Modern and well maintained to the point of being immaculate, it is clear to all visitors to this western Latvian port city that Ventspils has prospered from the oil business. Although it is Latvia's fourth largest settlement by size, many regard Ventspils as Latvia's second city.
A title the good city folk of Liepaja and Daugavpils would, of course, dispute. This city has earned its wealth through oil transit and the high volume of shipping haulage going through its port.
Ventspils' citizens are rightly proud of their well-kept city, which boasts, among its many attractions, a European Blue Flag beach.It is something of a mecca for both surfing enthusiasts and beach bums during the spring, summer and autumn months.
Aging fishing boats, original centuries-old tools and traditional Latvian dwelling houses are on display at the nearby family friendly Ventspils Open-Air Ethnographic Museum where tourists can also spend lazy summer days enjoying the narrow-gauge steam railway.
The city is regarded as the most child-friendly city in Latvia. Among the wide choice of entertainment options fr the little ones, there's a popular aqua park and a children's town.
Annual Ventspils Festival
The annual Ventspils Festival always pulls in thousands of visitors. The promenades next to the 13th century Livonian Order Castle thronging with holidaymakers during the festivities. The newly restored Ventspils Castle, close to the mouth of he Venta river, helps define the image of the city. The castle has a museum with an adjacent promenade running along the riverbank. This mix of the ancient and the modern blends perfectly and is one of the reasons why the city has become a tourist destination in its own right in recent years.
A visit to this city is also a good excuse to travel further afield to foreign shores, with direct ferry routes connecting this attractive city to Sweden, Germany, Denmark and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. By the same token, The city is also the first port of call for many foreign visitors coming to Latvia, and remains a credit to the country.
Ventspils - City of Sport
One would probably imagine that Riga would be home to the best sport clubs and sporting facilities in the country. However, the city gives the Latvian capital a good run for its money with its excellent sports infrastructure, which includes a brand new swimming pool and sports arena, state of the art training facilities and a number of Latvia's leading sports teams. Bk Ventspils are among the best basketball sides in the region, while FK Ventspils were once again crowned champions of the Latvian football league in 2008.
With the opening of a handful of new hotel and conference centers, new direct flights between the city and Riga, the re-introduction of the Riga to Ventspils train line in 2008, as well as regular coach connections to the capital on the upgraded A10 highway, Ventspils should continue to go from strength to strength in both business and tourism terms in the coming years and is certainly well worth a visit if you have never been lucky enough to visit it before.
Seaside Open Air Museum Ventspils
The museum’s stock comprises over 24,000 exhibits displayed indoors and outdoors. Indoor exhibits of the museum tell about the main stages in development of the fishing industry, showing its progress through implements for catching all kinds of fish and various boat-making methods.
The four-hectare-wide outdoor area is dedicated to the fishing traditions of the Kurzeme region, tracing the evolution of a fishing boat since the 18th century and featuring the fishermen’s houses typical of the local people, the Smiltnieki residential house of a Latvian farmer in the last quarter of the 19th century, a windmill, a threshing barn, a barn, a kitchen house, a forge, a smokehouse, a net shed and other ethnographic structures.
Most recently on display at the Seaside Open-air Museum is the Lielirbe Baptist Prayer House (1913). On weekends, you can watch a blacksmith and a weaver practicing their crafts.
Ventspils Hotel recommendation
This property is 11 minutes walk from the beach. Juras Brize is located in a quiet part of Ventspils, only a 5-minute walk from the beach and a 20-minute walk from the center. The rooms offer free Wi-Fi.
The bright and modern rooms all feature a TV, a refrigerator, and tea and coffee-making facilities.
Latvian specialities and a wide range of drinks are available in the Juras Brize’s elegant café.
Free parking is available at Juras Brize. The central bus station and the ferry terminal can be reached by car in less than 10 minutes.