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Latvia Travel Guide

Last Updated: August 31, 2023

An aerial view of Riga, the capital of Latvia

Located on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia , Latvia is a country often overlooked by travelers to Europe.

Yet this unappreciated country is affordable, safe, and offers a beautiful landscape dotted by wide beaches, ancient castles, and dense, sprawling forests.

Latvia’s capital, Riga, is home to a huge central market, art nouveau architecture, and a charming medieval Old Town. The country has lots of opportunities for outdoor adventures, tons of beaches along its 500 kilometers (310 miles) of coastline, and it’s home to Europe’s widest waterfall.

This travel guide to Latvia can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most out of your time in this Baltic gem!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Latvia

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Latvia

Old colorful buildings in the charming city of Riga, the capital of Latvia

1. Explore Riga

Riga is the capital of Latvia. It has Romantic, Gothic, and Baroque architecture dating back to when the city was a powerful medieval port, and the city also has over 800 Art Nouveau buildings, an Open-Air Museum, and a massive central market. The medieval Old Town is pedestrian only and is full of shops and restaurants. Nearby you’ll find the trendy Livu Square, which is the best spot to experience nightlife at the bars and clubs. It’s a lively, fun capital!

2. Relax in a traditional sauna

Like much of northern Europe, saunas in Latvia are an important part of the culture. There is a firm belief that the sauna practice purifies the body and spirit. Saunas are called pirts in Latvia, and they are traditionally wet saunas. By pouring water over hot stones, steam is created. Many of the saunas in Latvia will have a pirtniek , or sauna expert, who has undergone training to guide you through the sauna experience. You will rotate between the heat of the sauna and a cold pool as well as get swatted by switches of juniper or birch (to remove dead skin cells). Prices range from 15-35 EUR.

3. Go hiking in Gauja National Park

Located in the northeast and spanning almost 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles), Gauja National Park is one of the most pristine examples of Latvian nature. Come here to hike, bike, and enjoy the views along the Gauja River. The 10,000-year-old Gutman’s Cave can be found here too. Thrill seekers can try bungee jumping from a cable car or zipline through the forests, but if you’re in search of a more relaxing adventure consider renting a canoe and floating down the Gauja River. Admission is free.

4. See castles in Sigulda

This region is considered “the Switzerland of Latvia.” In addition to the stunning landscape, there are several historic buildings here to explore, including the 19th century Krimulda Manor, Sigulda Castle, and the ruins of the 14th-century Krimulda Castle. In just a few minutes, you can drive north of Sigulda to the 11th century Turaida Castle, which is one of the most popular castles in Latvia. Built from beautiful red bricks, the castle features a tall cylinder-shaped tower surrounded by many other buildings. All of the structures have been converted into museums and galleries, such as the Folk Song Garden, which is full of sculptures of Latvian heroes and historical figures.

5. Visit the Rundale Palace

Built in two periods (1736-1740 and 1764-1768), this is like the Versailles of Latvia and was used for extravagant social events. It was originally intended to be a summer residence for Duke of Courland Ernst Johann von Biron, but construction froze when Biron was temporarily exiled. He finally finished his dream palace upon his return to Latvia and spent the rest of his life enjoying the beautiful estate. After his death, the property changed hands several times and was once given as a gift from Russia’s Catherine the Great to her lover’s brother. The Baroque and Rococo building is lavish and ornate with massive gardens and stately rooms. Admission is 13 EUR for the interior and gardens.

Other Things to See and Do in Latvia

1. visit jurmala.

Just a short 20-minute drive from Riga, the seaside town of Jurmala offers laid-back beaches and vibrant nightlife. Be sure to visit Dzintari forest park (which is home to 200-year-old trees and has several walking paths) and Mr. Morberg’s house, a 19th-century Neo-Gothic wooden house that looks and feels like a fairy-tale palace (the interior is both ornate and super colorful).

2. Go skiing

Cross-country skiing is one of the more popular winter pastimes in the country. For downhill skiing, there are slopes all across the country. Some suggested resorts and slopes to check out are Ozolkalns (Cesis), Victory Park (Riga), Vanagkalns (Cesis), and Milzkalns (Tukum). Expect to pay 10 EUR for a two-hour cross-country ski rental and 15 EUR for a lift pass (it’s one of the cheapest places to ski in Europe).

3. Explore Ventspils

Situated on the coast of the Baltic Sea, this city is a massive port and important commercial hub. If you aren’t into watching the ships come and go, head out to the town’s beaches where you can swim and sunbathe. There is a separate section for surfing (and kitesurfing) and even one for nudists! If you’re traveling with kids, there’s a waterpark in town too.

4. Visit Latgale

The region of Latgale sits in the eastern part of the country and is known as the Land of Blue Lakes thanks to its many picturesque lakes. The region has its own dialect and is perfect for camping, hiking, and enjoying the water. The area is also known for its delicious cheeses since there are tons of small farms here. You can base yourself in Daugavpils, the region’s largest city, or stay in some of the many cozy cottages or B&Bs around the countryside. Note: This region is best explored by car since public transportation is limited.

5. See the Corner House

The Corner House is the former headquarters of the Latvian KGB (the secret police). Situated in an Art Nouveau building in the center of Riga, today it serves as a dark reminder of the brutal tactics they employed during the Russian occupation (which lasted from 1940-1991). It’s where political prisoners would be brought for torture and interrogation. Admission is by donation and guided tours are available for 10 EUR. It’s sobering but informative.

6. Visit the Seaside Open-Air Museum

Located in Ventspils, the Seaside Open-Air Museum is dedicated to Latvia’s history, with a special focus on fishing and boating. There is a whole section dedicated to teaching traditional Latvian fishing techniques practiced in the region from the 18th century onwards, complete with replica fisherman’s houses, farmhouses, smokehouses, and local craftsmen offering visitors a display of their traditional crafting skills in action. Admission is 2 EUR.

7. Visit 1920s Latvia

Built in 2004 as the film set for the historical drama Defenders of Riga , the complex is a complete replica of 1920s Latvia (the film depicts Latvia in 1919 during its war for independence). Set on 370 acres of land, it includes a small town, a ‘Riga-esque’ city, and traditional Latvian farmland. When it isn’t in use as a film set, it is possible to visit the set and is a neat day trip for movie buffs.

8. Sleep in a prison

Located on the west coast in Liepaja, Karosta Prison is no longer in use (it shut down in 1997) but has reopened to tourists. It’s the only military prison in Europe open to tourists. You can take a day tour or book the full overnight experience. Ghost Hunters International once called Karosta Prison “the most haunted place in the world” so be prepared for a spooky stay. Tours are 7 EUR while overnight rooms start at 24 EUR (breakfast is an additional 5 EUR).

9. See a ballet or opera

The Latvian National Opera is home to both the Latvian National Opera and the Latvian National Ballet company. There are a variety of different performances held here including classical and contemporary dance, opera, traditional Latvian folk stories, and children’s plays. With over 200 performances each season, there is plenty to choose from. Tickets for performances start at just 5 EUR.

10. Celebrate Midsummer

In Latvia, the most important holiday is midsummer (the summer solstice). In the Latvian tradition, people stay awake for the whole night so they can greet the rising sun. There are public events across the country where they light bonfires, eat, drink, and dance all night. However, Midsummer in Latvia isn’t actually celebrated on solstice day — it’s always celebrated on the same day each year (June 23rd).

11. Get lost in Europe’s biggest market

The central market in Riga is a UNESCO Heritage Site and is the largest market in Europe. Opened in 1930, between 80,000-100,000 people visit each day. In addition to the standard fresh produce, fish, and meat, there are food stalls, souvenir stands, bars, and everything in between. Come here with an appetite and spend some time wandering the stalls and sampling all the offerings.

12. Stroll along the Great Kemeri Bog Boardwalk

Located in Kemeri National Park just outside of Jurmala, the Great Kemeri Bog Boardwalk lets you explore the inaccessible landscape of the marshland park. Established in 1997, the park offers a 3.7km loop that takes about 90 minutes to walk. There are all kinds of bogs, marshes, and lakes dotting the landscape as well as geese and cranes. Admission to the park is free.

13. Visit the House of the Black Heads

Now a museum, this 14th-century building was built in the old town of Riga for the Brotherhood of Blackheads. The brotherhood was a guild for unmarried merchants, shipowners, and foreigners in Riga. The building had major works done in the early 17th century and it was extensively updated after it was bombed and destroyed in 1941. There are all kinds of artifacts here (pottery, paintings, silverware, etc.) and the space is often used for concerts and events. Admission is 8 or 9 EUR with a cup of coffee or a glass of sparkling wine respectively.

14. Explore Cesis Castle

The foundations of Cesis Castle were laid 800 years ago and the castle has had a violent history since that time, including when it was besieged by Ivan the Terrible’s army in 1577. The castle fell into disuse after the Great Northern War (1700-1721) but remains one of the most iconic and best-preserved medieval castles in Latvia. Admission varies by season so check the website for details. Guided tours in English cost 35 EUR. Cesis is just northeast of Riga.

Latvia Travel Costs

A towering castle in the middle of a forest in Latvia

Accommodation – Hostel dorms start at 15 EUR per night for a dorm with 8 beds or more. For a smaller dorm with 4-6 beds, expect to pay around 26 EUR. Free Wi-Fi is standard, as are self-catering facilities. Private rooms in hostels are less common and cost between 20-60 EUR. Prices are fairly stable between the high and low seasons.

For anyone traveling with a tent, camping is available around the country. Moreover, wild camping is legal as long as you are on government land. If you do want to stay in a campground, basic plots without electricity access at 7.50 EUR.

Budget hotels and guesthouses start at 30 EUR per night. Free Wi-Fi, coffee/tea maker, TV, A/C, and self-catering facilities are all common.

Airbnb is available around the country with private rooms starting at 15 EUR per night but averaging around 25-40 EUR. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay 50-80 EUR (prices can be even higher in the summer).

Food – Much like their Baltic and Scandinavian neighbors, Latvian cuisine emphasizes meat, potatoes, and seafood. Dishes like cabbage soup, mashed peas and pork, and pelmeni (Russian ravioli) are some common favorites found at most restaurants. Pelekie zirni ar speki is the national dish, a stew made from peas, onions, and diced speck.

Cheap street food (like hot dogs and sausages) costs around 3-5 EUR while a meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs 7 EUR.

Many restaurants offer a “business lunch,” a fixed-price menu that consists of a starter, main course, and drink. Also known locally as “complex lunches,” prices for these meals vary from 5-8 EUR.

A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant costs 25 EUR, while Chinese, Indian, or Thai (which can only be found in the larger cities) are usually under 10 EUR for a main dish.

Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs 7 EUR for a combo meal. A beer or latte costs 3-4 EUR. Bottled water is around 1 EUR.

If you are planning to cook your own food, a week’s worth of groceries costs 40-50 EUR for basic staples like vegetables, pasta, rice, and some meat or seafood.

Backpacking Latvia Suggested Budgets

On a backpacker budget of 45 EUR per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, cook all of your meals, limit your drinking, take public transportation to get around, and do mostly free activities like hiking and enjoying the beaches. If you plan on drinking, add 5-10 EUR to your daily budget.

On a mid-range budget of 110 EUR per day, you can stay in an Airbnb, eat out for most of your meals, enjoy a few drinks, take the occasional taxi to get around, and do more paid activities like visiting museums and castles or going kayaking.

On a “luxury” budget of 215 EUR or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink more, rent a car to get around, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.

Latvia Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Latvia is a pretty affordable place to visit. You’ll be hard-pressed to spend a lot of money here unless you are going for fancy meals and accommodation. That said, it never hurts to save even more money! Here are some of the best ways to save money during your visit:

  • Take a free walking tour – Riga offers a handful of free walking tours. They’re a great way to get familiar with the city and the culture. Just be sure to tip your guide!
  • Take the bus – FlixBus is budget-friendly way to get around the country. They have Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, and decent enough seats for overnight and long-haul bus journeys.
  • Cook your own meals – Some hostels here don’t include kitchen facilities, so if you want to save money make sure you book accommodation that does. Buying your own groceries may not be as glamorous as going out to eat, but it definitely saves you money!
  • Wild camp – If you really want to save money, bring a tent and wild camp. It’s legal, safe, and free!
  • Stay with a local – Staying with a local via Couchsurfing is a great way to not only save money but you get to meet a knowledgeable local who can share their insider tips and advice.
  • Walk everywhere – All of the major cities in Latvia are quite walkable, so skip the public transportation if you want to save a few extra euros.
  • Enjoy the free spaces – There are plenty of free parks as well as many free hiking trails around the country. Save your budget and enjoy the outdoors!
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Latvia

There are hostels in most of Latvia’s larger cities. Here are some of my suggested places to stay:

  • Cinnamon Sally Backpackers Hostel (Riga)
  • The Naughty Squirrel Backpackers Hostel (Riga)
  • Tree House Hostel (Riga)
  • Central Hostel Jelgava (Jelgava)

How to Get Around Latvia

A bright and sunny day over the skyline of Riga, the capital of Latvia

Public transportation – None of the Latvian cities have subways or elevated transport lines which means public transport can often be slow. In fact, public transportation outside of Riga is limited.

Prices vary by city but expect to pay around 1.15 EUR for a standard adult ticket if you pay in advance. You can buy tickets onboard but they cost more (around 2 EUR).

In Riga, you can buy a 24-hour pass for 5 EUR, a 3-day pass for 10 EUR, or a 5-day pass for 15 EUR.

Taxi – Prices start around 2 EUR and cost around 0.70 EUR for every kilometer. Skip the taxis if you can — they add up fast!

Bus – If you are traveling outside of Riga’s suburban railway lines then taking a bus is the best option. Expect to pay 10 EUR or less for most trips. Riga to Ventspils, for example, takes three hours and costs about 10 EUR.

If you are continuing to neighboring countries, the bus is the most common mode of transport. On average, a bus from Latvia to Lithuania costs around 12 EUR. The four-hour ride from Riga to Tallinn, Estonia costs about the same.

Train – Train travel is limited and mostly centers around places you can do as day trips from Riga. Some of the most popular places you can travel from Riga to by train are Jurmala, Gauja National Park, and Daugavpils. Anywhere further afield is better accessed by bus. You can pretty much travel anywhere in the country for under 20 EUR.

Flying – There are no budget airlines operating domestically around Latvia (it’s a small country) but you can get cheap flights in and out of Riga with Air Baltic.

Car rental – I would not advise inexperienced drivers to drive in Latvia. It’s known to be one of the most dangerous countries in Europe to drive in. However, if you are driving you need an International Driving Permit (IDP). Car rentals can be as low as 15 EUR per day for a multi-day rental.

For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars .

When to Go to Latvia

The best time to visit Latvia is from April through September. The summer months of July and August are the warmest (and make up the country’s busy season). Expect temperatures around 22°C (71°F).

During autumn, the shoreline, wetlands, and forests come alive with bird migrations. The national parks are particularly beautiful at this time of year with the changing colors, and it’s nice and cool for hiking.

Temperatures drop below freezing in the winter, so unless you’re coming for winter sports, I’d skip a winter visit to Latvia.

Be warned though, no matter what time of year you choose to visit, showers are common and unpredictable. Make sure you always have a raincoat handy.

How to Stay Safe in Latvia

Latvia is a safe country to travel. They have a low crime rate and even pickpocketing in the cities isn’t that common. That said, it’s always a good idea to keep your wits about you, keep your valuables secure, and avoid flashing things like jewelry around in public.

One danger you do need to be aware of in Latvia is when traveling by road. Latvia is notorious for bad driving — even crossing the street can be dangerous. Take extra caution if you rent a car. Additionally, don’t leave any valuables in your car overnight or when out hiking. Theft is rare, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).

While scams here are rare, you can read about common travel scams to avoid .

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Latvia Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Latvia Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Europe and continue planning your trip:

The 6 Best Hotels in Copenhagen

The 6 Best Hotels in Copenhagen

The 6 Best Hotels in Florence

The 6 Best Hotels in Florence

The 7 Best Hotels in Madrid

The 7 Best Hotels in Madrid

The 6 Best Hotels in Vienna

The 6 Best Hotels in Vienna

The Best Walking Tours in Barcelona

The Best Walking Tours in Barcelona

How to Be a Digital Nomad in Europe

How to Be a Digital Nomad in Europe

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  • Where To Stay
  • Transportation
  • Booking Resources
  • Related Blogs

A place to belong

Latvia Travel

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One visit, lifelong memories

Latvia’s rich heritage and history are on full display everywhere you turn. Not as relics, but as a core element of our cultural identity, which continue to permeate our everyday life. From the medieval Old Town of Riga with its iconic Gothic spires of half-a-millenia-old churches to charming seaside fishing towns with babbling local markets and fairs, in Latvia, life runs at a different pace. Whether you’re seeking to experience the culture-rich buzz of a thriving European metropolis or find peace and quiet in a secluded cottage in one of the world’s greenest countries – everything’s possible and accessible in Latvia.

Riga – a booming cultural metropolis

With well over a third of Latvia’s population living in the capital, it’s the beating heart of Latvian culture in all its forms. The city’s many museums, galleries and theaters showcase the work of both local and international artists – the Latvian National Museum of Art boasts more than 52,000 works. Highlights on the Riga culture calendar include the Riga International Film Festival, Riga Fashion week, and Riga Opera Festival, as well as a never-ending stream of classical, pop, and alternative music concerts.

Europe's hidden culinary gem

That’s according to star chef Jamie Oliver’s blog. Locally sourced, seasonal, and flavorful, Latvian cuisine is the product of an agrarian lifestyle paired with the country’s long history as a trade crossroads. Latvians are also masters of pickling, smoking, and fermenting – there are unique discoveries to be made by even the most tenured gastronomes.

Experience the great outdoors like never before

Half the country is covered in forest. More than a quarter of the border is made up of public white-sand beaches. Add to that 2,000 lakes, 12,000 rivers, four national parks, 42 nature parks, and 260 nature reserves, and you’ll understand why outdoors enthusiasts love getting lost in these unspoiled green & blue landscapes.

Whether it’s for a day or a week, solo or with family, to unwind or to discover new horizons, Latvian nature is the answer to all your wants and needs. Latvia’s sizzling summers and freezing winters allows for a diverse line-up of activities year-round. Go ice skating on the same lake you swam in to cool off during summer. As the days get longer, trade cozy pubs for garden parties and solstice festivities. Or find warmth in the Latvian National Opera when the snow arrives.

Get lost in Latvia, safely

Latvians like to stay connected. 99% of the country is covered in a speedy and stable 4G internet connection and there are thousands of public wireless internet points available, with more than 2,200 free WiFi points in Riga alone. Stream your adventures from the middle of nowhere or plan a corporate workation getaway to a secluded oasis without having to worry about connectivity.

Here is how you can experience Latvian history

History is always at arm’s length, whether you’re wandering the medieval streets of Old Town or exploring unique cuisine in a charming village.

  • Get an unfiltered experience, as you wander through Riga’s historic cobblestone streets lined with quaint wooden houses and stunning Art Nouveau architecture.
  • Touch tradition at local fairs, where artisans showcase the fruits of their craft and generational heritage.
  • Rejuvenate in a mineral-rich therapeutic mud bath or let the stress melt away in a traditional Latvian sauna, just like our ancestors used to.
  • Trek through the wild Latvian woodlands and you’re likely to bump into abandoned WWII bunkers and trenches.
  • Or go for a swim in the ruins of a derelict naval base at Liepāja.

Something for every season

Unmissable events.

If you find yourself in Latvia in late June and early July, then you’re in for a treat. In Latvian culture, there are two events that are nothing short of sacred and are celebrated accordingly.

Jāņi – a Latvian Midsummer’s night celebration

Perhaps the most important and popular celebration in Latvia, Jāņi is a festival marking the summer solstice and a unique opportunity to step right into the heart of Latvian culture. It’s a national holiday, with roots dating back to ancient pagan times, held annually on June 23-24.

Join locals in toasting the new season with song, dance, bonfires, and an abundance of seasonal food and drink, while observing ancient folk traditions relating to renewal and fertility.

Did you know, that...

It’s customary to spend Jāņi awake.

Those who sleep through the night will sleep all summer, or so the ancient beliefs say.

The Latvian Song and Dance Festival

Recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, the Latvian Song and Dance Festival is one of the world’s largest amateur choral and dancing events, with more than 40,000 performers.

The Festival dates back to 1873 and is held once every five years. The most recent Song and Dance Festival took place in 2018, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Latvian independence, and featured 65 events and attracted an estimated 500,000 visitors.

Your favorite musician’s favorite destination

In Latvia, music is appreciated in all its forms. And music, in all its forms, appreciates Latvia – for its scenic venues, passionate music lovers, and cozy vibes. From massive pop festivals to underground metal concerts, there’s something for every taste.

Latvia’s premier festival event – Positivus – is the crown jewel and has earned the title of Best Festival in Europe by The Festival Guide. Every year around mid-July, Positivus surprises its audiences with a diverse star-studded lineup and has featured the likes of Muse, Nick Cave, Sigur Rós, Sinéad O’Connor, A$AP Rocky, and Megan Thee Stallion, among many others.

Other notable festivals include Skaņu Mežs (The Sound Forest) and Rīgas Ritmi (The Rhytms of Riga) – the latter a must-attend for jazz lovers.

If weekend-long festivals aren’t your scene, you can still find your favorite musicians in Latvia’s unique venues throughout the year. Mellow out to Placebo in the castle ruins of Sigulda, roar with Imagine Dragons in the historic Mežaparks, or sing along with Ed Sheeran on an island right in the heart of Riga.

A backpacker’s dream – and what cities to visit

Traveling within Latvia is safe and affordable. Cheap public transport alongside punctual and frequent intercity trains and buses will get you wherever you need to go comfortably and safely. You can reach most destinations for just a couple of Euro, and even the longest cross-country trips come in at under €10.

If you prefer a personal vehicle for traveling, you’ll find ample mobility options – from traditional rentals to short-term app-based ones – for everything including cars, scooters, bicycles, mopeds, and more.

But where should you go?

1h 15min from Riga by train or bus

Bus ticket price: €2.90

Train ticket price: €2.10

Sigulda’s endless natural attractions have made it a hot favorite destination for local and visiting families, sports enthusiasts, and even artists. Cycle, hike, climb, paddle, bungee jump, paint, and relax – and do it all among castles and castle ruins, spectacular nature, and mesmerizing views.

