is extracted.

Sanatorium treatment

With the collapse of the Soviet Union the number of health resorts and balneological clinics in Jurmala decreased rapidly, but if necessary to pick up a specialized sanatorium on the Riga coast it is possible even today. The most budget variant of the resort-rehabilitation centers is Sanatorium “Belorussiya” where the room with three meals a day and treatment will cost about 37 euros. Among the facility’s advantages are a swimming pool with mineral water, a salt cave and its own mineral spring.

There is Yantarny Bereg sanatorium in Kemeri Forest Park, where diseases of gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system and musculoskeletal apparatus are treated. There are two natural springs (including a sulfurous one), a swimming pool and a tennis court in the treatment and recreation complex. The prices for a room with meals and treatment packages start at 40 Euros.

If there are no serious health problems, you can just walk through the local parks, breathing rich in iodine and phytoncides air, or go to Pegasus Pils. It is more of a spa hotel than a full-fledged sanatorium, but you can get some wellness procedures here, too. The prices in “Pegasa Pils” are already higher than in the two previous options – from 76 euros per room.

Where to stay

There are more than two hundred resort hotels, hostels and hostels in Jurmala, so it is almost impossible to stay in this part of the Riga seashore without lodging. Options for tourists, burdened extra money, are usually located, as a rule, in the Majori and Dzintari on the beachfront (Baltic Beach Hotel & SPA, Light House Jurmala). The price of a modest room with breakfast in the peak bathing season in such places starts at 226 euros. An alternative accommodation for those who are not satisfied with the hotel rhythm of life – some villas, which here can be found and for 50, and for 1000 euros.

Accommodation in the local “three-six” (Sunset Hotel, Ayurveda Palace Jurmala) will cost, depending on the location of the hotel, from 70 to 127 euros. Those who are not fixated on the “stardom” of the establishment, it is recommended to have a closer look at the guest houses, where you can rent quite a cozy room for 43 euros and get a bonus – 24-hour access to a kitchen equipped with everything you need. Sometimes rent equipped trailers, which can compete with a standard hotel room, the more so that the prices for such mobile homes are very modest by Jurmala standards.

Cafes and restaurants

There are plenty of places in Jurmala where you can start your acquaintance with Latvian cuisine. The best gray peas with smoked meat are cooked in “Veranda”. By the way, the portions here are big and the prices are quite adequate. You can eat fried pork brisket with vegetable side dish and drink a good mug of local beer at Lido. At the Lighthouse Grill the prices are higher, but there is a separate menu for the little spa guests. But the dessert buben, borrowed by Latvians from their German neighbors, will have to be searched, as this pudding is not prepared everywhere. Fans of Mediterranean cuisine can recommend “Il Sole” and “Majorenhoff”. Those who miss homemade food should go to “Kompot”. And for a quick snack suit “Street Burgers”. As for prices, the bill from an average resort cafe “pulls” on 15-20 euros. A meal for two in a not very posh restaurant in Jurmala will cost in the region of 40-80 euros, but the entourage “taverns” on Jomas Street will charge a tourist not less than 150 euros.

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Population .

Constantly in Jurmala live about 50 000 people. Most of the local residents – the Latvians, they are slightly less than 30 000. Representatives of the Russian diaspora in the city, too – about 17 000 people. In addition, on the territory of the resort live Ukrainians, Belarusians, Poles, Lithuanians, Gypsies and Jews.

Transport

The main mode of transport that connects all the neighborhoods in Jurmala is the Riga electric train. The Tornjakalns – Tukums II railway line connects 14 resort stations, including: Priedaine, Lielupe, Bulduri, Dzintari, Majori, Dubulti, Jaundubulti, Pumpuri, Melluzhi, Asari, Vaivari, Sloka, Kudra and Kemeri. On average, a mini-trip within the resort will cost from 80 euro cents to one and a half euros.

There are also classic shuttle buses and buses in Jurmala. A total of 8 regular routes ply within the coast, covering the main areas of the resort. The first bus leaves as early as 5:30 a.m. and the last one is at 11:30 p.m. In tourist season, for the convenience of tourists, the number of flights increases. The fare on these types of transport ranges from 0.70 to 1.40 euros.

Cab at the resort you can catch right on the street or call. The second option is preferable, because in this case the driver will be deprived of the opportunity to play on tourist ignorance and overstate the price. The monopoly on transportation belongs to taxi companies, so you will not find enthusiastic “privateers” on the streets of Jurmala. The fare is usually paid according to the counter, at the rate of 2 euros for getting on and 0,64 euro for each kilometer.

Such resort phenomenon as a bicycle rental is not bypassed in Jurmala. It is possible to rent a “two-wheeled friend” for 10 euros per day or for some hours at the rate of 2-3 euros for an hour of driving.

