Lately long distance hikes have become increasingly popular worldwide, and relatively recently a new coastal hike has been marked in Latvia and Estonia. It is 1200 km hike split into 60 day segments (12-25 km a day) and you can walk it in its entirety or pick and choose certain days and then come back at another time to complete.
The hike begins on the border of Latvia and Lithuania in the village of Nida (on the Latvian side) and it ends in Tallinn harbour. From the 1200 km, 580 km are in Latvia and 620 km are in Estonia, and it is part of European E9 route. Most of the route in Latvia will take you directly by the sea, in Estonia, due to the topography of the sea, in many areas you will walk on the little roads by the sea. You can hike it in any direction. The route is marked with blue and white markings and there are many informative signs to let you know how far til the next town (and if there is a cafe or store in it), as well as how far til the end. As it is much further than direct line going on the highway, it is interesting to see such signs as Tallinn 900 km, which seems incredibly far!
In a recent press trip we had a chance to hike a few segments of the route and visit a few of the guest houses and cafes on the way. If you are planning to hike this route, you can find a detailed daily route plan here.
Breakfast in “Otra puse”, Roja
After roughly two hour drive from Riga, we have reached our first destination – Roja. Here we stop at the fisherman’s house “Otra puse” (you can also stay the night here), where we have a nice breakfast. You can also purchase some of the locally produced canned fish here, something that most people bring as a souvenir from Latvia! After the breakfast, we head to the seaside for a little walk. It is one of the few places in Latvia where the pathway is wheelchair accessible and you can almost get to the sea, so the owner of the fisherman’s house tells us that many people use the opportunity to bring their family members with disabilities to see the sea.
The day is cloudy and it is just about to start raining, as we are walking on the beach. The sea is very calm, and there are many birds, and it almost feels like the sea and sky are one. Here we hike a small fragment of the route 17th day, Gipka-Kaltene.
Guest House “Leveri”, Valgalciems
As soon as we are back in the bus, it starts raining, but we are not too discouraged as we are visiting our next stopping point, guest house “Leveri” that is suitable for as many as 10 people to stay! A beautiful wooden building with a separate sauna house, a pond and beautiful birch trees surrounding it is a place I’d love to come back to! The sea is just 400m from here, and one can stay here for a longer time, as the kitchen has everything one needs for cooking! Apparently, this place is very popular with foreigners who would like to enjoy beautiful Latvian countryside with comfort!
Mersrags Lighthouse and Coastal Meadows
A new addition to the Baltic Coastal Hiking route this year is the Mersrags lighthouse. It used to be off limits for visitors as it is still a working lighthouse used for navigation, but as of this year an agreement has been reached that tourists are allowed inside. You have to go to Mersrags visitor center to get a ticket and then you can go in.
Many of the Baltic sea lighthouses are no longer in use, but there is fascinating history surrounding those, and we have been to quite a few – Sorve in Saaremaa, Ristna, Tahkuna and Kopu in Hiiumaa, and this is one more to add to our collection! Here we get a chance to go up to the very top, as the guide tells the history of the place. I am mostly impressed by the enormous colony of cormorants at the beach and getting a chance to see seagull nest on the lighthouse. The chicks are too cute!
At this point it starts to rain quite heavily, but we are not discouraged by the weather and continue on, stopping at the view tower at the Mersrags meadows and going for a short walk here as well. We see some interesting duck species and hear numerous other birds in the reed.
Then it is time to have lunch and we stop at a cafe “Maza kaija” and continue on.
It has stopped raining and we do a small 1.5 km hike on the coast. The forest is incredibly beautiful here, bright green blueberry bushes, tall pine trees and very natural beach – pine tree roots torn by the storms, and quiet beach. As we exit at the shore, lilacs are in full bloom and the smell is so strong that it almost seems to the level of synthetic air refreshners. Beautiful!
When I was little I remember not being particularly impressed by most of the museums in Latvia, although in general I did like going to museums. Lapmezciems museum definitely exceeds my expectations with interesting exhibits about fisherman’s life in Latvia in the 20th century! Net markings, tools that were used and memories of the guide of her childhood growing up in the area! I also really liked the Latvian bird egg exhibit, where you can find out which birds have which eggs.
Ragaciems Fishing Village
Our final stop is in Ragaciems to see the traditional Latvian “sedums”, a place with small huts where fishermen used to dry their nets and keep other tools. Some of the houses are the original ones, just transported from their initial locations, and some have been built anew. By this point a little rain has turned into a full blown storm so we are happy to have a roof over our heads and try some of the snacks prepared for us. Smoked fish is the specialty of this area, and you must try some!
Soon it is time to go back home, listening about the new projects planned – this summer the forest hiking route with similar length will be created in Latvia! Soon there will be even more options for those enjoying long hikes!
We thank for the support Kurzeme planning region and Lauku Celotajs. The press trip was financed by Estonia-Latvia program from European Regional Development Fund project “Baltic coastal hiking route in Latvia and Estonia”.