Baltic Coastal Hiking - Practical info

Coastal nature

  • In Latvia, the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route mainly goes along sandy beaches, in some places, rocky beaches, and for short stretches, through coastal meadows. There are well-trodden trails and small roads in the seaside forests. In some areas, the sand may be soft, which makes walking difficult.
  • In Estonia, the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route goes along the very seashore for around 100 km, mainly between Haapsalu and Tallinn. In other places, crossing the coastline becomes difficult as it is shaped by numerous capes, peninsulas, wetlands with reeds, floodplains, lagoons and shallow coves, which is why the remaining distance of around 500 km has to be covered via seaside trails, roads and along motor roads.
  • In cities and populated areas, the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route goes along pedestrian sidewalks.
  • The coastal terrain is mostly level and most of the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route is close to sea level.
  • In Latvia, bluffs can be found from Strante to Ošvalki village and near Staldzene and along the rocky seacoast in Vidzeme, while cliffs can be seen in Harju County situated near Tallinn in Estonia.
  • The itinerary can be completed in all four seasons. Whichever season is chosen for setting off, there will be both advantages and disadvantages:
  • Summer is the tourist season in Latvia and Estonia, when more people come to the seacoast in comparison to other times of the year. As a result, accommodation near the sea can be fully booked some time in advance, but near the biggest cities you may have to wait longer to receive the meal you ordered. In the summer, the water temperature in the sea can reach +18-20 °C or more, so it is pleasant to swim in the bathing areas and to walk barefoot on the sandy sections of the coast and wading across the streams and brooks located along the route. Summer can also have longer periods of rain and lower air temperatures (around +13°C), so it is certainly recommended to check the weather forecast in advance.
  • In the autumn, you can see more colours when going through the woods, especially in Estonia: leaves are changing colour and you can find mushrooms, berries and nuts. Birds migrate South. During storms, amber is washed ashore. In this period, some of the accommodation and catering places may be closed. 
  • The itinerary can also be completed in winter, but you must keep in mind that most of the services are not available at this time of year. In case of lasting snow and cold, several sections, for example, the seacoast of Vidzeme, can be covered using skis. You will also be able to see formations created by the ice. 
  • When starting the hike in the spring, the awakening of nature can be observed: the colour green starts to prevail, lilac blossoms spread their scent along the seacoast of the Kurzeme bay and the birds return home. The streams and brooks that you can wade through easily in summer can have a high water level in the spring, so you will have to look for the closest bridge. The number of accommodation and catering places offered is still limited. 
  • The main obstacles are the estuaries of the big rivers: Saka, Irbe, Venta, Lielupe, Daugava, Gauja, Salaca and Pärnu, etc. The Baltic Coastal Hiking Route bypasses them via the nearest roads and bridges. 
  • You can wade across the small streams and brooks during low water. Pedestrian bridges and plankways can be found near the mouths of a lot of little streams.
  • Dangerous natural calamities are not characteristic to the Baltic Sea littoral. Strong storms occur rarely and usually in the autumn or winter seasons.
  • In Latvia, the dominant wind direction is from the West. In the Baltic Sea littoral of Latvia, the wind is noticeably stronger, so the hike from the Lithuanian border to Kolka may be more comfortable in this direction with a tail wind at your back.
  • There are no high or low tides in the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route that would limit movement along the seashore or make it unsafe. 
  • The coast of the sea is ever changing and the same place may look different every next time you go there. The bluffs are washed away by storms, the beach changes, a sandy beach can be replaced by pebbles or even stones, but at other times the pebbles may be covered by sand washed on top of them.

Services and infrastructure

The number of accommodations varies in the different sections of the sea coast. On the map, accommodations are marked with , while campsites are represented by the symbol .

You will find information about the accommodations in the description of each day of the itinerary. The name and    of the accommodation is indicated in the guide. It is advisable to book them in a timely manner, because the ones next to the sea may be fully booked during the tourism season.

The number of catering providers varies in the different sections of the sea coast. You can find information about the places where there is no catering available in the route description pages of the guide. There are enterprises that only operate in the summer, which is why it is safer to call in advance.

More than 70 free public rest areas have been created along the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route. They have canopies, tables, benches, garbage bins, and in many of them: campfire or grill sites and toilets. There are also rest areas in campsites and near accommodation places, but to use them you have to come to an agreement with the owners.

Shops can be found in the more populated areas, but there are some sections with no shops within a day's walk. Information about this is indicated in the pages of the itinerary.

Public transport is available in most parts of the sea coast (most often bus, train is less common), but their timetables have to be checked in advance: for Latvia, visit www.1188.lv/satiksme, for Estonia, visit www.peatus.ee, www.tpilet.ee. City public transport is accessible in Liepāja, Ventspils, Jūrmala, Riga, Pärnu, Haapsalu and Tallinn. You can get to the Estonian islands by ferry: Kihnu, Vormsi (www.veeteed.com), Saaremaa, Hiiumaa (www.praamid.ee). Pre-booking is required to Osmussaare (www.osmussaar.ee - in Estonian,  +372 5866 9980 Osmussaare Reisid).

Doctor’s offices, medical practices and pharmacies are available in the cities and the more populated areas. In case of an emergency situation:  112!

How to complete Baltic Coastal Hiking route?

