Country guides Europe
Latvia Travel Guide
The small, forrested country of Latvia is tucked between its neighbours Estonia and Lithuania just off the Baltic Sea, its picturesque towns and ancient cities set within a landscape of plains, lakes, forests and river valleys. Fishing villages interrupt the dramatic coastline of white sandy beaches, and the country has many manor houses, medieval castles, palaces, and ruins.
The beautiful capital city of Riga is rich in history and culture, and has the largest concentration of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe, resulting in it being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Latvian capital is an obvious tourist destination, as it's the largest city in the Baltic States and a major port home to almost half the country's population. Nearby, the Baltic health and recreation resort of Jurmala doubles its population during the summer months as a popular holiday destination, thanks to its sandy beaches, healing waters, mud baths, and quaint wooden houses.
History lovers will enjoy the ancient cities of Valmiera and Cesis in the northern region as they were once members of the Hanseatic League, which shaped the economy, trade and politics in northern Europe for more than 400 years. Today, visitors to these two cities can enjoy charming, medieval castle ruins and the lovely Gauja National Park. The picturesque cultural towns of the Abava River Valley and the villages of the ancient Liv people in the south are also worth visiting. The Rundale Palace is a popular sight along with the spectacular Baroque palace at Jelgava in the central region of Zemgale. Lastly, the scenic Tervete forest, which has the oldest and tallest pine trees in Latvia, is not to be missed.
Those keen on outdoor activities will enjoy the natural surroundings in the Latgale region, otherwise known as the Land of Blue Lakes; the coastal landscape of the Kurzeme region, where deserted beaches stretch for miles; and the coastline and hilly scenery of the northern Vidzeme region, which also is home to Sigulda, the country's downhill skiing area.