Latvia – probably one of the most underrated destinations in Europe. As the centre of the three Baltic states, Latvia is located directly on the Baltic Sea and therefore not only impresses with lots of nature and charming villages, but also with endless white sandy beaches, where you won’t meet a single person for miles. In this post I will tell you the most beautiful sights and places to visit in Latvia, which you simply can’t miss:
The most beautiful sights in Latvia
Riga – the capital of Latvia
For those traveling by plane, a trip to Latvia begins and ends in the capital city of Riga. This was also the case for us, so we decided to spend some time in the Latvian capital. These are my highlights, which you must put on your list for a visit to Riga:
The Art Nouveau Centre
One area in Riga where there is something to discover at every corner is the Art Nouveau district with impressive houses built between 1904 and 1914. The facades are reminiscent of works of art and are decorated with frescoes and sculptural masterpieces typical of the Art Nouveau period.
For a coffee or lunch stop I can recommend the small restaurant Rasols, which is decorated even from the inside in Art Nouveau style and offers typical Latvian dishes.
A walk from the restaurant leads you through the Art Nouveau district, past the National Theater to the main square with the Freedom Monument and the passage to the beautiful Old Town of Riga, which is an enchanting sight in Latvia.
The old town of Riga
The most beautiful part of the city and an UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Old Town of Riga with numerous colorful houses, charming restaurants, shops and churches. It is worthwhile to stroll through the streets and explore the small alleys.
You should not miss the St. Peter’s Church! From the church tower you have a great view, which makes it undoubtedly one of the most beautiful sights in Latvia. St. Peter’s Church is located right in the center of the city and offers a panoramic view of the entire city, including the old town and the other side of the river Daugava.
Although the entrance fee is 9 Euros per person, it is worth every penny and you can use the elevator to the top of the tower and enjoy the view!
Tip: If you want to see and experience Latvian culture up close, you can stop by the store Tautas terpu centrs Sena klets. Here, traditional Latvian costumes are still made, displayed and sold. They differ depending on the region and are still worn for festivities in modern times. I slipped right into one of the costumes and was thrilled! What do you think about my Latvian outfit?
The National Library
On the other side of the river Daugava is the National Library, which is also worth a visit. Built in 1919, it is an architectural unicum and not only a simple library but also a museum about the evolution of books, writing and language. A must for all bookworms – even if you don’t speak Latvian.
*The pictures of the library were provided to me by Sonja of lifestylecircus 🙂 Feel free to check out her travel blog!
Restaurant recommendation in Riga
In the evening we went to the restaurant Herbārijs, which I can highly recommend, both from the location as well as from the service and the menu. It is located ON top of a shopping mall. Yes, you read that right! Due to its location above the rooftops of the city, Herbārijs Restaurant and Bar offers a great view. This is enhanced by the fact that it is located in a glass building, which looks like a greenhouse – hence the name. Whether you’re stopping by for dinner or just to taste the great cocktails. A visit is always worthwhile!
Sights in Latvia outside Riga
Less than an hour south of Riga thrones the 15th century Bauska Castle. It stands out because of its location at a fork where two rivers meet and wind around the castle. Unfortunately, we did not have time to explore the interior of the castle, which houses a museum that illustrates life in the castle and the history of Latvia. It is definitely worth a visit if you have time!
Bauska Castle – a beautiful sight in Latvia
Rundāle Castle – The Most Beautiful Sight in Latvia
A must-see in Latvia: Rundāle Castle is THE sight in Latvia and also called the Versailles Palace of the Baltic States. And for good reason: already from the outside the castle from the 18th century impresses with its baroque facade, but latest after entering the palace every visitor will be enchanted. The rooms have been beautifully restored and furnished with impressive exhibits such as furniture and paintings. It transported me directly to another time. Especially the large main hall is fairytale-like.
The Rundāle Castle is an insider tip in Europe and much cheaper and less visited than the Versaille Castle in France. For just 8 Euros per adult, both the interior and the romantic gardens of the castle can be explored. Especially in summer, the garden is a dream, as numerous flowers and roses are grown in beautiful formations.
Kemeri National Park
This Latvian attraction impresses with its pure nature! Much of the area consists green forests, but mainly of bogs with lakes and lagoons. A hiking trail on footbridges leads directly over the water surface and past idyllic places. You get the best view from the observation tower, which is signposted with arrows. It is a truly fairytale scenery, which I have never seen in this way anywhere else in Europe.
Tip: Especially at sunrise, the atmosphere in Kemeri National Park is magical. When the sun rises above the trees, the moor is surrounded by mystical mist and the sky reflected in the still water. We were there early in the morning, but unfortunately it was a very cloudy day, so we didn’t get to see the sunrise. Nevertheless, our visit was worthwhile. The Kemeri National Park is not to be missed in Latvia.
