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Latvia: Jurmala Area

99 Coastal Destinations Rated: In the Balance

Score: 56

This collection of resorts and small towns 20 miles west of Riga has been one of Eastern Europe's summer vacation hotspots since the late 19th century. The Soviet era brought pollution and unsightly development, and tourism infrastructure suffered neglect during the economically tumultuous 1990s, but recent years have seen beaches cleaned up and historic hotels lovingly restored.

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

"The built environment reflects the fact that Jurmala has been a resort for well over a hundred years. The buildings for the most part show the history of the community. New hotels blend into the environment. There are still small restaurants, shops and cafés, all of which contribute to the atmosphere. The beach is beautiful in wintertime."

"A relaxed place. Service levels have improved in recent years. There are Soviet-era dumps here and there."

"Rising quality in recent years. Looking more pleasant than today than in the late 1990s."

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