Day Trip to Jurmala. Latvia

An example of Jurmala's beautiful woodent architecture.

SRAS Program Travel from Riga: Day Trip to Jurmala

Published: May 1, 2024

Jurmala is a resort town on the Baltic Sea coast with a long history. It’s known for its traditional architecture, cultural institutions, and, of course, its surprisingly warm beaches. SRAS students in Riga regularly travel to Jurmala, allowing them to see both life outside the capital, but also to see how many Latvians relax on weekends and holidays with short trips within their own country.

Day Trip to Jurmala. Latvia
Our Lady of Kazan Orthodox Church in Jurmala

Our trip to Jurmala began with all the SRAS students gathered at the school. Shortly, Natalia (the Liden & Denz director) arrived and made our way to the train station. After arriving, we hurriedly bought some snacks for the trip, and practically sprinted up to the platform. With only about a minute to spare we got onto the train, an old Soviet model filled to the brim with passengers. All of us were fortunate enough to find seats, however, and we set off.

The train ride, spanning 30 minutes, granted us glimpses of Latvia’s picturesque views through the window. Riga’s urban center transitioned to suburbs, and from there to farmhouses, fields, and small villages. After watching the countryside quietly roll by, we caught glimpses of the Baltic sea off through the trees, the water looking cool and inviting. Eventually, we arrived at the train station on the eastern end of Jurmala.
Heading towards the beach, we walked through a neighborhood of luxurious dachas. These decadent vacation homes spanned centuries, speaking to the town’s history as a popular destination for relaxation.

When we came to the beach, we were greeted by a long expanse of sandy shores between the waves and the trees. In the distance, we could see the skyline of Riga. We changed into our swim gear and headed into the water. The sea was surprisingly warm and shallow, requiring us to wade about a hundred yards to reach shoulder depth. After enjoying the water, we headed back to the beach and had a great game of volleyball using a ball that our guide had brought with her. We severely embarrassed ourselves with our lack of skill, but it was fun anyway. After this I took one last swim, before we all packed up and headed into town.

Day Trip to Jurmala. Latvia
Beaches in Jurmala

We briefly stopped at the gorgeous Orthodox church near the center of town, before heading down the main thoroughfare directly across from it. On the way we saw many dachas and hotels, and stopped to check out several shops before settling down at a small restaurant to
order some drinks. Some of the hotels and dachas we saw were very modern, which almost comedically clashed with their small size.

Others were much older and made of wood, with ornate carvings on the exterior. All of them were of small stature, a common theme for the town. Following our short trip into the town itself, we headed to the train station at the west end of town, taking in a picturesque view across the Lielupe river and the adjacent fields that stretched to the distant treeline.

Our train arrived, and we quietly rode back to Riga, watching the same views roll by in reverse. All in all it was an enjoyable experience, and my first glimpse into the Latvian countryside away from Riga. I highly recommend other SRAS students go on this excursion.

– Review by SRAS Student Matthew LaBounty


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