The Abavas Winery
Wine in Latvia? Sounds untypical, but it actually exists. Abavas winery is one of the northernmost places in the world where wine is grown. During the harsh Latvian winters, only a few grape varieties survive, but the owner puts all his heart and soul into this project. In addition to classic white and red grape wines, the finest ciders and other fruit wines are produced here. For example, a rhubarb sparkling wine, which has been really good! The tasting & tour at the Abavas winery was something very special and should not be missed on your trip through Latvia!
Kuldīga (Ventas Rumba Waterfall)
The small dreamy town of Kuldīga attracts both Latvian and international tourists. This is primarily due to the Ventas Rumba waterfall – a well-known sight in Latvia. It is only about 2m high, but a full 110m wide, which makes it the widest waterfall in Europe! You can enjoy the best view from the brick bridge that crosses the river. In spring and summer you often see fish migrating upstream to spawn and jumping out of the water. The spectacle is repeated every year and is very popular with visitors.
But also the small old town is worth a visit. Many artists have settled here and have set up their studios in Kuldīga. For the afternoon or evening, you must stop by the DUNA brewery to taste Latvian beer. In the courtyard of the premises, there is also a great restaurant and live music is played.
Hotel recommendation in Kuldīga
For me, the most beautiful hotel we stayed at during our trip through Latvia has been the Hotel Simanis. It is an old barn, which was converted into a boutique hotel with only a few rooms. Very cozy and unique with a historical interior and delicious breakfast.
The third largest city in Latvia, Liepāja is located in the west of the country, directly on the Baltic Sea. For this reason, the port city attracts many tourists, especially in the summertime. Nevertheless, you will find fewer people and still empty beaches, which would be unthinkable on the German or Polish Baltic coast, especially in summer!
On the beach of Liepāja we experienced one of the most fantastic sunsets ever. Especially with the ruins of the old fortress of Liepāja this resulted in a magical atmosphere. Constructed between 1894 to 1903, the Russian fortress was built around the entire city to protect it from attacks. Today, the remains have sunk into the sand and are slowly being washed into the Baltic Sea. Walking along the ruins, you can always discover great photo opportunities or wall paintings. So it’s not only a great place to relax but also worth a visit for street art fans.
Another famous sight of Latvia is located in Liepāja: the old military prison Karosta. It served as an internment camp for soldiers for various governments over the years and was decommissioned only in the 90s. Even in sunny weather, it exudes a mystical atmosphere and some people are even convinced that it’s haunted! Visitors get up close and personal with the former prison activities during an interactive tour. Even to the point that the prison offers overnight stays, which to my surprise are very well booked. I loved the tour, but I wouldn’t want to sleep in such a spooky place… but maybe it’s an interesting idea for you?
Restaurant Tips in Liepaja
- Parka Paviljons – A magical restaurant and cafe in the park of Liepaja, which impresses with its artistic architecture and has already received several awards. So be sure to stop by here during the day for lunch or a coffee!
- Museum Restaurant Hoijeres krogs – A restaurant in the style of an old 17th century pub with old recipes. While your meal gets prepared, you can admire the interior of the typical Latvian 17th century home on the first floor, while the house upstairs is designed as it was typical in the 19th century. So in just a few minutes you can travel through time. A lot of love was put into every detail of the interior with original furniture and objects, which are fully functional. The museum restaurant is definitely worth a visit!
Other sights in Latvia
…which we unfortunately didn’t mange to visit due to lack of time, but want to see during our next visit:
- Cēsis – An enchanting small town with an impressive castle ruin.
- Jurmala – The closest Baltic seaside resort to Riga, which is ideal for a few days of seaside vacation.
- Gauja National Park – The largest and oldest national park in Latvia offers a variety of different landscapes with green forests, sandstone groups and blue rivers. Ideal for hikes while enjoying the nature, tranquility and unique scenery. A highlight is the Gutmans Cave, which can be visited.
The special thing about Latvia is on the one hand the culture and the people, as on the other hand the endless tranquility and miles of untouched nature.
Latvians love to share their traditions and the sights of their country with visitors. No matter where we traveled, we were always warmly welcomed. In addition, Latvians speak amazingly good English – even the older generation – which makes communication very easy.
However, if you want to be by yourself, you will find more than enough quiet places in Latvia: Be it the dense forests or the empty beaches. In Latvia you can escape from the hustle and bustle.
The heart of the Baltic States attracts visitors especially from mid-spring to early autumn with its blooming nature, reasonable prices, good food and great hospitality. We were definitely not the last time in Latvia, as there are still so many highlights to explore!