3h 30min from Riga by bus

Bus ticket price: €8.65

Known as the city where the wind is born, Liepāja is the third largest city in Latvia and has much to offer in terms of culture, attractions, and nature. Karosta, Dzintara concert hall, and Liepāja’s wide beaches all deserve a visit.

Liepāja has been selected to be the European Capital of Culture in 2027.

3h from Riga by bus

Bus ticket price: €6.55

Kuldīga is a small, charming town that finds itself next to the widest waterfall in Europe. It’s one of the most popular destinations among locals for the quaint atmosphere, local cuisine, and beautiful sights that never get old.

1h 50min from Riga by train or bus

Bus ticket price: €4.25

Train ticket price: €3.70

Cēsis is among the oldest cities in Latvia. Dive into its rich history, swing a sword at a medieval festival, attend contemporary art exhibitions in its Castle park, or get lost in nearby gorgeous nature with luscious forests and rolling hills.

4h 30min from Riga by bus

Bus ticket price: €9

The soul of Vidzeme, Alūksne’s beautiful lakes, museums, historic manors, and nature trails with tall observation towers will leave travelers spellbound.

How to get to Latvia

The Riga International Airport (RIX) – the largest in the Baltics – servicing more than 8 million travelers annually, with direct connections between more than 35 countries.

Latvia’s national airline airBaltic boasts one of the most modern and greenest fleets in Europe and will ensure a safe, comfortable, and affordable journey.

Bus & Ferry

For those who prefer the scenic route, Riga can be reached comfortably by bus from all over Europe – as from the nearby Vilnius and Tallinn, so from the distant Rotterdam and Odessa.

Up for a less conventional mode of travel? A ferry to Latvia is also an option from Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Estonia.

Coming soon: Rail Baltica

A high-speed railway connecting the Baltics with continental Europe is under construction and is set to be launched by 2026.

Named “the largest Baltic-region infrastructure project in the last 100 years”, Rail Baltica will make it possible to travel at speeds of 249 km/hr, offering one of the fastest and most environmentally friendly ways to reach Riga from Europe’s heartland.

Find out more

  • Events in Riga – Live Riga
  • Unique places to stay –
  • Top 10 attractions in Latvia –
  • Bus and train schedules and tickets –

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latvia country tourism

Live in Latvia

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latvia country tourism

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  • 2.1 History
  • 2.2 Economy
  • 2.3 Climate
  • 2.4 Geography
  • 2.5 Visitor information
  • 4 Other destinations
  • 5.2 By plane
  • 5.3 By train
  • 5.5.1 Via Lithuania
  • 5.5.2 By yacht
  • 5.6.1 Driving licence
  • 6.1.1 Legal requirements
  • 6.2 By train
  • 6.3 By tram
  • 6.5 By taxi
  • 6.6 By boat
  • 6.7 By bike
  • 6.8 By thumb
  • 6.9 By plane
  • 6.10 On foot and navigation
  • 8.1 Latvia's top tourist attractions
  • 8.2 Description
  • 9.1.1 Traditional celebrations
  • 9.1.2 Historical
  • 9.1.3 Music
  • 9.1.4 Various
  • 9.2 Sports and outdoor activities
  • 9.4 Beach activities
  • 9.6 Cultural heritage
  • 10.3 Tipping
  • 10.4 Shopping
  • 11.2 Type of places
  • 11.3 Meat meals
  • 11.4 Side-dishes
  • 11.5 Milk products
  • 11.7 Sweets
  • 11.8 Breads
  • 11.9 Traditional dishes
  • 11.10 For vegetarians and vegans
  • 11.11 Other
  • 13.1 Wild camping
  • 15.1 Swimming
  • 15.2 Emergency numbers
  • 16 Stay healthy
  • 18.1 Telephone
  • 18.2.1 Copyright issues
  • 18.3 Postal service

Latvia ( Latvian : Latvija ) is one of the three Baltic states in Europe . The biggest travel destination in the country is the capital Riga , whose Old Town is a World Heritage Site . There are many other great places to see, both urban and rural. Latvia's unspoilt sea coast is a 500-km-long unique biome, mainly consisting of empty beaches, white soft sand, and dunes covered with pine trees. Forests cover approximately half of Latvia's territory and are home to many nature trails, nature parks and wildlife preserves. The city of Liepāja with its magnificent beach and the unique formerly secret military neighbourhood of Karosta, Kuldīga , recently recognized as UNESCO world heritage site, with Europe's widest waterfall, and Cēsis with its medieval castle ruins are just some of the various sights.

Regions [ edit ]

There are various official and unofficial ways how the country's divided in regions. Most commonly, Vidzeme, Kurzeme, Zemgale and Latgale are separated as the major regions. Riga, which is otherwise considered part of Vidzeme, is often split off in a separate region either by city boundaries or by the boundaries of the Riga Planning Region, which includes a larger surrounding area.

Although the social and cultural differences between the regions of Latvia are not large, they still exist. An example of that is Latgale region, which was separated from the rest of Latvian regions for several centuries by border, culturally, religiously and language-wise.

Most locals will assume the city of Riga along with the suburbs is being talked about instead of the greater official planning region when the Riga Region is mentioned.

latvia country tourism

Understand [ edit ]

History [ edit ].

In the ancient and medieval world, the territory of today's Latvia was known for its particular significance to commerce. The famous route from the Vikings to the Greeks mentioned in ancient chronicles stretched from Scandinavia through Latvian territory, along the river Daugava, to the Kievan Rus and Byzantine Empire. Across the European continent, Latvia’s coast was known as a place for obtaining amber which was more valuable than gold in many places during the Middle Ages. Latvian amber was known in places as far away as Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. In the 12th century, German traders arrived, bringing with them missionaries who attempted to convert the pagan Finno-Ugric and Baltic tribes to the Christian faith. The Germans founded Riga in 1201, making it the largest and most powerful city on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea.

After gaining independence in 1918, Latvia achieved considerable results in social development, economy, industry and agriculture. On 16 June 1940, Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov presented the Latvian representative in Moscow an ultimatum, accusing Latvia of violating a pact and conspiring against the Soviet Union. The Soviet forces invaded Latvia soon after and "People's Governments" were formed to provide a legal backing for a complete takeover, followed by Latvia being incorporated into the Soviet Union on 5 August 1940. Nazi Germany occupied the country the following year, ruling Latvia until the Soviet Red Army reoccupied the country in 1944. Both Nazi Germany and the USSR under Stalin were extremely brutal and murderous during their rule: the Nazis and their local collaborators murdered over 90,000 Latvians, including 75,000 Latvian Jews, while the Soviets, also having local collaborators, threw well over 90,000 Latvians into Siberian Gulags, from which many never returned, and had many thousands arrested locally, with many being shot or tortured.

During the time of the Iron Curtain, when Latvia was a province of the Soviet Union, the concentration of heavy industry was enormous. All contacts with the West were strongly regulated during that period and everyone who was found to possibly have any contact with anyone abroad could be subject to accusations of conspiracy against the state. The Baltic region had the reputation of having the highest literacy rate and being the most urbanized in the Soviet Union. During the Soviet era, the Russian minority (less than 10% of the population before occupation) was supplemented by heavy immigration from other Soviet republics, especially Russia.

After 1990 there was a desire by Latvians to get rid of everything Russian: only Latvian is an official language, and 60% of school classes have to be held in Latvian even in Russian-medium schools. While many ethnic Russians have emigrated, many remain and they present a unique case of citizenship law only mirrored by the situation in Estonia . People who are not descended from people who were citizens before the Soviet occupation and have not been nationalised are officially classed as "non-citizens". This is a category distinct from statelessness: they are given special passports and they have the unlimited right to reside in Latvia but can't vote in elections or hold certain civil service jobs. Especially older "non-citizens" tend to hold on to their weird limbo status, both because of unwillingness to learn Latvian and be subjected to the nationalisation test, and because a Latvian non-citizen passport allows visa-free travel to Russia whereas a Latvian citizen passport does not. The Russian minority is a strong factor in the culture and politics of the country, and Daugavpils, the second biggest city, has an ethnic Russian majority.

Economy [ edit ]

Latvia's economy grew rapidly after independence in 1991. Later the 2008 global recession and the financial crisis hit Latvia hard, bringing severe economic contraction and high unemployment rates and it took until 2017 for the country's economy to recover fully. Most Latvians work in the services sector.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 caused the loss of a key trading partner, and GDP growth has slowed.

Climate [ edit ]

The best time to travel to Latvia is during Summer, from June up to early-September, as it is warm during that period (around 15°C to 20°C) and various local foods are available. While the start of December is usually mild with temperatures staying above freezing, snowfall can be expected during the Winter season, January and February, and the temperatures can drop to around -30°C for short periods of time. Springs and autumns are fairly mild.

Geography [ edit ]

latvia country tourism

Latvia is generally flat and does not feature high mountains. The highest point in Latvia is Gaizinkalns, peaking at 312 m (1,024 ft) above sea level, just west of the town of Madona in central Latvia.

Half of Latvia is covered with forests that are abundant in wildlife. There are many small lakes scattered around the country, especially in the south-eastern Latgale region. Valleys carved by rivers can be seen with sections featuring sand cliffs on their banks. As heavy industry declined in the country it has the effect of an increasingly clean ecological environment.

Visitor information [ edit ]

  • Official visitor information site (in English). Can also be found in Estonian , Lithuanian and Russian among other languages.

Cities [ edit ]

latvia country tourism

  • 56.9475 24.106944 1 Riga – The capital city of Latvia and the European Capital of Culture in 2014 with a long history.
  • 57.153889 24.854444 2 Sigulda – A town in central Latvia with many interesting castles and historic points of interest. Probably, the most popular destination outside of Riga for foreign tourists, also due to its closeness.
  • 57.313056 25.274722 3 Cēsis – One of the country's oldest towns. It has an impressive castle complex of Livonian Order origin, a charming city centre with some cobblestoned streets, and historic wooden buildings.
  • 56.9665 23.722111 4 Jūrmala – A popular holiday and sea resort town with wooden houses just west of Riga, which claims to have the longest beach in Northern Europe. Very popular with Russian and other eastern European tourists.
  • 55.871389 26.516111 5 Daugavpils – The second largest city in Latvia, after Riga. It is a delightfully charming, spacious, green city with the biggest fortress in Europe, which has withstood many many wars and remains virtually unchanged since its construction in the 19th century.
  • 57.389722 21.564444 6 Ventspils – A modern and artistic sea resort city in the north-west part of Latvia, has many things to see, and is one of the tidiest places in the region. A long-stretching beach and recreational park provide everything for a relaxing holiday week or weekend. It gets its prosperity from the huge ice-free port, which is the busiest port in the Baltic states, and the oil transit business.
  • 56.508333 21.011111 7 Liepāja – Named "the city of wind", and the southwestern most city of Latvia. Famous for its sandy beach, numerous music events, and the largest organ in the world. It features modern architecture and a long history along with the formerly secret Soviet military neighbourhood of Karosta (literally: War Port ).
  • 56.967222 21.97 8 Kuldīga – The capital of Duchy of Courland, Venice of Latvia, with unique and wooden architecture, red-tile roofs, bridges, cobbled streets, the widest widest waterfall ledge in Europe, and nearby the longest underground (sand) cave labyrinth in the Baltics.
  • 56.854167 26.22 9 Madona – A scenic town surrounded by hills, forests and lakes, and a winter sports centre.

Other destinations [ edit ]

  • 56.9517 23.5125 1 Ķemeri National Park – forests and mires.
  • 57.624167 22.294444 2 Slīteres National Park – coastal national park on the Liv Coast.

Get in [ edit ]

Visas [ edit ].

Latvia is a member of the Schengen Agreement . See Travelling around the Schengen Area for more information on how the scheme works, which countries are members and what the requirements are for your nationality. In summary:

  • There are normally no immigration controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.
  • There are usually identity checks before boarding international flights or boats entering the Schengen Area. Sometimes there are temporary border controls at land borders.
  • A visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.

By plane [ edit ]

latvia country tourism

Riga International Airport ( RIX  IATA ) is the only airport in Latvia with regular international flights and is 10 km southwest of Riga. Bus 22 operates on a route from the airport to the centre of Riga (and vice versa), a ticket from the driver costs €2 . Alternatively, you can buy yellow e-tickets (for 1, 3 or 5 days) from the Narvesen kiosk just outside the airport. Various other methods of transport are available on-site such as taxis.

Alternatively, you can fly to Kaunas in Lithuania and take the Flybus to Riga.

By train [ edit ]

LDZ Cargo operates international trains to Riga from Moscow and Saint Petersburg in Russia with stops at Rezekne and Jekabpils , as well as trains to and from Minsk in Belarus . Domestic train company AS "Pasazieru vilciens" (English: "Passenger Trains" company ) operates trains to and from Valga , Estonia , from where you can connect to Tallinn . Train service between Latvia and Lithuania is suspended for the foreseeable future due to RailBaltica track upgrades (as of August 2017).

If you travel by train via Daugavpils on your way to or from Riga , you might need to stay in Daugavpils overnight for the connection. For that reason, you may be better off taking a bus or a plane when travelling between Riga and Vilnius.

By bus [ edit ]

There are international bus connections to anywhere in Europe, including frequent service to Tallinn and Tartu in Estonia , and Vilnius and Kaunas in Lithuania .

Notable bus route operators:

  • Eurolines Lux Express offers free coffee and more legroom than Simple Express service
  • Flybus connects Riga and Kaunas and Vilnius
  • FlixBus has buses from Tallinn , Warsaw , Vilnius and Kaunas to Riga

latvia country tourism

By boat [ edit ]

  • The Tallink Silja line between Stockholm , Sweden and Riga is suspended as of spring 2023.
  • Stena Line operates ferries between Nynäshamn , Sweden and Ventspils and between Travemünde , Germany and Liepāja . One-way travel time is 8½ hours from Sweden and 27 hours from Germany. Stena Line offers regular one-way and roundtrip tickets, with or without a car. A pedestrian roundtrip on the line from Sweden begin at €34, with bicycle at €40 for a roundtrip. A recliner in a silent room is €10 extra for both ways. Pets are welcome, but a pet cabin is required without extra charge to a regular cabin.

Via Lithuania [ edit ]

  • DFDS - operates ferries between Karlshamn , Sweden and Klaipeda , Lithuania . An alternative route if you come from Denmark or the southernmost part of Sweden. Klaipėda is just 50 km away from the Latvian border when going north on the A13 national road. One-way travel time is 14 or 16 hours depending on departure. DFDS offers regular one-way and roundtrip tickets, with or without a car. A pedestrian roundtrip begin at €86; with bicycle at €106 for a roundtrip.

By yacht [ edit ]

For those travelling by private boat, regular marinas are very few and still in their infancy (2019).

  • Kuiviži , small town in the Bay of Riga, at the mouth of the Krišupe; Kapteiņu osta [dead link]
  • Riga , the capital city of Latvia ; the City Yacht Club is right across the old town on the Daugava river
  • Jūrmala , Marina Jurmala is on the Lielupe river.
  • Ventspils on the west coast, Ventspils Marina
  • Pāvilosta , small town on the west coast, at the mouth of the Saka; Pāvilosta Marina

It might be possible to arrange something with the authorities of other ports: Salacgrīva , Skulte , Saulkrasti , Engure , Mērsrags , Roja , and Liepāja .

By car [ edit ]

The road known as Via Baltica links Warsaw , Poland and Tallinn , Estonia going through Kaunas , Lithuania and Riga .

Coming from the west, you might want to skip driving a thousand kilometres through Poland and Lithuania – unless you specifically want to visit them – by taking an overnight ferry from Germany to Latvia or Lithuania. The price of the ferry voyage is comparable to the cost of driving.

Driving licence [ edit ]

If you have a driving licence issued by another country in the European Union, you can use it continuously in Latvia just like in the issuing country. According to the law, residents of other countries have to obtain a Latvian driver's licence after having lived 6 months in Latvia, however, this only involves a theoretical exam, which can be taken in English, German, French or Russian.

Get around [ edit ]

In Latvian, the word for street (as in street names) is iela . An example is Brīvības iela which is translated as Freedom street.


National and regional roads in Latvia have been through a process of update since the accession to the European Union. All national roads are paved and are signposted in red with numbers from A1 to A15. Most of the national roads are also part of the European route grid of roads. 84% of the regional roads are paved and they are signposted in blue with numbers from P1 to P133. 78% of local roads are gravel roads and they are signposted in grey with numbers from V1 to V1489 — on maps, but not necessarily in real life. There are no motorways in Latvia.

All gas stations around the country are self-service and available 24/7. Cirkle K , Neste and Viada operate gas stations all over the country, and there are many local companies as well. Diesel fuel and gasoline with octane ratings of 95 and 98 are widespread. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG, autogāze ) is quite common as well. Electric cars are not widespread as the network of charging stations has not yet developed to be viable for casual, everyday usage.

International car rental companies are represented and there are cheaper rental companies as well. There are many offices around Riga, including some at Riga Airport. You can see the list at the website of Riga International Airport [dead link] . CityBee offers smartphone app based car rental.

Standard speed limits for motorcycles, cars and vans without trailers with a total weight of less than 7.5 t are 50 km/h on urban roads, 90 km/h on non-urban roads and 80 km/h on non-urban gravel roads — unless otherwise stated by traffic signs. Traffic enforcement cameras ( fotoradars ) are signposted and placed all over the country. It is common practice that local (slower) speed limits are only signed where they begin and not where they end. Even though it is permitted to drive 80 km/h on gravel roads, it is very uncomfortable to do so. The gravel also varies and on some stretches it can be a very bumpy ride and very dusty too when the weather is dry. When planning for your trip ask someone who knows whether the shortest route is gravel or not. Sometimes it can be faster to drive a longer trip on asphalted road compared to a shorter route on gravel road.

In Latvia, a lit green arrow traffic light, no matter in what direction it shows, does not give right of way , which is different from other European countries. The green arrow signal allows passage only when the way is clear, without having to wait for a proper green signal. Trams (streetcars) have right of way and a fine may be given for obstruction of their passage. It is not allowed to pass a tram when it stands still at a route stop where people has to cross the street from the sidewalk.

Finding a parking place is quite easy around Latvia, except in the capital Riga , where fees apply in the city centre. There is disc parking in some towns around Latvia.

The driving culture in Latvia is quite aggressive and hazardous. Almost none of the national and regional roads outside metropolitan Riga have emergency stopping lanes (shoulders) along the road. You will quickly realise that you perhaps are the only one that adheres to the standard speed limits, many heavy trucks drive 90 km/h. Some drivers with potent cars insist on overtaking at the slightest chance of squeezing through, even though there is no clear view of incoming traffic. There is significantly less traffic during evenings and nights.

latvia country tourism

It is prohibited to use any motorized vehicle in the territory of dune zones (usually 200m-1 km from sea shore).

Legal requirements [ edit ]

Headlights must be turned on during driving all year round. Tyres intended for use in winter are compulsory from December 1 to March 1. The use of studded tyres is prohibited from May 1 to October 1. The use of safety belts is compulsory for both drivers and passengers. Children not taller than 150 cm must be transported in an appropriate child seat or on an appropriate support. Drivers are not allowed to use a mobile phone while driving unless a hands-free system is used. The permissible alcohol level is up to 0.5 ‰, but up to 0,2‰ for novices having a driving license for less than 2 years. The car's registration papers ( tehniskā pase ) and driver's license must be always available when driving.

The train network is fairly solid in Latvia, connecting larger cities. The rolling stock is of Soviet origin, even though some of it was refurbished to be more comfortable and pleasing to the eye. There are three steps up when you board and the train shakes and rumbles quite a bit when moving. The passenger cars on domestic lines are of the open coach type, whereas on the international lines of the closed compartment type. The trains are a reliable way of getting around, delays are uncommon.

Domestic lines that run daily are the ones between Riga and Skulte, Sigulda , Krustpils, Jelgava and Tukums (via Jūrmala ). Other destinations run less frequent . The west coast of Latvia is rather poorly serviced with only one departure a week between Riga and Liepāja . Domestic train service is provided by the company Pasažieru vilciens ("Passenger Train"). Timetables with pricing information are also available at .

latvia country tourism

Trains can be cheaper than other methods of transportation and you generally do not need to be worried about them being packed, except possibly some peak days during the summer season.

There are several stations in Riga on both sides of the Daugava river, the central station ( Rīgas Centrālā stacija or Rīgas-Pasažieru ) is the one next to the old town. Jūrmala has several stations as well. The station in Majori is the one you need when going to the beaches and the Jūrmala city centre. Ķemeri station in western Jūrmala is the closest to the national park. Jēkabpils is just across the Daugava river when you get off at the station in Krustpils.

You can buy a train ticket before boarding the train at the station or you can buy one on the train from the personnel (but buying on the train costs 0.50 euros more). Some smaller stations' ticket offices may open late and close early or be closed for breaks during the day, generally due to the lack of passengers departing from said stations at those times. A timetable of trains will be available by the ticket office. Tickets can also be purchased online or on Pasažieru vilciens or Mobilly phone app. If you have an online ticket you just need to show the QR code to the train personnel. There is no seat reservation.

There is a narrow gauge railway [dead link] operating between the cities of Gulbene and Alūksne in the north-east of Latvia. Along the route, there are various tourist-orientated points of interest.

By tram [ edit ]

The three biggest cities (Riga, Daugavpils and Liepāja) each have their own tram systems. While they date to the turn of the century (Riga and Liepāja) or the immediate post-WW2 era (Daugavpils) they have been modernised and well maintained since independence and there are even new low-floor trams on order to replace the old Tatra trams.

Bus routes are served by various private companies that differ between regions, unlike for trains. The bus connections stretch all around the country and getting around using buses is usually fairly simple. The best way to receive information about buses in Latvia is from the inquiries service , from the Autoosta Website [dead link] , or at a local bus station. Express buses connect major cities and serve with a reduced count of stops along the way and can save time.

Tickets can be bought at ticket offices, on the buses when boarding, or online. If buying tickets in advance, that can usually be done up to 10 days prior to departure. Luggage can be placed in the trunk of the bus, which might even be required depending on the bus company and the size of the bag. You might be charged extra and receive an additional ticket or voucher for the luggage, depending on the policies of the company.

If you plan on leaving Riga during Friday or Saturday, you might find the buses to be crowded as travelling by bus is the most common method of travelling between cities in many regions and many head out of Riga for the weekend. If you buy a ticket from the ticket office at the bus station you are departing from beforehand during this period, you can board the bus before others.

Some bus operators provide WiFi access on board, which are usually free of charge and provide good coverage throughout the whole trip.

