Europe is overflowing with quaint, old, exotic and modern destinations. So many options for every taste and budget. One of the countries we chose to visit was Latvia. Completely understated and unnoticed, people normally do not consider Latvia as a destination. However, the country pleases nature lovers, cosmopolitans, culture and history buffs.
House of the Blackheads in Old Town
Latvia became an independent country in 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved, and for this reason, Soviet influence is still a complex subject of discussion there. Latvia’s long history is worth reading before travelling there though.
St. Peter’s Church seen from Town Hall Square
The capital city, Riga, is the biggest city of the Baltics. It has very impressive architecture, offers a large variety of foods, and reasonable prices on most goods and services. Its medieval Old Town is part of the UNESCO World Heritage and is filled with old, well preserved buildings, castles, restaurants, and churches. Most historic buildings were bombed during WWII or destroyed by fires, but have been rebuilt after the fall of Soviet rule.
The Historic Centre of Riga has the finest and largest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in the world, with more than a third of the buildings built in the style. The competitor of Gaudi, Mikhail Osipovich Eisenstein, was the designer of most of the Art Nouveau buildings in the city.
Art Nouveau detail
The Daugava River, known as the River of Destiny, bisects the city, is 1,020 km long and drains portions of the countries of Latvia, Belarus and Russia before pouring out into the Gulf of Riga. It was the only route between east and west, “a road from the Vikings to the Greeks”.
The Vanšu Bridge over the Dalgava River
Outside the historic center, there are many other interesting things to do, like walking around Bastejkalns Park, where you can visit the Opera House, the Freedom Monument, the chocolate factory Laima, or Kayak along the Daugava River and Riga canal at night when the city’s bridges and fountains are lit up.
The Nativity of Christ Cathedral
Outside Riga, there is a fantastic beach resort in the town of Jūrmala, perfect for a day trip in the summer. The area is famous for its curative mud and mineral waters as well its many activities offered such as art exhibitions, local and international concerts.
Beach near Jurmala
If you are not convinced Latvia is a fantastic travel destination yet, then watch this video!