Contact

There are three mobile operators operating in Jurmala: Bite, Tele 2 and LMT. The latter has the widest network coverage and at the same time the most expensive rates, so those who want to save money on calls will have to choose between Bite and Tele 2. You will have to pay €6 for the cheapest Tele 2 Startup Package, including unlimited domestic minutes and 100 MB of Internet. A call to Russia with such a SIM card would cost €0.56 per minute.

At Bite offer is more interesting – for a monthly fee of 2 euros, the tourist will be allowed to call home at a rate of 0.29 euro/minute. And to send a text message is possible even for the ridiculous sum of 0.07 euros for Latvia.

How to get there

Getting to Jurmala is best done through the capital of Latvia. Approximately every hour from railway station “Riga-Passenger” in the direction of the resort depart by train. In total, the train makes more than ten stops in different parts of Jurmala, from Priedaine to Sloka. On average the trip takes about half an hour.

Another option is the shuttles and buses departing from the capital’s bus station, as well as the Riga-Passenger railway station. All of them leave already at 7:00 and run along the Riga seashore until 9:00 pm. But keep in mind that out of season transport runs less frequently. The cost of travel by bus, as a rule, does not exceed 1.5-2 euros.

You can also get to Jurmala by cab (Baltic Taxi Lidosta and RedCab), which you can easily catch at Riga airport. The pleasure costs 15 euros.

Jurmala – the shore of the Baltic Sea and not only. The main attractions of the resort

Pedestrian street Jomas - the main street of Jurmala

Jurmala is considered to be the largest resort in the Baltic States and arrives here more often in summer to relax on the shores of the Gulf of Riga, to bask in the sun, or to treat yourself in a sanatorium.

But at other times of the year, too, Jurmala is beautiful.

It is pleasant to wander through the beautiful streets and the beach, breathe the sea air, enjoy a relaxing vacation.

Each house on the coast is unique.

In Jurmala, there are old Soviet wooden summer houses and new modern cottages built in the Art Nouveau style.

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IMPORTANT: updated information on the opening of borders between Russia and Latvia for all tourists, as well as those who are currently able to go there, see here.

Briefly about the city

Jurmala is a small town of about 50,000 people. The population is Latvians and Russians. Many residents know Latvian, Russian and English.

Previously, there were fishing villages on the site of Jurmala, and in the 18th century, the first bathing places were arranged near Dubulti. Subsequently, the city of Riga Waterfront (Rīgas Jūrmala) was established there.

The climate in Jurmala is maritime. In summer, it is warm, but not hot; the average temperature in July is +23 degrees Celsius. Winters are warm, the average temperature in January stays at 0 degrees, but night frosts occur.

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How to get from Riga on your own?

The distance between center of Riga and Jurmala is 25 km. It is easy to get to Jurmala from Riga.

The most convenient way is to take a train to Riga station and get to Jurmala in half an hour. The train in Jurmala makes several stops, you can get off wherever is more convenient. But note that you will not find a station called Jurmala. Look for trains going to Tukums or Dubulti, and take a ticket to Majori, Bulduri or Dzintari.

The fare is 1-1,5 euros. The timetable of trains can be found here.

From the bus station in Riga you can get to Jurmala by bus or minibus. The fare is about 2 euros. A cab ride will cost 15 euros.

We went to Jurmala by our own car. It is not very convenient, because the road goes through the center, through the narrow streets of Riga. In time, the trip takes 20-30 minutes. In the season (from May 1 to September 30) for cars to enter the city for a fee -2 euros.

In Jurmala itself there are no problems with movement: buses and busses are running, you can rent a bike. The cab can be caught on the street or called by phone.

Read here how to get to Latvia from Russia by plane, bus, train or car.

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Beaches

The beaches are clean white quartz sand, which is considered a hallmark of Jurmala. The resort is excellent for children – the coast is shallow and during the season, especially in July, the water gets warm to a comfortable temperature. For an adult to have a swim, it takes a long walk through shallow water.

All beaches in Jurmala have been awarded the Blue Flag, a certificate of quality and safety. The beaches are thoroughly cleaned, so you won’t find any garbage here. Walking dogs and smoking is prohibited.

Bathing places are equipped with changing cabins. There are areas for outdoor activities and playgrounds for children. The beaches in Jurmala are absolutely free, but you have to pay to rent an umbrella and a deck chair.

The most popular beach in Jurmala is Majori, it is always crowded. But Bulduri and Dzintari are much calmer.

On Atra Street near the hotel Baltic Beach is a sculpture of a large turtle, with which tourists love to be photographed. The turtle looks out to the sea and symbolizes wisdom and longevity.

What to see on Jomas Street?

