Rīga is cobblestones and culture
The Gothic spires that dominate Rīga's cityscape might suggest austerity, but it is the flamboyant art nouveau that forms the flesh and the spirit of this vibrant cosmopolitan city, the largest of all three Baltic capitals. Like all northerners, it is quiet and reserved on the outside, but there is some powerful chemistry going on inside its hip bars, modern art centres, and in the kitchens of its cool experimental restaurants. Standing next to a gulf named after itself, Rīga is a short drive from jet-setting sea resort, Jūrmala, which comes with a stunning white-sand beach. But if you are craving solitude and a pristine environment, gorgeous sea dunes and blueberry-filled forests, begin right outside the city boundaries.
A tapestry of sea, lakes and woods, Latvia is best described as a vast unspoiled parkland with just one real city – its cosmopolitan capital, Rīga. The country might be small, but the amount of personal space it provides is enormous. You can always secure a chunk of pristine nature all for yourself, be it for trekking, cycling or dreaming away on a white-sand beach amid pine-covered dunes. Having been invaded by every regional power, Latvia has more cultural layers and a less homogenous population than its neighbours. People here fancy themselves to be the least pragmatic and the most artistic of the Baltic lot. They prove the point with myriad festivals and a merry, devil-may-care attitude – well, a subdued Nordic version of it.
The Baltic’s version of the French Riviera, Jūrmala (pronounced yoor-muh-lah) is a long string of townships with Prussian-style villas, each unique in shape and décor. On summer weekends, vehicles clog the roads when jetsetters and day-tripping Rīgans flock to the resort town for some serious fun in the sun. Jūrmala’s 32km strip of land consists of 14 townships. If you don’t have a car or bicycle, you’ll want to head straight to the heart of the action – the townships of Majori and Dzintari. A 1km-long pedestrian street, Jomas iela, connects these two districts and is considered to be Jūrmala’s main drag, with loads of tourist-centric venues.
Unlike many European resort towns, most of Jūrmala’s restaurants and hotels are several blocks away from the beach, which keeps the seashore (somewhat) pristine.
Jurmala in all times has been a popular place for recreation and health improvement, because its beautiful pine forests, golden sands and unforgettable beaches. An excellent resort is located in the heart of Jurmala - Jomas Street - which is the main entertainment and shopping artery of the city.