By taxi [ edit ]

Ride-hailing is available in Latvia.

  • Bolt . The most anticipated provider. Includes many towns. ( updated Jul 2020 )
  • Forus Taxi (smartphone app)

Yachting is for the very well off Latvians and regular marinas are very few and still in their infancy. The City Yacht Club in Riga is right across the old town on the Daugava river. Marina Jurmala in Jūrmala is on the Lielupe river. Pāvilosta Marina and Ventspils Marina are both on the Latvian west coast. It might also be possible to arrange something with the authorities of other ports. There is no public transport by boat between Latvian ports.

If you are going from Riga to Jūrmala during the summer, a very romantic way is to travel by river cruise boats: mainly two-deck motor boats with place for around 60 to 100 people. They usually depart from Riga centre in the morning and return in the afternoon. There are cruises in the Riga Canal, passing through the Daugava river. Ask in the tourism information centre for more details and pricing.

By bike [ edit ]

Cycling is generally not the safest method of getting around the country, especially at night. There are not many cycling paths around the country so you may find yourself biking close to cars very often. When in cities, many locals cycle along pedestrian paths to avoid the traffic. Some sidewalks around Riga have markings splitting off one side for cyclists and the other for pedestrians, but this is often not the case in other cities around the country. You will probably encounter people who do not respect the markings.

Cycle in the early morning to avoid the majority of traffic. The main rush hour when heavier traffic can be expected is from 17:00-20:00. Your bike should be equipped with reflectors and front and rear lights. Wear reflective clothing, especially if cycling after dark.

An interesting option may be to travel on a guided bike tour. Companies offering cycling tours in the region include UTracks . The international BaltiCCycle project may provide you helpful information regarding cycling in the region

By thumb [ edit ]

Hitchhiking in Latvia is generally a good way to get around. You might encounter some difficulties if your destination is not on the way to a larger city. Your main difficulty may be getting around Riga as there is no clear by-pass road. The amount of local traffic can make hitching very difficult as locals will usually stop at Riga.

Drivers may be hesitant to pick up tourists that they expect to only speak English, which many Latvians do not understand. It is harder than other eastern European countries to hitch-hike in Latvia.

Hence, success is very volatile. You might be lucky within 10 min (along the larger roads), or you might just wait 1½ hr without anyone stopping, especially in remote areas with less traffic. Do not count on getting picked up eventually, but be sure to know when the last bus departs.

Air Baltic flies between Rīga and Liepāja three times a week.

On foot and navigation [ edit ]

Latvia has many picturesque 1-3 day hiking trails and is very popular with cyclists. For reliable (offline) maps of the region and comprehensive map information, consult OpenStreetMap , which is also used by this travel guide, and by many mobile Apps like OsmAnd (complex with many add-ons) and MAPS.ME (easy but limited).

Talk [ edit ]

Latvian ( latviešu valoda ) is the only official language in Latvia. Natively spoken by around 1.5 million people in Latvia and abroad (Ireland, United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Russia, Brazil and Australia), it belongs to the Baltic language group of Indo-European languages. It is related to Lithuanian but is different enough to be hard to grasp even for native Lithuanian speakers. Latgalian ( latgalīšu volūda ), spoken by roughly 10%, is closely related, officially regarded as a variant of Latvian, with equal legal status but still marginalized and not used in state institutions. The third language with official status is Livonian ( līvõ kēļ ), which became extinct in 2013 with the death of the last native speaker. There are about 40 reported speakers and 210 having reported some knowledge of the language.

Latvian uses the Latin script, expanded with diacritics; there are 33 letters in the alphabet, which is mostly phonetic, making pronunciation of Latvian generally easy to learn. The stress is almost always placed at the start of the word – on the first syllable. However, there are various complicated rules for some letters such as e and o , and there may be different words that are spelled the same, with meaning changed with pronunciation. Some words are borrowed from other languages and are fairly easy to comprehend (such as restorāns ), but others have different roots. The language has complex grammar rules and is considered to be among the more difficult languages to learn.

Should you decide to learn some Latvian to communicate with the locals, you should be prepared that some of the locals will only answer you in Russian, if they will answer you at all. This behaviour is not necessarily malicious, but could be because the person is much more proficient in the Russian language than in the Latvian language. If you also speak Russian, the choice is easy; otherwise, speak English - insisting on speaking Latvian will for certain create an awkward situation. People working in public services are required by law to speak Latvian.

Latvia is home to a large Slavic (Russian/Ukrainian/Belarusian/Polish) minority. The younger generation of these people typically have Russian as their native language and Latvian as their second language, though older people usually do not speak any Latvian. In some pockets of Latvia, Russian is more commonly spoken than Latvian. Apart from being the native language of a minority group, Russian is widely spoken at large as a second language, but its use is gradually declining. Generally speaking, the older generation of Latvians is more likely to be proficient in Russian, as Russian was compulsory during the Soviet period. Most ethnic Russians do not speak Latvian well.

When the country gained independence, the study of Russian in schools was replaced with English as a second language, meaning that younger Latvians are more likely to speak the latter. English is widely spoken by the younger generation that grew up after independence, but the generations that grew up under Soviet rule typically do not speak any English.

Just like in the rest of the Baltics , German is a popular foreign language. Although it's not as common as English, those working in tourism know enough of the language to get by.

See [ edit ]

latvia country tourism

Latvia's top tourist attractions [ edit ]

  • Old City Riga and Riga Town Hall Square , Riga , Architecture and History
  • Sigulda Castles , Sigulda , Architecture and Nature
  • Cēsis Medieval Castle , Cēsis , Architecture and History
  • Jūrmala Beach , Jūrmala , Recreational
  • Basilica of the Assumption , Latgale , Architecture and Heritage
  • Rundale Palace , Zemgale , Architecture and Museum
  • Ventspils Beach , Ventspils , Recreational
  • The Great Ķemeri Moorland , Riga region , Nature
  • Cape Kolka , Kurzeme , Nature
  • Narrow Gauge Railway , Alūksne , Recreational

Description [ edit ]

When thinking of Europe, Latvia is usually not one of the first countries to come to people's mind. Being buried under the big iron no-go blanket of the Soviet Union until regaining its independence in 1991, Latvia is just now being discovered by larger tourist crowds to be surprised by the charms of this Baltic country.

Latvia's dynamic capital, the historic city of Riga , is a great place to spend some time. It is the home to the beautiful Old Town , full of magnificent Jugendstil architecture, winding cobblestoned streets and many steeples, while yet staying a modern, metropolitan city with a vibrant nightlife and a strong economic impulse, to the extent that the rise of the modern buildings is threatening the Old Town's World Heritage listing. Riga's vibe moves many travellers, perhaps due to the strong contrasts between the old and the new or maybe because of the seemingly painless blend of Latvian and Russian cultures, as almost half of the city's inhabitants are of Russian origin. You can get a sense of the city by wandering through the various large parks all around the city, strolling around the historic neighborhoods and kicking back in one of the cafés or outdoor terraces. Among Riga's notable sights are Riga Cathedral , St. Peter's Church and the lively Central Market . See Riga#See as well for some more ideas.

30 minutes from Riga is one of the best and multicultural sea resort towns of Latvia, Jūrmala . It can be found with beautiful beaches, houses, promenade and the nice Dzintari Forest Park .

Although Riga is by far the country's main tourist destination, there are a bunch of other places worth visiting. 40 km to the east from the capital lies Sigulda , with several castles such as the nicely reconstructed Turaida Castle , and the deep Gūtmanis Cave . The town is in the Gauja valley and has been called the "Switzerland of Latvia" for its steep cliffs and banks. It's known for its winter sports opportunities and provides a great chance to explore the fine nature around the town.

Further northeast towards the Estonian border, Cēsis , one of the country's oldest towns, can be found. It has a charming city centre with cobblestoned streets, historic wooden buildings and an impressive castle complex.

The coastal city of Liepāja is known to Latvians as "the city where the wind was born", due to the sea breeze it constantly gets. It has a nice beach and a charming town centre with a colourful mixture of architectural styles ranging from wooden houses and spacious parks to Art Nouveau and concrete Soviet-era apartment buildings. Liepāja's Karosta neighbourhood was built in the late 19th century as a naval base for Tsar Alexander III and was later used by the Soviet Baltic Fleet. Its splendid seaside panoramas, former military prison and fortress are preserved now making it a popular tourist sight.

Besides Liepāja, Ventspils , further north, is a modern sea resort town with an arty touch and well worth a summer vacation. From here and around Cape Kolka , the Livonian Coast , a remote and isolated coast landscape with wild beaches, sand dunes and lighthouses can be found. There are also some nice lighthouses worth visiting between Ventspils and Liepāja.

Kuldīga , southeast of Ventspils, is the home of Europe's widest waterfall ledge as a part of Venta Rapid . Even though only two meters high, its size makes it a nice sight. Together with the historic town, it is worth exploring.

Jelgava , on the way from the Lithuanian border towards Riga, has two fine sights in baroque style, the Rundāle Palace less than 40 km southeast of the city and the Jelgava Palace in the city centre.

Around 40 km north-east of the second largest city in the country, Daugavpils , is the colossal white Basilica of the Assumption . It is the most important Catholic church in Latvia and is locally also known as Aglona Basilica, as Aglona is the name of the village it is located in.

There are many interesting old castles maintained around Latvia. The Association of Latvian Castles, Palaces and Manors (Latvian: Latvijas Piļu un muižu asociācija ) has information along with photos on their website . Sometimes the castles may be reserved for private events.

Do [ edit ]

Events [ edit ].

Most event tickets and schedules are available here:

Traditional celebrations [ edit ]

  • New Year's Eve ( Jaunā Gada svētki ), Whole Latvia . 31 December–1 January . Most locals celebrate with their families, but you are likely to see events taking place on the streets as well.  
  • Easter ( Lieldienas ), Whole Latvia . Annually in April . You can usually find events in town centres, such as traditional Easter celebrations with swings and egg fights. Free .  
  • Summer solstice celebration ( Vasaras saulgrieži ), [ Turaidas muzejrezervāts], Turaidas iela 10, Siguldas novads, Sigulda LV-2150 . June 21 . Traditional celebrations are held in many places throughout Latvia. The most popular one takes place in Turaida muzeum (video) .  
  • Jāņi or Līgo , Whole Latvia . June 23-24 . Latvians celebrate the summer solstice with Jāņi — the midsummer festival. Before the celebration, flea markets are held in many places.  
  • White Night ( Baltā nakts ), Rīga . Annually, in the beginning of September .  

Historical [ edit ]

  • Count of May ( Maija Grāfs ), Spīķeru laukums, Rīga . Annually, in the middle of May . Takes place in Rīga. Has medieval tournaments, witch trial, traditional dances. Free .  
  • Medieval Day at Cēsis Castle ( Cēsu Pils Viduslaiku diena ), Cēsis . Annually, on the first Saturday of August . Free .  
  • Semigallians Days in Tervete ( Zemgaļu svētki Tērvetē ), Tērvetes koka pils, Tērvete . Annually, on the second Saturday of August .  
  • Seeburg Viking Festival ( Dzīvās Vēstures festivāls "Seeburg" ), Skābaržkalns, Grobiņa, close to Liepāja . Annually, last Sunday of May . West coast of Latvia has Viking heritage dating to 9th century. Video Free .  

Music [ edit ]

  • Latvian Song and Dance Festival ( Latvian Vispārējie latviešu Dziesmu un Deju svētki ), Mežaparka Lielā estrāde or Vērmanes garden, Riga . Takes place once every 5 years , at the beginning of July . One of the key cultural events in Latvia, which started in 1873 as a singing festival. This festival has become an important facet of Latvian culture and has been held 25 times since then. Needs to mention that there are smaller Song and Dance Festivals between 5-year time spans. About 30,000 people from every corner of the country participate, with choirs and dance groups at the heart of the celebrations. Brass bands, folk ensembles, players of the zither-like kokle, amateur theatrical troupes, and foreign guests also perform at the festival. The traditional procession through the street of Riga is not to be missed., as the participants invoke plenty of enthusiastic audience participation.  
  • Festival of World Music ( Ārpasaules mūzika Tiguļkalnā festivāls ), Tiguļkalns, Talsi , [email protected] . Annually, beginning of June . National and foreign folk music performed on the highest hill in Talsi. The composer and performer Raimonds Tigu is the artistic director and soul behind this happening in his hometown, Talsi. The place where music from different nations comes together in united sound and ambience. Free of charge .  
  • Riga Rhythms Festival ( Rīgas Ritmi festivāls ), Riga , ☏ +371 67 105 216 . Takes place annually, at the end of June/start of July ; 18:00–00:00 . Some events cost €10-45, some are free .  
  • Positivus festival , Zvejnieku park, Sporta street 6, Salacgrīva , [email protected] . Takes place annually, mid-July . Latvia's largest music festival, featuring various international artists in a relaxed environment. €60 for a 3 day pass, €200 for a VIP pass .  
  • Saulkrasti Jazz Festival , Saulkrasti , [email protected] . Annually, at the end of July . Latvian and foreign musicians perform by the sea. Gigs all week long, culminating in a final concert. Free of charge .  
  • Bauska Country Music Festival , Bauska . Annually, for 2 days, mid-July . European and US country musicians perform. On-site camping is possible.  
  • Laba Daba , Ratnieki, Līgatnes novads . Annually, beginning of August . €22/day, €37-42/all days .  
  • International Organ Music Festival , Liepāja/Kuldīga . Middle of September . Mostly happening in the Trinity Church. €7 (per concert, as of 2017) .  

Various [ edit ]

  • International Ice Sculpture Festival , Uzvaras park, Jelgava , ☏ +371 630 23 461 , [email protected] . Annually, at the start of February . €4.50 (in 2014) .  
  • International Baltic Ballet Festival , Riga , ☏ +371 673 36 123 , [email protected] . April .  
  • Latvia Beerfest , Vērmanes garden, Riga , ☏ +371 27 726 200 , [email protected] . Annually, at the end of May . The largest international beer festival in the Baltic states. €2 .  
  • Cēsis Art Festival ( Mākslas festivāls Cēsis ), Cēsis , ☏ +371 29 334 417 . Annually, July-August .  

Sports and outdoor activities [ edit ]

There are many different winter sports opportunities such as snowboarding, cross country skiing, downhill skiing etc. Major skiing facilities include Rāmkalni [dead link] , Baiļi and Zviedru Cepure . Some of the slopes are open late at night, but accessing them by public transport can sometimes be a challenge or turn out to be flat out impossible.

After Easter, as it gets warmer and rivers start to get more water from melting snow, kayaking down the rivers is one of the favorite activities for younger people.

Also, marathons are quite popular in Latvia. More entertaining marathons like Jāņu naked marathon (Jāņu nakts pliko skrējiens) take place in Kuldīga on Jāņi day.

  • Lattelecom Marathon ( Lattelecom Rīgas maratons ), 11. novembru krastmala, Riga , ☏ +371 28611731 , [email protected] . Held in the middle of May . The biggest sport marathon held since 2007 in Latvia Video  
  • Playground , Ropaži, 40 min drive from Riga , ☏ +371 29212586 , [email protected] . Mid-July . Youth sport festival that encourages and enables every visitor to try and explore inspiring sports and culture on water, land and air (e.g. longboarding, SUP, wakeboarding, hydro-cycles, mountain bikes, slack line and many other) Video €15/day, €35/3 days .  
  • Cycling Festival and Cycling Night ( Kuldīgas Velofestivāls ), Baznīcas iela 5, Kuldīga , ☏ +371 63322259 , [email protected] . Held in the end of May . The largest non-commercial bicycle marathon in Latvia: Video ; since 2010. Various routes at several distances are available. The traditional late-night ride will also be held.  

Nature [ edit ]

latvia country tourism

Due to the low population density, large parts of Latvia are covered by forests and wetlands. There are four national parks and many nature preserves/parks in place around the country that can be explored, hiked, and camped in by nature-loving travellers. The largest national park, and major tourist attraction with its popular towns and cities, is the densely forested Gauja National Park in the Gauja river valley in the Vidzeme region. Remote, lonely and mysterious lies the Great Ķemeri Moorland inside the Ķemeri National Park of the Riga region , with a planked walkway and observation platform. Another, but less touristy national park is the Rāzna National Park in the Latgale region. Last but not least, the Slitere National Park protects the stunning Cape Kolka in the Kurzeme region, where the Gulf of Riga meets the Baltic Sea.

This allows for:

  • Bird watching – Very popular, since Latvia is an important autumn stopping grounds for migratory birds in Europe.
  • Trekking – Many opportunities at various difficulty levels exist, starting with short walks in old parks up to several day camping and boating trips. Due to the general openness of Latvians towards nature, camping is possible virtually anywhere (except for private ground), even inside of national parks.
  • Mushroom hunting – This seems to be the secret national sport of Latvians. Taking the train through the countryside or just walking in the forests, you will notice bunches of people all over the place, especially in September, looking for mushrooms and blue berries. Even in the remotest region, when you thought, this would be a good place for a naked dip in the Baltic Sea, beware, there could always be people in the woods collecting tons of what nature provides them with.
  • Stroll around – This is popular near Sigulda and in the Vidzeme region in general, especially in the autumn when the leaves of the trees take on different shades of colour, turning red and yellow.

Beach activities [ edit ]

latvia country tourism

Latvia has one of the longest sand beaches in Europe. The sea generally has a very slow slope. In July and August the water is warm enough for swimming. One of the best beaches is the coast southwards from Liepāja because is by the open sea, not the gulf as by Riga, meaning it receives cleaner water, brighter sand and there are not as many people there due to it not being very close to massively populated areas. The salt level in the sea is fairly low and you may not even need to wash after swimming due to that. When the air temperature rises to 30°C, the water temperature still stays around 20°C, which makes it very refreshing after a long session of sunbathing.

Spas [ edit ]

Latvia has various spas that are an excellent way to relax. Although the popular holiday resort town of Jūrmala can sometimes be a bit crowded, it offers some of the best options as well as a fine beach.

Cultural heritage [ edit ]

Latvia is full of places where you can see and experience the cultural heritage by for example participating in traditional food making & tasting and listening to authentic folk songs. The Latvian rural tourism association Lauku ceļotājs published a Latvian and Estonian cultural heritage map with the English title of "Worth Seeing" in cooperation with the Estonian rural tourism association Eesti Maaturism . This map contains useful information about cultural heritage sites with practical information such as about accommodation sites, with preference for rural tourism. The map can be downloaded online or obtained from a Lauku ceļotājs office in Riga.

Buy [ edit ]

Money [ edit ].

Latvia uses the euro , like several other European countries . One euro is divided into 100 cents. The official symbol for the euro is €, and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.

All banknotes and coins of this common currency are legal tender within all the countries, except that low-denomination coins (one and two cent) are phased out in some of them. The banknotes look the same across countries, while coins have a standard common design on the reverse, expressing the value, and a national country-specific design on the obverse. The obverse is also used for different designs of commemorative coins. The design of the obverse does not affect the coin's acceptability.

Latvijas Banka (The Latvian National Bank) is the only place you can get commemorative two euro coins at nominal value and exchange euro banknotes to smaller or larger denomination euro banknotes without having to pay a fee. This can be done at the branch in Riga. Latvijas Banka's cashier's office in Riga also exchanges Latvian lats issued 1993 to 2013 at a fixed rate against euro.

Tax free stores have their signs clearly displayed.

ATMs are widely available throughout Latvia, including in Riga International Airport and even in many small towns.

Banks will accept traveller's cheques with a fee, usually equal to or greater than 1% of the amount exchanged or a flat €10.

ISIC [ edit ]

If you are an EU student, bring your ISIC. Many places (museums, bus, etc.) in Latvia have great discounts for EU students with an ISIC.

Tipping [ edit ]

The tipping culture of Latvians is generally fairly reserved — usually rounding up the bill (around 5-10%) is enough, but it is not expected. Make sure to check your receipt, as some (but few) establishments may automatically include a tip in the bill as service charge. Tips is dzeramnauda (drink money) in Latvian.

Shopping [ edit ]

latvia country tourism

  • Amber . Sold in most souvenir shops. If you are lucky, some can sometimes be found on the Baltic Sea shore after a storm. Be careful looking for amber on beaches in western Latvia - the sea near Liepāja is polluted with phosphorus, which looks exactly the same, but can catch fire after drying out.  
  • Smoked (black) ceramics , Latgale region .  
  • Silver jewellery .  
  • Pirts (Latvian style sauna) items . Fragrant oils, honey and herb based massage creams, felt caps for sauna, intended to protect the proteins of hair in the extreme heat, and various other items.  
  • Mittens with ornaments . Hand-made, representing traditional culture.  
  • Wool products . Indoors slippers and shoes, vests, jackets, hats, etc.  
  • Dark (rye) bread ( Rupjmaize ). Gives more energy than the common white (wheat) bread. Best bought fresh and not stored for overly long periods of time.  
  • Riga Black Balsam ( Rīgas Melnais balzams ), ☏ +371 670 81 213 , toll-free: +371 80 009 990 , fax : +371 673 15 265 , [email protected] . A traditional Latvian herbal liqueur made using many natural ingredients. The original recipe of Abraham Kunze, a druggist, was said to have cured mysterious illness of visiting Catherine the Great in 1755.  
  • Bee products . Honey of various kinds, such as with nuts, bee pollen, propolis and beeswax candles are just some of the various local products that can be purchased.  
  • Laima , ☏ +371 670 80 301 , fax : +371 670 80 332 , [email protected] . The leading sweets producer in Latvia. Products are available in almost all grocery and convenience stores all around the country, with specialized Laima stores in the larger cities.  

Speciality shops are open mostly from 08:00 to 18:00 on weekdays, 08:00 to 16:00 on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. Grocery shops and supermarkets are open every day. Some close at 20:00 while others, especially larger supermarkets, close at later times such as 24:00. Convenience stores, such as Narvesen, are usually open 24/7.

Aibe , Lidl , Maxima , Mego , Rimi and top! have convenience stores and supermarkets all over Latvia.

Eat [ edit ]

Latvian cuisine is typical of the Baltic region and, in general, of northern countries, and especially similar to Finnish cuisine (see Nordic cuisine ). It's high in butter and fat while staying low on spices except for black pepper, dill or grains/seeds, such as caraway seeds. If you are from the Mediterranean, you might find the food rather bland, but if you come from England or the Midwestern U.S., you will probably not have any trouble getting used to most of the dishes.

