Ventspils is a city on the western coast of Latvia and one of Europe's busiest ports. It is a city that honours the past, thinks of the future, and never stops working! Ventspils is the Latvian flower capital and is adorned with flowers from spring till autumn. Even the City Festival on the first weekend of August is a time when florists from the Baltic States cover Promenade of Ostas iela with carpets of flowers.
- Tourism Information Centre, Dārza iela 6, ☎ +371 63622263, +371 63607664, fax: +371 63607665, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about sightseeing, events, recreation, transport and accommodation. Guided tours with the certified guides of Ventspils. Tourist maps and brochures.
The most commonly used routes are from:
- Riga, 190 km on main highway E22 (A10)
- Kuldīga, 60 km on highway P108
- Liepāja, 120 km on highways P111, P108, and P110
There are regular bus services from Riga (about €7) and Liepaja (about €5.50) and other Latvian towns several times a day. All buses arrive at the central Bus Station on Kuldigas iela 4. Schedules can be found on the website of Riga's Bus Station
Stena Line ferries run between Nynäshamn in Sweden and Ventspils - it's a 11 to 12 hours journey. These are mainly used for transport of HGV's to Sweden but passengers and small vehicles can use the service. Tickets can be purchased from an office at Ventspils Ferry Terminal.
Within the city centre, most locations can be reached on foot within 15-20 minutes at most. But cars and bicycles can travel just as easily on the roads and bicycle paths around town.
Public transportation is run by the local bus company 'Ventspils Reiss' with modern blue coloured buses and minibuses. Most bus stops have a map of the routes and schedules for the lines that stop there.
Do not trust the signs. Since most streets in Ventspils intersect at 90° angles, all signposts marking the directions to interesting or important locations are at 90° angles as well. So often a sign will be pointing in the wrong direction (if your destination lies at a different angle) or onto impassable objects such as a wall (if your destination lies behind it). So be wary and carry a map - which you can get for free at the tourist office next to the ferry terminal.
- Livonian Order Castle, Jāņa iela 17, ☎ +371 63622031, +371 63626288. One of the oldest medieval fortresses to have survived. In 1290 the castle was first chronicled and this date is now considered to be the year of Ventspils’ foundation. In 1995 extensive archaeological research and renovation of the castle began. During renovation, features retained included niches of the 14th century, wall paintings of the 15th century, door openings of the 17th century and prison doors of the 19th century. The Castle has now outwardly regained its 19th century look. There is a nice museum inside, offering both permanent (i.e. city history) and occasional (i.e. money design, Japan after-WW2 photography) exhibitions.
- Ventspils House of Crafts, Ventspils, ☎ +371 63620174, e-mail: email@example.com. Old school building (1763) with and exhibition hall and a craft shop, with weaving, ceramics and retro photo workshops and a 19th century classroom.
- Ventspils Market Square, Ventspils, ☎ +371 63622263, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Historical (since the 17th century) market square with a carillon clock tower and the market well with sundial.
- Ventspils Town Hall Square, Ventspils, ☎ +371 63622263, e-mail: email@example.com. It houses a modern library, International Writers and Translators' House, Lutheran church (early 18th century) and the Digital Centre.
- Seaside Open-air Museum, Riņķa iela 2, ☎ +371 63624467, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Seaside Open-Air Museum. Museum of maritime fishing with ancient houses, a windmill, smokehouse, mesh huts, barns and a spacious boat, exposition of anchors and the history of narrow-gauge railway. Founded in 1954 to preserve the heritage of the seaside fishing village. Today it is the only open air museum dedicated to fishing in Latvia. It features fishermen’s homesteads, barns, wind mills (from the Užava parish), smokehouses, curing cabins, net sheds and other samples of native building and household artefacts. In an area of 4 ha, you will find an extensive sea boat collection and the largest anchor collection in the Baltics with more than one hundred exhibits dating from the 17th century to present day. At the Seaside Park you can enjoy the Enkuru taka (Anchor trail) which is formed of the biggest anchors.
- Narrow-Gauge Railway Mazbanitis, Ventspils, ☎ +371 63624467, e-mail: email@example.com. Ride on the historic narrowgauge railway (600 mm) steam engine (1916) along a 2.6 km track from the beach to the Adventure Park.
- Flower artwork. At various location throughout Ventspils there are examples of flower artwork in the streets. The flowers are arranged not only in flower-beds, but also a flower-clock and vivid flower-sculptures: ‘The Duck Family’ in the Children’s Town, ‘Lady-Birds’ at the Promenade of Ostas Street, ‘Underwater World’ next to the Beach Waterpark, ‘Bobsleigh Team’ on the main street Lielais prospects, and the newcomers ‘The Bunny Family’ at the end-station ‘Kalns’ of the narrow-gauge train ‘Mazbānītis’
- Cow Parade: in 2002 Ventspils hosted this international art event and several of the cow sculptures still reside throughout the city.
- ‘Latvijas melnā’ (Latvian Black Cow) dwells on the Promenade of Ostas iela;
- ‘Pretim gaismai’ (Towards the Light) that usually climbs the lamp post on Pils iela next to ‘Latvenergo’ JSC;
- ‘Ms. Moo-Dunk’ the basketball cow resides near the Basketball Hall of the Olympic Centre ‘Ventspils’;
- ‘Dzīve ir skaista’ (Life is Beautiful) is situated at the Children’s Park ‘Bērnu pilsētiņa’ (Children’s Town);
- ‘Jūras govs’ (Cow of the Sea) dwells next to the Livonian Order Castle facing the River Venta;
- ‘Nafta’ (Oil) lives next to the Children’s Home ‘Selga’;
- ‘Londonas govs’ (London Cow) welcomes the residents of the camping site ‘Piejūras kempings’.
- ‘Ceļojošā govs’ (Travelling Cow) is shaped like a huge suit-case and awaits the city guests on the Promenade of Ostas iela to take some pictures;
- ‘Govs-Matrozis’ (The Sailor Cow) is a giant blue-coloured cow dressed as a seafarer and situated at the Southern Pier of Ventspils;
- ‘Šūpojošā govs’ (Cow on the Swings) is a large, but cute and girly cow sitting on the swings not far from the excursion boat ‘Hercogs Jēkabs’.
There are a lot of things to do in Ventspils - go grab a free booklet at the castle to find some of them. The city is very-well-prepared for families with kids.
- Go play with your kid(s) in Children's Town. Children's Town is a park with a lot of child-oriented attractions.
- Enjoy the water parks. There are two of them.
- Walk and play on the beach. Take a dip in the sea. The beach has well-developed infrastructure including cabins, benches, playgrounds and attractions.
- Skroderkrogs (In the center), ☎ +371 636 27 634. Good food, good music, kids-friendly.
- Black Piglet (Melnais sivēns), Jāņa iela 17 (In the Livonian castle, by the river), ☎ +371 636 22396, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 12:00 to 22:00, Friday and Saturday to 23:00. Excellent food € 5-20.
- Kafejnīca Ukraina, Ganību iela 95a, ☎ +371 63622677, +371 29119747.
- Guesthouse Spicīte, Cirpstene village, Vārves pag., Ventspils novads (the village is 4 km southwest from the centre of Ventspils), ☎ +371 29508200, e-mail: email@example.com.
Visit the world’s eighth-largest radio telescope at the Irbene Radio Astronomy Centre, located between Kolka and Ventspils.