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Kuldīga, Latvia

The Venta Rapid

The widest waterfall in Europe is a natural wonder and one of the only places where fish are caught in the air. 

The Venta Rapid is the widest waterfall in Europe, spanning a width of 650-820 feet (200-250 meters) depending on the season. However, if you’re picturing something along the lines of Niagara Falls or Iguazu Falls you will be very surprised. The height of this Latvian waterfall is only about 6 feet (less than 2 meters).

Thanks to its relatively squat height, the Venta Rapid (Ventas rumba in Latvian) is much less well-known than Europe’s famous drops. But it is no less a natural wonder. Visitors can enjoy walking along the width of the waterfall and even bathing in it. In spring and autumn, when spawning fish migrate upstream, you can watch from the banks as flying fish try to jump over the rapid.

Around 300 years ago, the Duke of Courland invented a technique to catch up to 100 salmon a day using baskets placed all along the waterfall. The neighbouring town, Kuldiga, grew in size as fishermen were drawn to the site. Today, Kuldiga is a beautiful town worth wandering around to admire its views of the waterfall and its quaint buildings. And it’s able to boast that it’s the only place in Europe where fish are caught right in the air.

Know Before You Go

An impressive brick bridge, built in 1874, runs parallel to the waterfall and is an excellent place to admire the site. You may get more than you bargained for if you go in summer though: the Race of the Naked is an annual tradition that takes place on midsummer nights.