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Cape Kolka (Kolkasrags)/Latvia

Introducing Cape Kolka (Kolkasrags)

Enchantingly desolate and hauntingly beautiful, a journey to Cape Kolka (Kolkasrags) feels like visiting the ends of the earth. Kurzeme's most northerly village, Kolka stands on the Gulf of Rīga just south of Cape Kolka - the dividing point between the gulf and the Baltic Sea. The village is not pretty, but its dramatic position on the tip of the cape is reason enough to spend time strolling along sandy beaches, over dunes and through forests. During the Soviet era the area was a military reserve, out of bounds to civilians, and today the region's sparsely populated villages have an almost eerie, long-forgotten feel about them. But the rugged coastline here is some of the Latvia's most captivating, with long uninterrupted stretches of white-sand beaches set against forests of spruce and pine. The cape itself is the point where the line of beach and dunes changes direction - making it possible to stand with one foot in the Gulf of Rīga and the other in the Baltic Sea.

Simple, but quite friendly, Ūš i (6327 7350; www.kolka.lv; camp site/r 3/10Ls;) has little wooden chalets with sea views, a communal kitchen and places to pitch tents in the garden. To find it, look for the brick house, opposite the onion-domed Orthodox church on the main road at the village's northern end. Featuring clean and modern rooms, Zitari (6324 7145; d 15Ls; ) is Kolka's only hotel. Its ground-floor café (meals 4Ls) is popular for a drink and a plate of herrings (0.80Ls) or smoked eel (2.45Ls) after a trip to the windy cape. Look for it on Kolka's only real street.