Windy Liepāja – Western Latvia

February, 2015

Western Latvia’s Liepāja is locally renown as “The city where the wind is born” – just meander down to the seafront and you’ll experience first hand the wrath of the Baltic Sea!

Nine days in Latvia

To cement this even further, the largest wind power plant – Enercon – in a nation of 33 wind turbines is close by – say’s it all really.

Liepāja

Liepāja is a wonderful city, albeit much smaller than Riga but quite relaxed to stroll around in…

Nordic in its weather, Latvia’s temperatures in July can reach 30ºC but can also plummet as low as -30ºC in January. We are in February and it’s still icy.

Unfortunately, very sick the whole time whilst in Liepāja, also spending a couple of days in bed, I don’t have many photos to share – so, I apologise in advance. But, I still want to give you a little taste of this city.

Think I picked up some sort of virus in Sapa (Vietnam) or on the flight from Vietnam to Estonia, as still sick weeks later. Only managed to experience the city as best I could.

Sights

Not exactly on the tourist milk-run, Liepāja’s town centre and surrounds comprise little irregular streets, beautiful old wooden buildings, and lots of Art Nouveau in wooden and brick. All of which makes wandering around the streets a pleasant and relaxed experience.

The city centre and Karosta (northern part of the city) are the two main areas of Liepāja. Karosta used to be a secret military town for the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. 

I haven’t bump into many western tourists here so occasionally, experienced some side-glances and smiles from locals, especially when we walk to the bus station hauling huge backpacks. I get the feeling that foreign backpackers are common in Liepāja.

Baltic States, Latvia, travel, Europe
Gorgeous Lutheran Cathedral

You’ll find soft sandy beaches a short walk from the city centre and Karosta, which are both unspoilt and beautiful. And of course, the main attraction for local tourists to Liepāja.

Walk along the Tirdzniecības Kanāls (Trade Canal) and watch the locals fishing in a relaxed atmosphere.

The Latvian Musicians Walk of Fame

Liepāja is also home to an especially active rock scene.

A huge metal guitar, the largest in Latvia is in the centre of town and the alley hosts many bronze plaques with handprints of musicians honouring current and former music bands; also some to those that passed away.

A very cool path of metal musical notes is also etched into the city centre’s pavement marking the musical trail. This path follows through the town centre and out to the canal area. It’s groovy following this path around Liepāja.

Seaside Park (Jurmalas Park)

As it is winter, bitterly cold, and the windiest city in the country, the freezing walk to the seafront is no exception!

So much so that the surf is actually frozen along the shoreline and waves are breaking over the frozen surf. I’ve never seen this before but as Liepāja is located on the Baltic Sea, it’s not surprising really.

Baltic States, Latvia, travel, Europe
Baltic Sea’s frozen surf!

The walk around the seafront is pleasant once you’re behind the protection of the sand dunes and in the park.

The park with its many different tree species hosts a bowling centre, a concert-garden, three stadiums, and mini-golf. Apparently, in the summer cafeterias open. Many cultural events and festivals also take place.

The local authorities have done a great job of beautifying the seafront and park, and it’s very lovely to walk around here and stroll back into the city centre for a thick hot chocolate and delicious warm pastry.

Latvia, travel, Europe, Baltic States
Eerie trees in Jurmalas Park

Where to sleep

Preferring to keep costs down and stay in apartments, Liepāja hosts many apartments from which to choose. Always read the reviews before booking.

Toma Street Apartments

Along Toma iela 50, Martin the owner ensures you have a great stay here and is super friendly.

Meet Martin’s gorgeous Golden Retriever dog that comes and says hello as soon as you walk in the front door – just like being at home.

The apartment is cosy and has everything you need to self-cater and keep your costs down.

At only about a 10-minute walk to the town and the best coffee shop around – Boulangerie – don’t miss staying at this apartment.

Where to eat

Apart from preparing meals in the apartment and not feeling like eating much – being sick and boring – did manage to check out the Boulangerie a lot.

Boulangerie

On Kuršu iela 2, you’ll experience the absolute best coffee and delectable freshly-baked pastries in town – simply scrumptious!

Breads and pastries are baked on the premise, so the warm aromas of freshly-baked morsels waft through and swirl around your nose begging to be eaten, whilst you enjoy your coffee – you can’t but help eat loads at the Boulangerie…

Experience excellent service and the Baristas seem to make coffee with passion, which is always a great sign of a good coffee.

The Boulangerie provides great music and laid-back ambience in its cosmopolitan surrounds, so of course, we headed here almost every day – apart from when I was too sick to get out of bed. This place really is that good.

Baltic States, Latvia, travel, Europe
Holy Trinity Lutheran Cathedral

Leaving Liepāja

As we need to keep movie as I’m on a 90-day Schengen visa, it’s onwards to Klaipėda in another country: Lithuania.

The Eco Line bus (€6) from Liepāja bound for Klaipėda leaves from the town square at 12:00hrs. You can buy your tickets on the bus.

The journey takes around 2.5 hours and you’ll stop at Palanga, Lithuania’s very popular seaside resort town, which is fashionable with local tourists, but also Russian tourists.

I would love to return to Liepāja but also Latvia as this beautiful country deserves much more exploring. The other bonus is that I don’t believe Latvia has become as popular as other European destinations. So, why not see this country whilst its still relatively unknown?

Visit my Nilla’s Photography Baltic States gallery for more images. More posts on Latvia at Image Earth Travel.

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