Latvian cuisine originated from the peasant culture and is strongly based on crops that grow in Latvian maritime, temperate climate. Latvian cuisine offers plenty of varieties of bread and milk products, which are staples. Pork products, potatoes, rye or wheat, oats, peas, beets, cabbage are the staples. Meat, especially pork, features in most main meal dishes. Sometimes even some meatless dishes can be cooked using bacon fat. But fish also is commonly consumed due to Latvia's location on the east coast of the Baltic Sea and Livonian heritage: smoked and raw fish are quite common.

Meals [ edit ]

Contemporary Latvians usually eat three meals a day. Breakfast is normally light and usually consists of sandwiches or an omelette, with a drink, often milk. Lunch is eaten from 11:00 to 15:00, and tends to be the main meal of the day; as such it can include a variety of foods, and sometimes also soup as a starter and a dessert. Supper is the last meal of the day, with some choosing to eat another large meal. Consumption of ready-made or frozen meals is now common.

Type of places [ edit ]

It is important to keep in mind that in Latvia the whole concept and meaning of words cafeteria ( kafejnīca ), canteen ( ēdnīca ) and restaurant ( restorāns ) is different compared to that in other countries. A kafejnīca (cafeteria) is not just a coffee shop and usually serves all kinds of meals that would be expected from a restaurant with the difference being that in a kafejnīca is a lower class food place where you will usually have no table service and have less service in general. An ēdnīca (canteen) will refer to a canteen for schools, universities, factories and the likes. They are usually very cheap but can sometimes have limited access. A restorāns (restaurant) is generally considered a highbrow facility, while it is similar to a kafejnīca, the standards of service and culture for a restorāns are much higher. The line between being a kafejnīca and a restorāns can be very thin in some instances.

In the open air markets of Rīga and other cities and towns, local fruits, vegetables and mushrooms can be purchased. Examples are freshly picked wild strawberries and blueberries from local forests, big strawberries, apples and rhubarb pies. Keep in mind that, of course, these are mainly available during the summer and autumn seasons.

Meat meals [ edit ]

Karbonāde (pork schnitzel), karbonāde ar kaulu (grilled pork chops) and cūkas stilbs (pork knuckle) are all-time favourites.

Side-dishes [ edit ]

Kartupeļi (potatoes) are served with everything and they're usually either boiled, fried, boiled and then fried or mashed. Sometimes griķi (boiled buckwheat) is eaten instead of potatoes - it's very tasty with skābais krējums (sour cream). Kāposti (cabbage) also plays a major role in most Latvian meals. Sometimes it's served cold as a salad or hot as a side dish like skābie kāposti (sour kraut). Pelēkie zirņi (grey peas) is another side dish worth trying: big, brownish-grey round peas are boiled and then fried with bacon and usually served with kefir or sour cream.

Milk products [ edit ]

latvia country tourism

Latvia is much richer in milk products than other Western countries. Biezpiens (which is cottage cheese ), skābais krējums (sour cream), kefīrs and a lot of varieties cheeses with different flavours. A cheese similar to smoked gouda, but softer, is the cheapest and, arguably, tastiest variety. There are various tastes available for purchase in most grocery stores. A Latvian specialty is the biezpiena sieriņš [dead link] which is a quark with a sweet taste (the most popular manufacturers of the snack are Kārums and Baltais ).

A traditional Latvian cheese that is in the picture to the right, is Jāņu siers (caraway cheese); this is traditionally served during the celebration of Jāņi or midsummer.

Soups [ edit ]

Soups are commonly made with vegetables and broth or milk. Frikadeļu zupa (meatball soup), noodle soup, zirņu zupa (pea soup), biešu zupa (beetroot soup), sorrel soup and nettle soup are usually consumed by Latvians. There is a special cold beetroot soup ( aukstā biešu zupa ) that can be prepared in various ways and is made to suit a warm summer day.

Sweets [ edit ]

The most traditional and exotic Latvian dish is maizes zupa (literally "bread soup"), which is the sweet soup made from rye bread and fruits. Also, the already mentioned biezpiena sieriņš is quite sweet and tasty. Zefīrs is a soft marshmallow-ish type of sweet. Rabarberu pirāgs (rhubarb cake) is really worth trying.

Two main local sweets manufacturers Laima and Skrīveru Saldumi are well known and they offer a variety of sweets ranging from chocolate bars of various kinds, to candies, to marmalades, fruits in chocolate, biscuits and more. It comes with glazing and without, in various tastes. A caramel sweet named gotiņa (translated as little cow ) is worth a try. These two companies sell some of their sweets in nice gift packages, which may be handy to bring souvenirs home. The Emihls Gustavs Chocolate [dead link] chocolate factory in Riga is more exclusive and pricy. They have shops in the larger malls of Riga and they make little sculptures of different shapes of chocolate.

Breads [ edit ]

Latvian dark (rye) bread is heavy and flavourful and goes well with hearty Latvian meals such as pea soup, potatoes and schnitzels. It is believed to be healthier than the white bread. Rupjmaize is a dark bread made from rye, and is considered a national staple and should be tried. Saldskābā maize is a bread made from a mixture of rye and wheat.

Pīrādziņi are buns filled with bacon and onion. A classical display of Latvian cuisine. Kliņģeris is a sweet pretzel-shaped bread that is usually served as a dessert on special occasions, such as name day.

Traditional dishes [ edit ]

If you want to try some really traditional dishes, then try these:

  • boiled potatoes with quark
  • oat and pea kissels
  • Ķīselis . Thickened, stewed fruits (usually cherry or rhubarb). Served for dessert.
  • grey peas with salted pork fat (fatback)
  • Siļķe ar biezpienu . Herring with cottage cheese.
  • siļķu pudiņš (casserole made from herring and boiled potatoes)
  • sklandrausis (or sklandu rausis ) is traditional dish in Latvian cuisine which has a Livonian origin; it's a sweet pie, made of rye dough and filled with potato and carrot paste and seasoned with a caraway
  • asins pankūkas (pancakes made from blood)
  • maizes zupa (sweet bread soup)
  • cold soups (served when it's hot outside)

For vegetarians and vegans [ edit ]

Fruits and vegetable of this region are mostly organic, because they are often low efficiency home-grown produce.

Other [ edit ]

Some other noteworthy foods:

  • Buckwheat ( Griķi ). Eaten as the main course.
  • Sauerkraut ( Skābēti kāposti ).
  • Smoked cheese ( Kūpināts siers ). Goes very well with wine.
  • Eel ( Zutis ).
  • Cutlet ( Kotlete ).
  • Chanterelle sauce ( Gaileņu mērce ). A sauce from the edible chanterelles in sour cream. Usually served with potatoes.

Drink [ edit ]

latvia country tourism

Beer ( alus ) is generally the alcoholic beverage of choice for most Latvians. Aldaris and Līvu are the main large breweries in Latvia, but local breweries such as Užavas, Bauskas and Piebalgas exist all around the country and should not be forgotten. You are also suggested to try the locally distilled Riga Black Balsam (Rīgas Melnais balzams). It's an infusion of various herbs, roots and spices, making it a good home remedy for the common cold. By itself it is fairly strong - 45% alcohol by volume - and can be taken by adding a touch of it to flavor your tea, as a few spoons to lace your coffee or mixed in various cocktails. Even though Latvia is fairly far out north, grapes can still be successfully grown for making wine, although wine production in Latvia generally happens in small quantities, there are some local wineries and vineyards.

Some possible places for winding down:

  • [dead link] Rīvas krogs , Labrags, Jūrkalne ( on the Liepāja-Ventspils highway ), ☏ +371 26 140 577 . A small pub with relaxing surroundings - a waterfall and a wooden bridge nearby.  
  • The Witch's Kitchen ( Raganas Ķēķis ), Ragana ( on the junction with the Limbaži and Turaida roads on the Riga-Valmiera highway ), ☏ +371 679 72 266 , +371 29 117 021 , [email protected] .  

Sleep [ edit ]

Although you might not find plenty of 5 star hotels all around Latvia, you will find comfortable places to stay for reasonable prices. There are many hotels to choose from and the prices generally start with €30 outside of Riga and €60 in Riga.

A small network of youth hostels [dead link] also exists. Dormitory rooms are around €10-15 while single and double rooms are €30 and above.

So-called guest houses or country houses , some on farms, are a great place to stay at the countryside. They usually cost much less than hotels and are of much better quality than hostels due to the limited number of guests and the personalized service. Such houses are usually run by families and will come with full amenities with some even following the hotel star ratings. These usually provide many recreational activities such as the Latvian popular sauna ( pirts ) and horseback rides. You can ask your hosts regarding popular attractions available nearby, what sights are worth visiting and whether some events are taking place at that time that they would suggest visiting. Keep in mind, you will not be able to simply "drop in" usually and will be required to plan ahead, contacting the guest house in question a day or few before arrival. This can depend on the specific place. Guest houses can generally be found fairly frequently throughout the countryside and are often listed on tourist booklets.

Latvian rural tourism association, Lauku ceļotājs [dead link] has published catalogs and maps that list various types of accommodation mixed with content such as cultural heritage sites and nature parks. The publications can be downloaded online or in an association office in Riga.

Often accommodations give a discount, if you book with them directly (e.g. phone) instead of using one of the monopolistic online middle men. This is due to the reason that most accommodations in Latvia can be booked without credit card anyhow. So, there is no real guarantee that someone does turn up. Just that via. phone owners are at least not stuck with an online fee without receiving the room rent.

Wild camping [ edit ]

Camping in natural parks and reserves, and on vegetated sand dunes (usually around 200m-1km from the seaside) is strictly prohibited unless posted signs say otherwise. Around half of Latvian forests are government-owned, and camping there is legal at all times throughout the year, but areas where campfires are permitted are limited. For a map of such public forests Latvian State Forest agency website or in the designated app.

Most rural land is private, but camping on it is usually acceptable, but it is always a good idea to ask for a permission from the land owner as you can be declined the right to stay on privately owned land even if for a single night; however, most people are understanding and will gladly let you camp. Keep in mind that staying very close to someone's home or staying at the same place for more than two days is generally considered bad manners. Follow your common sense in general. There can be free campsites that are indicated accordingly, especially in the national parks. Commercial campgrounds operated by small businesses are also becoming more popular around Latvia. Some even have wooden installations with roof, saving you the tent to carry. However, it is hard to make them out.

As of 2021, there is a law that allows passage and picking mushrooms, berries, nuts and weeds (but not camping) in any forested land, be it private or state-owned. Passage is allowed along any river or lake (4 meters wide strip) on private properties.

Work [ edit ]

Finding work is not a complicated task, especially if you are a citizen of another EU country, however it is worth keeping in mind that salaries are much lower compared to those in most other EU countries. Job advertisements are often posted in Latvian newspapers such as Diena (on Tuesday and Saturday editions). Most listings are in Latvian, with some in English, Russian, German or French. Most people use online salary calculator to calculate net salary amount after taxes.

For information about obtaining a residence permit, please see The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs ( Pilsonības un migrācijas lietu pārvalde ).

Stay safe [ edit ]

It is generally safe to travel around Latvia on your own, although some petty crime exists.

If travelling by bike, watch out for bicycle theft. Cyclists are a small minority in Latvian traffic, and dedicated bike lanes are rare. It is common practice that bikes drive on the side walk in larger cities.

If travelling by car, try not to leave valuable things in plain sight in your car. Stay alert when driving on smaller roads, especially through forests, as wild animals may wander around. It is particularly important to keep that in mind during the night. Many Latvian drivers enjoy speeding and the traffic can often flow much faster than the laws allow.

If travelling by foot, take care when crossing the roads as many Latvian drivers are fairly reckless.

It is considered bad mannered to consume alcoholic beverages in public, when not in bars, restaurants etc. Some places you might be fined when consuming alcoholic beverages out of a non-concealed bottle. Drunken behaviour like for example urinating in public will also get you a fine, or a night in jail.

Local informational web-sites for tourists claim that, in terms of safety, there is almost no difference between big cities and country areas [1] . Although it is true that anywhere in Latvia one is never too far from a town or a city, seeking help in case of emergency may be somewhat more difficult in the countryside (for foreign tourists). This is because English is mainly spoken in cities, but outside them one may find almost no people who would understand you (young people are an exception, but they are also drawn from rural areas to bigger cities). This is somewhat balanced by the fact that even then locals are quite friendly and ready to help.

When visiting bars and restaurants, especially in Riga , check out the prices before ordering and follow your bill to ensure no extra fees are silently added to the final bill. Beware the common scams , use your common sense. There are reports of scammers striking up random conversations and inviting tourists to visit their "favorite club" or "favorite bar", often leading to the mafia robbing the tourists with the police reportedly be unhelpful to those scammed.

As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, expressing support for Russia is illegal in Latvia, and the government has set up a hotline for people to report anyone heard expressing pro-Russia sentiments.

Swimming [ edit ]

Always adhere to inscriptions/flags on sea beaches, that might prohibit swimming on a specific day or weather. The sea can sometimes be quite deceiving: Northern currents can bring very cold water (even 4–5°C in July) to Latvian coasts on a hot day. If a person swims in such water on a hot day, it will cause shock in the body and can end tragically.

It is very dangerous to swim close to piers even in calm weather — sea currents, hitting the pier, form whirlpools, that even a strong swimmer might not get out of them.

Also, there is unreasonably high death toll, caused by swimming in lakes and rivers during summer and winter. Adhere to common sense when swimming.

Emergency numbers [ edit ]

  • 112 - the common emergency number, just like in other EU countries
  • 110 - state police
  • 113 - ambulance

Stay healthy [ edit ]

You can turn to any doctor or hospital at any time during your stay. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to pay a fee for receiving urgent care.

Keep in mind that when in a sparsely-inhabited, remote area, it may be difficult to obtain medical care due to the low number of air ambulance helicopters in the country. Having a first aid kit around during those times is a good idea. The 112 (emergency service number) operators will be able to assist you in Latvian, English and Russian and will be able to either dispatch a team to you or connect you to the appropriate emergency services, if required.

Doctors usually are able to speak fluent Latvian and Russian. Some may not have good English skills. This mostly depends on the region and the age of the doctor.

You are suggested to bring your own medicine, if you require it, as there are few drugs that are available without a prescription.

Many doctors take undisclosed fees in the form of gifts from the patients ranging from a box of chocolates to raw cash. This is usually due to patients recognizing doctors receive low wages and feel the urge of expressing their gratitude. While this is made illegal by local law, it is estimated that 1 in 4 doctors has taken or is taking such donations when seeing patients.

You should seek immediate medical attention if bitten by a snake, a domestic or a wild animal. Snakes are not venomous in Latvia with the exception of the European adder. The common adder is not generally aggressive unless startled and feels like it must defend itself. The toxicity of the venom is relatively low, but you should seek professional medical care as soon as possible regardless of that. Bites by animals, such as dogs and cats, can carry the risk of rabies and you should seek medical care as soon as possible.

Mosquito bites do not carry any risk of disease, just causing irritation of the skin. Common sense is to resist scratching the itch. Mosquitoes are generally active during the Summer season and are not around during the colder Winter months at all.

Ticks exist in Latvia and are most active during the months from May to September. They are mostly located in brushwood areas and forests, but can sometimes even be found in town parks. Upon discovering that you have been bitten by a tick, medical attention should be sought. Ticks carry the risk of tick-borne encephalitis (can be quite common; vaccination is possible before the season) and Lyme disease (less common; must be treated in a timely and adequate manner to avoid disabling symptoms).

Tap water is generally safe to drink. However, many locals, especially in larger cities, prefer to either boil the water before drinking or simply buy bottled water from stores instead.

Respect [ edit ]

Latvians in general are fairly reserved and generally respect others' personal space, for example, Latvians do not usually greet strangers unless introduced by someone. You may offer someone to help with something, such as carrying something heavier, although the social ethics do not require doing so.

Latvians are neutral communicators; you can expect them to convey their thoughts clearly and freely in a tactful way.

As with many countries in Europe, inquiring about someone's salary or talking about your own is uncommon and not recommended. Similarly, personal, political, or religious convictions are no-go areas until you're better acquainted with someone.

There are many trash cans and waste containers by the sidewalks and near most stores. Littering is considered bad manners, and the offenders may be fined in some instances.

It is considered polite in Latvian culture to hold a door open for someone, let others board a bus or a train first etc. This applies to men letting women go first in particular.

latvia country tourism

The swastika symbol (Latvian: ugunskrusts or pērkonkrusts , "fire cross" or "thunder cross") is a common ornament in embroideries in Latvian folk costumes and contemporary souvenirs and was considered a pagan religious symbol for centuries. It is supposed to bring luck, energy and fire. There is no connection of this symbol to Nazi Germany, and any attempts to hint at one will be considered offensive.

You should be careful when talking to Latvians about politics and history , especially about the Soviet Union . As Latvia became a Soviet republic after World War II , many Latvians, especially of the older generations, have strong opinions about the topic. There is an annual ceremony in March commemorating the veterans of the Latvian Legion ; while it fought as part of the German Waffen-SS (its Latvian members having mostly been drafted by the occupiers), its role in fighting the Soviet occupation is generally seen as more important.

The legal status of ethnic Russians in Latvia is also a sensitive issue, as most of them are stateless permanent residents, and the Latvian government requires them to pass a Latvian language test to be eligible for citizenship. Many ethnic Russians regard this as discriminatory, while the ethnic Latvian majority regards them as illegal immigrants who moved to Latvia under what they regard as an illegal Soviet occupation, and insist that the government is being exceedingly generous in even allowing them to remain in Latvia in the first place.

Many ethnic Russians, especially older generations, get their news from state-controlled Russian media. This means they to a large extent share the sensitive issues that prevail in Russia .

Connect [ edit ]

Telephone [ edit ].

The country code for Latvia is +371 . If you plan to stay in Latvia for more than a couple of days, it may be cheaper to buy a local SIM card including voice, text and data. Prepaid SIM cards and separate renewal vouchers can be bought in almost all gas stations, kiosks and supermarkets. All operators are generally similar in their pricing and offered services. eSIM is not widespread yet. As of January 2021, there is no 5G coverage at all. There are only 4 operators (listed alphabetically):

  • Bite (no English)
  • LMT (not fully in English)
  • Zelta Zivtiņa, ZZ (subbrand of Tele2; has English)

Tele2 and Bite have a network sharing agreement, gradually merging their networks in Latvia and Lithuania.

If you plan to stay in Latvia for several months, then it is definitely cheaper and more convenient to get a contract (post-paid service). You can get a contract with truly unlimited internet traffic for €22 – no speed curtail with heavy use – and unlimited domestic "normal" calls and SMS. There are at least 2 operators that provide unlimited internet on weekly basis for €3 /week (without speed curtail), which is extremely flexible and cheap.

For an unknown reason, Latvian mobile operators are quite desperate for clients (maybe because of the small population), and they try to gain competitors' clients. If you have stayed for longer than a year and you have post-paid contract, you can often get discounts with your operator of up to 50% by "threatening" to change operator.

Internet [ edit ]

Free WiFi is often available in hotels, cafés, libraries, intercity buses and the Riga International Airport. Ask by the cash register or information desk if there does not seem to be an open network available.

Copyright issues [ edit ]

File sharing, p2p or streaming of copyright-protected content is illegal in Latvia, but users that download torrents for personal use are never prosecuted or tracked. Shaping of p2p-traffic is very uncommon.

Postal service [ edit ]

latvia country tourism

The postal service in Latvia is run by Latvijas Pasts . Post offices can be found all over the country . Post boxes are blue and yellow with the postal logo, and most of them are emptied once every workday, a few of them even on Sundays and holidays. The Latvian postal service is reliable, but sending anything but postcards and letters can feel quite bureaucratic to Westerners. Long queues are a common thing in post offices, so it might will save you up up 30 minutes if you use their mobile app to reserve a place in queue.

Examples of letter mail less than 20 grams:

  • within Latvia an ordinary letter cost €1 ; €1.32 for trackable ( izsekojams ) letter.
  • class A ( priority or airmail ) letter to most European destinations begin at €1.35 for ordinary mail, €2.43 for trackable ( izsekojams ) mail.
  • class A ( priority or airmail ) letter to most overseas destinations begin at €1.42 for ordinary mail, €3.58 for registered ( ierakstīts ) mail.

It is advised to utilize the online rate calculator since rates might vary to countries in the same continent.

Ordering from countries outside of EEA and EU one additionally has to pay VAT to get the parcel through customs: it can be done on the Latvian Revenue Service website .

Go next [ edit ]

  • Lithuania , the southernmost Baltic state, with castles (much like in Latvia) and the relaxed capital Vilnius , easiest to reach by bus.
  • Estonia , northernmost Baltic state, with a lot of islands, beautiful landscapes, and a language related to Finnish. Can be reached by bus or train.
  • Sweden and Finland , and from there the rest of Scandinavia can be reached by the many ferries operating across the Baltic sea.
  • The airport of Riga has many connections with other countries in Europe.

latvia country tourism

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Jessie on a Journey | Solo Female Travel Blog

Latvia Travel Guide

Looking for an in-depth Latvia travel guide ?

Then you’re in the right place!

Though small in size, Latvia has a lot to offer travelers of all kinds.

This Baltic State and member of the European Union is quickly becoming a favorite destination of travelers around the world, particularly those who want to see Europe on a budget.

The country is also very safe with an easy-to-navigate public transport system, making Latvia great for solo female travel .

Whatever your travel style, you’ll find that Latvia is a hidden gem rich in culture, history, and natural beauty.

The centrally-located capital of Riga is the perfect home base for any trip to Latvia; many of the country’s top attractions are just a day trip away from the capital and easily accessible via public transport.

Fly into Riga International Airport, then hop on a free walking tour of the city to learn some fun Latvia facts.

From there, you can take a walk around Riga’s Old Town or explore some of the city’s many historic churches and museums.

Read on for more Riga tourism tips below!

Latvia is also the perfect destination for outdoor activities.

With four national parks, there are plenty of ways to experience the country’s lush landscape.

Latvia is also a great option for those looking for a different kind of beach vacation.

For instance, Cape Kolka — the point where the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga meet — is home to miles of splendid coastline where you can see both the sunrise and the sunset.

Wander around one of the local fishing villages and enjoy some traditional Latvian cuisine like smoked fish.

Latvia’s seaside resort towns like Jurmala are also worth a visit, especially for the national parkland and wide, golden sand beaches.

Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to Latvia in Europe.

Note: This ultimate guide to Latvia travel contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Latvia travel guide

Use this Latvia tourism map to begin planning your trip to this incredible country!

