Relaxing by the Baltic Sea in Jurmala

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The weather in Latvia this July has been extraordinary, with balmy temperatures more in line with the Mediterranean than Northern Europe. I’ve even heard that we’ve experienced a record-breaking number of days over 30 degrees (86 Fahrenheit). I thought it was supposed be cold in this country!

It didn’t take me long to figure out that the Baltic Sea was the place to be, specifically, the coastal resort of Jurmala. Only 25 minutes by train from Riga, it’s easy to see why the locals flock there in droves. 32 kilometers of pristine white sand connects the 14 townships that constitute Jurmala and which only just peek through the dense pine forest. Once the go-to holiday spot for the Soviet elite of yesteryear, the peaceful beachfront today remains surprisingly undeveloped.


Photo source: Baltic Beach Hotel




For my first day trip to the beach, I took the train from Riga’s Central Station to Majori township in central Jurmala (€1.40 each way). The walk from the station to the seaside took all of 10 minutes, and that included plenty of stops for photo-taking. I skipped the touristy main drag, which connects Majori with the other major township, Dzintari, and focused instead on the charming wooden art nouveau cottages for which the area is known. On my next visit, I’ll definitely allow more time to wander the side streets and admire the unique architecture!



Majori township, “downtown” Jurmala



The dominant feature of the Jurmala skyline is the impressive Baltic Beach Hotel, which looks a bit like a cruise ship that’s washed ashore. Situated literally on top of the dunes, I imagine the guest room views are hard to beat. Lounge chairs, umbrellas and private cabanas are available for anyone to rent, though I was told that on busy days hotel guests take priority over the general public.

I enjoyed a leisurely lunch under the neon-green umbrellas of the Beach Bar & Grill, which was surprisingly reasonably priced given the prime location. Patrons also had free access to the large lounge pillows tossed casually in the sand.





No trip to Jurmala would be complete without a visit to the spa, the feature for which the town is most famous. So after lunch, I headed inside to the Baltic Beach Hotel Spa Center, one of the largest in Northern Europe. The spa is spread across three floors and offers more than 400 different treatments that promote health and relaxation.

In need of a little pampering after my big international move, I opted for the Hot Chocolate Cosmetic Body Wrap. This entailed being slathered from head to toe in a warm chocolate mixture, wrapped in plastic sheets and covered with towels, and left to marinate for 30 minutes while I daydreamed about dessert. The treatment, said to moisturize and rejuvenate the skin, cost €29 and included access to the Banja bath complex.




I was given blue hospital booties to wear over my shoes into the changing room.

The rustically-styled complex included two saunas, or pirts, of differing degrees of heat. One steam room was so sweltering I could only stay inside for a few minutes. The other, which recreated the feeling of jogging in Thailand in April, was more tolerable. Still, an attendant did insist I don a wool hat to generate more body heat. The humid air reportedly increases circulation and lung function, purifies the body and clears out your pores.

After sitting in the sauna for as long as you can, you then need to cool your body down. This can be done sitting in the spa’s “ice room,” which features a bucket of snow you can rub over yourself. Or, you can pour a bucket of ice water over your head or jump into a pool of bitterly cold water (both highly desirable post-sauna activities in these parts). I opted instead for the cool waters of the central wading pool.

Note: the complex is co-ed and, during my visit, not everyone was wearing their swimsuit. Some things you cannot un-see.



The air inside the sauna was literally shimmering with heat.



The “ice hole.” Plunge into the freezing water at your own risk.


The Banja bath complex also includes an outdoor Jacuzzi.


Have you ever been to the Baltic coast?

What’s the most interesting spa treatment you’ve ever gotten abroad?


32 thoughts on “Relaxing by the Baltic Sea in Jurmala

  1. Well, that looks like a 5 star day!! You must have thought you’d died and gone to heaven when they slathered you in chocolate.
    And the warm summer? They’re reeling you in slowly….

