20 of the best Baltic beach holidays

The water may be colder but with its grand bygone-era resorts, wild islands and white sand beaches, these northerly coasts are a great alternative to the Med

Latvia

Beach chalets
If you like your beaches wild, western Latvia’s” steep coast”, close to the village of Jurkalne, 200 km west of Riga, should be on your list. With pale bluffs up to 20 metres high, it offers excellent photographic possibilities, walks with great views and its own experience of untamed nature. There are a few wooden vacations chalets along this coast- at Cerini, visitors are left in blissful isolation, but firewood and drinking water are supplied.
* From < em> EUR3 5 for chalet for two ,< em> EUR4 5 for a four-berth and EUR6 0 for a seven-berth. jurkalnesstavkrasts.lv . Ryanair flies to Riga from Edinburgh, East Midlands and London; British Airways from Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester

Jrmala
Ripples near Riga … Jurmala beach. Photograph: Boris SV/ Getty Images

Soviet-era spa

An easy 30 -minute drive from Riga, the resort of Jurmala has sandy beaches, pine tree woods and Soviet-era sanatoriums. This was the spa capital of the Baltics, where Soviet generals and officials would recharge, enjoying the salty air, mineral-rich waters and therapeutic dirt. Architecturally, the sanatorium to see is Vaivari, resembling a beached ship. Jurmala City Museum( free) showcases the leisure-scene heyday, with an impressive collect of retro swimwear. Stay at Parus, a traditional old wooden villa near the beach.
* Doubles from EUR5 0 including breakfast, parus.lv . Flights as previous

Liepja
Relaxed vibe … Liepaja beach Photograph: Alamy

Quick guide

Baltic beach holidays

Climate and ocean temperature in the Baltic

Summer temperatures in much of the Baltic region are similar to those of England, with average highs of 20-23C in July and August. But winter and spring, even in the more southerly and westerly locatings mentioned here, such as Germany’s Rugen Island , are often several degrees cooler than England.

Further north and east, at say Hanko , Finland, and Parnu , Estonia, summertime temperatures are similar to those of the north of England with summertime highs in the low 20 s. Rainfall occurs on 10 days of the month in Parnu on average in August and September, compared with six and seven days respectively in London. Rugen island experiences rain on nine days each month between July and December on average.

Sea temperatures
Baltic water temperatures are surprising high considering in some areas there is melting ice in spring. Sea temperatures off Rugen this month are around 24 C compared with 18 -1 9C in Newquay, Cornwall. Those taking to the beaches further east at Klaipeda in Lithuania this week can expect sea temperatures of 22 C. Even at Hanko the water is commonly between 17 and 22 C in most summers.

Photograph: www.alamy.com

Sand and sounds

Once an important Soviet naval base, the towns of Liepaja is now Latvia’s capital of music. There’s Kulturvieta Kursas Putni, an arts hub that hosts regular live music nights, while the architecturally stunning Great Amber Concert Hall is the city’s new culture star. The downtown Fontaine Hotel is an ideal place for music fans to bide, with Elvis and Louis Fontaine-themed bedrooms, as well as apartments and a manor sleeping 10. The 8km-long sandy beach is backed by pines and has been a popular resort since the 1860 s.
* Budget doubled from EUR3 0, doublings from EUR5 5 room-only, fontaine.lv .< em> Flights as previous

Lithuania

Riverside retreat

Vienkiemis
Rustic retreat … Vienkiemis homestead

Palanga, hugging the Baltic Sea, morphed from glamorous 19 th-century retreat to model Soviet resort to what it is today: a busy seaside township crammed with holidaymakers and open-air cafe. The crowds can be escaped by heading inland for 20 minutes to the rustic Vienkiemis homestead. This is a bucolic riverside spot, where visitors sleep in a 165 -year-old wooden granary barn, and can relax in the riverbank log cabin sauna before tucking into traditional Lithuanian cuisine in the tavern.
* Available from 1 June to 15 September, doubles from EUR3 5, omitting breakfast( EUR5 )< em >,
vienkiemis.lt/ en/ barn. WizzAir flies from Luton to Palanga

Coastal cycling

Lithuania
Pining for a cycle … coastal landscapes on UTracks roads.

