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Latvia

Latvia travel guide

Located on the Baltic sea, Latvia is a small country with ancient history and traditions. Fabulous architectural monuments, nature parks, lakes and beautiful forests make up this splendid destination

Most people come to Latvia to see Riga. With its picturesque Old Town, cobbled streets, historic churches and abundance of Art Nouveau buildings, who could blame them?

But there’s more to Latvia than its capital city. The real beauty of the country lies in its unspoilt landscapes. Half of Latvia is still covered in forest. The rest is meadows and marshland, interrupted only by the occasional castle ruin, historic town or farm and Latvia’s many waterways.

Thanks to its 5000 lakes and 1000 rivers following to its wild Baltic coast, Latvia is a canoeist’s paradise and a hotspot for birders too.

Cranes, oysters-catches and birds of prey, including buzzards, kestrels and rare sea eagles are all found in great numbers. But it is the stork that is king here – Latvia has six times many white storks than the whole of western Europe.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Treat your taste buds to Riga’s twice-monthly gourmet market in Bergs Bazaar – an upmarket shopping street in the beautifully-restored New Town.
  2. Understand the Latvian people’s long and often tragic history after visiting Riga’s Occupation Museum.  
  3. Buy the traditional amber jewellery which Latvia is famous for, or if you’re lucky find these gemstones washed up on beach.
  4. Pick up a canoe at Zagarkalns and paddle through Gauja National Park.
  5. Go cross-country skiing when the big freeze hits in winter.
  6. Head to Latvia’s rugged north-west coast in April to see thousands of migratory birds flying over Cape Kolka.

Wanderlust tips

Long gone are the days of Soviet restriction. In Riga you can buy anything you would expect to find in the shops of any major city.

Smaller towns, however, are often less well supplied. If you’re heading out into the countryside, consider stocking-up on such essential products as mosquito repellent before you go.

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