Latvia map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Tips For Visiting Latvia

The following guides can help you plan the perfect Latvia travel itinerary !

Latvia travel guide for solo travelers

Here’s What Happens When You Travel Latvia Solo

things to do in Latvia include visiting Kemeri National Park

11 Amazing Destinations For Curious Solo Female Travelers (Including Latvia!)

Best Latvia Tours

Explore local culture with a Latvia tour guide through these unique excursions:

  • Day Tour to Rundale Palace from Riga
  • Tour To Ķemeri National Park And Smoked Fish Tasting from Riga
  • Half-Day Latvian Herbal Traditions and Mandala Workshop with Lunch from Riga
  • Culinary, Historic & Wine Tour to Sigulda and Cesis from Riga
  • Slitere National Park Latvian Nature Hiking Tour from Riga
  • Night Kayaking In Riga City Canal
  • Riga Old Town and Central Market Walking Tour
  • Hike In Gauja National Park – Up And Down The Switzerland Of Latvia from Riga

Renting A Car In Latvia

Need a rental car for your Latvia trip?

Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.

latvia country tourism

Latvia Hotels

Click here to browse the best Latvia travel hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays?

Click here to check out unique local apartments and rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local stays and experiences:

Latvia Travel Insurance

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on a Latvia tour. When visiting Latvia — or any other country in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Latvia travel itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks .

Latvia Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in Latvia .

Q: Which countries make up Eastern Europe?

When planning a trip to Europe , it’s helpful to have a lay of the land. Countries within Eastern Europe include:

  • Czech Republic
  • Herzegovina

Q: What is Latvia famous for?

Latvia is probably most famous for its vast array of lakes, rivers, and waterfalls.

The small country is home to 12,000 rivers and 3,000 lakes, each as beautiful as the next. If you like to explore nature by water, this is the place to be.

There’s plenty of opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and canoeing throughout the country, too.

Latvia’s most famous water feature is Ventas Rumba, the widest waterfall in Europe. Stretching 249 meters, the waterfall is an incredible sight and attracts thousands of tourists every year.

Q: What are the best things to do in Latvia?

To get a taste of Latvia’s history and culture, head to Riga, the nation’s capital and largest city.

Here, you can wander through the streets of the city’s Old Town and see churches and buildings that date back to the 13th century.

The city is also full of colorful Art Nouveau architecture that will transport you back to the turn of the 20th Century. You can see even more art and artifacts from this period of history at the Art Nouveau Museum.

After a long day of exploring, relax with a treatment or soak at one of the city’s many spas — a must for any trip to Eastern Europe.

Exploring the city alone? Check out our full Riga travel guide for solo travelers .

Outside of the capital, there are plenty of opportunities for historic exploration.

Visit one of the country’s many medieval castles like Sigulda Castle or Bauska castle and learn about the lives of Latvia’s former royal rulers.

Those interested in more recent history should visit the Ligatne Bunker, a former nuclear shelter built by the Communist Party of Latvia. Try on a gas mask and even have a meal in this relic of the Cold War.

If hanging out in a bunker isn’t quite your style, head to the sauna museum just 40 kilometers (~25 miles) outside of Riga to learn more about the rituals and culture of Latvian bathhouses.

Latvia is also a great destination for outdoor exploration.

From mountains to lakes to bogs and marshes, the country has something for every kind of outdoorsy type.

Latvia also has plenty of coastline for those who want to take a (chilly) walk on the beach or do some fishing.

Gauja National Park, with its system of caverns and grottos, is a favorite of both locals and travelers.

And you can’t miss the mineral springs and marshes of Kemeri National Park!

Q: How much money do I need per day in Latvia?

As far as European destinations go, Latvia is one of the most affordable. The average traveler spends about $63 USD per day in Latvia on accommodations, transportation, food, entertainment and other expenses.

Hostels and budget hotels are incredibly affordable (usually around $5 USD per night for a hostel bed and $30 USD per night for a hotel room) and you can usually get a prix fixe lunch deal at a decent restaurant for around $10 USD.

Q: How many days do you need for Latvia?

Latvia’s size makes it perfect for a shorter trip or an addition to a longer journey through the Baltic region.

You can see a fair amount of the country in about five days; however you plan your trip, you’ll want to spend at least one day in Riga to get the most out of the capital city.

Q: Is Latvia safe to travel?

Latvia is considered a pretty safe destination for travelers. The country has low rates of violent crime, though pickpocketing and petty theft still occur.

As with any travel destination, it’s best to stay vigilant and keep any valuables close to you and out of sight, particularly in tourist-heavy areas like Riga’s Old Town. You might even consider investing in pickpocket-proof garments to avoid thieves altogether.

The country also has a reputation for dangerous drivers, something to keep in mind if you’re planning on renting a car.

Take extra precautions when crossing the street and avoid jaywalking.

Q: How long can a tourist stay in Latvia?

Tourists from many countries — like the United States, Canada, Australia, and Brazil — can visit Latvia for up to 90 days without a visa.

Q: Do I need a Latvia travel visa?

Travelers from the United States, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and several other countries do not need a visa to visit Latvia for a period of fewer than 90 days.

It’s recommended to view your country’s Latvia International Travel Information page for the most up-to-date information on entry and exit requirements. You can also contact the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia.

Q: When is the best time to visit Latvia?

Latvia can get very cold in the winter, so it’s best to visit between April and September. The milder weather also means more opportunities to explore the abundant nature and outdoor activities that Latvia is known for.

Q: Where is Latvia?

Latvia is one of the Baltic states or Baltic nations in Eastern Europe.

The country borders Estonia, Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania, as well as the Baltic Sea.

Q: Are credit cards accepted in Latvia?

Credit cards — particularly Visa and Mastercard — are widely accepted around Latvia, though it is always wise to carry some cash for smaller establishments and in case of emergency.

Q: Can you drink the tap water in Latvia?

While the tap water is safe to drink in most places, locals typically prefer filtered or boiled water.

Q: What is the local currency in Latvia?

The local currency in Latvia is the Euro (€).

What would you add to this Latvia travel guide?

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Discover Latvia

General information.

Field upon field of green countryside dotted only by the occasional centuries-old farmstead. Winding trails snaking through thick forests of pine scattered with wild mushrooms and berry bushes. Gentle waves lapping a pristine pebble beach. The image of a true Latvian landscape is one that’s best enjoyed slowly. Latvia’s charming small towns and countryside contrast nicely with the vibrancy of its capital city Riga, a true metropolis. The Baltic state offers an exciting mix for culture lovers, outgoing outdoor types and foodies. A proud Euro member state, visiting Latvia is an easy addition when traveling to other European destinations.

Experiences from this destination

Latvia's hidden treasures.

Discover rich, protected wilderness!

Rediscovering Christmas in Latvia

Revitalizing traditions and embracing diversity!

Discover European Cities

Here’s what to experience in these vibrant hubs.

Discover Finland, Estonia and Latvia

Your guide to northern European countries.

Wildlife adventures in Latvia

Explore fantastic national parks!

Europe’s best undiscovered food markets

Discover local cuisine, drinks, and artisan goods that are unforgettably special

Choose your interests

Things to do.

Explore menu ideas, taste new products, and witness professional culinary competitions at the inclusive Riga Food fair.

Here’s what to experience in these vibrant hubs.

Castles in Europe That Still Rule

Travel back to the Middle Ages with this photo gallery of the most breathtaking castles that still stand in Europe.

European Hidden Treasure

Could you imagine so much variety in Europe? From Finland to Azores or From Malta to Ireland, 71 destinations decided to gather to promote sustainable tourism under two words: Eden Network. The Eden Network: surprise yourself with Europe!


Europe in Fairytales

Europe is a magical place. From ancient castles to picturesque waterfalls, much of the scenery looks like it could be straight out of a fairytale. In fact, much of Europe’s best literature, collections of short stories and iconic European fairytales are inspired by real places. Explore them for yourself to turn the stories of folklore into your reality.


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Latvia Travel Guide

  • by Kaspars Misins
  • Best Things to Do , Latvia
  • 14/06/2020 09/05/2022
  • 18 min read

Riga Old Town - Latvia Travel Guide

This article may contain compensated links. Learn more in our disclaimer .

With this Latvia travel guide I want to help you to prepare for your trip to Latvia. Whether you will be traveling to Latvia independently or with a group. To read more about Latvia check out these articles !

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]atvia, my homeland, is a country  in the north of Europe , with Russia to the east, Lithuania, Belarus and Poland to the south, and Estonia to the north. Because of its geographical location, at the crossroads between Northern and Eastern Europe, Latvia has always been interesting to others. As a result there have been many different rulers in the last 800 years. However now Latvia is an independent country, a member country of the European Union and the Schengen Area.

Latvia’s coastline, most of it undeveloped, extends for more than 500 kilometers. About one half of the country is covered with forests, making Latvia one of the greenest countries in the world . Continue reading and you will learn all the basic and at the same time most important things (for travelers) about my homeland!

[accordion id=”my-accordion” ] [accordion_item title=”Basic Information About Latvia + FAQ” parent_id=”my-accordion” open=”false”]

1. Where is Latvia?

Located in the north of Europe, Latvia borders with Russia to the east, Lithuania, Belarus and Poland to the south, and Estonia to the north.

2. What’s the capital of Latvia?

3. What language do they speak in Latvia?

4. What currency does Latvia use?

Since January 1 2014 we use euro.

5. Do I need visa for Latvia?

Latvia is a Schengen country, member of European Union. You’ll need to apply for Schengen visa in order to travel to Latvia. That’s if you need visa to travel to Schengen countries. Scroll down to read more about it!

6. What’s the population of Latvia?

About 2 million.

7. What’s the territory of Latvia?

64 589 square kilometers / 24 937 square miles

Main religions: Lutheranism (34.3%), Roman Catholicism (25.1%), Eastern Orthodoxy and Old Believers (19.4%). Source: Wikipedia

Time zone: GMT +2

Emergency number:  112


Riga Dome Cathedral

Table of Contents

Many People in Latvia Speak English

More than half of Latvians speak 3 languages – Latvian, English and Russian. English for most of us is the second language. We all are learning it at school and university. Since 1/4 of Latvia’s population are ethnic Russians – Russian is widely spoken as well.

Even though so many people in Latvia, especially in Riga, can speak at least basic English, I can’t say, that it’s widely used in Latvia . For example, in public transport it’s highly possible that driver will not speak English, and there will not be any announcements in English, only in Latvian. But again in Latvia you can be sure, that whenever there will be such a need, you will be able to find an English speaking person, who can help you out.

[x_blockquote type=”left”] TRAVEL INSURANCE: For travelers to Latvia we recommend  World Nomads Explorer Package!  [/x_blockquote]

Latvia Is a Budget Friendly Country for Traveling

Latvia is not an expensive country to travel. And since 2014 our currency is euro .

Especially when we compare prices in Latvia to prices in Scandinavian countries, which are so close. Food, public transportation, accommodation,… all of it in Latvia costs similar like in the cheapest countries of Europe .

It is always possible to get something like a burger, shoarma (in Latvia we call it kebab), salad, slice of pizza, sandwich or soup for about 1.5-3 euro. While full lunch or dinner in Latvia will set you back 4-6 euro. Of course, there are also more expensive options, and that’s not hard to find them. But in any case, in Latvia it is also possible to eat good food and in nice places paying just a fraction of what you would pay in many other European countries.

Traveling on a very tight budget and cooking all the time on your own you may notice, that shops like Lidl and Aldi, particularly in the Netherlands and Germany, have better prices for groceries that similar shops in Latvia. I can agree with you. In Latvia we don’t have these particular supermarkets. Most popular supermarkets in Latvia are Rimi, Maxima and Supernetto (the latter being the cheapest one).

Traveling by bus or by train in Latvia a journey of about 100 kilometers will cost about 5 euro.

In Latvia you can pay for almost everything with a bank card . I find it very convenient. When we are in Latvia I almost never have more than 5-10 euro in cash in my wallet. And I rarely use ATM’s. Because you don’t need it in Latvia. Everyone is paying for everything with a bank card.

Are you looking for things to do in Latvia? Need a guide? Check out these tours and this list of activities !

Mobile Internet in Latvia Is Very Fast (4G) and Affordable

In fact, Latvia has one of the fastest internet speeds in the world.

Having a broadband connection with download and upload speeds between 100 – 400 Mbps isn’t something extraordinary in Latvia. All mobile service providers in Latvia have 4G networks, which means that you can have a super fast internet (20 Mbps and more) on your smartphone or tablet as well.

Speaking about the  prices of mobile internet , they are similar for all mobile service providers in Latvia. For example, with Bite Latvija you can get 2 GB of mobile internet + unlimited calls and SMS for 11.15 euro, while the same plan with 6 GB will cost you – 14.71 euro, and with 10 GB – 16.84 euro. You don’t have to pay extra for 4G in Latvia.

Bite Latvija, LMT and Tele2 are the biggest mobile service providers in Latvia. None of them have a website in English, but don’t worry, most of their staff in stores speak at least some English.

Finding free and stable WiFi in Latvia mostly isn’t a problem either.

Mobile Internet in Latvia - Latvia Travel Guide

Latvia Travel Guide: Getting to Latvia

Similar like with most of European countries, it’s not a problem to get to Latvia. Bus and plane are 2 of the best options. It’s also possible to get to Latvia by ferry, but only from a few cities. If you prefer train, note that currently Latvia has international railway connections only with  Russia and Belarus.

1. Ferries to Latvia

From Stockholm , the capital city of Sweden, there are overnight ferries to Riga , the capital of Latvia.

From Travemunde , a town in Germany, there are ferries to Liepaja . And from Nynashamn , a town in Sweden, there are ferries to Ventspils . Both Liepaja and Ventspils are average-sized cities in the western Latvia.

2. Buses to Latvia

If you are traveling from Lithuania or Estonia to Latvia, then bus will be the best choice. There are direct buses connecting all the biggest cities of the Baltic states. Comfortable buses run frequently, several times per day. A journey from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, to Riga by bus takes about 4 hours. Vilnius – Riga takes about the same as long.

There are direct buses also from other countries. Only keep in mind, that these trips will be longer. Most popular routes: Riga – Saint Petersburg (Russia), Riga – Moscow (Russia), Riga – Minsk (Belarus), Riga – Warsaw (Poland).

We recommend Lux Express.  You can buy bus tickets  from their website ! For more options check out the website of Riga International Coach Terminal . Sadly, but only part of it is translated in English.

3. Flights to Latvia

From almost any place in Europe it is possible to get to Latvia by plane within just a few hours. We have only one international airport in Latvia. It’s Riga International Airport – RIX. And currently, in June 2017, there are 17 airlines operating from there. Europe’s most popular low-cost airlines – Norwegian, Wizz Air and Ryanair – are between them. For up to date information check out the website of Riga International Airport .

There are direct flights to Riga from most of the European countries, as well as from New York, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Abu Dhabi and few more countries outside of Europe.

To find the best flight to Riga , go to ! Momondo is a travel search site, which compares deals from various sites. In the search results Momondo lets you to choose between the cheapest, quickest or overall best offers. So you can find what fits you best.

Railway - Getting to Latvia - Latvia Travel Guide

Latvia Travel Guide: Latvian Visa

Latvia is a Schengen Country. 

Which means – if you are not a resident of the European Union most probably you will need to apply for a Schengen visa before traveling to Latvia. But there are exceptions. To see if you need to obtain a Schengen visa, check out this list . If your country is not on the list, then you don’t need a visa .

If you plan to visit several Schengen countries during your trip, then, of course, you don’t need to obtain a separate Latvian visa. You can go with the visa you already have.

Usually with Schengen visa you can stay in the Schengen area ( see the map ) for up to 90 days. There are single-entry (indicated with “1” on the visa sticker), double-entry (“02”) and multiple-entry (“MULT”) visas. Don’t forget about that! And if you have a single-entry visa plan your trip accordingly, that you don’t leave the Schengen area too early.

If you are a resident of the European Union , traveling to Latvia for you will be the sames as easy and seamless as going to any other EU country.

– Where and How to Apply for a Schengen Visa?

“You must lodge the application for a Schengen visa at the Consulate of the country that you intend to visit , or – if you intend to visit more than one Schengen State, the Consulate of the country where you will spend the longest period.

If you intend to visit several Schengen States and the stays will be of equal length, you must apply at the Consulate of the country whose external borders you will cross first when entering the Schengen area.” (Source: European Commission )

So if you are planning to visit only Latvia or if you plan to spend most of your trip in Latvia, then you should apply for a Schengen Visa at the Consulate of Latvia.

Read more about it here, on the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. There you will find all the information necessary, including what documents are required to apply for a Schengen Visa.

Here you can see , where in the world Latvia has diplomatic missions – to put it simply, this map will help you to understand where in your country you can apply for a Schengen visa to travel to Latvia. But here, on this list, you can see to which embassy or consulate you should go, if there is no Latvian embassy or consulate in your country. And in this situation they will help you to obtain a visa.

Map of Europe - Where and How to Apply for a Schengen Visa - Latvia Travel Guide

Latvia Travel Guide: Accommodation in Latvia

In Riga, the capital of Latvia, you have it all – hostels, budget hotels, 5 star hotels and also plenty of nice apartments and rooms on Airbnb.

Outside of Riga there are mostly budget hotels and mid-range hotels, and only a few hostels. But it doesn’t mean, that there are no good hotels outside of Riga. There are. But not that much.

Another option outside of Riga is to stay at a guest house . Only downside would be, that these guest houses usually are away from cities and towns, and so you should better have a car. Check out what’s available on this site ! Unfortunately not all of the information on that site is in English. To book something you will need to contact them via email, their website or Facebook page.

You can get either a room or a whole house. Often there is also a sauna and a pond, lake or river near by. It’s a very popular choice among the locals. Latvians like to rent a whole house with sauna for all kind of celebrations. Either together with friends, colleagues or family.

Prices: a bed in a 18-bed dorm will cost you starting from about 5 EUR per night, a bed in a 4-bed dorm – starting from about 7 EUR per night, a double room in a budget hotel – starting from about 20 EUR per night, a whole apartment close to Riga city center rented via Airbnb – starting from about 30 EUR per night.

To find a hotel or a hostel in Latvia go to and .

Check out also Airbnb , if you want to stay in an apartment instead and live like a local in Latvia! Register using my Airbnb link and you will get a discount for your booking. We’ll get a discount, too. We have been using Airbnb since 2012.

Old and colorful buildings - Latvia Travel Guide

Latvia Travel Guide: What to Do in Latvia?

If you are traveling only to Riga, the capital of Latvia, then check out our guide to Riga !

1. Bus and Rental Car Are Two of the Best Choices for Traveling Around

Take a bus if you don’t have a drivers licence or if you aren’t going to travel around Latvia too much.

Renting a car at the same time will give you much more flexibility and freedom . If you are traveling together with someone it will also cost you less than traveling by public transport. And you will be able to reach more distant parts of Latvia, where buses and trains aren’t going that frequent. There are places where public transport goes only few times a week. As everything in Latvia when compared to most of Europe renting a car in Latvia can be also very cheap.

There are also trains in Latvia , but there aren’t too many of them. You can check if there is a train going to the city where you want to get on the site of Latvian Railway company .

2. You Can Travel Whole of Latvia in a Couple of Days

Take advantage of it and go on that trip across Latvia! Go and see more than just Riga and Sigulda.

From the far west to far east of Latvia it’s just about 400 kilometers. Rent a car in Riga and go on a road trip. Especially if it’s a snowy winter or sunny summer, when you are in Latvia. Traveling through the countryside of Latvia you will see completely different country than the one you see in Riga.

If you are traveling to Latvia in summer , I urge you to go Latgale, region in the east of Latvia, known also as a land of blue lakes. That’s the real Latvia, what you will see while driving there. You will see with your own eyes, why Latvia is called one of the greenest countries in the world.

3. The Best Time to Visit Latvia

Latvia has 4 seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. When I was a kid, and that was almost 20 years ago, we had cold and long winters. We had snow starting from late November and until early April. But now weather has changed. It can be a lot of snow in the beginning of December, and it can be +10 C / 50 F and raining during Christmas.

If you want to see snow , your best bet now would be to travel to Latvia in late January/February. Temperatures then can drop to as low as -30 C / -22 F However, if you can’t stand cold weather, visit Latvia in July. It’s the hottest month in Latvia. Temperatures then can reach +30 C / 86 F, sometimes more. Usually in summer they are lower, between + 15 C / 59 F on a cloudy day, in the evenings and in the mornings, and +25 C / 77 F on a sunny day.

I recommend you to visit Latvia either in winter (late January/February), during the summer, when everything is green, or in autumn (late September/October), when leaves change their color from green to orange, yellow, red.

Rye field in Latvia

4. What to Do in Latvia?

Top tourist destinations in latvia are –  riga , sigulda ,   cesis.

  • Go to Riga for culture, history, Art Nouveau architecture and nightlife. If you want to have a piece of all of it, head to old town of Riga or wander through the streets near by.
  • Cesis, an average-sized Latvian town about 100 kilometers away from Riga, is another popular destination for those who love culture, history and architecture .
  • Sigulda, a town 1 hour train/bus ride away from Riga, is the right place where to go for outdoor activities. Kayaking. Bungee jumping. Hiking. Mountain biking. Snowboarding and skiing during the winter. All of it and much more is possible in Sigulda.

If you are into nature, camping and hiking, I have good news for you –  Latvia has hundreds of kilometers of undeveloped seashore . These are mostly nice and deserted beaches, being where you will feel like Robinson Crusoe.

– Western Latvia

Liepaja, Ventspils and Kuldiga are 3 of the most popular destinations on the west of Latvia, not without a reason. Liepaja and Ventspils are also among the largest cities of Latvia. Though, they aren’t really big, nor too populated.

Liepaja is popular because of its cultural life . Kite-surfers love Liepaja as well.

Ventspils like Liepaja is by the sea, and it’s a rather beautiful port city . The port of Ventspils is mostly used by cargo ships.

Kuldiga between those three is the smallest one and, as many would say, the cutest one, too. It’s a charming town with quite a lot of well preserved old buildings. One of the Europe’s widest waterfalls is near Kuldiga.

– Eastern Latvia

Daugavpils and Rezekne are the most popular destinations on the east of Latvia.

