Latvia and Liepāja

Overview of Liepaja

 Liepaja

 

Liepaja is a city of successful changes as the people living here on the stretch of sand between the Amber Sea and the lake for more than 750 years have always been tough, wise and daring. The charm of the city is concealed in its special atmosphere. Perhaps a bit restrained and harsh, yet also noble and rebellious. Sometimes calm, sometimes swirling. Genuine and truthful - this is Liepaja.

Liepaja has grown from a small village into the third largest city in Latvia with the population of 85 000 people. In 2015 Liepaja celebrated its 390th anniversary.

 

Liepaja is a great city for studients because it’s rich in well-established cultural traditions. Liepaja is the home of the oldest professional Latvian theater, the only professional symphony orchestra outside Riga, a puppet theater, a number of folklore groups and numerous choirs. Organ music as well as jazz hold an important place in the cultural life of the city. The Summer Sound and Fontaine Festival have become the central pop and rock festivals in the city.

After the construction of the new Olympic Center, Liepaja has become a popular place for national and international sports events. In 2009 Liepaja was hosting EuroBasket Women championship, European championship in Thai boxing as well as a number of national competitions.

 

Liepaja is surrounded by water. There are the Baltic Sea coast, two big lakes and some smaller ones as well as there are four channels in the city. Liepaja Lake is the fifth largest lake in Latvia. Liepaja beach is a great place to relax. Those who want to get the first tan, show up in the beach as soon as the snow is gone and the sun gets warmer. However, unforgettable sunsets in the sea can be enjoyed throughout the year.

 

Liepaja is a port city. For passengers there is a ferry line Liepaja-Lübeck, but those traveling with a yacht can moor it in the Trade Channel almost in the downtown.

 

Arriving in Liepaja

 

Liepaja is easily accessible. It is located 220 km (136 mi) west from Riga, 100 km (62 mi) north from Klaipeda, a city in Lithuania, on the coast of the Baltic Sea. You can get to Liepaja by plane, train or bus from Riga, and by bus from Klaipeda or Palanga. Normally a bus ride from Riga to Liepaja takes about 3hours 30minutes, and a bit less than 2 hours from Klaipeda. You can get to Liepaja by your own car from Riga even faster than by public transport.

 

By plane

As of the end of 2009, all regular airline services to and from Liepaja were suspended. Check AirBaltic.com website. Palanga airport is just about 65 km (40 mi) south; it has direct routes all year round. Riga International airport (the largest airport in the Baltic states) offers many direct flights to Europe and Asia, including cheap Ryanair, AirBaltic and Wizz Air routes) it is located 220km east from Liepaja city.

 

By car

There are two main roads going to Liepaja. One is A9 from Riga direction, and the other is A11, from Klaipeda. Other roads are P111 to/from Ventspils, and many regional roads.

 

By bus

Liepaja is connected by bus service with Riga (multiple times every day), Klaipeda, Palanga, Ventspils, Kuldiga and other towns, as well as smaller villages in Liepaja region. The Bus station is located some distance away from the center. Take the tram to the south to get to the center (take the tram at a tram stop, which is on your right side when you quit the Bus station building. Do not cross the tram-railway, which is a wrong direction! The Liepaja regional bus terminal is located in the southern part of the center, at Sienatirgus. But all busses go to the main Bus station. A ticket to Riga costs around 9 Euros. Liepāja bus company offers you the possibility to get from Liepāja to the airport "Rīga" and also in the opposite direction from the airport "Rīga" to Liepāja without entering the centre of Rīga by using the bus route Liepāja-Rīga-Liepāja. To get from Liepāja to the airport "Rīga", purchase in addition to the bus ticket a voucher for 1 LVL at the bus driver. To get from the airport "Rīga"  to Liepāja, on the day of ttravel reserve your seat in the bus by phone +371 634 22754 or +371 26 393 694.

 

By train

A nice and relatively quick train runs twice a week to and from Riga. It leaves the Liepaja railway station (which is the same building as the bus station) at 6AM, and arrives at Riga railway station at 9:10AM. The train from Riga leaves at 6:30PM and arrives in Liepaja at 9:37PM. These trains also stop at Skrunda, Saldus, Dobele and Jelgava. On the train you can watch a DVD movie or use a vending machine to have a cup of coffee. Despite the fact that the train actually takes a longer route – about 240 km {149 mi} compared to 220 km {136 mi} 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.