  • The Baltic Coastal Hiking Route consists of 60 separate sections of one day walks that are described in the pages of the guide.
  • Each day is considered to be a separate, independent route. By combining days, it is possible to complete the routes of several days.
  • The Baltic Coastal Hiking Route can be started in any physically accessible place and go in one direction or the other (there are markers in both directions). In the guide,  marks the recommended start and finish point of each day.
  • Depending on your interests and possibilities, some sections can be covered by public transport, not on foot, or you can make a deal with the owners of accommodation places to arrange personal and luggage transport.
  • You can print the descriptions of the route for the day and download GPX files at www.coastalhiking.eu.
  • To help you get your bearings in nature, there are markings (white – blue – white) on trees, stones and other nature objects and Baltic Coastal Hiking Route stickers on road signs, electricity poles, bridge parapets in villages and cities, as well as reference road signs. 
  • In places, where the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route goes along the beach and continues straight forward for a long distance, it is not marked. Along the shore of the Great Sea (the Kurzeme coast of the Baltic Sea) and the Little Sea (the Kurzeme coast of the Gulf of Riga), big wooden signs are placed in the dunes near populated areas providing information about the specific populated area, as well as indicating the distance to the closest village in both directions. 
  • You will also see information stands placed along the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route.
  • How do I travel along the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route if I leave my car at the starting point?
    • Where possible, you can take public transportation to get back to your car or you can continue to another destination and a place to spend the night.
    • You can make an agreement with the owner of the accommodation place regarding transfer services.
    • Hikers can organize their transportation by leaving one car at the finish point and another one at the starting point.

Useful advice

Money and ID Documents

  • It is recommended that you take some cash (EUR) with you on the trip, as in some places credit cards are not accepted and ATMs are not available.
  • When crossing a country border or when you are near a border, you have to carry identity documents valid for travel.

 Equipment

  • When going through stony and rocky sections, you should avail yourself of closed footwear, while in places with an overgrown coast, water-resistant footwear will come in handy. Water and wind resistant clothing will also prove useful.
  • A medical kit is advisable.
  • You will need a power bank for your phone as there are several long sections where it is not possible to charge electrical devices.

 Tents and Campfires

  • Tents can be set up and campfires can be lit:
  •  In Latvia:
    • in specially protected conservation areas (SPCA) like national parks, nature parks and nature reserves, tents and campfires are allowed only in public rest     areas designed for this purpose;
    • in locations outside SPCAs, it is allowed to set up tents and make campfires on the beach (in the territory between the edge of the water up to the first dune where the terrestrial vegetation starts), except when it is prohibited by the laws of the local municipality. You can learn these regulations in the nearest  .
  • In Estonia:  camping and campfires are allowed in specially prepared and designated                     places only. Camping is prohibited on the beach.
  • If there is no firewood provided, dry and fallen branches can be collected for campfire. Never leave the fire unsupervised. Extinguish the fire properly before leaving.
  • Use a portable grill only in prepared and designated campfire sites.
  • In Latvia and Estonia, it is not allowed to light campfires in the dune area. It is also forbidden during periods of high fire danger. Information on fire danger is available at https://www.meteo.lv  for Latvia and www.emhi.ee for Estonia. Check if going into the forest is not prohibited due to fire hazard.
  • In case of fire, call  112 in Latvia. In Estonia, call the Rescue Board information telephone   1524 or the nearest State Forest Management Centre (RMK) information point www.rmk.ee .

Safety And Communication

  • If there are any questions about the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route you would like to clarify, contact the local .
  • In some places, mobile network coverage may be unavailable.
  • Most accommodations and catering facilities offer Wi-Fi.
  • Cliffs and bluffs consist of unconsolidated sedimentary rocks and landslides and landfalls may form near them.
  • In times of strong winds, it is not safe to approach places where the bluffs are washed against by waves; they should be bypassed.
  • In warm weather, you will need mosquito repellent.
  • In the Baltic Sea waters there are no plant or animal species which are poisonous or dangerous to humans(including jellyfish). The viper is the only poisonous snake species found in the Baltic States and it usually does not attack. They inhabit clearings and the edges of a forest overgrown with grass and bushes, bogs and sparse pine forests with heather and forest berry bushes growing in them. They may bask in the sun on trails.
  • If you leave the beach, you may encounter ticks.
  • So-called “phosphorus” may be washed onto the seashore: these are the remains of Soviet chemical weapons which look like amber and are very dangerous. You must notify the police about them by calling:  110 or 112. 
  • Former military objects which are not accessible to visitors may be unsafe.

Eco-friendly Travelling

  • It is perfectly safe to drink tap water in Latvia and Estonia. Please avail yourself of a reusable bottle.
  • Try to buy products with less packaging and bring your rubbish with you to the closest bin.
  • If you have a dog with you, make sure it does not disturb nesting and resting birds and wild animals and that it does not harm baby seals in the spring. Bringing a dog may be prohibited at city beaches. In SPCAs, a dog must be on a leash.
  • When travelling in nature, be quiet and do not disturb birds, animals and other travellers and holidaymakers.
  • Please pay attention to environment protection notices in SPCAs. In Estonia, also see the principles of freedom to roam loodusegakoos.ee/rules-of-conduct/freedom-to-roam

The information compiled in this guide and the content of the GPX files correspond to the situation in 2017 and 2018. When using the GPX files, keep in mind that in forests, cities and populated areas the itinerary of the Baltic Coastal Hiking Route is/may be shifted (there might be an error).