Daugavpils, with a population of a little bit under 100 000, is the second largest city in Latvia. It’s an old city like the rest of the cities I have already mentioned. And it has the highest ratio of ethnic Russians in Latvia. If you like art  Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre is the place where to go when visiting Daugavpils

3 places in Rezekne that are worth the visit are  – The Embassy of Latgale ‘GORS’ , ‘ZEIMUĻS’ Centre of Creative Services of Eastern Latvia and Latgale Culture and History Musem.

Are you looking for more things to do in Latvia? Need a guide? Check out these tours and this list of activities !

Latgale, Latvia

Latvia Travel Guide: Food in Latvia

Food in Latvia is rather heavy.

Latvians like to eat a lot. And Latvians like to eat meat. Pork and chicken are 2 of the most popular choices. But boiled and mashed potatoes are often the side. Together with it we often eat also some vegetable salad, mostly dressed with sour cream or mayonnaise. Latvian food is not spicy at all.

Few Latvian Dishes to Try:

  • mashed potatoes with cottage cheese and herring (kartupeļu biezenis ar biezpienu un siļķi),
  • cold beet root soup (aukstā biešu zupa) or any other cold soup, if you are traveling to Latvia in summer,
  • grey peas and speck (pelēkie zirņi ar speķi),
  • stewed sauerkraut cabbage (štovēti kāposti),
  • pork in aspic (cūkgaļas galerts).

From drinks try Latvian beer, Riga Black balsam and kvass! Valmiermuiža and Brenguļu are two of the best of Latvian beers.

Few of the best places where to try Latvian cuisine when you are traveling to Riga include Ala Folk Club , Lido and Silkites & Dillites . They are serving mostly, if not only, Latvian dishes. So you can’t go wrong ordering just anything.

Smoked fish - Food in Latvia - Latvia Travel Guide

If you still have some questions about traveling in Latvia, check out also our other articles about Latvia!

You can start with these 3:

1) 25 Top Things to Do in Riga, Latvia

2) 33 top things to do in latvia (apart from visiting riga), 3) 20 photos that will make you want to travel to latvia.

Disclosure: some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means – if you choose to book accommodation, buy some products or services through these links, we may earn a small commission. This has no effect on the price for you.

10 reasons to visit Latvia

Oct 1, 2015 • 5 min read

latvia country tourism

If you don’t already have a connection to Latvia , chances are it may not have crossed your mind as a potential destination for your next trip.

But this Baltic nation has more than a few surprises hidden amidst its lush pine forests and architecturally rich cities and towns. Here are ten reasons to add Latvia to your travel wish list.


It’s lost its walls and it isn’t as cutesy as others across Europe, but the old town in Latvia's capital,  Rīga , still has an impressive array of historic buildings, oversized churches and cobbled lanes. Best of all are the many sunny squares filled with beer gardens and street cafes, which in summer thrum with the cosmopolitan clatter of locals and tourists. In winter Old Rīga does its best impression of a scene from a Christmas card – which is fitting for the place where the very first Christmas tree was erected.


Art nouveau architecture

For fans of this theatrical style of architecture and design, there’s simply no better destination than Rīga. The city’s architects got completely carried away with this trend when it swept Europe around the beginning of the 20th century and, despite the wartime devastation, over 750 art nouveau buildings remain. Gaze up as you wander the streets and you’ll see a great many facades decorated with the swirling nature motives, bare-breasted goddesses and mythological beasts typical of the style. If you want to delve deeper, visit the period apartment which serves as the Rīga Art Nouveau Museum . For art nouveau furniture and fabrics, head to the Museum of Decorative Arts & Design .


Beautiful beaches

First-timers to the Baltic are often surprised by just how beautiful the beaches are. Granted, it doesn’t quite have the climate to match, but in the height of summer, the endless golden sands are a great place to let the kids loose with a bucket and spade. Jūrmala , only 20km from the capital, is Latvia’s swankiest beach town, filled with grand wooden holiday houses and large spa hotels. For a more relaxed vibe, try Ventspils in the northeast.


Soviet reminders

If you’re fascinated by the good, the bad and the ugly of the USSR, they can all be found in this former Soviet republic – although the scales are tipped strongly towards the latter two. ‘The good’ is represented by love-them-or-hate-them buildings such as Rīga’s overblown Academy of Science skyscraper (nicknamed Stalin’s wedding cake) and the boxy modernist building housing the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia . Inside, the museum succinctly summarises ‘the bad’ side of Soviet life such as deportations, gulags and purges. As for ‘the ugly’ – you don’t have to wander too far from the well-scrubbed touristy areas to find plenty of the grey, utilitarian buildings that epitomise the words ‘former Soviet’.


Rundāle Palace

If drab buildings were a hallmark of communism, surely excessive ostentation was the equivalent for the Russian Empire. The remarkable  Rundāle Palace , built for the Duke of Courland in the 18th century, is the grandest of its kind in the Baltics, with formal gardens modelled on those at Versailles and 138 rooms within its baroque shell. Inside, the state rooms are slathered with frescoes, moulded plasterwork and gilt trim.


Ancient castles

When German warrior monks pushed into the Baltics in the early 13th century, introducing the locals to the joys of Christianity with the pointy end of their swords, they couldn’t be certain of a warm welcome. Sturdy fortifications were a necessary precaution and castles sprang up throughout the land, many of which are still standing today. Visitors to Cēsis Castle are issued with a candle-powered lantern to explore the darker recesses of its ruined walls. The boxy Livonian Order Castle in Ventspils, by contrast, has been restored and converted into an excellent interactive museum.


Fairytale forests

If you want to get close to the Latvian heart, take a walk through the woods. Forests cover around 45 percent of the country and shelter a diverse range of critters, including a significant population of lynx, beavers and birds of prey. The best places to wander tree-dappled trails are in Ķemeri National Park, a large expanse of forest and bog near Jūrmala, and Gauja National Park, northeast of Rīga. From Sigulda, gateway to Gauja, leafy paths lead between the ruins of three castles and along the Gauja River.


Picturesque towns

Rīga does tend to steal much of the limelight, but more intrepid travellers should consider seeking out some of Latvia’s sleepier centres. Our favourites include pretty little Cēsis, hidden in the forested confines of Gauja National Park, and centred on a large church, ruined castle and ornamental lake. Much further west, Kuldīga boasts Europe’s widest waterfall (249m) – but at a height of only two metres, it’s more scenic than it is dramatic. The best views are from Kuldīga’s old castle grounds, which have been transformed into a leafy park and sculpture garden.


Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre

You might know him as one of America’s most celebrated artists and one of the world’s leading exponents of abstract expressionism, but Mark Rothko (1903-1970) was actually born in Daugavpils in Latvia’s southeast. In 2013 his home town recognised its most famous son with the opening of the Mark Rothko Art Centre ( ). Dedicated to art, culture and education, the centre is located in the arsenal building of a historic Russian-built fortress. The Rothko family stumped up some original works which hang alongside an ever-expanding collection of contemporary Latvian art.


Kooky experiences

From spy games in old Soviet coastal forts to horror scenes acted out in darkened basements, Latvia has a particularly pant-wetting range of experience-based attractions on offer. If you’re a glutton for Soviet-style punishment, report to Liepāja’s creepy old military gaol, Karosta Prison , for a few hours of abuse by costumed KGB operatives. For a more intense experience, you can even stay the night in a cell and get acquainted with the authentically awful toilet facilities.

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Home » Travel Guides » Latvia » 15 Best Places to Visit in Latvia

15 Best Places to Visit in Latvia

The middle child of the Baltics is perhaps most famed for the hedonistic party joints of its gloriously Gothic and Art Deco capital, or the happening coastal strips of Jurmala just along the coast.

But delve a little deeper into Latvia’s backcountry and you’ll discover Teutonic castles, tsarist palazzos and wild woodlands peppered with bucolic towns.

Check out these best places to visit in Latvia :

Riga, Latvia

Top of the menu for any first-time travelers making their way across the Baltic, Riga is certainly one of the great urban treasures of the region as a whole.

It straddles the channels of the Daugava River on the northern edges of the country, boasting a labyrinthine Old Town area which is considered one of the most handsome in Europe.

Here, the cobbled streets are overshadowed by the dagger-like spires of the mighty St Peter’s Church, while the famously reconstructed House of the Blackheads stands definitely elegant after the tumult of Soviet domination over the city.

Art Nouveau is the name of the game in the city’s outer districts, with masterworks lining the pavements of Alberta iela.

And then – of course – there’s Riga’s legendary nightlife; a medley of hedonistic basement bars and thumping clubs that host locals and stag dos and hen parties aplenty.


Stretching for nearly 30 kilometers along the curved coastline of the Riga Gulf, sun-kissed, breezy Jurmala is the place to go during the hotter months of the year.

With their unique microclimate and salty air, the various towns that form the so-called ‘Latvian Riviera’ here are known for their mineral mud pools and range of curious holistic health treatments.

Beach wise, there are worthy sands running right the way along the breadth of the region, with Majori and Bulduri hailing in as the favourites with their Blue Flag ratings and opportunities for water sporting, collections of shore-side cafes and beach volleyball competitions.

No wonder the likes of Brezhnev and Khrushchev came here to unwind!

3. Daugavpils

Daugavpils Church

The birthplace of one Mark Rothko is now something of the antithesis to Riga in the north.

Nestled between the hills and lakes of the Daugava River valley, the town ticks over to a Russian tune (this is the heartland of Latvia’s Russian-speaking population), and boasts a glorious historical core that is all refined 19th-century architecture courtesy of St Petersburg.

The looming bulwarks of the great Daugavpils Fortress mark one of the militaristic hubs of the Russian Empire too, while the golden-hued onion domes and Orthodox cupolas of the Saints Boris and Gleb Cathedral mimic Kiev and St Basil’s atop the skyline of the town.

Sigulda Castle

It’s easy to see why the Latvian locals have so many legends about Sigulda.

For one, the hills around town come topped with the keeps, bulwarks and crumbling crenulations of one Turaida Castle – Latvia’s answer to Bran of Romania.

Then there are the misty woodlands and groves of the Gauja Valley; a veritable gem of the nation’s backcountry that comes crisscrossed by meandering rivers and meandering hiking trails, dotted with caves (check out the massive caverns of the Gutmanis system) and undulating hills.

Meanwhile, Sigulda itself blooms with cherry trees and pretty regal architecture from before Latvian independence, and offers a chance for skiing and Nordic walking in the winter.

Livonia Order Castle. Bauska, Latvia

First came the Knights of the Livonian Order, who fortified the small islets that sit washed over by the tree-fringed channels at the start of the Lielupe River.

Then came the dukes of Courland and the imperial tsars of the Russian state, who raised an altogether new fortification here: the one now commanding the middle of the town with its curious whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs.

But rich and militaristic history aside, Bauska also boasts a charming backwater character, with the river ways flowing through the heart of town lined by ad hoc allotments and farmlands, crossed by tenuous suspension bridges and one pretty market square bustling with local life. Nice.

6. Slitere National Park

Slitere National Park

Slitere National Park is considered the great natural jewel of the Kurzeme region.

Part cultural museum part hinterland, the area encompasses the beautiful Blue Hills and great stretches of undeveloped coastland, rolling sand dunes and sloping yellow sands washed over by the whitecaps of the Baltic Sea.

The park juts out into the ocean with the beaches of Cape Kolka, while deep virgin forests cover the interior in groves of fir, elm and rare Baltic ivy.

The Slitere National Park also comes dotted with oodles of historic fishing villages, many of which have remained truly off-the-beaten-track and rustic because of the presence of an off-bounds military base in the area during Soviet times.

Cesis, Latvia

A picture of traditional Latvian town planning, Cesis has retained all its medieval glory.

Its center is lauded as one of the best-preserved historic districts in the country, coming complete with wide cobblestone streets, pretty, painted timber facades done out in the classic Baltic style, stuccoed churches (check out the gorgeous St John’s Church and its tombs of the Livonian Order knights) and worn courtyards where once Middle Age markets would have thrived.

The piece de resistance of the town has to be Cesis Castle; a formidable medley of palisades and gatehouses that’s shrouded by forests close to the center.

Here, visitors can discover 800 years of history and tales of Swedish, Russian, Slavic and Polish invaders alike.

8. Rundale Palace

Rundale Palace

A onetime gift from the Russian empress Catherine the Great, the Rundale Palace is the most elegant remnant of imperial rule from Petersburg left in Latvia.

It can be found encircled by blooming rose gardens and English-style lawns close to the town of Bauska.

The designs of the façade and grounds are flamboyant and extravagant in the extreme, oozing with all the Italian-esque opulence and eccentricity you’d expect of a piece by the celebrated architect of the Russian court, Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

Today, thousands of people flock to tour the interior rooms and gardens at Rundale, weaving between the exhibitions of the Palace Museum and spotting visiting luminaries around the grounds.

9. Saulkrasti

Saulkrasti Beach

Facing the trodden seaside strips of Jurmala across the waters of the Riga Gulf, Saulkrasti is Latvia’s lesser-known summertime retreat.

Quieter and more laid-back than its sun-splashed counterpart on the other side of the bay, it hosts mile upon mile of winding cycle tracks, beautiful ivory sands at the resort town of Pabazi (like Jurmala, Saulkrasti is actually a collection of several towns and villages along the coast) and gorgeous clifftop walking trails through seaside forests.

The 18-meter-high White Dune also rises here on the edge of the River Incupe, offering prime sunset viewing and top-notch picnic spots in the shade of swaying linden and fir trees.

Araisi, Latvia

Just a short jaunt out of the castle-topped town of Cesis, travelers will find the ancient cultural landscape of Araisi.

The most visited and best open air museum in the country, the spot chronicles the lifestyles of the early Middle Age tribes of the Baltic region, who made their home on the lake banks here in timber lean-tos and wooden cottages.

There are also the ruins of a castle courtesy of the German Livonian Order on the site, along with oodles of archaeological finds that showcase everything from 14th-century fashion trends to advances in farming and agriculture during the 1300s.

In short, this fascinating reconstructed settlement is perfect for anyone eager to unravel Latvia’s deeper past.

11. Ligatne

Ligatne, Latvia

Walkers, mountain bikers, campers, horse riders, wildlife lovers and Nordic skiers alike all flock to the small and forest-shrouded town of Ligatne.

As the gateway to the famed Gauja National Park, travelers can expect to uncover striking sandstone gorges and fir-forest-topped escarpments of Devonian rock, the caves of Gutmanala, the beautiful contours of the Erglu Cliffs and countless nature trails that delve deep into the woodlands on the edge of the town.

Ligatne itself is a small and sleepy affair, complete with the curiously out-of-place remnants of a paper-making industry boom and lines of pretty cottages topped with corrugated roofs.

12. Ventspils

Ventspils, Latvia

The home of the best-preserved Livonian Order castle in the country – which rises against the cobbles of the Old Town here in pretty, yellow-washed facades – and one of the most bustling ports in the Baltic region, Ventspils offers the perfect balance of history and modernity.

Along with its charming Market Square and historic homes on Skolas Street, the city is also known as the flower capital of Latvia.

The moniker is honoured from springtime onwards, with blooming beds of flowers and bulbs erupting all around town and along its portside, seaside promenades alike.

Ogre, Latvia

Situated just down the courses of the mighty Daugava River as it carves its way into the very heart of Latvia, the town of Ogre has a history dating all the way back to the early years of the 1200s.

While overlooked by many travelers making their way through the Baltic region, the spot is perfect for those who want to sample raw, day-to-day Latvian life, seeking out stories of regional oppression in the town museum and wondering at monuments to the victims of the communist regime.

Ogre is also worthy of note because of its place on the edge of the pretty Dendrological Park Lazdukalni; a fine reserve for exploring the sheer variety of flora decorating these fringes of Northern Europe.

14. Kuldiga


Old World charm oozes from every crooked cottage and cobblestone lane of Kuldiga; a chocolate box of an historic core that makes its home in the very heart of the Kurzeme.

Timber homes dating from the 1700s form some of the most attractive sights in the city, while arched brick bridges and the elegant Baroque finish of the St Catherine’s Church belie the town’s boom time during the years of the Courland duchy.

And then there are the roaring waterfalls of the Venta River on the outskirts of town, which gush and flow around the verdant riparian habitats and winding tunnels of the Sand cave of Riezupe alike.

15. Liepaja

Liepaja, Latvia

A patchwork of Art Nouveau and Russian Orthodox, bustling portside industry and blue collar working neighbourhoods, the 90,000-strong city of Liepaja makes for an interesting and immersive visit just a stone’s throw north from the Lithuanian border.

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, with its soaring spire and colossal organ installation, and the bustling daily markets are two of the major draws here, while the former city of Karosta – a onetime clandestine settlement of Soviet military types on the edge of the modern city – is a must.

Here, the old remnants of tsarist and USSR forts are now being converted into art galleries and cafes, while windswept stretches of beach hug their way along the coast to boot.

15 Best Places to Visit in Latvia:

  • Slitere National Park
  • Rundale Palace

9 Helpful Things to Know Before Visiting Latvia

Visiting Latvia, Where to Stay in Latvia

Disclosure: This post (probably) contains affiliate links. If you click on one, I may make a small commission. Of course, this will come at no extra cost to you and helps keep this site running.

Admittedly, I knew very little about the Baltic country of Latvia before finally deciding to visit that part of Europe last July. I knew where it was on a map and that my primary school music teacher was from there. Basic research confirmed what I already knew – I should visit Riga . But as is my style, I wanted to see more of the country when visiting Latvia than just its capital. After my first 2-week visit there during my travels through the Baltic , I came away with an immediate love for the country.

Part of that is probably due to it blowing any expectations I had out of the water. Latvia is a country with incredible depth, be it cultural, historical or natural. In fact, I enjoyed Latvia so much the first time that I planned a longer second visit in 2018. Travelling around Latvia is also actually pretty easy and so this list has fewer warnings or vital tips than usual. Instead, let’s focus on all the reasons why Latvia is worth visiting and why you should definitely do it.

Table of Contents

1. It’s Not Only Riga

Sigulda Castles Latvia

The sad truth is that when people visit Latvia, the overwhelmingly majority only see Riga and then leave. It seems to be a common curse in the Baltic – people don’t know what else the country has to offer. But Latvia had a lot more going on than just Riga. Yes without a doubt, Riga is a beautiful, entertaining city that will more continue to attract more and more tourists in years to come.

All it takes though is just a few more days for inquisitive visitors to see how much more this country has to offer. You can even use Riga as a base to explore, thanks to its relatively central location in Latvia. Within a couple of hours of Riga, you can reach Sigulda and all its nearby castles across the Gauja Valley .

Just a little further along the valley is charming Cēsis with its quaint streets and own impressive castle. In the other direction, you have the freshly added UNESCO site of Kuldīga and the remarkable Venta Rapids . Continue on to the coast and you reach beaches galore, like at Liepāja and Karosta ; there’s simply so much to see.

2. Entry and Visa for Latvia

Day Trip to Rundale Palace Latvia

As a member of the European Union and the Schengen Zone, entry to Latvia is just as straightforward as most of Europe. If you are travelling within the Schengen Zone, you’ll benefit from the ability to freely move between member countries, which include neighbouring Estonia and Lithuania. Essentially, if you have a European passport it should be insanely simple.

For nationalities like Australians who are able to visit for 90 days visa-free, visiting Latvia is no different to visiting Germany or Italy. The list of countries eligible for this waiver can be found here . For those not coming from the EU or from the previous list, you can find more information on Latvian visas here . As always, ensure you know your visa requirements before visiting.

3. Getting Around Latvia

latvia country tourism

Latvia is probably a much bigger country than most people suspect. And yet, it is actually quite straightforward to get around. Despite being off in the west of Latvia, Riga is very much a transit hub you can use to reach most places.

Latvia is connected by both train and bus networks, the information which can be found here . This system is so easy to use and reliable, taking a lot of stress out of travelling to smaller destinations around the country. While I only took the train between Riga and Sigulda, I did find it cheap and efficient. Trains also run to towns and cities like Daugavpils, Tukums and Ogre.

Most of the time though, I travelled using Latvia’s various bus networks. Buses not only cover the gaps in the train network, they’re also of a high quality and great value. Lux Express is the premium Baltic bus network and uses some of the nicest buses I’ve ever been on. While they may be a little more expensive, the value you get is considerable.

Of course, another option always open to you is to rent a car . Driving in some countries feels like it would stress me out, but not Latvia. Maybe with the exception of driving in central Riga, it didn’t seem especially busy or difficult. It helps that the quality of the roads around the country are quite good these days too.

4. Is Latvia Cheap or Expensive?

One Day in Bauska Latvia

A rather recent development for Latvia is the adopting of the Euro, which became the country’s official currency on 1 January 2014. This is just another reason why visiting Latvia is easier than you probably realise as it cuts the hassle out of getting a new currency out and inevitably trying to use it all up before you leave.

Regarding expenses and budgeting, while it many not be as cheap as say the Balkans, Latvia is definitely more affordable than Western and Central Europe. Things like getting coffee (1-2€), local public transport (<1€), intercity transport (2-7€) and accommodation can be pretty good value for money.

Entrance fees to places like castles, panoramic views and cable cars are probably only a little under the European average. Even dining out (6-18€) can be pretty cheap, especially with No. 8 below. Essentially, if you’re on a budget, visiting Latvia’s a pretty good pick.

5. Fascinating History

Rezekne Castle Ruins

If you’ve been following this blog a while, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a bit of a history-buff. I’m just always keen to learn the history of places I visit. As mentioned earlier, I knew little about Latvia or its history but it turns out Latvia has a pretty fascinating past.

While the area has been settled for millennia, a big change occurred in the 12 and 13th centuries when German Crusaders came to the region to convert the pagan locals. It was these Germans that founded Riga and through the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, and their successors the Livonian Order, occupy the country. They were the ones that built castles like those found at Cēsis, Sigulda and Turaida , leaving the land with some incredible fortresses.

The region passed from power to power until 1710 when it was occupied by the Russian Empire, and which it belonged to right up until the Russian Revolution. This chaos in Russia provided the right circumstances for Latvia to oust the Russians, declaring independence on 18 November 1918 and after 2 years fighting was recognised globally as an independent nation in 1920. The museum at the New Castle in Cēsis covers this period quite well.

This independence was short-lived however, with the country falling under the control of the Soviets, then the Nazis and then back to the Soviets during WWII. While it was stayed under Soviet control for almost 50 years, Latvia was able to reclaim independence in 1991 and marked 25 years of independence last year.

6. Language

Karosta Military Prison

The national language of Latvia is mysteriously known as…Latvian. Unlike Estonian , Latvian is a Baltic language and one of only two remaining Baltic languages spoken today, the other being Lithuanian. Its more distant cousins are the Slavic languages, e.g. Russian, Polish, Czech and you may hear some similarity when spoken (or you may not be able to tell one way or another, depending on your familiarity with languages).