Jomas Street - one of the main streets in the city of Jurmala

In addition to the beaches in Jurmala, there are other attractions that you can see on your own. In one day of walking you can easily visit all the interesting places of the resort town.

In Jurmala, do not forget to take a walk along the local Arbat – the pedestrian street Jomas. On the street there are many beautiful buildings, restaurants, shops with souvenirs. Here you can also have a good meal in one of the restaurants. We chose Mayorenhof restaurant (Jomas iela, 42).

Souvenir shops on the streets of Jurmala

Souvenir shops on Jomas street

The main summer resort life is concentrated here: theater performances, concerts and a sand sculpture contest.

The City Council is located on Jomas Street. And at the end of the pedestrian street there is an unusual globe. It is made of galvanized steel and rotates. In the evening the lights of the main capitals of the world are turned on.

You can see the train schedule here:

Kemeri

A stroll in the Ķemeri Park in Jurmala

The Gulf of Riga in Ķemeri Park (Jurmala)

The territory of the Ķemeri National Park is huge and includes a forest with 18-meter tall pine trees, the Gulf of Riga and a sandy beach, as well as marshes. The national park was created to preserve the natural wealth of Latvia. In the park there are comfortable wooden paths and bridges. It is a pleasure to walk around.

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Also, there are animals and birds, some of them are included in the Red Book. In Jurmala we lived next to Kemeri Park and often walked there in the mornings.

Dzintari Concert Hall and Forest Park

The popular Dzintari concert hall used to be considered the main attraction in Jurmala. Russian festivals such as New Wave, The Voice of the Kiwin, and Jurmalina were held here, but since 2015 they have been held in Russia. Now concerts and festivals are held here, mostly for the Latvian public.

The 2000 hall is unique in that it has only the roof and no walls. At the same time Dzintari is equipped with modern acoustic system and heating of the hall.

Next to the concert hall there is a pine park with the same name. In the park you can see the modern architectural structures and climb the observation tower.

For children in the Dzintari park there are three playgrounds with swings, slides and trampolines.

In the park there is a rope complex Tarzan with five trails. More information on prices and trails can be found on the website of the complex.

To choose a hotel in Jurmala, click here:

City Museum

Learn more about the history of the resort town in the Jurmala City Museum. There are 50,000 different objects, most of them are findings of marine archaeologists, as well as paintings of famous artists, photographs and other objects.

Entrance to the museum is free, which is pleasantly surprising. Opening hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Mondays and Tuesdays.

Open-air nature museum

An open-air nature museum was created on the site of the fishing village in 1970. The museum has over 2000 exhibits: fishermen’s houses, wooden boats, fishing gear and anchors.

In summer here you can be treated to smoked fish and taught to weave a real fisherman’s net. Admission is free.

Buldur Nature Park in Ragakapa

Another natural pine park where it’s nice to take a walk and enjoy the clean air and quiet.

The park is located near the Lielupe area. This unique place with white dunes, formed after the river Lielupe changed its course, leaving a strip of picturesque bank.

Morberg holiday complex

The Neo-Gothic holiday complex was built for him and his wife by the building magnate Kristaps Morbergs.

This turquoise house from the 19th century resembles a fairy palace with turrets and stained glass windows. Next to the summer house there is a small park with unique plants, atypical for the climate of Jurmala. You can visit the house as a group for a small fee.

Dubulte Evangelical Lutheran Church

There is an Evangelical Lutheran church with a tower and a clock in the Dubulti area. The church was built at the beginning of the 20th century in the Art Nouveau style. Services and organ concerts are conducted there.

Livu Water Park

If you come to Jurmala with children, be sure to go to the water park “Livu”. The water park is three-storey, there are about 20 different slides, almost all of them suitable for children from 120 cm tall.

In the water park is a wonderful SPA-complex: several saunas, including a salt bath, swimming pools with hydromassage. There is even a bar in the pool, where you can order a cocktail.

In winter only the closed part of the aqua park works, and in summer the slides are open, which go outside. We always spend a whole day in Livu when we come to Jurmala.

The cost depends on the time of visit. Family ticket for two adults and one child for the whole day in the “active” season cost us 71 euros.

Livu is not open all year round, so the schedule is better to clarify before the trip on the website of the water park.

Ice rink in Maiori

For lovers of outdoor activities in winter, I suggest stopping by the open-air ice rink, which is located in the Maoiri area. Here you can rent skates and have fun skating. The rink is open from November 1 to April 30. During the rest of the time the building is used as a movie theater.

Map in Russian

The map shows all the places, photos with descriptions contained in the article. You can download the map here.

Useful video

Watch a short video walk through the summer city:

We remember Jurmala for its tranquility and peacefulness, natural parks and sand dunes.

Come to Jurmala any time of year for good mood and clean air.

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