New Amazing Long Distance Hiking Trail In The Baltic States: The Baltic Sea Path

by Rolands Ratfelders January 15, 2018 0 comment
New Amazing Long Distance Hiking Trail In The Baltic States: The Baltic Sea Path

Have you ever imagined challenging yourself on a long distance hiking trail? Well, there is a new amazing one being created along the Baltic Sea. Currently, it starts from the very south-west coast of Latvia and ends up in the capital of Estonia – Tallinn. It is more than 1,200 kilometers  (746 miles) long. The good news is that you can split this long distance hiking trail in as many short hikes as you want.

Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea coast _ Latvia

Sandy beach along Riga Bay in Latvia
Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

When it comes to serenity there are not that many options for coastal hikes in good old Europe. In the Southern and Western Europe, it is difficult to find a seacoast that is long enough for hiking and at the same time wild.

Luckily there are some great alternatives for escape travel in Northern Europe. You will find real coastal hiking jewels here that you may have missed so far. Such places are excellent hiking destinations in the Baltic States.

Traveling to Latvia _ Baltic Sea Coast

Western Baltic Sea Coast in Latvia
Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

These are real escape travel or so to say under-the-radar spots, and here’s why.

Escape Travel And Coastal Hiking

The New Long Distance Hiking Trail In The Baltic States

There is a new Estonian-Latvian project ongoing now. Its goal is to develop a long distance hiking trail along the coastline of the Baltic Sea in Latvia and Estonia. This trail is a part of the so-called E9 European long distance path or European Coastal Path. It is one of the European long distance hiking trails. European Coastal Path starts in Cabo de São Vicente in Portugal and ends in Narva-Jõesuu in Estonia.

For now, the new long distance hiking trail starts in a small village called Nida on the Latvian – Lithuanian border. It goes along the Latvian and Estonian coastline ending in the capital of Estonia – Tallinn.Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea coast
The trail was inspected in the summer of 2017 by the rural tourism expert Juris Smaļinskis. Juris is an experienced traveler. He is involved in the project to check and map the new long distance hiking trail on-site. On his way, Juris also checked tourism infrastructure. He met local people, officials from municipalities and entrepreneurs.

Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea _ Estonia

“Testing” the new long distance hiking trail
Photo by Juris Smaļinskis

After his adventure he came out with some interesting total stats:

  • Distance hiked: 1,230 km
  • Number of days spent on the trail: 50
  • Average speed 3 km/h (including time spent for check-ups)
  • Steps: 1,5 million
  • Hiking hours: 440
  • Total amount of participants throughout the hike: 520
  • Youngest participant: 7 years
  • Oldest participant: 69 years
  • Most frequently asked question in Latvia: “How much left to go?”
  • Most frequently asked question in Estonia: “What’s the weather forecast for today and for tomorrow?”
  • Pieces of amber found: 50 (one big)

Sustainable Travel

This long distance hiking trail is a new sustainable tourism project. It highlights Latvian and Estonian cultural and natural heritage, which has been largely unknown for the rest of the world so far.

Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea coast _ Latvia

Fishermen traditions are still alive along the Baltic Sea Coast
Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

The trail has a great potential to become a “must do” for long and short distance hikers not from around the world. It is something new, fresh and unbeaten. It is a new Baltic alternative to the famous Santiago route (Camino de Santiago).

Meanwhile, you can jump ahead the time. You can enjoy the most beautiful hiking spots along the coast of the Baltic Sea already now. All these hiking sections will also be a part of this new great hiking route. Everyone can make his/her own personal “collection” of different coastal hiking trails here.

Long distance hiking trail _ Latvia _ Jūrkalne

Steep Baltic Sea Coast in Western Latvia near Jūrkalne
Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

Top Hiking Spots

Latvia is mostly characterized by gorgeous white sandy coastal dunes and beaches. Latvian coastline is 581 km (361 miles) long. Some of the most beautiful hiking sites in Latvia are between Pāvilosta and Jūrkalne, Sīkrags and Kolka as well as Tūja and Vitrupe. These are each one-day hikes of a bit more than 20 km (12 miles).

Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea coast _ Latvia

Baltic Sea coast in Western Latvia

From Latvian/Estonian border to Tallinn there is 649 km (401 miles) more to go. The Estonian coastline offers another perspective. From Paldiski to Tallinn you will find gorgeous coastal cliffs. The most famous is Türisalu cliff, which is one of the most beautiful places on the North-West coast of Estonia. This section is a three-day hike (23-25 km each day) if you want to hike it all. Alternatively, you can also do a one or two day hikes here as well.

Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea coast _ Estonia

Baltic Sea Coast in Paldiski – Estonia
Photo by Juris Smaļinskis

From Elbiku to Nõva you will find sandy beaches and dunes like in Latvia.

All these sites are definitely among the best for hiking in Northern Europe. Yet they are not the only ones. Almost the entire seacoast of the Baltic States is a superb place for escape travel. This includes hiking and other activities, but also relaxing and enjoying the pristine nature.

Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea coast _ Latvia

Remote beach near Sīkrags in Latvia
Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

The Latvian name of the new long distance hiking trail is “Jūrtaka”. It means “Seapath” in English. In Estonian, it is called “Ranniku matkarada”, which means “Coastal path”. 

What About Lithuania?

Lithuania is the third Baltic State and its coastline cannot be missed. Lithuanian seacoast is not yet included in the long distance hiking trail project simply because this is the Estonian-Latvian project.

Lithuania has the shortest coastline of 262 km (163 miles) among all three Baltic States. Yet it owns part of the famous Curonian Spit with the most impressive dunes in the Baltic States. It is UNESCO World Heritage Site and quite touristy but truly amazing.

Long distance hiking trail _ Lithuania _ Curronian Spit

Curronian Spit in Lithuania
Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

The Baltic States are incomplete without Lithuania. You can add Lithuanian coast and the remaining coastal section from Tallinn to Narva-Jõesuu in the very north of Estonia to your hiking list. Voilà! You get the full long distance coastal hiking trail in all three Baltic States and hence also the European Coastal Path fully completed.

Baltic States: Hidden Jewels For Coastal Hiking And Not Only For Hiking

Why You Might Not Have Heard About Us So Far

Those who have not visited the Baltic States before might ask “Why I haven’t heard about these amazing places before?”

Well, first, you may know that Nordic nations are pretty reserved. Hence particularly Baltic nations are not that great in self-advertising. Also, our cultural background is not about bells and whistles.

Secondly, many of us do not yet realize the value of our natural and cultural heritage. These are actually treasures on the global scale. There are only 2 millions of Latvians living in the land that is by one-third bigger than let’s say Netherlands or Switzerland. There are even fewer Estonians: around 1.4 million left.  Hence our lands cannot be called overpopulated.  This is why sometimes we take our nature values as something for granted. Yet for off-the-beaten-path travelers, Baltic nature and cultural heritage might be a huge discovery and a truly pristine runaway.

Long distance hiking trail _ The Baltic Sea Path _ Latvia

A view from Akmeņraga Lighthouse in Western Latvia
Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

Humble But Proud

The Baltic nations and particularly Latvians are somehow reluctant speaking about themselves. This is so unless you get to know us more closely on some informal grounds like in a private party or public event.

Yet if you plan your trips in advance you might be lucky enough to see different Latvians. You may schedule a visit to Latvia during UNESCO recognized Song and Dance Festival. It is held once in every four years. The next one will take place from 30 June until 8 July 2018. So, hurry up!

You may also choose to come during the summer solstice. We celebrate it on 23rd and 24th of June on a scale that nobody else in the world does. We call these days “Līgo” and “Jāņi” here.

If the short autumn days and bad weather is not an obstacle, you can also come at the time of our independence day on 18th November.

If you were to attend any of these events you’ll be able to witness the nation that is loudly proud of its rich cultural legacy and outstanding nature values. Otherwise, you’ll just have to trust what I’m saying here.