All that being said, I did find that many people spoke some degree of English, with German and of course Russian not being uncommon either. Somewhere like Riga you’ve got great odds as it is a city that sees plenty of tourists, especially Brits. Somewhere smaller like Liepāja for example, a bit less likely.

Some  useful phrases  to know include  Sveiki  which is ‘Hello’;  Paldies   which is ‘Thank you’, Lūdzu  for ‘Please’; and  Jā  and Nē  for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. You’ll notice that Latvian uses letters like ū,  ā and  ē, but don’t fret too much about them.

7. Awesome Architecture

Art Nouveau in Riga

A welcome, yet unexpected surprise was learning of all of Latvia’s amazing architecture. It started when I read about the couple of blocks in Riga that boasted pristine Art Nouveau buildings . As it turns out, there are actually plenty of eye-catching buildings throughout the capital beyond those few streets, but they are surely some of the most majestic and elegant.

And while it may not be Art Nouveau, many of the country’s towns have their own architectural charms. From quaint seaside houses in Jūrmala, to the brick and wood panel buildings of Cēsis, Bauska , and Kuldīga, few places in Latvia came across as bland or boring; there’s always something to appreciate as you explore. I especially enjoyed walking around small towns like Jekabpils and Ludza just for this reason.

8. LIDO Cafeterias

What would you think if I said that eating at a self-service cafeteria was a must when visiting Latvia? It may seem like an odd recommendation, but cafeterias and the LIDO brand are an institution in Latvia. The LIDO chain, plus plenty of smaller independent cafeterias, are a common lunch and dinner spot for many Latvians and a great budget option for travellers.

For roughly 7€ you can get a tasty main (including veggies!), drink and even dessert. It may not be fine dining, but definitely a cheap, warm meal that will leave you satisfied. While I only found the LIDO brand in Riga, I did come across local ones like Zalumnieku Piestatne in Sigulda.

9. The Beautiful Baltic Beaches

Karosta Coast, Visiting Latvia

I have to admit, I never really thought of the Baltic countries as beach destinations. And yet, I was blown away by the beauty of their beaches and Latvia’s in particular. While the water may have been chilly, the long and wide sand beaches found up and down its coast were gorgeous and quiet. On top of that, in the case of both Jūrmala and Karosta, the back drop was serene forest and what more could you ask for?

While I never managed a proper beach day, some of my favourite moments were spent down by the beach. Of course, the stand out has to be walking along the deserted beaches of Karosta in search of the Northern Forts. Honestly, if I’d gone for a swim and laid on a towel for a bit, that could have been a perfect day.

Resources for Visiting Latvia

latvia country tourism

  • Getting There: To find the cheapest and most convenient flights to Latvia make sure to check Kayak .
  • Accommodation: Here you can find hotels, apartments and guesthouses for across Latvia, plus don’t forget Airbnb.
  • Tours: There are some great day trips and sightseeing tours available in Latvia for you.
  • Car Hire: If you want to travel more independently, consider renting a car to drive yourself about.
  • Guide Books: Lastly, if you’re after a physical guide to take with you then you can’t beat a Lonely Planet Guide.

Have you been to Latvia before? What do people need to know when planning a visit? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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David is the author behind the Travelsewhere travel blog and is always on the search for the quieter, less-visited corners of the world.

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I had heard great things about Riga, but really not much about anything else so nice to hear there is more to see. I am pretty impressed with those beaches too and the architecture looks lovely. Sounds like a great place to spend two weeks. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

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I have not been to Latvia but it is a country on my radar. I am one of those who do not conform to visiting only capitals, so, if I stop by, I would make the efforts to see more. It is good that the prices are kind of decent (like that). I am planning a trip to Germany and I am seeing a big difference when compared to Spain or Central Europe. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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The Baltic nations are now appearing on the tourism radar which is fantastic. Based on the few articles that I have read about Latvia, you’re right, tourists tend to leave Latvia after visiting Riga. Don’t think I have read articles that mention at length the other destinations within the country. Thanks for giving us some insights 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard

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Useful information for visiting Latvia, somewhere Paul visited on a stag weekend, but didn’t venture further than Riga or the bars!! Great post. #feetdotravel

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While I vaguely remember Riga and visiting beaches in Jurmala, I can’t remember much more about my visit to Latvia as a kid. I really want to go back and following your blog has really given me some great ideas! I’ve been looking at flights to Latvia ever since your first post! Hopefully they still speak Russian there which would make it slightly easier to get around! Great tips for visiting the country and hopefully I will get to use them some day soon!

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Oh it would be silly to just go to Riga and see nothing else! If I went all the way up there, I would go big or go home! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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Latvia did seem a bit too hard in the past so thanks for the heads up re currency, visas and transport out of Riga. The architecture and beaches are a definite drawcard.

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What a great adventure. The history is fascinating and I like how the country is connected by a train and bus network. The currency and visa information is a plus to know but I do love the empty beaches and stunning architecture. Great photos…. Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks for sharing a useful post about Latvia. The history seems to be really interesting and the architecture too. We will keep your ideas and tips in mind if we visit Latvia when we go to Europe this summer! Keep up the great work, it’s always a real pleasure to read your articles! Very informative and useful:) Patrick and Cécile from

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I visited my cousins in Latvia way back in 1995.It was a country in transition from the old Soviet past to a new vibrant independance.The things I enjoyed were going to the farmers markets, picking mushrooms and hazelnuts in the pine forests with my cousins.One of the highlights was having a sauna then running naked and jumping into the crystal clear freezing lake to cool off,then running back to the sauna.I don’t know what it is like now but where ever we travelled in Latvia people were so kind and open and amazed we travelled all that way to see their country especially with a one year old.

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As I have a friend from Latvia, I have found your posts most interesting! I didn’t know they moved to the Euro, how terrible of me! Fantastic to hear that it is easy to travel around though, it certainly makes getting out of Riga and seeing more of the country more appealing and you are right, people should get out and about and see what else this country has to offer, I know I can’t wait to visit and follow your example. Thank you for all the fabulous information, stories and history you have provided, pinned for the future. #feetdotravel

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don’t be surprised, if somebody does not hear any language, except Russian.

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One more important thing about Latvia is how outdoor adventurous it is – with barefoot hikes, agility courses for young and old, built in woods, extensive bike lines. Maybe for your next trip. Also- very kids friendly, most restaurants have kids play areas and toys, park rentals for ride on toys and many advanced playgrounds, especially outsided Riga-it’s not uncommon to have a whole city block dedicated for various kids things

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Great information… I hope I get to visit one day.

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Latvia gained independence November 18, 1918, not in 1920. We are getting ready for Latvia’s 100th birthday next year.

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Thank you for your comment Indra. I was going off the end of the War of Independence, so I’ve updated it to be clearer.

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Enjoy photo slideshow around Latvia.

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I would also have never imagined Latvia to have beautiful beaches. Now we want to go check out the beaches and architecture based on your beautiful pictures 🙂

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The Art Noveau building looks so beautiful. Latvia seems like a great place to visit and easy on the pocket. Thanks for sharing.

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Latvia seems to be a great travel destination, too bad that not many tourists are going there. I wasn’t aware they have euros – this is another reason why I should visit it. Thank you for sharing all of this useful information, I will save it for future reference.

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It’s so true what you say about people only visiting the Baltic capitals as they don’t know what else to do. I must say I am guilty of not exploring that much further than Riga when it comes to Latvia, yet I think I’ve seen more than most. Every Estonian knows and goes to the Jurmala waterpark in Latvia as its one of the biggest in the area.

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I love the types of place you visit 🙂 Definitely off the conventional tourist trail! And your articles are on point for tips and info! love it 😀

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Jurmala is the nicest sea side town I’ve ever visited in Europe. First beach in Europe I’ve seen with trees on the shore line and not hotels. I was impressed with Riga, great architecture. And yes it’s true what they say about the women in Riga! Daugavpils has a large and modern looking Irish pub which is cool. Not everyone speaks English who serves but they call someone who does to come over. Hesburger is great (Latvian McDonalds) you can ask for a Hesburger and they reply in English “is that a meal or on its own” 🙂 latgola hotel is very nice. Off licence underneath hotel is huge and sells very cheap whiskey. Aglona has a museum on old traditional Latvian food. They serve virtually neat vodka for free. Aglona has a beautiful Catholic Church. There is a small WW2 museum near hear. It’s small but very, very authentic. Preiļi Dolls museum is fun. Amazing dolls and they have costumes where you can dress up In costumes and take photos.

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Hi, i i am from Latvia, so if you have any kind of questions, you can ask them to me and illI answer!

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Riga is one of the most beautiful cities in the Lativa. If you go there, you can choose from different local transportation modes around here. You can always use Riga Executive the taxi or the bus. According to my experience, I find their service very good.

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I liked the part about Lido, as a Latvian i can confirm that we mostly go to their chains for lunch and its a great place for enjoying classic Latvian food. Kudos on the great article ! 🙂

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I would absolutely love to visit Latvia, even in the winter time. The people seem so friendly and and I would love to challenge myself with learning the language! The way David writes these blogs you can tell he’s passionate about travel and has a heart for others around the world, which is truly a God given gift. I loved this blog entry!

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  • 10 Enticing Places To Visit In Latvia For All Avid Adventurers!

23 Mar 2023

Latvia is a country that is located on the Baltic Sea. It has a beautiful landscape because it has wide beaches and beautiful natural things. This attracts tourists from all over the world. Riga is the capital of Latvia and this place is noted for its notable wooden architecture. The museums, churches and other historical places are the best places that must be viewed. There is a big Central market that is quite renowned in the whole country. People from all over the world come here to visit this market. People also enjoy the tasty food and music of this place. In short, there are ample things to see in this country. There are also some local crafts that must be purchased from this country. There are many places to visit in Latvia.

10 Best Places To Visit In Latvia

Check out the list of best places to visit in Latvia and do explore these places so that you can have an enticing vacation in the country. Keep scrolling down and read along!

  • Old City Riga
  • Kemeri National Park
  • Riga Motor Museum
  • Dzintari Forest Park
  • Ventspils Beach
  • Jugenda Stila Nami
  • Zanis Lipke Memorial
  • Veranes Garden
  • Venta Rapid Waterfall

1. Old City Riga

Old City Riga

Image Source

The streets of the city are a mixture of early architecture. There are many historic sites of the 13th century that must be explored by the visitors. The St. Peter's Church is the most remarkable place in this country. The streets are well maintained and thus tourists can spend a good time in this place. Riga is the capital and one of the best places to visit in Latvia .

Location: Kungu Iela 3 Riga, Riga 1050, Latvia

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2. Kemeri National Park

Kemeri National Park

This National Park is the home of ample wild animals. There are ample green trees in the whole area. It can be a perfect day trip for the visitors. If you come to this place, then you can easily watch the sunrise. It would be an awesome experience. It is a vast area of natural beauty and diversity. The park is said to have the longest area. Thus, this place has great significance. This place is included as one of the best places to visit in Latvia .

Location: Meza Maja, Jurmala 2012, Latvia

3. Riga Motor Museum

Riga Motor Museum View

This is a very important place and it was opened on 2nd July 2016. This is the place where you can visit various types of motor vehicles. This is an authentic place to get through a wide variety of vehicles. In fact, you will really feel very comfortable and relaxed in this place. There is museum café, gift shop and other places that must be noticed here. You can spend quality time in this place. It is counted as one of the great places to visit in Riga Latvia .

Location: Sergeja Eizensteina Iela 8, Riga 1079, Latvia Timings: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

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4. Dzintari Forest Park

Dzintari Forest Park

A beautiful place where one can spend some quality time all alone. There is a big playground where children of all age groups can send good time. The park remains open all through the year. A big parking space is there and nearly 2000 cars can be parked at a time. A panoramic tower was opened in the year 2010. It is a great place to see things. Apart from this, the whole ambiance of the place is simply mind-blowing.

Location: Meza prospekts, Jurmala 2015, Latvia Timings: 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM

5. Ventspils Beach

Ventspils Beach

This is a beautiful wide and sandy beach where people can spend quality time with friends and relatives. This is the place where you can carry out various types of outdoor activities. It is a great tourist place and a cow saddle can be noticed here. The water at this beach is crystal clear. It is one of the cleanest beaches in Latvia . It can be easily reached by walking from the main town. It is a top place to visit in Latvia .

Location: Ventspils, Latvia

Suggested Read: 15 Offbeat Destinations In Europe That Are Straight Out Of Fairy Tales

6. Jugenda Stila Nami

Jugenda Stila Nami In Latvia

It is a great place that has ample places to be viewed. There are many shops and stores throughout the city. It has been minutely observed that the commercial houses of this city have beautiful architecture and this attracts people from all over the world. Most of the beautiful buildings are found on Elizabeth Street and Albert Street. So you will really like the whole tour of the place. The architecture is mind-blowing and cannot be expressed in words. They are as usual till date as it was noticed during the construction period. This reveals the quality work and service that was given by the laborers.

Location: Riga, Latvia

7. Zanis Lipke Memorial

Zanis Lipke Memorial

It is a beautiful building and also a very interesting venue for the tourists. There is a memorial inside this museum. Most of the school bring their kids to this place. It is a must visit place in Riga. Great care has been taken to preserve the memorial. A one hour trip to this place can be an ideal one. The beautiful has good fixtures and types of furniture.

Location: Mazais Balasta dambis 8, Riga 1048, Latvia Timings: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

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8. Veranes Garden

Flower View

It is a very big garden that has complete greenery in the entire place. It is also the home many beautiful birds. So you can sit here quietly and peacefully. You will highly enjoy the night atmosphere. This beautiful park in the city is a great tourist attraction. You can spend a good time in this place. There are big benches that are mainly preferred for sitting. It is a crowd-free place. There is a boating facility that is available for the visitors of the park.

Location: Terbatas iela 2D, Riga 1050, Latvia

9. Mezaparks


It can be a great day outing away from the hustle and bustle of the city. During autumn this place is said to be a perfect place for walking. You can walk here freely and enjoy the natural beauty. Even the kids can sit here and enjoy nature very closely. The place is very quiet and simple. There are big trees that surround the whole area. Many people prefer it to be the best place for jogging.

Location: Mezaparks, Riga 1014, Latvia

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10. Venta Rapid Waterfall

Venta Rapid Waterfall

Both the sunrise and sunset in this place can be a beautiful view. If you are really wondering to experience something different then this place is the best option. If you arrive here at the right time, then you may see fisherman catching fishes. It will really provide a very good experience for you. It is said to be the widest waterfall in entire Europe . Sometimes fisherman also hangs nets to catch fish. So don’t miss this amazing experience. It must be visited during the trip to Latvia.

Location: Venta River, Kuldiga 3301, Latvia

Further Read: Latvia Nightlife: 10 Places To Party Hard In Twinkling Lights In The Land Of Blue Lakes

Latvia is a place that is full of natural beauty and places. In order to explore these beauties, you must stay here for some period. If you miss one then you will really regret. There is good connectivity throughout the country so communication will not matter at all. Most of the people usually plan to come to this place for spending vacations. There are many hotels and resorts that are available all along the city. You can choose the one that suits your budget and criteria. Most of the hotels are of a good standard and the staffs are very cordial. So, get packed and book your international trip right away!

Disclaimer: TravelTriangle claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on TravelTriangle, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

Please Note: Any information published by TravelTriangle in any form of content is not intended to be a substitute for any kind of medical advice, and one must not take any action before consulting a professional medical expert of their own choice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Places To Visit In Latvia

What is famous in Latvia?

The Venta Rapid waterfall in Latvia is the widest waterfall in all of Europe. People from all across the world come to see this wonder in monsoon season when it’s full and gurgling. The waterfall is about 110m wide and 2m high.

How safe is Latvia for tourists?

Latvia is a relatively safe country for travelers. The rate of crime is quite low and even petty thefts are also not too common.

What is there to do in Latvia in the winter?

Latvia is a beautiful nation in the Baltic region and has a lot of activities for you to enjoy all year round. However, here are a few things that you can do during winter: – Ice Skating – Cross country skiing – Windsurfing on ice – Exploring the Christmas markets – Witness the sea ice formations – Snowbiking – Dong Sledging

What’s the capital of Latvia?

The capital of Latvia is Riga. It is a beautiful city located on the Daugava River, on the shores of the Baltic Sea’s southern shores

What can you do in Latvia?

Latvia is one of the least explored countries in Europe, however, is one of the most beautiful one. Here are some of the amazing things you can do in LAtvia when you’re there: – Visit the Town Hall Square – Visit the Open Air Museum in Ventspils – Explore the streets of Jauniela – Visit the Naval Port Prison – Explore the old town of Riga – Visit the old Sigulda Castle

What language do they speak in Latvia?

Although the official and the most common language spoken in Latvia is Latvian, Russian is also commonly spoken. English is also spoken by many people, along with other native languages.

Is Latvia part of Russia?

Till the end of the 18th century Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia the three Baltic countries have been a part of the Russian empire. However, since the Russian revolution in 1917, the countries gained independence from the former USSR.

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Riga travel guide — the fullest latvia travel guide & riga guide for first-timers.

latvia country tourism

If you are looking for a new and unique, lesser-known destination in Europe, Latvia is probably an ideal destination for you. Latvia – a destination that is not very famous, but if you have come here, visitors definitely cannot help but admire its beauty. Adorned with the valley pine of Gauja or the wonders bearing bold European dome architecture style, Latvia appears in a charming and brilliant way. So, what to do and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Latvia for the first-time? Let’s check out our Latvia travel blog (Latvia blog, Riga blog, Riga travel blog) with the fullest Latvia travel guide (Latvia guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do to find out the answer!

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latvia country tourism

Latvia, a name is still quite unfamiliar to those who are passionate about European tourism. However, in my opinion, not because few people know about it that make this place is not worth exploring at all. If I have to vote on a place that I’ve been to and want to come back again, surely the Latvian capital Riga will never be out of this list. In 2018 Riga was also voted as the top 5 most attractive destinations in Europe.

Latvia travel guide: Overview of Latvia

latvia country tourism

Latvia, officially the Republic of Latvia. Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia and Belarus to the east and the Baltic Sea to the west. Ethnic groups are mainly Latvian (59%) and Russian (28.3%), in addition to other ethnic minorities. Latvia’s area is about 65,000 square kilometers but the population is only nearly 2.7 million people (2021).

  • The Latvian capital: Riga
  • Member of the European Union since 2004
  • Latvian population: about 2.7 million people
  • Language: Latvian, English (administrative), Russian

The capital of Latvia is Riga and this city has also been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Riga is also the largest city among cities in the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). Latvia is a country with a long history in Europe. Historically, the country was colonized by many neighboring countries.

latvia country tourism

On November 18, 1918, the republic of Latvia was officially established. In 1940, Latvia was annexed to the Soviet Union, then became a socialist country called the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, Latvia became an independent country again. Therefore, it is not difficult to realize, the architectures were built in Riga are extremely majestic and beautiful. People often compare Riga to a city of Art Nouveau – an art and architecture school from the early 19th century that stands out with its meticulous decoration and intricate and flexible motifs. These are also special architectural features only in Riga.

latvia country tourism

In my personal opinion, the architecture here is as beautiful as in cities centers of the Netherlands or Russia and even more beautiful than the Nordic countries. Therefore, many newspapers are now assessing that Riga’s tourism is being “underrated” compared to other European countries.

Latvia travel blog: When to visit?

Latvia has a pleasant climate, so it is extremely suitable for sightseeing, relaxing and leisure travel. The best time to travel to Latvia is in spring (April – June) and autumn (September – October). During this time, the weather is warm, right in the fruit harvesting season, so the scenery even more charming. If you want to have a special experience, you can also come here around February when the temperature is very low to have fun with snow.

latvia country tourism

In addition, January and February are the coldest months of the year. November, December days are usually short and often rain in late afternoon.

Riga travel guide: Where to stay?

The cost of living in Latvia is quite cheap, the hotel price is about €20-30/night, so you will have a room right in the center if you book early.

latvia country tourism

During my trip in Riga, I stayed at the Airbnb of a Latvian man’s house. His house located right in the center, so it is quite convenient. The room rate is €23 and you are free to use its kitchen. In general, life in Latvia as well as the climate here is quite pleasant, so I was so satisfied with this trip. In addition, you can refer to some of the following hotels:

  • Green Cat Rooms : The hotel is located in the heart of Riga with modern and comfortable equipment. Price €23/2 people.
  • Apartment Harmony ( or ) : The hotel is located in the center of Riga for €24/2 people including breakfast.

Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.

  • Grand Poet Hotel by Semarah ( or )
  • Neiburgs Hotel ( or )
  • Monika Centrum Hotel ( or )
  • Radisson Blu Elizabete Hotel ( or )
  • Wellton Centrum Hotel & Spa ( or )

latvia country tourism

Check-out top rated and best places to stay in Riga on or .

latvia country tourism

Latvia travel guide: Gettting to Latvia

There are no connecting flights to Riga, but you can go from Helsinki, take a ferry to Tallinn and continue take a bus to Riga. If you plan to visit Baltic states, you can make a trip to visit Tallinn (Estonia) – Riga (Latvia) – Vilnius (Lithuania).

latvia country tourism

Other ways to get to Latvia you can refer to here .

Riga travel guide: Getting around Riga

If you only visit famous places right in the center of Riga, you do not need to buy tickets for transportation, but if necessary, you can refer to some of the following options:

Hop on – hop off bus tickets: Adult: €17 / Child (11-15 years old): €10

The above fare for 2 days, and note that this is an online ticket price, if you buy it directly on bus, it will be more expensive (€20). Tickets can be used to go 4 different lines and passing many famous attractions.

latvia country tourism

Public transport:

  • Take bus 22 from the airport – city center and vice versa (30 minutes)
  • Single ticket price: €1.15 when buy online or via ticket vending machines, ticket counters (tickets purchased directly on the bus: €2)
  • One-day ticket: €5
  • 3-day ticket: €10

latvia country tourism

Riga travel blog: Where to go?

Old town of riga.

latvia country tourism

When it comes to Riga, perhaps it can’t help but to mention its old town. This district was recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage in 1997. Although the war has caused a lot of damage to the works in the Latvian capital Riga, the remaining works, buildings, structures are still well preserved to this day.