 

Getting around

 

There are four types of public transport in Liepaja city – tram, bus, minibus, taxi. There you can download all timetables of Liepaja Public transport: http://www.liepajastransports.lv/en.

 

TRAM has only one line. It runs from the southwest, along beaches, through the center, to Jaunliepaja, a place with a flea market and ends near the metallurgic factory. It operates from 5AM till midnight and costs 0.58 cents if ticket is bought in a boutique, or 0.70 cents, if you buy it from the tram driver. Ticket must be validated in one of three yellow validators in the tram, which will print date and time on the ticket. The ticket is valid for one ride. Tram is the best transport to get to/from the Railway/Bus station to/from the city center. If you are going to catch the morning train to Riga, do so, because trams operate in early morning, but not as frequently. A ride from the center to the station takes approximately 8 minutes. An electronic tram ticket is also available by sending SMS, but this might be complicated for those who don't have local mobile phones.

 

BUS has many lines, the most important are 1,3,4,7,8 – with these you can get from the city center to Karosta and back. You can get to the Southeastern part (Ezerkrasts) to see Meynard`s church and Liepaja Lake by 3, 4, 10, 15, 912. Costs 0.50 Ls (€0.70). Buses stop at bus stops throughout the city. Tickets can be bought in boutiques 0.58 cents or from the driver for 0.70 cents. Tickets must be validated in the bus by inserting them in an electronic validator just like in trams. Some, but not all, buses have audio announcement system for next stop and a LED screen in front of the bus displaying the next stop name. In case of going to Karosta you will most likely want to go till the last stop, so don’t worry. An exception is bus number 8, which goes far north in summer house and garden district Skede near the sea, which is kind of too far for Karosta, however is the best bus to get as far as the Jewish holocaust memorial or the Northern fortress.

 

MINIBUS numbers 1, 2, 3 also serve Karosta. They cost €0.70. To stop a minibus, you have to wave your hand. To stop a minibus when you are in it, you have to demand the driver to do so. Tickets must be validated in the bus by inserting them in an electronic validator just like in trams and buses.

 

TAXI is relatively expensive compared to other types of transport, but still cheaper than in Western Europe. This is, however, the only public transport available in the night (approximately from 12:30AM-5AM). There are some places in the city center and near the Bus/Railway station where Taxi cars use to assemble, but you can call (+371) 63422222 (, (+371) 63488888 or 8500 (free Wi-Fi).

 

Sightseeing

 

You’ll need at least a couple of days to see everything that Liepaja has to offer. Spend the night in a haunted prison, climb up to the clock tower of Holy Trinity Church for spectacular views of the city, soak up the atmosphere at Peter’s Market, explore the ruins of a tsarist fort or just spend time at the Blue Flag beach.

 

On the spotlight

 

Karosta Prison - Latvia’s very own version of Alcatraz, but without the water, the sharks and the view of the Golden Gate bridge. The ominous brick building has however been witness to some ghastly crimes over the past century. www.karostascietums.lv

 

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church - is unique about few things that will please everything: your eyesight, ear and heart. Its` well preserved interior masterpieces, art works, 13-meter high sacred altar and one of the biggest organs in the world cheers its` listener’s ears with an outstanding music.

Lielā iela 9

 

Promenade - It is a passage, where you can see water with some interesting ships from one side, and on the other side - reconstructed old storage buildings, nowadays housing shops, restaurants, etc.

Vecā Ostmala 40

 

Northern Forts - A long system of concrete fortifications were once part of the Naval Port’s defences, but they were destroyed after a friendship and cooperation agreement was signed with Germany in 1908.

Jātnieku iela, Karosta

 

Rose Square - The square housed a new market from 18th century, later market was moved away and place got a look of a green spot. The first roses were planted here in 1910, in recent times monument was created, depicting names of the sister cities of Liepaja and their symbols.

„Liepaja-notes to follow” is the simplest way to see Liepāja and get to know its most important tourist sites. You can start this walking tour at any of the sights along that way where you see the musical notes.