Kemeri national park and Jurmala

After spending a half day in Riga you really have seen most of what there is to see. My second day in the capital of Latvia was not so productive, and after I had seen the KGB Museum and some markets, I actually just walked around aimlessly through the city. I had to fill one more day so I decided to make a day trip to the Kemeri National Park and a while it was on my way, visit the popular beach town of Jurmala.








The Kemeri train station.

The Kemeri train station at the left. A piece of beautiful nature you pass when you take the sideway through the forest on the right.

Riga to Kemeri National Park

The Kemeri National Park lies less than fifty kilometers from Riga. This park is a large nature preserve, best known for his giant marsh (bog) landscapes.
In some places the swamp is as deep as of twelve storey building! Not exactly a place you want to go take a dip in! Luckily, beautiful wooden pathways were laid out so you can visit the park safe and enjoy the immense beauty of the Latvian nature.

From Riga you have to take the train to Tukums 1 or Tukums 2. A single ticket costs € 1.80 and it costs about an hour on the way. Most trains have free Wi-Fi, so you can try to track down how far you are from your destination point using smartphone apps like Apple Maps or Google Maps.

You stop at a lot of stops, but you yourself have to get out at the stop “Kemeri”.
From there it’s still a long time walking until you end up in the national park, but once you arrive you forget all about the horrible tourism infrastructure to get to this park.

Finally! Road signs leading the way! - After you've gone into this direction, you should pass through a small cemetery.

Finally! Road signs leading the way! – After you’ve gone into this direction, you should pass through a small cemetery.

Kemeri railway station to Kemeri National Park

If you plan to make this excursion, I recommend to leave fairly early. The trains to Kemeri are irregular, especially in the winter when it gets dark quickly it is important to leave early.
also count on an extra half hour / hour to go to the park from the Kemeri station.

Once you leave the station, turn left and walk across the train tracks where cars also go over it. There you keep heading straight ahead all the way until you see a small pathway on your right side, crossing through the forest. (if you miss it, it’s no big deal. You can just continue until the T-junction and from there head to the right on the busy road).
When you have abandoned the smaller path through the forest, you arrive at a bigger, busier street. Straight ahead you will see a wider path that runs through the woods. Cross the busy street and go straight ahead.
If you pass a cemetery along the way, you are on the right track.

The Kemeri park is about three kilometers away, and just when I began to doubt whether I had gone wrong I saw some information boards about the national park appearing.

After these, you’ll see a small house and from there it’s a mere 500 meters further until you finally can see clearly marked path to your left. After a five minutes walk your strenuous efforts will be rewarded: You have now reached the splendid “Kemeri bog”.

Just a little more! After this small house, you'll see some wooden poles that finally lead you to your final destination.

Just a little more! After this small house, you’ll see some wooden poles that finally lead you to your final destination.

The path to the kemeri bog!

The path to the kemeri bog!

Kemeri bog

The whole landscape might not look like a swamp but I guarantee you: it is. The swampy landscape is covered with grasses, trees and algae, but throughout its history a lot of animals, people and tanks (WW II) were absorbed slowly and sank to the bottom of this beautiful killer.

Now I don’t think you really should worry if you accidentally splash into the water. After all, there is always something to grab onto, and the wooden path was actually built on somewhat firmer landscape.
Yet I must admit that I was afraid when I almost slipped on the ice-covered pathway and barely jumped on a supporting block next to me. Apart from drowning slowly, on a cold winter day you of course don’t want to fall into a cold, dirty swamp.

The scenery is exceptionally beautiful. I imagine that it looks completely different in the summer, but during the winter it is already beautiful.
The watery landscape is characterised by small and large trees, grasses, algae and water plants and the white snow and ice which meanders between them gives the whole landscape something magical.

The best view you can possibly get is when you climb on the watchtower in the middle of the park. From there you get an excellent view over the entire park and only then can you truly appreciate its beauty.

The Kemeri National Park! Absolutely beautiful!

The Kemeri National Park! Absolutely beautiful!

The view from the tower in the park only shows you how gorgeous this swamp is.

The view from the tower in the park only shows you how gorgeous this swamp is.

Jurmala

After walking another 3.5 kilometers through the park and then again walking back for about five kilometers to the station I thought I had to wait patiently until my train would take me back to Riga with a short stop in Jurmala.
I seemed to be in luck because there just was a little van waiting at the station of Kemeri which was heading towards Jurmala.

Jurmala is a popular place among Latvians during the summer. The cute cottages standing on the shore were mentioned in so many guide and since it was not so late, I thought to also go here for a sneak peek.
(If you want to visit Jurmala, you have to get off at the “Majori” station – because there are multiple stations in the city of Jurmala.)

There’s not a lot that you can do, and certainly not in the winter months.
Frozen beaches and a wild, black sea are beautiful. But sunbathing was probably not possible today. After galulphed on the icy sand for a little while, I returned to the city where the unique cottages stole most of my attention.

The buildings seem to be plucked out of a fairy tale! The lovely boulevard was filled with quaint shops and small christmas market, and I can indeed imagine perfectly how cozy it must be here in the hot summer months.

The boulevard of Jurmala. Desolate in winter, but bustling with life during summer!

The boulevard of Jurmala. Desolate in winter, but bustling with life during summer!

The frozen beach of Jurmala.

The frozen beach of Jurmala.

Latvia is seen after only three days! Tomorrow I head to the last Baltic country on my checklist: Estonia. I wonder if Tallinn will be as beautiful as Riga.




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