Riga’s Old Town is a maze of enchanting cobblestone streets and brightly colored buildings dating back to the 13th century. The main highlights here are the St. Peter’s Church, House of the Black Heads, and the Three Brothers. These are definitely places you should not miss when traveling to Riga.

latvia country tourism

St. Peter’s Church

The Church of St. Peter is the highest structure in Riga, with a 123.5 meter towering tower rising straight into the Old Town sky. You can take the elevator to the top of this tower for a panoramic view of the city. Besides worship services, this 13th-century Art Nouveau building also hosts art exhibitions, festivals and concerts.

Church of St. Peter is one of the oldest medieval monuments in the Baltic States. Since its construction, this tower has been affected by lightning, wind storms and fire and has been rebuilt many times.

latvia country tourism

Located next to the gentle Daugava River, Saint Peter’s Church is the most representative of the quintessence of Art Nouveau architecture school. Using curving curves with high vaulted doorways and elaborate decorations, St. Peter’s Church is the most beautiful and impressive church in the Baltic region.

Address: Reformācijas Laukums 1, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia Hours: 10AM–7PM/Monday: Closed Architectural style: Gothic architecture Opened: 1746

House of the Blackheads

latvia country tourism

The House of the Blackheads was built in 1334 and was the meeting venue of Riga’s various public organizations. It was completely destroyed during the 2nd world war and was rebuilt in 1999. This building can be seen as the symbol of Latvia tourism that you often see on its postcards.

This magnificent Blackheads building is like a crown adorning the Old Town square in Riga. The building’s Dutch Renaissance exterior is a tourist attraction. This building was built in the 14th century, was destroyed during the war and rebuilt in 1999.

latvia country tourism

Address: Rātslaukums 7, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 12–5PM Admission: €6

Three Brothers

latvia country tourism

A building complex of three houses, located in the Latvian capital Riga. This is considered the oldest residence in Riga. The homes are located at 17, 19 and 21 Maza Pils Street, and each represents different periods of housing development of the city.

Address: Mazā Pils iela 17, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia

Riga Nativity of Christ Orthodox Cathedral

latvia country tourism

Christ’s Nativity Church is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the Baltic region. The church was built in 1876, when Latvia was part of the Russian Empire. At that time, this church was one of the most laborious and expensive buildings ever built in Riga. In the 1960s, the Soviets converted the cathedral’s use into an observatory and cafe, destroying the murals on the ceiling. The building returned to its original role as a church when Latvia gained independence from Russia.

I consider this a very worthwhile place to go when traveling to Riga, Latvia because besides the church’s architecture, its location is right on the boulevard overlooking the trees that are trimmed like square-shaped, evenly and eye-catching. Besides, this church is located right in the campus of an extremely large park. You definitely won’t regret coming to this place.

Address: Brīvības bulvāris 23, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia Hours: 7AM–6:30PM Architectural style: Byzantine Revival architecture Opened: 1876 Admission: free

Bastejkalna Park

latvia country tourism

In addition to the outstanding places above with countless small places to visit in Latvia, you can visit some other places such as Bastejkalna Park or Riga central market.

Bastejkalna Park is also an interesting place that you should stop when traveling in Latvia. This is very large park located in the bustling center of Riga, Latvian park possesses extremely rich natural scenes. Inside the park are large lakes. To experience the wonderful and interesting things here, you can walk or cycle around the park. You will sure to have an enjoyable picnic here.

Address: Central District, Riga, LV-1050, Latvia Hours: Open 24 hours

Riga Central Market

latvia country tourism

The Central Market is located next to Riga Bus Station and Central Railway Station, near the Old Town and is full of goods and food. You can stop by to know the price of food and experience the real market culture here.

latvia country tourism

Address: Nēģu iela 7, Latgales priekšpilsēta, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia Hours: 7:30AM–6PM

Freedom Monument

latvia country tourism

Freedom Monument is a memorial to the soldiers who participated in the Latvian war for independence. The monument consists of a large column, carved statues around it, at the top of the column is a bronze statue of the Statue of Liberty, holding 3 stars. This monument is a symbol of Latvia’s freedom, independence and sovereignty.

Address: Central District, Riga, LV-1050, Latvia Opened: November 18, 1935 Height: 42 m

Riga Castle

latvia country tourism

Riga Castle, located on the banks of the Daugava River, is a must-see when visiting the Latvian capital. It was built in 1330. After several destructions, the castle was continuously restored between the 17th and 19th centuries. Today, it is used as a museum and the presidential residence.

Address: Pils laukums 3, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia Architectural style: Classical architecture Function: Castle Opened: 1515

latvia country tourism

In addition, if you still have time, you can go to the other side of the city’s river where many Russians live is called Pardaugava. This area also has a number of attractions such as flea market, museum, Holy Trinity Church of Pārdaugava, park… If you take a hop on hop off bus, the bus will take you to this area too.

Jurmala Beach

latvia country tourism

And the last place to consider to come when traveling to Latvia is Jurmala Beach, a 30-minute train ride from the center. If you still have time, you should consider to go, this beach has the Blatic style, so it’s not as excellent as our Vietnamese beaches.

Cēsis Old Town

latvia country tourism

Cesis is one of Latvia’s oldest towns with poetic cobblestone streets, wooden buildings and impressive castles. With gardens, lakes, flowers and small paths, or moss-covered rocks… Cesis appears as beautiful as a watercolor painting. When you visit Cesis, you can visit the historic museum, gallery and oldest brewery in the region.

Gutmanis Cave

latvia country tourism

Gutmanis is the deepest cave in the Baltic region at a depth of 19m, 10-12m wide. This is also a favorite destination of tourists when coming to this Baltic country. There are many legends about the formation of this cave, one of which is the story of a chief’s wife, who was locked here because of infidelity, her tears created Gutmanis cave.

Turaida castle

latvia country tourism

One of the most beautiful places in Latvia is Turai Castle. This castle was built during the time of the Roman pope. However it was destroyed in 1776. But, 50 years later it was restored to its original form. Visiting this castle, visitors will see the red brick background, it exudes a rare ancient look. The wild scenery around the castle makes you feel like you are lost in the magical fairy world.

Address: Turaidas iela 10, Sigulda, Siguldas pilsēta, LV-2150, Latvia Hours: 10AM–6PM

Venta Rapid Waterfall

latvia country tourism

With an impressive width (249m), Venta is currently the widest waterfall in Europe, although the slope is only about 2m. The best time to see this waterfall is in spring. When the water overflows, the waterfall also turns and shoots white foam.

Riga travel guide: What to eat?

Latvian cuisine is typical of European cuisine. It brings the subtle and sophisticated. In addition to its delicious and attractive taste, it is also decorated very sophisticatedly and eye-catching. In particular, the dishes in Latvia are not too expensive, suitable for the budget of most tourists.

Typical Latvian cuisine consists of agricultural products, where meat is present in almost every main course of a meal. Fish is commonly consumed as Latvia is located on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. Latvian cuisine changes with the seasons, each time of the year has its own unique foods and flavors. Latvian food is generally quite fatty and uses little seasoning.

Here, you can try to enjoy Sklandrausis pie , a traditional vegetable pastry made from carrots and potatoes, sprinkled with cinnamon powder and served with milk; dessert Maizes zupa (bread soup) made with rye bread, whipped cream and fruit; or sipping a glass of Riga Black Balsam flavored with a variety of herbs.

latvia country tourism

Coming here, you can rest assured that you can eat comfortably without having to worry about costs. A meal in restaurants costs only €4-5. Supermarkets are of course cheap. In general, the price is cheaper than all the countries I have been to in Europe (on par with Lithuania).

If you want Asian food, come here, I think it’s delicious and the price is also quite good: Hum Asian Kitchen : (Address: etrūdes iela 22, Riga 1011, Latvia+371 66 077 077).

If you want to try an authentic Latvian restaurant, you can visit this place: Domini Canes (Address: Skarnu street 18/20 | Riga Old Town, Riga 1050, Latvia). This restaurant is located in the old town near St. Peter church.

Onother good restaurant also located in the Old Town is Golden coffee (Address: Kungu iela 7/9, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia/Hours: 9AM–11PM).

latvia country tourism

In short, traveling to Riga is the cheapest cost among other European cities!

Riga travel guide: Shopping

In Latvia there are many places to shop with interesting gifts for yourself or as souvenirs for loved ones such as amber rings, silver jewelry, smoked ceramics, very beautiful decorated fingerless gloves or unique handicrafts. These items are sold everywhere from traditional markets to commercial centers, from shops to roadside stalls.

latvia country tourism

Riga travel blog: Trip costs

Riga has a very good cost of living, not as expensive as many Western and Nordic countries. A bottle of soft drink costs 80 cents, while in Finland it is €2.5 and in France €2.0.

One night hostel from €10 – €15. Hotels from €20. I have stayed at a 4-star hotel but the price is only €35, this price is even cheaper than mid-range hotels in Vietnam.

Means of transportation you can buy daily ticket for €5 and can use all bus and tram system of the city.

The trip cost per day if staying at hostel is only €35/day/person.

latvia country tourism

Riga blog: Some notes before you go

  • In short, when traveling to Riga, the most worth-visiting place in my opinion is Riga Old Town – where many Art Nouveau buildings and churches and other historical sites are concentrated. There is also an boulevard and Christ’s Nativity church right in the center. The above places can be considered a must see in Riga – the rest of the places I have mentioned, if you still have time, let explore. The itinerary for traveling between attractions is not too difficult. You just need to find your way to the old town and boulevard. Generally pretty easy to find.
  • If you have time, go to Lithuania – a neighboring country with the same cost as Latvia but the scenery is also very beautiful.

Riga travel blog: Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Riga you can refer to

  • Tallink Silja Cruise between Stockholm and Riga
  • Riga Classical Old Town 2-Hour Walking Tour
  • Sigulda Hiking Tour: A Day in the Switzerland of Latvia
  • From Riga: Cēsis, Sigulda & Turaida Castle Tour
  • Kemeri National Park & Baltic Seaside Tour Bog Boardwalk
  • Eurail Pass for Latvia (3, 4, 5, 6, or 8 Days)
  • Riga Sightseeing Tour by Canal Boat
  • Riga: Private Tour with a Local Guide
  • Riga: 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

latvia country tourism

Are you looking for more top things to do in Latvia: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here .

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Culture and traditions in Latvia

When selecting the travel destination, what everyone wants to explore is the culture and traditions of the country they are visiting. Each country has its own set of culture, symbols and traditions that make it unique. And, of course, Latvia is no exception. If you have planned a trip to Latvia, you should definitely get to know the rich culture and ancient traditions that have survived through time and have largely shaped what Latvia is today.

The carefully nurtured and preserved traditions, as well as opportunities to experience them, are what attract the locals – they expand the understanding and knowledge, as well as attract guests from all over the world. Whether it is some celebration, returning to the past several hundred years ago, learning about ancient culture or decorating yourself with the Lielvārde Belt – it is a journey through time, culture and values. So let’s go!

latvia country tourism

Līgo Midsummer’s Night Celebration 

Līgo Midsummer’s Night Celebration or Jāņi is one of the celebrations richest in traditions in Latvia. Every summer it is celebrated on the 23rd of June, marking the changing of the seasons – the onset of summer, and the time when the days become shorter, but the nights – longer. This holiday is based on an ancient pagan celebration that took place between sowing grain and harvesting.

Today, it is a celebration that has preserved ancient traditions such as picking plants in flowering meadows, weaving wreaths, lighting a campfire and jumping over it, and looking for the fern flower.

Midsummer is the time of flowering: in June meadows, cornfields, potatoes, peas and beans bloom in Latvia; therefore, the Midsummer’s Eve is often called Herb Evening or Herb Day. In local culture, each flower and herb has its own application in folk medicine, in fortune-telling, in decorating, and in gifting and weaving wreaths. The night is especially important on this holiday. It is the shortest night of the year, which, according to tradition, should be spent awake. Ancient beliefs say that those who sleep through Līgo night will sleep all summer. And in the morning of Jāņi, women have to wash their faces in the dew to be beautiful, and men have to wade through the dew, so that money will pour into their boots.

After so many activities, of course, one has to eat well. The table of Jāņi celebration cannot be imagined without caraway cheese, patties and beer. You will understand this celebration best by experiencing it exactly as the ancient Latvians planned it – filling it with traditions!

latvia country tourism

Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum

The best way to learn about the history, traditional rituals and ancient crafts of Latvia is to explore it all at the  Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum  in Riga. In this museum it is possible to get acquainted with the traditional way of life of the Latvian farmers, craftsmen and fishermen, to view the ancient farmsteads and their exhibitions, as well as to try your hand at performing traditional crafts, for example, turning.

The museum was founded in 1924, but now it is located in an area of 87 ha in Riga by Lake Jugla. A special added value of the museum are the farmsteads, houses-workshops of craftsmen, windmills, forges, kilns of potters and tar that were typical of the cultural and historical areas of Latvia – Kurzeme, Zemgale, Vidzeme and Latgale. Everyone can view the museum’s exposition in them, which describes the time periods, the craftsmanship in different areas, and the hosts of these homes. And the museum is not only a reflection of ancient times, it regularly hosts various activities – craftsmen work there, Latvian festivals are also celebrated there, and exhibitions of folk applied art studios and museum collections are available in the exhibition hall.

latvia country tourism

The Liv (the Livonian) Coast

Although the territory of Latvia is mainly inhabited by the Balts, in Vidzeme and Kurzeme one nation of Fenno-Ugrian peoples – the Livs – can be found in some coastal areas. Centuries-old Liv fishing villages on the Liv Coast can be seen in a 50-kilometer long strip along the River Irbe Strait in North Kurzeme. Both the former Liv cultural environment and the sandy beaches and pine forests have remained here.

This is the place where the unique Liv cultural space of Kurzeme was created, which together with the Liv language and ancient customs and the way of thinking can be considered the basis of the traditional Liv culture. The evidence of the Livs can be also observed in modern Latvian culture – the Livs and the Liv heritage are used as a motif in the creation of various works of literature, music, theatre and art. How can one best understand the course of the Liv life and its importance in Latvian culture? Of course, by visiting the Livs themselves! The best time for this is during the first weekend of August when the representatives of the small Liv or Livonian nation gather in Mazirbe for the Liv Festival.

latvia country tourism

The Suiti of Alsunga

It is said that no one resembles the Suiti! However, one can only make sure of it by getting to know this ancient culture themselves. The Suiti region in the western part of Kurzeme is known for its unique traditions, the Suiti dialect and their special dishes. The Suiti cultural space is a set of cultural traditions important for the identity of the Suiti community and uniting Alsunga, Basi, Gudenieki and Jūrkalne – the neighbourhoods of Kurzeme located by the Baltic Sea.

The Suiti women stand out with bright folk costumes, which are uncharacteristic to Latvia. They demonstrate the pride of the Suiti, their self-confidence and their desire to be noticed. The costumes are characterised by a combination of bright colours – orange, pink, red, yellow – in the woollen shawls and skirt, as well as in the jackets and scarves. When noticing the Suiti women, you will definitely also hear their characteristic polyphonic singing – bourdon (the melody is accompanied by singing with a constant pitch). This type of singing is recognised in Latvia by the accompanying voice with the prolonged sound “ē” (or “ō”) and the mutually mocking songs of the Suiti wives, which have been cleverly created for various situations of life. In addition, the Suiti also have their own Latvian dialect, which is used both in folk songs and in everyday conversations.

Visiting a real Suiti farmstead should definitely be combined with a tour of the steep shores of Alsunga and Jūrkalne – these are the places, where the Suiti themselves have spent their days for centuries. Anyone is free to try the bourdon singing there by the sea!

latvia country tourism

The Lielvārde Belt

Latvian culture is rich and full of traditions. But is there anything particularly traditional that anyone can acquire for personal use? Yes, there is! It is the Lielvārde Belt. It is not only a beautiful accessory but also outstanding handwork of the folk weavers. It consists of a two-coloured red and white patterned band most often with a green, and less often with blue or purple threads woven in the middle of it or on its edges, with a variable pattern or geometric ornament. It is usually 10 centimetres wide and tends to reach up to 3 metres in length!

Although in Latvia there is a folk costume, colours and patterns characteristic to each region, it is the Lielvārde Belt that has become the basis for a modern myth about the ancient origin of the belt patterns. Sometimes even special abilities of protection are attributed to this belt and its ornaments. Both the richness of the patterns and the embedded mythical legends make the Lielvārde Belt a unique value of Latvian culture today.

The motif characteristic of the belt has become one of the symbols of Latvianness, and it has been used in countless ways – in hats, scarves, gloves, fabric prints, jewellery, pottery and even tattoos. The Lielvārde Belt motif is even included in the citizen passport of the Republic of Latvia.

Is Latvia and its culture and traditions what you will explore on your next trip?


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    From big city sophistication to heartfelt country hospitality, Latvia has a warm welcome for every visitor. Discover ancient castles, wander through stunning valleys or laze on miles of beaches in this Baltic gem. Here are some things to do in Latvia and places to see! Riga. The largest and most exciting metropolis in the Baltics, Riga will ...

  4. Top 10 things to do in Latvia

    The centre of the Baltic region, Latvia offers an amazing array of attractions to suit every age, taste and budget. From amazing architecture to stunning landscapes, and bustling beach parties to soulful forest walks, this country is an unforgettable experience. Step back in time

  5. Latvia Travel Guide (Updated 2024)

    Latvia Travel Costs. Accommodation - Hostel dorms start at 15 EUR per night for a dorm with 8 beds or more. For a smaller dorm with 4-6 beds, expect to pay around 26 EUR. Free Wi-Fi is standard, as are self-catering facilities. Private rooms in hostels are less common and cost between 20-60 EUR.

  6. Tourism in Latvia

    Tourism in Latvia is an emerging industry in the nation of Latvia ... the Bureau of Tourism at the Foreign Ministry was established. Over time, Latvia became the most visited country in the Baltic and Scandinavian regions: the number of foreign tourists in Latvia in 1931 was 85,719, compared to 40,000 in Lithuania, 37,470 in Finland and 71,975 ...

  7. Latvia Travel

    Latvians like to stay connected. 99% of the country is covered in a speedy and stable 4G internet connection and there are thousands of public wireless internet points available, with more than 2,200 free WiFi points in Riga alone. ... Top 10 attractions in Latvia -; Bus and train schedules and tickets -; More Topics ...

  8. Latvia

    Latvia (Latvian: Latvija) is one of the three Baltic states in Europe.The biggest travel destination in the country is the capital Riga, whose Old Town is a World Heritage Site.There are many other great places to see, both urban and rural. Latvia's unspoilt sea coast is a 500-km-long unique biome, mainly consisting of empty beaches, white soft sand, and dunes covered with pine trees.

  9. 11 of the most beautiful places in Latvia

    Positioned on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia, Latvia is an impressive mix of art nouveau architecture and pristine nature. Discover 11 of the most beautiful places in Latvia.

  10. Latvia Travel Guide

    The small country is home to 12,000 rivers and 3,000 lakes, each as beautiful as the next. If you like to explore nature by water, this is the place to be. There's plenty of opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and canoeing throughout the country, too. Latvia's most famous water feature is Ventas Rumba, the widest waterfall in Europe.

  11. Latvia

    Latvia's charming small towns and countryside contrast nicely with the vibrancy of its capital city Riga, a true metropolis. The Baltic state offers an exciting mix for culture lovers, outgoing outdoor types and foodies. A proud Euro member state, visiting Latvia is an easy addition when traveling to other European destinations. Capital City ...

  12. Latvia Travel Guide: The Local's Guide to Latvia

    However now Latvia is an independent country, a member country of the European Union and the Schengen Area. Latvia's coastline, most of it undeveloped, extends for more than 500 kilometers. About one half of the country is covered with forests, ... Top Tourist Destinations in Latvia Are ...

  13. 10 reasons to visit Latvia

    Fairytale forests. If you want to get close to the Latvian heart, take a walk through the woods. Forests cover around 45 percent of the country and shelter a diverse range of critters, including a significant population of lynx, beavers and birds of prey. The best places to wander tree-dappled trails are in Ķemeri National Park, a large ...

  14. 15 Best Places to Visit in Latvia

    Check out these best places to visit in Latvia: 1. Riga. Source: flickr. Riga, Latvia. Top of the menu for any first-time travelers making their way across the Baltic, Riga is certainly one of the great urban treasures of the region as a whole. It straddles the channels of the Daugava River on the northern edges of the country, boasting a ...

  15. 9 Helpful Things to Know Before Visiting Latvia

    1. It's Not Only Riga. The sad truth is that when people visit Latvia, the overwhelmingly majority only see Riga and then leave. It seems to be a common curse in the Baltic - people don't know what else the country has to offer. But Latvia had a lot more going on than just Riga.

  16. Visiting Latvia: 5 Things to Know Before You Go

    Here's what to know before you visit, and tips on what to see and do. 1. Getting to Latvia is easier than you think. I had always thought of the Baltic States ( Estonia , Lithuania, and Latvia) as an isolated group of countries in the furthest reaches of Europe. Given the poor transport connections I have experienced between many Eastern ...

  17. 10 Fantastic Places To Visit In Latvia For All Travelers!

    Check out the list of best places to visit in Latvia and do explore these places so that you can have an enticing vacation in the country. Keep scrolling down and read along! Old City Riga. Kemeri National Park. Riga Motor Museum. Dzintari Forest Park. Ventspils Beach. Jugenda Stila Nami.

  18. 20 Best Tourist Attractions to Visit in Latvia

    Off coast sailing is famous, and there are different heritage edifices to appreciate including the Slitere Lighthouse, the Boat Cemetery at Sturisi, and the Liv Peoples House. 5. Sigulda. Sigulda. The beautiful little town of Sigulda is situated only an hour's drive from Riga in a region of phenomenal natural charm.

  19. Riga travel guide

    If you have time, go to Lithuania - a neighboring country with the same cost as Latvia but the scenery is also very beautiful. Riga travel blog: Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Riga you can refer to. Tallink Silja Cruise between Stockholm and Riga; Riga Classical Old Town 2-Hour Walking Tour

  20. Latvia: What to Know Before You Visit Latvia

    If you are heading to Latvia there are a few things you should know before you head to this forested land. The captial Riga is chock full of great architectu...

  21. Culture and traditions in Latvia

    When selecting the travel destination, what everyone wants to explore is the culture and traditions of the country they are visiting. Each country has its own set of culture, symbols and traditions that make it unique. And, of course, Latvia is no exception. If you have planned a trip to Latvia, you should definitely get to know the rich culture and ancient traditions that have survived ...