Last updated: 11 December 2020
Have you ever imagined challenging yourself on a long distance coastal hiking trail? Well, there is a new amazing one along the Baltic Sea.
It is almost 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) long. This includes 580 km (360 miles) in Latvia and 620 km (385 miles) in Estonia, where the trail was established first in 2019. By 2020 it also includes 210 km (130 miles) of the stunning Lithuanian coast.
The good news is that you can split this long-distance hiking trail into as many short hikes as you want.
When it comes to serenity there are not that many options for coastal hiking in good old Europe. However, there are still some really great options available in Western Europe (e.g. in Scotland and Portugal) and also in Northern Europe, including the Baltic States.
Some of you even may have not heard about so far. The small Baltic States now offer excellent coastal hiking destinations that will blow your mind.
These are real escape travel destinations or so to say under the radar spots, and here’s why.
The New Long-Distance Coastal Hiking Trail In The Baltic States
From 2017 till 2019 the Estonian-Latvian project Interreg Estonia – Latvia established a new exiting long-distance hiking trail along the coastline of the Baltic Sea in Latvia and Estonia.
It was officially launched in a small Latvian – Estonian border town Ainaži on 14 September 2019. Yet this was just a formality. Baltic Sea cost has already been well known and used by locals as a great hiking destination. It is only now when it has been finally marked (with white-blue-while signs) and received its local names in Latvian, Estonian, and since 2020 also in Lithuanian.
It’s part of the European Coastal Path (E9)
This trail is now an official part of the so-called E9 European long-distance trail or European Coastal Path. It is one of the European long-distance hiking trails, which is well known to coastal hiking lovers. European Coastal Path starts in Cabo de São Vicente in Portugal and ends in Narva-Jõesuu in Estonia.
The Latvian-Estonian-Lithuanian long-distance hiking trail starts in the Lithuanian village of Nida on the border with Russia. It follows the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian coastline and ends in the capital city of Estonia – Tallinn.
The rural tourism expert Juris Smaļinskis marked the Latvian and Estonian part of the trail in the summer of 2017 and 2018. Three years later, in 2020, he “completed the trail” in Lithuania.
Juris is an experienced traveler. He was involved in the project to check and map the new long-distance hiking trail on-site.
On his way, Juris also checked tourism infrastructure and interesting things to see, hence completing awesome work.
During his journey, he met many local people, other hikers, officials from municipalities, and entrepreneurs, and received lots of support and encouragement.
The name of the trail
So, what is the name of the new Baltic Coastal Hiking Trail, then. Well, there is still no well-grounded name in English yet. Yet the widely used Latvian name of the trail is “Jūrtaka”. In Lithuanian, it is called „Jūrų takas“. Both languages are closely related and in both, it means “Seapath”. In Estonian, it is called “Ranniku matkarada”, which means “coastal path”.
The project itself calls it just Baltic Coastal Hiking while the new edition “Wanderlust Europe” – The Great European Hike calls it Baltic Coastal Hiking Route, which probably the most relevant in English.
It’s longer than Rota Vicentina in Portugal
This long-distance hiking trail is a new sustainable tourism project. It highlights Latvian, Estonian, and Lithuanian natural and cultural heritage, which has been largely unknown for the rest of the world so far.
The trail is now becoming a “must-do” for many long and short distance hikers from around the world. It is something new, fresh, and unbeaten. It is a new Baltic alternative to the famous Rota Vicentina long-distance hiking trail in Portugal, just many times longer (Rota Vicentina is around 400 km (250 miles) long).
Yet, you do not have to hike it all at once, of course. The Baltic long-distance hiking trail is divided into 70 days of an average daily hike of 20 – 25 km (12 – 15 miles) in all three Baltic States. Hence you have a lot of freedom and you can choose hiking those parts you like the most and plan your trip according to your time schedule.
Everyone can plan his/her own personal adventure trip and make his/her own “collection” of one-day or multiple-day hikes on the Baltic Sea coast.
We can also do your planning for you if you wish. For that please fill in the trip planner form HERE.
Top Baltic Coastal Hiking Highlights
Latvia is mostly characterized by gorgeous white sandy coastal dunes and beaches. Some of the most beautiful hiking sites in Latvia are between Pāvilosta and Jūrkalne, Sīkrags and Kolka (in Slitere National Park) as well as Tūja and Vitrupe. These are each one-day hikes of a bit more than 20 km (12 miles).
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 one or two-day hikes here as well.
Lithuania has the shortest coastline of 208 km (130 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 a truly amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Additionally, you can also hike 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.
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 escape travel destination. This includes hiking, but also other activities as well as relaxing and enjoying the pristine and mostly secluded nature.
Hidden Gems of Nature: Why You Might Not Have Heard About Us So Far?
Those who have not visited the Baltic States yet might ask “Why I haven’t heard about these amazing places before?” Fair enough.
