Baltic Coastal Hiking Route: recommendations

Source: Tõiv Jõul

Baltic Coastal Hiking Route: recommendations

Author:

Anneli Haabu

West-Estonia Tourism


The Baltic Coastal Hiking Route, which runs along the coast of the Baltic Sea, is part of the European long-distance path E9. The hiking trail begins from Nida village at the border of Lithuania and Latvia and ends at Tallinn Port in Estonia. The total length of the route is 1,200 km, 580 km of which are in Latvia and 620 km in Estonia. The path can be travelled in both directions, as Tallinn can also be the starting point. 

The route Nida – Liepāja – Ventspils – Kolka – Jūrmala – Riga – Saulkrasti – Heinaste – Ikla – Pärnu – Virtsu – Lihula – Haapsalu – Paldiski – Tallinn covers over 500 natural, historic and cultural sites. The Baltic Coastal Hiking Route also includes Estonian islands: Kihnu, Saaremaa, Muhu, Hiiumaa, Vormsi, Osmussaar.


How to travel the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route?

The Baltic Coastal Hiking Route comprises 8 major stages, which are in turn divided into 60 one-day walks, the distance of which falls between 15 and 25 km, and each day can be regarded as a separate route.

The stages in Estonia are the following: coast of Pärnu Bay and fishing villages (Ikla – Virtsu 228 km, duration 11 days), Matsalu National Park and islands of western Estonia (Virtsu – Rohuküla 100 km, duration 5 days, plus Saaremaa, Muhu, Hiiumaa and Vormsi), Haapsalu and coastal Swedish villages (Tuuru – Nõva 136 km, duration 6 days), and the cliffed coast and waterfalls of northwestern Estonia up to Tallinn (Nõva – Tallinn 158 km, duration 8 days).

The stages in Latvia are as follows: Dižjūra  (Kurzeme seashore of the Baltic Sea), Mazjūra (Kurzeme seashore of Riga Bay), Jūrmala and Riga (the capital and most famous resort city in Latvia) and Vidzeme seashore (eastern coast of Riga Bay).

  • you can begin at all accessible points and travel in both directions;
  • various stages can also be completed via public transportation, or the logistics and baggage carriage can be agreed upon with your accommodation providers;
  • sign posts and information displays, white-blue-white markings on trees and other natural objects help to navigate in nature, while stickers on traffic signs and electricity poles are helpful in villages and cities;
  • there are no markings if the trail runs along the beach for a longer period of time and does not change direction.

In Latvia, the hiking trail mostly covers sandy beaches and seaside meadows. In Estonia, the trail runs along the seashore for around 100 km between Haapsalu and Tallinn, but as the coastline is irregular elsewhere and comprises numerous capes, reed beds and beach meadows, the remaining ca 500 km can be travelled by coastal roads and, at times, along the side of the motorway. In cities and settlements, the coastal hiking trail extends along the sidewalk.

The route is accessible in all seasons. The coastal area is more crowded during the summertime tourism season, so seaside accommodation should be booked beforehand. The temperature of the seawater may reach +18–20 °C during the summer, so swimming is an option as well. Autumn offers more colours to see when walking through the forest – the leaves are varicoloured, and there are mushrooms and berries in the woods. It is also the bird migration season, which may be rainy and stormy; some accommodations and eateries may be closed. During winter, it should be taken into account that most services may be unavailable. In the case of lasting snow and cold, why not complete some of the stages by skiing. Spring offers a chance to witness the nature awakening – fragrant lilacs, birds returning from warmer areas, gurgling streams and buds sprouting.

Dangerous natural disasters are not characteristic to the coast of the Baltic Sea, however, it should be taken into account that there may be a breeze nudging you forward while walking along the coast. There are no tides that restrict travelling along the seashore, but the coastline still varies and may be different upon each subsequent visit to the same place.

Useful tips

  • bring cash (euro), as there may not always be an ATM nearby;
  • a travel document is necessary for crossing the Estonian-Latvian border;
  • comfortable and appropriate footwear and humidity- and wind-proof clothing are important; bring a small pharmacy kit, sun protection and insect repellent during the hot season;
  • external battery may come in use for charging the phone, there may not be mobile reception in some places; most accommodations and eateries have WiFi;
  • camping and fire-making is only allowed in designated public rest areas, it is prohibited on the beach;
  • make sure that going to the forest has not been prohibited due to fire risk. Information on fire risk is available on the website www.lvgmc.lv for Latvia and on www.emhi.ee for Estonia. In the case of a fire, call 112;
  • Baltic Sea waters are not home to any poisonous or dangerous plant or animal species, the only venomous snake species is the common viper who may be seen sunbathing on pathways. There may be ticks in areas away from the beach;
  • the selection of accommodation may differ at different stages of the trail, be sure to book well beforehand, as coastal properties may be occupied during high season;
  • the number of food providers may differ as well, depending on the coastal area. Some companies only function during the summer season, so it would be wise to call ahead;
  • The free public rest areas located by the Ranniku hiking trail are equipped with shelter, tables, benches, bins, and oftentimes also have a campfire or barbeque site and a toilet;
  • shops are located at larger settlements, however, there are no nearby stores at some stages of the hiking route;
  • doctor’s offices and pharmacies are located in cities and larger settlements. Dial 112 in case of emergency!
  • public transportation is available in most coastal areas (usually bus, less frequently train), but travel times must be determined beforehand via www.1188.lv/satiksme in Latvia and via www.peatus.ee, www.tpilet.ee in Estonia. City transportation is available in cities. Estonian islands are accessible by ferry: Kihnu, Vormsi (www.veeteed.com), Saaremaa, Hiiumaa (www.praamid.ee), Osmussaar;
  • there are GPX files that can be downloaded on the www.coastalhiking.eu by each daily route map.


Services and infrastructure

Eco-friendly hiking

  • Drinking tap water is completely safe in Latvia and Estonia. Use a reusable bottle, buy products in smaller packaging and be sure to dispose of your waste at the nearest bin;
  • if you have a dog with you on the hike, make sure your pet does not disturb birds and animals. Keep your dog on a leash at all times, it is the safest option for the them;
  • follow internal rules at protected areas and national parks, as well as the so called everyman’s right in Estonia.

More information is available on the websites of West-Estonia Tourism and the Coastal Hiking Route.

Source: coastalhiking.eu

Last updated : 24.07.2019

In category: West Estonia, Nature & Wildlife

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