Jurmala, Latvia: It should be said that President Vladimir Putin wasn’t at home when we visited his splendid functionalist villa at the seaside resort of Jurmala, just half hour drive from the Latvian capital of Riga. In Putin’s continual absence, we received a detailed and vivid orientation of Galina, a Russian woman who describes herself as the librarian who has been employed since the property was completed in 1974.
“All the furniture, fixtures and style are from the 70s, everything is original. In the Soviet period some important people from communist parties came here with their family to stay and relax at this residence. The property is still owned by the Russian state, but so far no Russian president has ever been here”, Galina admits. Now she has the opportunity to rent out this big house, which has a dining room, a tearoom, meeting room, billiard room, sauna and pool and four bedrooms to host eight persons. I was more impressed by all the phones in the office, one of them with the red colour.
Tsar´s Seaside resort. Jurmala has 30km of shore with wide and clean beaches. Next to the beaches there are grand villas and hotels surrounded by trees. From the beginning Jurmala was the favourite seaside resort of the Russian Tsar Nicholas I, who in the 1830s gave away land for construction of a spa in order to benefit from the healing mineral waters. Since then Jurmala has developed into a resort with several spas, not to mention the spa hotels – and costly holiday villas for today’s new riches. But architecture and atmosphere from Tsarist times is still intact, while comfort is brought up to modern standards.
Festivals. It’s said that Jomas Street, or Jomas iela, is the place where Jumala begins. This heart of Jurmala is where the Holidaymakers and spa-guests fill the city’s main street every summer. This is where the town’s fanciest boutiques and its most popular cafés and restaurants are located. It is also where the traditional Jomas Iela Festival attracts thousands of people. This year, the Dzintari Concert Hall is celebrating its 80th anniversary, and it will be marked with numerous concerts all year long. Jurmala Festival, Ghetto Games and Salsa Night on the Beach and Beach Volleyball Championship are just a few events going on this summer.
Beach areas. Jurmala´s 24-kilometre-long beach has 11 established swimming areas. Those who wish to get as close to nature as possible may want to head to the mouth of the Lieulpe River, where Jurmala´s nudists have traditionally flocked.
The taste of Jurmala. A variety of gastronomic traditions have melted together with this area’s wild natural bouquet to Jurmala´s unique flavour. Classic local food can be found at the city’s restaurants. The tastiest food of this coast is that of smoked fish. Hot smoked fish, lightly salted and fully steamed, can be enjoyed every Thursday in July at Jurmala Open-Air Museum.
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: Jurmala is about 20km west of Riga. The train line runs through the entire length of Jurmala with 14 stops within the city. Trains to Jurmala leave Riga Central Station and costs 1-2 euro. The New Way ferry runs between Riga and Jurmala from May to September 30.
Stay: Kurshi Hotel & SPA - a new hotel, with unique Latvian sauna rituals and procedures.
Eat: Lighthouse serves classic Mediterranean cuisine made with culinary finesse (lighthousejurmala.lv) Restaurant 36Line (36line.com) serves a variety – from lobster to meat and catch of the day. Restaurant Philippe is another fine dining jewel serving modern European cuisine (philippe.lv)
Play: For nightlife there are a few places on Jomas street. Klondaika is more like a bar and casino then a nightclub. Optibet Sports bar and the bar at Baltic Beach Hotel, which is open 24h and sometimes Amber Spa Hotel organize some thematic parties Then there are 2 nightclubs in Kauguri area. Muca in Bulduri area is a favourite place for English expats, who live here.
Mini Guide: A Tourist Information Centre is located in Majori, the centre of Jurmala. Water amusement park "Līvu Akvaparks" is a multifunctional water park open all year round. Providing three areas: Activity, family and Spa.