Monday, August 28, 2017

Where Lielupe flows into the Baltic Sea

The designation of “Jūrmala” applies to the beach resort towns that stretch 20 miles along the Baltic Sea from Lielupe River to Ķemeri National Park to the west. Only 16 miles west of Rīga, it is a popular summer destination for the city-dwellers and contains many summer homes for those escaping the city heat. Jūrmala is famous for beautiful old Art Nouveau houses, and beaches of fine, white sand with rather safe swimming conditions.

For more on this fantastic day trip destination, please see my post Tu esi mana Jūrmala. I have also previously written about the Ķemeri National Park (here) and the fishing village of Ragaciems just northeast of Jūrmala (here).

The eastern border of Jūrmala is Lielupe, the 74-mile long river that begins at the confluence of the Mēmele and Mūsa rivers near Bauska. Lielupe translates literally to “big river,” the name referring to its wide and deep channel that courses from Mežotne over the flood plains of Zemgale. Having passed between Babītes ezers and Ķemeri National Park the river turns east, paralleling the Gulf of Rīga for the length of Jūrmala. Eventually it turns back north and flows into the Baltic Sea, while another channel continues east to empty into the Daugava; this stretch of river is known as the Buļļupe branch, and was the Lielupe’s main channel until 1755 when the river took a shortcut on one of its meanders.

This eastern-most portion of Jūrmala is also known as Lielupe. It is home to Līvu akvaparks, the easily recognizable water park visible from the main drag, as well as multiple tourist attractions: Jūrmalas brīvdabas muzejs and Bulduri Nature Park among others. A swath of wooded dunes runs through the middle of the peninsula, another forested stretch buffering the beach as along most of Jūrmala. This sandy forest floor is covered with blueberry bushes, which makes getting anywhere in a timely manner difficult (not to mention the suddenly appearing blueberry-stained hands and mouths!).

The pine and birch forest is quiet save for the chatter of birds and the wind in the canopy, until you climb the last dune and the sound of the waves greets you on your arrival at the Gulf of Rīga. 

The white sand and the countless shades of blue; the heat of the sun and the refreshing salty sea; beach and forest and sky stretching as far as the eye can see…

Between swimming, strolling and sandcastle building on the water, gorging on blueberries in the forest, and boat-watching on the river, time in Lielupe passes quickly. If it’s an option, stay to watch the sunset from the beach before heading back to the train station/Rīgas šosejs. But if you don’t get the chance then be content to realize that you’ll just have to come back again – and this time hopefully you’ll stay longer. 


  1. Hi, What a gorgeous area... WOW--I'm impressed.... Just beautiful. I haven't been around much lately since we had some tragedy in our family.... Please pray for my son, Mark, for losing his gorgeous wife --and now because of the horrible flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Texas. You can get details on my last couple of blog posts...


    1. Our condolences go out to you and your family, Betsy!


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