    • It was a pretty great day – and it was so reasonably priced that I’m sure there will be a repeat or two 🙂

  2. That spa sounds lovely, and I love your treatment choice!;-) The most interesting spa experience I had abroad was in Japan, where I realized when I got there that everyone hangs out in the nude;-) Definitely took a minute to get used to…!

    I love the cottages, and the sea looks wonderful too! You really lucked out with that amazing weather, yay!
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    • Haha, I am well versed in the Japanese spa culture. On my first visit to an onsen, I was traveling with a female friend and we happened to be the only two foreigners there that day. But once we got over the fact that we were naked in public, it was actually pretty relaxing!

  3. That sounds like a fantastic spa experience!!! The entire place looks comfortable and welcoming. And that changing/locker room – loveliest one I’ve ever seen! Regarding the weather, it seems that Latvia was warmer than usual, and DC was cooler than usual last month. I certainly enjoyed that (sleeping with windows open in DC in July – fantastic!), and sounds like you are, as well!
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    • This was probably one of the loveliest spa experiences I’ve had, especially for the price. They’ve won a repeat customer, that’s for sure!

  4. What a beautiful place. I love the hotel. It does look
    like a cruise ship washed ashore. Do they have
    curling irons at the sauna? My hair would look like
    a frizz pot. We’ll need to go and walk around the
    back streets. Should be fun.

    • I will definitely be taking you here, I think you’d love it. I didn’t see any curling irons, but it will be winter so you’ll be wearing a hat outside anyway 😉

  5. Looks like a lovely day trip! I can’t believe how reasonably priced the spa treatment was. I’m very jealous 🙂

    Oh, and co-ed nudity in Europe is something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to.
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    • I know, I still can’t believe how much I got for the money. They definitely won themselves a repeat customer! I bet it will be super enjoyable in the winter when it’s freezing outside, naked old man butts and all 🙂

    • Thanks, Ryan! I’ll be checking out another Baltic beach in Latvia this weekend that’s supposed to be even more beautiful.

      I’m learning that saunas are a big part of the culture here. You should definitely check it out when you’re next in the area. I bet your wife isn’t the only one who’d enjoy it! 😉

  6. Wow such a amazing & Beautify Collection of great pictures of Baltic Sea ! I never have been at Baltic Sea But I wish to enjoy at Baltic Sea ! So Let’s see when turn comes to be at Baltic Sea !

  7. Glad you’re enjoying not only Riga! 🙂
    I wanted to tell you to that Jurmala beach isn’t the best one in Latvia – it’s a popular place for tourists, but not good for the beaches. If you really want to relax by the beach and enjoy the peaceful landscape, then I would recommend heading down anywhere between Roja and Kolka. It’s a little bit long ride from Riga (1-1,5 h), but it’s nice to go on a weekend. Even better beaches are near Liepāja , Nica (those are personally my favourite).

    • Thanks so much, Laura! We are actually heading to Liepaja this weekend and I can’t wait to check out the beach!

    • You should definitely visit Latvia! It’s such a beautiful and fascinating place. Poland is on our travel wish list so maybe our paths will cross.

      That chocolate body scrub sounds divine!

  8. I’d imagine it cold, cold… But interestingly they have such a vast sandy beach.
    Interesting article.
    Who’d think of beach travel to Latvia?

    • I know, I was surprised too! I imagine people from Sweden have been in on the secret for a while. The weather was actually quite warm during our visit, and the water temperature was comfortable. The summer season is very short, though.

  9. Love those little cottages. Definitely good reason to stray from the main road.
    Your skin is beautiful – that spa looks like it was good for you, but I bet you are normally that luminous!

    • Thank you, Colleen! That’s such a nice thing to say! My dad has had skin cancer, so I’m diligent with the sunscreen. I sadly don’t achieve luminosity every day, but maybe if I started going to this spa once a week…

    • I’ve since been back with some Finnish ladies who went topless and nobody batted an eye! I think it’s just us Americans who are uptight about such things LOL!

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