What Lithuania absences in dedicated bicycle lanes it makes up for with quiet backcountry roads, swathes of flat land and scenic coastal landscapes- constructing it perfect for cyclists. UTracks has a new, self-guided eight-day cycle tour, riding between 33 and 60 km a day, defining off from( and finishing in) the seaside township of Klaipeda and using the country’s first signposted road, the Seaside Cycle Route, towards Nida on the Curonian Spit. The itinerary allows for time to swim in the sea, or to walking, cycle or canoe the coast.
* From PS650 pp for departures until early September with B& B accommodation, excluding flights,
utracks.com . Flights as previous

Magic Mann

Curonian
Stormy climate … a dramatic cloudscape out to ocean at Nida. Photograph: Alamy

The old angling settlement of Nida, on the Curonian Spit, is the westernmost point of Lithuania, close to the border of Russian exclave Kaliningrad. The scenery is one of steep sand dunes, gingerbread houses and ocean opinions, both inspirational and dramatic. Famously, Thomas Mann, the Nobel prize-winning German writer of The Magic Mountain, had a summerhouse here where he’d vacation with his family in the early 1930 s. It is now a museum in his accolade( PS2. 20 entry ). Nida Campsite, next to the stone-age settlement of Five Hills and near the 52 -metre-high Parnidis sand dune, has an indoor swimming pool, sauna and bicycles to rent( PS10 a day ).
* Pitch from EUR5, plus from EUR3. 50 adult, EUR2 child, kempingas.lt. Flights as previous

Germany

Sleep on the beach

A
Blow me down … A strandkorb – a windproof hooded wicker basket beach chair- at Eckernforde

Unlike a windbreaker or a towel, a German strandkorb ( a wicker basket beach chair with a hood) won’t blow away. You can even sleep in a modern-style roomy version on the Baltic beach at Eckernforde( there are toilets at the nearby harbour ). It might be a bit unnerving at first but in the morning you can roll from bed to sand within seconds.
* Strandkorbs from around EUR5 0 for two,
ostseebad-eckernfoerde.de( seasonal, April to September ). Ryanair flies to Hamburg from Edinburgh, Manchester and Stansted; easyJet from Edinburgh, Manchester and Gatwick; BA flies from Heathrow

Island hopping

Chalk
Chill on the chalk … cliffs in Jasmund national park, Rugen island. Photograph: Jochen Schlenker/ Robert Harding/ Getty Images

On Rugen, Germany’s largest island, is the country’s smallest national park, Jasmund which has chalky white cliffs, ancient beech woods and walk-to and cycling roads. Guests can sleep in a thatched bungalow at family-run Hotel Baumhaus Hagen, close to the park, and dine in its traditional German eatery. A spotlight has shone on Rugen recently as the huge Prora beach hotel( built by Hitler but never completed- it is almost three miles long and was intended to host 20,000) is controversially set to open as a holiday resort. Trains from Berlin and Hamburg connect Binz, the largest seaside resort on Rugen, both taking around four hours.
* Doubles from EUR8 9 B& B in summer,
baumhaus-hagen.de. Flights as previous

Prized peninsula

Priwall
Sumptuous shoreline … Priwall is a great place for walks and spotting wildlife. Photograph: Holger Leue/ Getty Images

On the coast of northern Germany, Lubeck- a Unesco world heritage site- is famous for its Hanseatic merchant houses, river views and, most of all, its marzipan. But nature fans will not want to miss the Priwall peninsula, a 40 -minute drive north-east. Wedged between the Baltic Sea and the Trave river, sand dunes are flanked by woodland, lyme grass and sea buckthorn, and there are wetlands dotted with small ponds that are home to frogs, grass snakes and dragonflies. Stay at Arnimsruh Hotel Garni in Lubeck, a family-run hotel that sits on the outskirts of the city, surrounded by linden trees.
* Doubles from EUR7 7 B& B,
hotel-luebeck.de. Lubeck is a 40 -minute train ride from Hamburg. Flights as previous

Russia

Exclave jaunt

Promenade
Exclave resort … Svetlogorsk. Photograph: danilovi/ Getty Images

Immanuel Kant’s hometown, a Prussian then German fortress city built by the Teutonic knights( and known for nearly 700 years as Konigsberg ), the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad offers unorthodox sightseeing. Sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, it has attractions including the Svetlogorsk resort with pine forests and villas, Konigsberg Cathedral and plenty of brutalist Soviet architecture. Baltic Holidays has a four-day guided break including a full-day sightseeing and a day trip to either Baltiysk military city, home to the Russian Navy’s Baltic fleet, or Svetlogorsk.
* From EUR4 79 excluding flights,
balticholidays.com. There are no direct flights to Kaliningrad from the UK; Air Baltic, LOT and Aeroflot fly via other cities

Beach gem

Yantarnys
Bleached beach … Yantarny is an hour’s drive west of Kaliningrad. Photograph: Alamy

If you’ve been dazzled by the Amber Room at Catherine Palace( just outside St Petersburg ), you’ll know just how adored fossilised tree resin is in Russia, where it can be found decorating religious icons, jewellery and figurines. The Kaliningrad region is home to 90% of the world’s amber deposits, and Yantarny, an hour’s drive west of Kaliningrad, has white sand beaches on the Baltic Sea and the chance to visit the Kaliningrad Amber Factory and Museum. The museum is in a 19 th-century red brick fortress tower on the shore of Verkhneye Lake and has a new observation deck, interactive exhibits and amber throne.
* Flights as previous

Finland

Spa appeal

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