Liepāja

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Liepaja  is a city in Latvia.Understand :  Liepaja, a wonderful city of about 90,000 residents, is a gemstone, located on Latvia’s Baltic coast. It is Latvia’s third largest city (and arguably the next most important city after the capital Riga) and the former capital of Latvia during World War I. It is important for tourists to know that Liepaja city consists of two main areas of interest – 1) the city center, and 2) Karosta, the northern part of the city, which used to be a secret military town for the Russian Empire (hence many Tsar-time buildings) and the Soviet Union (brutal blocks of flats from the 1970s just next to a 110 years old orthodox cathedral). Both the city center and Karosta have great beaches, and you will be surprised how unspoiled and beautiful the central beach is, and how white and soft the sand is! Karosta is essentially another city, because it really has a different history and look from the rest of Liepaja  Karosta is worth a separate visit. In Liepaja there is no place to be called `the old town`, but the center and surroundings are full of old, beautiful wooden buildings, lots of Art Nouveau – both wooden and in bricks, little irregular streets, etc. The center also includes the Seaside Park (Jurmalas parks) area, which has a fantastic white, soft sand beach; the park itself is great, too, with many nice buildings.

Liepaja is known as the city where wind was born (it`s part of the lyrics of a song of the same name, which was officially chosen as the anthem of the city, and characters of these lyrics are represented in 5 monuments in Kurmajas prospekts street). It is also known as the capital of music of Latvia, many famous Latvian musicians are exactly from Liepaja. It is a major center of culture, education, industry etc. Despite being relatively small, it is one of Latvia`s largest cities and has rich history, hence it`s very diverse architecture and rich heritage.

Access : Coordinates:56.511667, 21.013889/ By car :  There are two main roads to Liepaja. From Riga, the A9 runs westward for 220km. From Klaipeda in Lithuania, the A11 runs north for 100km. From Ventspils, on the coast further north, take the P111
By bus : Liepaja is connected by bus service with Riga (many times every day, €9, 3.5 hours), Ventspils, Kuldiga and other towns and villages in Liepaja region, as well as Klaipeda (2 hours) and Palanga (1 hour 20 minutes) in Lithuania. To get from the bus station to the center, take the tram at a tram stop which is on your right side when you exit the bus station building. Do not cross the tram tracks, which is the wrong direction! The Liepaja region bus terminal is in the southern part of the center, at Sienatirgus. All buses also go to the main bus station.

During the offseason, only Liepajas Tour operates single bus/minibus service to Klaipeda and Palanga in Lithuania from the bus stop next to Hotel Kolumbs. As of May 2016, it departed at 9am, arriving to Palanga bus terminal at 10:20am and continuing to Klaipeda. The cost is €3.15 to Palanga and €4.15 to Klaipeda (May 2016), cash only but tickets (no reserved seating) can also be purchased in advance from Liepajas Tour.

By train :  The Liepaja railway station is located in the same building as the bus terminal. A nice and relatively quick train runs every day to and from Riga (€8.80). It leaves Liepaja at 6:00, and arrives at Riga railway station at 9:10. The train from Riga leaves at 18:30 and arrives in Liepaja at 21:37. These trains also stop at Skrunda, Saldus, Dobele and Jelgava. On the train, you can watch a movie or buy coffee from a machine. Despite the fact that the train actually takes a longer route – about 240km compared to 220km if you go by bus – because it goes through Jelgava, it takes a bit less time to go to Riga by train than by bus.

By boat : A ferry service connects Liepaja with Travemunde (near Lubeck) in Germany. The ferry terminal is in Ziemelu priekspilseta, 15 minutes from the center by bus 10, 11, or 15, or minibus 3. If you have a yacht, you are welcome to Liepaja yacht harbor, located in the center, in Tirdzniecibas channel. By hitch-hiking :  It is pretty popular to hitch-hike in Latvia and if you want, you should try it for Liepaja, too. To get out of the city to go somewhere else, go to the north tram terminus, cross the railway crossing, and you are in the best spot to hitchhike to Riga or Ventspils, or go to the south terminus, walk some 400 meters until the city ends completely, and you are in a good spot to hitchhike to Klaipeda!

By plane :  There are currently no scheduled air services to Liepaja Airport. Palanga airport in Lithuania is 65 km to the south and has scheduled services year round. Riga International airport, which is the largest airport in the Baltic states with many direct flights to Europe and Asia, including cheap Ryanair, AirBaltic and Easyjet routes, is 220km east of Liepaja.

