How much have you heard about Latvia? Not much I’d imagine. How about we pique your interest to travel to Latvia from 0 to a 100 in just a few minutes.
First for the basics – Latvia lies on the Baltic Sea between Estonia and Lithuania and borders Russia and Belarus. It’s an ex USSR country so which is something you can feel walking around the old city, but nowadays you will feel it mixed with a modern Scandinavian vibe. It’s not a big country so if you want to see more than just the capital take a train to the countryside or even better hire a car and driving around, you’ll thank us for it!
What to do in Riga
Riga Central Market
One of the biggest markets in Europe, the Riga Central market used to be 5 Zeppelin aircraft hangars during the first world war and is a sure must stop place when in Riga. You’ll find everything from Pickles & Sauerkraut to hot dumplings, smoked fish, Latvian Cheese and rye bread. Perfect place to stock up for a picknick in one of Riga’s many parks.
Vecriga (The Old Town)
Latvia has been ruled by the Germans, Poles, Russians, Swedes and off course the Soviet and you can see traces of it in its old city. The only remaining entrance to Old Riga is the seventh century built Swedish Gate. The old town is a UNESCO heritage site with many churches, the most famous one being Saint Peter’s Church, the view from this church over the old town and the Daugava River. The Inside, however, with its 3 basilicas is beautiful and houses many contemporary art exhibitions. You cannot miss Town Hall Square with the 14th century-built House of Blackheads which was destroyed in WWII but was rebuilt to stand majestically on the same spot.
Walk down the Alberta Iela
This functional street with residential houses restaurants and shops is anything but ordinary! It’s like an open-air museum where you can spend hours gazing at the Art Nouveau style house facades. Named after the founder of Riga, Bishop Albert von Buxthoeven, the street was the architect’s gift to Riga on its 700th anniversary – and what a gift!
Green Parks of Riga
Latvia is very green and so is its capital with its many parks – some are bang in the centre of the city some a bit out – look up Bastion Hill park, Vermandarzs, Esplanade park, Kronvalda park and Maras and Mezaparks to name a few. If you’re the adventurous type, hit up the adventure Zone in Mezakakis Adventure Park!
Where to go outside of Riga
Rundales Palace & Museum
Latvia’s answer to Versailles the Rundales, this palace and its stunning gardens are a must-visit place. Its 80 km from Riga so makes for a perfect day trip away from the city. Once there, you can visit 40 of its 139 rooms each more beautiful than the other and make sure to leave enough time to stroll through the magnificent English rose garden.
Go to the seaside town of Jurmala
If you are looking for beach time, then head to Jurmala. Located only half an hour by train from Riga lies the lovely coastal city of Jurmala with its grand wooden holiday homes and large spa hotels. The beach here is a lovely white sand beach backed by pine forests, the air does not get fresher than here! Outside of the summer period, you can sometimes find Baltic amber stones washed up on shores.
Stay a night at Karosta Prison
The Alcatraz of Latvia has a scary past where it was used by the Natiz Sovjets and recently by the Latvians. It was used until 1997 as a prison and you can still see the graffiti on the walls saying ‘izeja no elles’ or ‘exit from hell. During the Nazi rule ‘criminals’ or deserters were often sentenced to death and executed outside om the yard. Guards will tell you how doors open in the middle of the night and light bulbs screw out of their bulbs, and a sometimes a shivering cold is felt by the guards and visitors to the prison. If a tour of the place doesn’t phase you, you can stay the night in one of its cells. Book your frightening night stay on the Karosta Prison website here!
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Rates are subject to availability and based on dynamic pricing. Search date for illustration purposed based on 2 persons 18/19 Nov 2019.