Major Tourist Attractions: Rundale Palace, Riga Zoo, Gauja National Park, Freedom Monument, Turaida Castle
Located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, Latvia is one of the three Baltic States from the former Soviet Union. Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Russia to the east, Lithuania to the south, Belarus on the southeast, and the Baltic Sea lies to the west.
Latvia has seen German, Swedish, Russian, and Polish rule. Ancient Baltic tribes were warriors and sailors; the area was once a famous trading port. Cities like Riga display Latvia’s varied past, as it was once the largest Swedish city and later the industrial center for the Russian Empire.
Many travelers are starting to learn about Latvia’s charms, and the capital city of Riga is the most popular destination. Riga’s historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, considered home to the finest and largest collection of Jungendstil, German Art Nouveau buildings, in the world. There’s no shortage of historical and cultural sites of importance in Riga.
Riga has numerous restaurants and bars worth checking out. Everything from budget eats to Michelin-star restaurants can be found in the city. Be sure to try local Latvian foods, especially black rye bread, and order a cocktail made with the famous Riga Black Balsam, a traditional Latvian herbal liqueur made with herbs.
Visiting Latvia year round is possible, but it gets very cold during the winter months of January and February. Daylight dwindles in the Fall and Winter, which is another reason summer is best. If you’re staying in Riga, it’s easiest to explore the city on foot as cars are not allowed in the historic old town.
In Latvia, you can:
- Attend one of Latvia’s cultural festivals like Jani (midsummer festival) or the Liepajas Dzintars music festival
- Take a Latvian cooking class
- Visit the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, an old Soviet-era building now housing a museum
- Enjoy the views of Riga from the Skyline Bar on the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu hotel
- Relax on one of the longest sand beaches in Europe
- Shop at the impressive Riga Central Market, housed in huge hangars built with materials from actual zeppelin hangars
- Shoot an AK-47 in an old Soviet nuclear bunker
- Photo the House of the Black Cat, famous for the statues of black cats on the roofs
- Buy jewelry made with amber
- Wander Maskavas forštate, the old Jewish ghetto of Riga, along the road from Riga to Moscow
- Walk by Riga’s Freedom Monument and the Laima Clock
- Visit one of Riga’s noted churches, like St. Peter’s Church
- Visit the sweets factory of Laima
- Photograph the Three Brothers, the oldest dwelling houses in Riga
- Explore nature in Kemeri National Park
- Tour Turaida Castle in Sigulda
- Wander through Cesis, one of Latvia’s oldest towns
- Go snowboarding or cross country skiing during the winter months
Address: Samnera Velsa iela 1,
Riga, LV-1046, Latvia
Phone: 371 6710 7000