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Vidzeme coastline

Different in landscape and natural sites is the Vidzeme coastline – the eastern shore of the Gulf of Riga. It has high sand dunes, sandstone cliffs, a stony seaside, rand meadows, remote beaches, and popular leisure locations and fishing villages.

It is customary to say that the Vidzeme Seashore starts from the estuary of the Gauja River. In this part the seashore is significant with its high dunes and unique inlet lakes. For example, Garezeri, then the 20 m high and several kilometre long Lilaste Dune, and one of the most beautiful of Latvia’s seaside dunes – White Dune, located in Pabaži, by the estuary of the Inčupe River.   

Next to it is the most famous leisure location of the Vidzeme coastline – Saulkrasti.

Its name alone (Saules krasti, in Latvian – Sun Coast) suggests the value of the location; at the end of the 19th century local fishing villages became popular destination of Riga anglers, and this continues up to the present day. The destination was valued for its wide and sandy beaches, green pine forest, and quiet seaside villages with summer houses, rest houses, summer cottages, cafes, and outlets trading in freshly smoked fish.

To the north of Salacgrīva, at the sea shore, stand the Lauči stones – they are among the largest boulders on Latvia’s seaside. The Large Lauču Stone is 4.3 m long, 3.1 m wide and 3.1 m high; it is called the King of Stones.

A few kilometres further is Dunte, which is famous for the museum of the world-known liar, Baron von Munchhausen [LV, Barons Minhauzens], who spent the best years of his life at the Vidzeme Seashore. To the north of Dunte, between Tūja and Vitrupe, the Vidzeme seashore is particularly beautiful – a section of shore that has been washed away by the sea, leaving unusual clusters of boulders, capes of earth, sandstone cliffs and grottos (small caves). This entire section of the Vidzeme seashore is part of a nature reserve; the most picturesque locations are Ķurmrags, with a lighthouse washed into the sea, and Veczemju Cliff – up to 6 m high, red sandstone detritions [steep sea-shore].

In the seashore section leading to Salacgrīva, several beautiful rivers – Vitrupe, Svētupe – flow into the sea. Beyond Svētciems the seashore morphology is unique with several unusual stone layers near the shore – Svētciems and Krauji stone islands. Near the estuary of the Salaca River, Latvia’s most important naturally spawning salmon river, is the quant port town of Salacgrīva; the location has been inhabitated since the 5th century – back then it was a Liv settlement.

Salacgrīva attracts tourists with a wonderful beach and large public events – the Fishermen Festival and the popular music festival "Positivus" which is also known outside Latvia. Friends of nature are attracted by wide rand meadows north of Salacgrīva. These are the largest shore-side meadows and a unique natural formation with large biological diversity and significant bird nesting places. This is why, for the convenience of friends of nature, the rand meadows are fitted with nature trails and bird watching platforms.

At the very north of the Vidzeme seashore – in the vicinity of the Latvian-Estonian border is one of the quietest Latvian small towns – Ainaži. In the 19th century the first seafaring school of Latvia was established in Ainaži and the town became a significant seafaring centre with a shipyard where over several decades 50 ocean sailing ships were built! Now Ainaži is a quiet small town with an interesting beach and attracts tourists with old spīķeri (trade warehouses), a stone pier that used to support a narrow-gauge railway, and a wind power station.

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