Mini guide to Latvia
The largest of the three Baltic republics (Estonia and Lithuania are the other
two), Latvia is one of northern Europe's most exciting destinations, after having
been hidden away from the world's view for over half a century by Soviet occupation.
Prior to the occupation, Latvia was one of the most dynamic countries of Europe.
Now the country is still struggling to regain its place in the world.
There is much to see in Latvia, ranging from untouched nature areas to historic
buildings dating back to the days of the great trading in the Hanseatic League.
You can also see remnants of the Soviet occupation; along with a host of museums,
castles and other historic buildings.
As a holiday destination, Latvia is truly remarkable. Home to almost 2,500
lakes, 12,000 rivers and hundreds of kilometres of unspoilt beaches, the opportunities
for water activities are endless. Add to this the fact that over 40 per cent
of the country is covered by forests, and outdoors lovers will have plenty to
Latvia's capital, Riga is an up and coming city. Visit sights such as: Brivibas
Piemineklis (Freedom Monument) and Riga Doms (Riga Cathedral). The Latvijas
Okupacijas Muzeja (Occupation Museum of Latvia) is housed in an ugly Communist-era
building and takes visitors on a journey through Latvia's history. Outside of
the capital of Riga, be prepared to step back into history as the infrastructure
in most parts is not yet developed.
Despite the local specialties of cabbage soup and grey peas, eating out in
Latvia is a pleasant experience offering cuisine from all over the world. To
wash it all down, try the local beers including: Bauskas Tumsais and Porteris,
as well as Bauskas Gaisais, Aldara Zelta and Aldara Luksusa. Another traditional
Latvian spirit is Riga's Melnais Balzams or Black Balsam. This is a thick, black
alcoholic liquid which supposedly cured Catherine the Great of fever when she
visited the country.
By rail, the Berlin-St Petersburg service passes through Daugavpils in southeastern
Latvia. Trains also link Riga with Moscow, St Petersburg and Minsk. There are
direct buses to Riga from Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Sweden,
Finland, Russia, Belarus, Estonia and Lithuania. Riga's airport is in Jurmala,
14kms west of the city centre; direct flights link Riga with most major European
cities. By sea, there are direct ferries to Riga from Travemünde in Germany
and Stockholm in Sweden.
Selection of hotels in this region:
Radisson SAS Daugava Hotel
Click below for a
full list of hotels and online booking