Updated May 11, 2020 | Original: December 5th, 2015, Posted by travelwith2ofus
While researching places to visit in Europe, I saw photos of Latvia and I thought to myself, Oh snap! What do I know about Latvia? Honestly, I really said Oh snap! Anyway, the answer was absolutely nothing! So, I decided to do some research and I really think it is one of the countries that is worth a visit.
Also known to be the pearl of Baltic States, Latvia is located in the Baltic region in Northern Europe. It has an enchanting history, long and well established traditions and rich culture.
So here are 29 reasons why Latvia should be on your "Oh! I should go there list." for 2016.
1. Old Riga
There's an old town in Riga, Latvia's capital city that is sure to impress you with its amazing array of beautiful historic buildings, cobbled lanes and oversized churches. It is an intense mix of a breathtaking medieval town and narrow romantic streets and art nouveau houses with a vibrant nightlife. Best of all, there are so many sunny squares spread with street cafes and beer gardens.
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2. The Beautiful beaches
Tourists visiting Latvia for the first time are usually surprised by how breathtaking the beaches are. With the endless golden sandy beaches and beautiful holiday houses, your whole family is sure to enjoy a vacation in Latvia.
3. The Rundale Palace
This remarkable palace was built for the Duke of Courland (Ernst Johann Biron) during the eighteenth century. It has one hundred and thirty eight rooms and the formal gardens are modeled based on those at Versailles. The state rooms in Rundale palace are filled with molded plaster-work, gilt trim and frescoes.
There are many activities that are family oriented including nature trails and nature parks like Tervete, which has a Fairy-Tale Forest and a Children’s Town. If your family prefers more adventurous activities then you can visit the Līvu Aquapark, Mezaparks in Riga and Mezakakis in Sigulda. Other options include the viaiting the leisure complex Lido, the Riga Zoo and Riga Circus. Ventspils beach has playground facilities for children.
4. Impeccable ancient castles
With the arrival of German warrior monks during the early thirteenth century, sturdy fortifications became a necessary precaution and as a result, they built castles all over the land. Today, you will find these ancient castles and will be amazed that throughout the many years since the arrival of the Germans, these castles still stand. Tourists who visit Cesis castle are handed a candle powered lantern to help them explore the castle. In Ventspils, the Livonian order castle has been renovated and turned into an interesting interactive museum.
5. Adventure and activities for families with kids
6. The Soviet reminders in Latvia
If at all you are fascinated by the dynamics of the USSR, you will find reminders of it in this amazing former Soviet republic. You will enjoy a visit the museum of the occupation of Latvia and the Academy of science skyscraper. At the museum, you will find a summary of the soviet time such as purges, gulags and deportations.
7. Forests that resemble a fairy-tale
Take a walk through the forest to get a closer and deeper experience of Latvia. The forests in Latvia cover approximately forty five percent of the land and are home to a wide range of critters such as beavers, birds of prey and lynx. Visit Kemeri National park and the Gauja National park and enjoy nature at its best.
8. The Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre
Mark Rothko, (1903-1970), is among the most celebrated artists in America and one of the leading exponents for abstract expressionism in the world. He was born in 1903 in Daugavpils which is a town found in the southeastern part of Latvia. In 2013, the town opened the Art Centre dedicated to art, education and culture in his honor. Mark’s family also gave some of his original works which today hang alongside a wide collection of contemporary Latvian art.
9. The Art Nouveau Architecture
If you enjoy the theatrical style of design and architecture, Latvia would be the perfect destination for you. At its capital city (Riga), the rich architecture has over seven hundred and fifty art nouveau buildings that still stand. Take a walk around and enjoy the view of the various facades that are decorated with mythical beasts, bare breasted goddesses and swirling nature motives. Visit the Museum of Decorative art and design to enjoy a more fulfilling experience of the art nouveau fabrics and furniture.
10. The freedom monument
The Brivibas Piemineklis, commonly known as the freedom monument is one of the must see sites in Riga, Latvia. It stands tall in the square where the new and old towns in Riga meet. The Freedom statue holds in her hands three stars to symbolize three regions and is inscribed –For Fatherland and freedom. To better understand its history, make sure you read the interesting story about the freedom statue and the soviet occupation. In addition, at the statue, there is a changing of the guards every hour. This is sure to add to the whole excitement of the experience.