7 Reasons Why Baltic Coastline Is So Special

So why is the coastline of the Baltic States so special? Here are 7 reasons for that:

  1. Our seacoast is mostly composed of secluded beaches, dunes, and forests. Beautiful seaside, long days and gorgeous sunsets are what make coastal hiking or just enjoying the nature special here.
    Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea coast _ Latvia

    Veczemju Cliffs in Vidzeme Stony Beach
    Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

  2. In the summertime, the sun rises around 5 a.m. sets only around 10 or even 11 p.m. So you have plenty of time for any outdoors’ activity. Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea coast _ LatviaSunset on the south-west coast of Latvia
    Photo by Rolands Ratfelders
  3. Diverse Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian coastline gives vast opportunities for coastal hiking. Most of the hiking places are easy to reach. Hence, you can hike the entire Baltic Sea coast or any of its section. It’s all your choice.
    Long distance hiking trail _ Latvia _ Jūrkalne

    Open Baltic Sea – Western Coast of Latvia
    Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

  4. There are many guest houses near the coast. Thus you can plan your trip to stop there or you can go camping instead.
  5. Baltic States are still very affordable! You can travel here for a fraction of the costs that you would spend let’s say in neighbouring Scandinavia.
  6. As said we do not have many people here. Thus, apart from the beaches around some bigger cities, there is plenty of space for spending your time in serenity and pristine nature. Being Nordic people, Latvians and Estonians are friendly but also rather shy. Thus, you are unlikely to be bothered much on your trip not to speak about tourist crowds – not existent here at all.  You can find almost empty remote beaches even on the hottest summer days. 
    Long distance hiking trail _ Wide white sand beach in Liepāja City

    White-sand beach in Liepāja City
    Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

  7. The coastline of the Baltic Sea is diverse. There are wide sandy beaches and stony seashore. On your way, you’ll find old pine forests, grey dunes, swampy areas of wet coastal meadows and even cliffs. You’ll find sites important for migratory birds. This will be a dessert for any avid bird watcher.
    Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea coast _ Latvia

    The biggest grey dune in Latvia – Pāvilosta Grey Dune
    Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

Weather

As everywhere in Northern Europe the weather here can be unpredictable. There can be gorgeous sunny days and it can rain several days in a row. Check the weather forecast before you go! Still, it is in no way guaranteed that the weather will be as you hoped for! Yet, as we say here “there is no bad weather for being in nature, there is only inappropriate clothing”.

Note also that with the words “hottest summer days” above I mean our Latvian-Nordic interpretation of what is “hot” weather, of course. Depending on how “heat” prone you are these are the rare occasions when the temperatures exceed some 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). Sometimes during hot summers, it can exceed 30 degrees C (86 degrees F). While on the coldest winter days in January and February it can be as cold as minus 30 degrees C (minus 22 F). These are very rare extremes though. Normally we have moderate temperatures excellent for hiking.

The Baltic States Are Green

By traveling to the Baltic States you are not only going to gorgeous beaches of the Baltic Sea.  The Baltic States are the lands of amazing forests, natural bogs, plenty of lakes and rivers. Thus you come to one of the best places for ecotourism in Europe.

Long distance hiking trail _ Baltic Sea coast _ Latvia

South-west coast of the Baltic Sea in Latvia. This is the only place in Latvia where the raised bog comes so close to the sea
Photo by Rolands Ratfelders

Latvia is actually one of the greenest countries in the World. It topped the Environmental Performance Index in 2012. This is because we are passionate about nature. Half of the Latvian coastline (230 km) is covered by protected nature areas of European Union importance (Natura2000). How cool is that?

Conclusions

You may want to know that there is a new amazing long distance hiking trail being developed in the Baltic States. It goes along the gorgeous coastline of the Baltic Sea. For now, this trail is around 1,230 km long in Latvia and Estonia. Yet you can easily add Lithuania and the very North of Estonia at any time. Thus you’ll get the complete long distance hiking trail covering all three Baltic States – The Baltic Sea Path. This trail completes the European Coastal Path (E9) in the North.

The good news is that you can enjoy the most beautiful hiking sections of this hiking trail already now. They are easily accessible for everyone. Welcome!

 

What do you think about the new long distance hiking trail in the Baltic States? Would you come for a hike along the Baltic Sea? Write your comments below or send me a private message for more details to rolands@escaperies.com.

If you want me to arrange your hiking or any other adventure trip in Latvia, please contact me or visit my page at www.idaadventures.com.

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