Well, first, you may know that Nordic nations are pretty reserved. Baltic nations are not that great in self-advertising too (although this gradually improves now). Our cultural background is not that much about bells and whistles.
Secondly, many of us do not yet realize the value of our own natural and cultural heritage. These are actually treasures on a global scale. There are only 1.9 million Latvians living in the land that is by one-third bigger than let’s say Netherlands or Switzerland.
Lithuania is just a little bit bigger with 2.8 million people, while Estonia is smaller with only 1.3 million people ou there.
That said by no means, our countries can be called overpopulated. This is why sometimes we take our nature values as something for granted. However, for off-the-beaten-path travelers, Baltic nature and cultural heritage might be a huge discovery and a truly pristine runaway.
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 have amazing forests, natural bogs (wetlands), as well as plenty of lakes and rivers. Thus you come to one of the best regions for ecotourism in Europe.
Latvia is 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?
7 Reasons Why Coastal Hiking Is So Special In Baltics
So why is the coastline of the Baltic States and coastal hiking so special here? Here are 7 reasons for that:
#1: Pristine nature
Baltic seacoast mostly consists of secluded beaches, dunes, and forests. Beautiful seaside, long days, and gorgeous sunsets are what make coastal hiking or just enjoying nature special here.
#2: Long summer days
In the summertime, the sun rises around 5 a.m. sets only around 10 or even 11 p.m. In June it is never really dark out there. So you have plenty of time for any outdoor activity.
#3: Easy to reach
Diverse Latvian, Estonian, and Lithuanian coastline give 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 parts. It’s all your choice.
#4: Stay in guest houses or try camping
There are guest houses along the coast (more along the Gulf of Riga; less on the wild North – West Coast of the open Baltic Sea). Thus you can plan your trip to stop there or you can stay in any of the numerous campsites instead.
As for the guesthouses be sure you book timely if you are coming in the summertime especially on weekends.
Be also aware that wild camping is not allowed in the coastal zone.
#5: It won’t break the bank
The Baltic States are still very affordable. You can travel here for a fraction of the costs that you would spend let’s say in neighboring Scandinavia.
#6: It’s mostly off the beaten track
You are unlikely to be bothered much on your coastal hiking trip in the Baltic States. There are no crowds here. Beaches around some bigger cities like Riga, Jūrmala, Ventspils, and Liepāja get more people on the hot summer days. Yet mostly, there is plenty of space for spending your time in serenity and pristine nature.
The Baltic coastline is diverse. There is a mix of wide sandy beaches and stony seashores. You’ll find old pine forests, dunes, swampy areas of wet coastal meadows, and even cliffs here. There are also many sites important for migratory birds. This will be a dessert for any avid bird watcher.
When To Visit?
The Baltic nations and particularly Latvians are somehow reluctant to speak 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 every five years. The latest one took place in July 2018. Plan your visit to see the next one in 2023!
You may also choose to come during the summer solstice. We celebrate it every year on 23rd and 24th of June on a scale that nobody else in the world does. These are public holidays here and we call these days “Līgo” and “Jāņi”.
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. Or you might wish to witness our colorful autumn at the end of September or in October.
Snowy winters add even more to the local charm. Doing coastal hiking (or any other activity in nature) in winter can be a bit more challenging (in terms of low temperatures and cold winds). Yet it also means more serenity than if you come in the summer.
If you are lucky enough, you can even see the Gulf of Riga covered by ice, which is an awesome view and a totally different perspective. Yet Global warming makes our winters much warmer than they used to be though. Thus you must be very lucky to see a frozen sea these days.
Some wheather hints
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!
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” (especially for a hiking lover).
Note also that with the words “hottest summer days” I mean our Latvian-Nordic interpretation of what is “hot” weather.
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 20 (minus 4 F) or even minus 30 degrees C (minus 22 F). These are very rare extremes though and I don’t remember the last time we had them.
Normally we have moderate temperatures excellent for hiking.
Baltic Coastal Hiking Route is a new amazing long-distance hiking trail recently developed in the Baltic States. It is an excellent destination for coastal hiking in Europe and gets increasingly popular among hikers from all around the world.
The trail follows the gorgeous coastline of the Baltic Sea. The “official trail” is 1,400 km long and covers three countries: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. It also completes the European Coastal Path (E9) in Northern Europe.
Baltic Coastal Hiking Route’s local names are “Jūrtaka” in Latvian, „Jūrų takas“ in Lithuanian, and “Ranniku matkarada” in Estonian. It is divided into 70 hiking sections (days) of around 20 – 25 km (12 – 15 miles) each. They are all accessible to everyone. Welcome!
What do you think about the new long-distance hiking trail in the Baltic States? Would you come for a coastal hike along the Baltic Sea? Write your comments below or send me a private message for more details on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want me to arrange your hiking or any other adventure trip in Latvia, please contact me or book at www.idaadventures.com.