A Latvian wedding lasts three days, and it was on the third that we found ourselves in the quaint little seaside town of Saulkrasti. The English translation is ‘sun shores,’ and with white sandy beaches that echo the colors of the sunset each evening the name is quite appropriate. Saulkrasti encompasses 10 miles of shoreline on the Gulf of Rīga and a total of almost 20 square miles of beaches, fields and forest.
Four rivers enter the Baltic Sea in Saulkrasti: Inčupe, Pēterupe, Ķīšupe and the Aģe. They along with the five villages that make up the district – Bādciems, Katrīnbāde (Pabaži), Pēterupe, Neibāde and Zvejniekciems are represented in the coat of arms, which features four white stripes, five green stripes and the sun & sea. The villages were merged into one municipal district and named Saulkrasti in 1933, and in 1991 it officially became a town.
The shores west of Rīga have long been popular as a beach resort destination, but the eastern seaboard has historically been on the quiet side. Convenient rail transportation makes Jūrmala an easy day trip from Rīga, whereas in contrast Saulkrasti was a long (and often crowded) bus ride away – that is until the A1 Motorway between Rīga and Tallinn was built. In 2007 a bypass was completed, moving the through traffic further inland out of the center of the town, and these days Saulkrasti is an easy car ride from the capital resulting in more than a few summer houses for city dwellers. The town is now home to the annual Saulkrasti Jazz Festival in late July, which features concerts with celebrities such as American David Becker, and an educational camp for young musicians.
During our stay we had use of a tiny house, perfect for a few nights relaxation while we celebrated the wedding, enjoyed the beach, and made a couple of day trips to places nearby. The cottage street connected to the water via a boardwalk, protecting the dune ecosystem that make Latvia’s beaches so appealing and giving the public beaches an exclusive feel. Swimming in the Gulf was a cold endeavor, although on the sunny summer days warming up was quick and easy. The boys instead spent a majority of their time on the beach playing in the sand, building elaborate rivers and moats with ocean-side fortifications.
The natural beauty, convenience in ease of access and fantastic beaches of Saulkrasti make the area another must-visit destination during a trip to Latvia. Additionally it can serve as a suitable home-base for excursions to northern Latvia as it cuts an hour or two off trips to destinations such as Sigulda, Cēsis, Valmiera and Salacgrīva. If you’re not completely committed I urge you to take a daytrip; all it will take is one sunset across the Baltijas jūras līcis and you will be convinced.