Attractions : When in Liepaja, one must see its diverse architecture, art nouveau, definitely go to the former secret military town of Karosta (northern Liepaja), the Fortress of Liepaja (its parts are located all around the city, the most spectacular ones are on the Baltic shore in Karosta in Krasta street and Jatnieku street), Liepaja city center with many old art-nouveau and wooden building and cobblestone streets, and the seaside park with its white sandy beach, as well as Liepajas lake – fifth largest lake in Latvia, are nice places with lots to see. Streets not to be missed in terms of architectural values include – Liepu, Dzintaru, Uliha, Kurmajas, Diku, Graudu, Kr. Valdemara, Rozu, Peldu, Toma, Republikas, Palmu, Veidenbauma, Kursu, Barona, Fr. Brivzemnieka, Ludvika and many others in the centar/seaside, and Katedrales, Atmodas, Lozmetejnieku, Imantas, Cesu Rotas, Krasta in Karosta. For best Liepajas lake views head to Reinu meza street or Eduarda Tise street. There are two bird observation towers next to the lake – one on the corner of Tise and Lauku streets, another in Zirgu sala island, get there through Ezermalas street, cross the island and walk on a jetty in the lake. To find all these streets and places, take a look at a map, zoom in, street-view it and enjoy when here.

Beaches What attracts tourists the most is probably the whitest and softest sandy beach. One part of it receives the Blue Flag every summer. It is a special indicator, showing that the beach is really good and safe to swim at etc. A very good thing about Liepaja beach is that it is rarely too crowded. And in the evening, night or early morning, or in winter season, you can sometimes find your self all alone in a magnificent beach, stretching as far as you can see. This is all about Vecliepaja and Dienvidrietumi beach, which are located in the central and southwestern part of the city. There are, however, other beaches in the northern part of the city, which is a very interesting place to visit (see Karosta – the former secret soviet military town). The central beach is the place where Latvia’s biggest music festival occurs every summer – the Baltic Beach Party.

Seaside Park, located in the center of the city, nearby the beach, is the most beautiful park of Liepaja. It has many different tree species, three stadiums, a concert-garden, a bowling center, minigolf, and in summer – summer cafeterias and many cultural events. You might also find some fountains there, and if you are lucky, you will see a squirrel running up the tree.
Amber clock, which is actually a sundial-shaped design object, is on the PROMENADE, and it is created of thousands of pieces of amber, donated by anyone who wanted to do so. The sundial shows time every hour on the hour, by a special light performance. The performance can be seen much better, when it is dark outside.
Craftman’s House Here you can see the longest amber necklace in the World (123 meters (403 ft), weight – almost 20 kg (44 lb)). You can also watch weavers working a creating beautiful tablecloths, skirts etc. Usually closed on weekends.

Open air markets :  They are always something special for western tourists, but part of daily life for local people. There are many markets throughout the city, but the two most important and largest are Peter’s market (Petertirgus) and Anne’s market (Annas tirgus). Petertirgus is in the city center. It has big indoor and outdoor sections. In both you can find food and non-food items. There is a fish market in the basement of the indoor market building. Some craftworks can be bought outside, such as amber bracelets etc. This is the best place to buy local, ecologically clean fruit and vegetables, and July is strawberry time! Everything is relatively cheap. Annas tirgus is located one tram stop closer to the center than the bus/railway station, in Jaunliepaja. It is smaller, but has a big flea market section, where you can find many things from the Soviet era.

Liepaja Lake : Liepaja is surrounded by water. There are the Baltic Sea coast, two big lakes, some smaller ones, four channels in the city. The city, especially the southern part (Vecliepaja) is almost an island. Liepaja Lake is the fifth largest lake in Latvia. It is lagoona-type, meaning it was part of the sea in ancient days. It is not deep, and is relatively narrow – up to 3.5 km (2.2 mi) – and long – about 15 km (9.3 mi). Liepaja city is on the north-western coast of the lake.

Karosta : A former secret Soviet military town. If you are in Liepaja, you must go to Karosta. It is the northern part of the city, about 10 km (6 mi) from the center. Karosta translates as War Port (or Navy Harbor) from Latvian. It used to be a secret military town for Russian empire, and later also for the Soviets.

Eight fortresses all around the city, but the most scenic and interesting ones are these two on the shores of Karosta / Orthodox cathedral in the central part of Karosta / Submarine Accumulator Fence and Hangar are the remains of a submarine base that was once here /
Horse Arena (MANEZA) is a roofless building / Twinned town of Chernobyl are empty Soviet style apartment buildings, / Karosta Prison / Palace- A once beautiful palace built by the Russian Empire was once a small museum  / Temporary Art Gallery – modern, a bit weird, but always original and interesting exhibitions at Atmodas bulvaris 6. gallery k.Maksla. /
The Liepaja Museum; 16, Kurmajas Avenue / Liepaja During Occupational Regimes; 7/9, K.Ukstina Street /

Activities : The city center and Karosta must be visited.If you visit in summer, go to the beach and swim. Windsurfing activities are popular and city has both the sea and the lake, so there are wide opportunities for this and equipment can be rented in Windsurfing club Rietumkrasts in Katedrales street, Karosta. Since Liepaja historically is a resort city you can go to several Spas in the city, get a holistic massage or attend yoga class. EcoBodyWork, Kursu 18 . 9:00- 19:00. English speaking therapist offering holistic massage and movement therapy, as well as water therapy Watsu.

Eat : Drink : Accommodation :

Go next : Kapitoniskes / Kalvenes Zoo “Ciruli” / Pape Nature Reserve / Aizpute / Kuldiga / Ventspils / Klaipeda – This city in Lithuania /

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