11. Get Arty in Andrejsala
In the past, Andrejsala was a very important and busy harbor. However, it declined and was taken over by creative people in Riga, Latvia. With time, they turned the old warehouses and dock buildings into creative art workshops and studios. This area is ever exciting with different events every other day.
12. Visit the open-air Ethnographic museum
If you enjoy culture and history, take your vacation a notch higher as you relive the older days at the museum.
13. Eat and drink like locals on a food tour
Cities in Latvia are pretty peaceful making it amazing to tour while on foot or on a bike. You will get to enjoy high quality food at affordable prices. There are many bikes and walk tour companies in Latvia that can help you with the planning.
14. Explore your curiosity at the Latgalite market
At Latgalite flea market, you can get anything you are looking for. This market caters for everyone’s taste and will give you a unique shopping experience. You can also check out the Spikeri Flea Market for vintage oddities.
15. The ultimate romantic experience
Cities in Latvia have maintained the traditional look over time. You will be able to have a more intimate vacation as you and your partner gain a new level of appreciation for the history, culture and ancient and traditional buildings. The traditions in Latvia have perfectly merged together and created a rich cultural historic heritage and a unique environment.
16. Visit the Irbene radio Astronomy centre
This centre is home to the eighth largest cold war era radio telescope. In the Soviet era, it was used to help spy on western adversaries. Today, the telescope is used by professional astronomers for the purposes of science.
17. Experience the song and dance festival in Latvia
This week-long song and dance festival started in 1873 and since then, it is held after every five years. It is a beautiful celebration of the Latvian spirit and culture and features thousands of dancers and singers from all parts of Latvia.
18. Visit the Jurkalne seashore
The beaches at the Jurkalne seashore have gone untouched by people. This makes them completely beautiful and authentic.
19. Tour lake Razna
With the effort to protect the lake Razna and environment, the Razna National-park was created. At the park, you will enjoy breathtaking landscapes and see Latvia’s Latgale region.
20. Visit and explore the Gutmanis cave
This cave is the highest in Latvia and largest in the Baltics. It features historic inscriptions that date back to the seventeenth century. Here, you will be able to view and experience history from a different perspective.
21. The Cesis old town
The whole layout of this town has been carefully preserved ever since The Middle Ages. This romantic town is filled with cobbled streets and medieval ruins that are sure to entice every member of your family and friends.
22. Cape Kolka
This beautiful site is the place where two seas meet. It is dramatic, desolate and very pretty. The north parts of the cape are located at the divide of the Baltic Sea and the gulf of Riga. Cape Kolka is the ultimate destination for the summer and is a favorite for surfers and swimmers.
23. The Ventas Rumba
Latvia is the home of Ventas Rumba, which is the widest waterfall in Europe. It is a magical and breathtaking site where you and your friends can swim in the Ventas and enjoy making remarkable memories.
24. Visit the Aglona Basilica
The absolutely stunning Aglona basilica has stood since 1780 and contains beautiful sculptures and paintings. In addition, in itself, it is a very unique piece of art.
25. For the perfect historical destination, visit the Sigulda castle
Sigulda town is filled with natural and historical wonders. However, the castles here are the most memorable features of the town. You will get a deeper understanding of history and get a feel of how people lived in the past.
26. Explore picturesque towns
Seek out the sleepier centres in Latvia to get the full Latvian experience. For instance, in Kuldiga, you can visit the old castles that have been changed into a beautiful sculpture garden and leafy park. Another centre is Cesis, which is hidden in Gauja national park. It is centred on an ornamental lake, a ruined castle and large church.
27. Interesting and involving experiences
Latvia offers a wide range of interesting experience-based attractions. From horror scenes played out in dark basements and spy games in the old-soviet coastal forts, you are sure to enjoy many thrilling experience of your choice.
28. Enjoy the natural view at the Turaida Museum reserve
This reserve has over one hundred acres of natural grounds, architectural gems, historic monuments and archaeological sites. The name Turaida when translated means 'God's Garden' and you will clearly see why.
29. Spa and wellness
After you have spent time visiting all of Latvia, you may need to relax and rejuvenate. Most hotels and guest houses have saunas, and offer a wide range of spa treatments. You can also try some of the local natural cosmetic products and wellness treatments.
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